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Addictions and Your Cross to Bear

by: Jane Derry

Two little stories contain some spiritual truths that can help the addict or alcoholic look at the way they are living their lives. If you think that your troubles are worse than anyone else's you will remain in self-pity.

Tip: "Poor me. Poor me. Pour me a drink. "Self-pity, which is always combined with resentments of some kind, kills. In order to stay sober you really need to look at this.

Having a "cross to bear" may be a term that has lost significance in contemporary North America as we aren't a primarily predominant Christian indoctrinated people anymore. But like a Zen Koan, or a First Nation story passed down through generations, there are rich truths to be mined from all spiritual tradition scriptures.

For people of Christian faith the Passion of Christ is central, and the story well known. For those of you unfamiliar, the bearing of the cross is in reference to the gospels in Christian Scripture (also known as the New Testament). Shedding the context and details of the story, Jesus was made to carry a large and heavy wooden cross through town to his execution site on a hill. From this then, 'bearing one's cross' came to symbolize the set of burdens that each individual must carry with him or her through life, each person having their own unique bundle of pain.

"Oh woe is me", "If you only knew the troubles I've seen", "Man, you think you've got problems, listen to this!" "You won't believe what happened to me." Problems, issues, complaints, add your own to this list: health, finance, relationship, kids, parents, veterinary bills, car repairs, bullies, bad haircuts. Anyway you get it; the burdens seem to just keep getting heavier as the years go by. Here's a little story about how one man tried to change load.

One day, a man just couldn't bear it anymore! He could barely walk, his cross was so big, and it was way too heavy for him to manage without losing his balance. So, he knew what to do, and he went to the Cross Warehouse.

"St Peter," he cried, at the door," my cross is too much for me, I can barely go another step."

St. Peter was very amicable. He said, "Brother, take it off, set it down. We can help you here! Have a look around; you can exchange your cross for another one. We have thousands".

Indeed, the warehouse was large, and filled. The man slid off his cross, and leaned it up against the wall. Excitedly, like my sister in a clothing store, he began to try on new crosses. He tried ornate iron crosses, crosses made of balsa wood, plastic crosses, blue, green, maple, and pine, straight and crooked crosses. Some were brand new; others seemed very old and mysterious. There was something not quite right with every cross the man tried on; too small, too light, too large, shiny, fancy or plain. This wrought iron one poked into him. That plastic one just seemed silly. He tried on dozens, looking for the right fit.

Finally, the last one he tried on (of course, 'cause he was finished looking) seemed perfect! It slid on like a charm, like it was custom made, not too light as to be weightless, but not too heavy to bear.

"St. Peter," he said, "I found one I really like and I would like to exchange my cross for this one."

"Sorry," said St Peter, "it would be impossible for you to exchange your old cross for that particular one. If you will take notice of it, you will see it is the same cross you came in with."

Ahh one of those stories that make you go hmm. Would I exchange my problems or my life for anyone else's? Good question. In addiction recovery, one of the most powerful tools to lighten your own load, is to help another suffering alcoholic or addict. When we really listen to what's troubling another person's heart, and we really empathize, we can feel their burden. But we don't walk away with it, it's not ours. We really do have our own.

Here's another way to look at the cross. In recovery, we find that our greatest suffering and pain provides us the most spiritual growth. No addict will be willing to do the ego shattering work of the 12 Steps, unless he or she has first hit bottom. The worst of what happened to us becomes the greatest of our assets, for we can uniquely help another suffering addict from our own experiences.

Tip: If your higher power brings you to it, your higher power will bring you through it. Or across it.

One day a man (maybe the same one?) was on a journey through the mountains (life). With each step the man took, the cross he was bearing got heavier and heavier. Day after day he stumbled, staggering under its weight; the cross was beginning to drag on the ground. One night, as he was preparing wood for his camp fire, the man looked at his axe, and then looked at the cross, and then back to the axe. "Hmmmm," the man pondered, "maybe I can just take a little bit off the cross, to keep it from dragging." With great effort, the man chopped off several feet from the center beam.

He was really pleased with himself as he trudged off the next morning with his lightened load. Then, around a curve in the trail he approached a chasm. He could see that to continue the journey there was nowhere to go but across the divide. But how was he to get over? He was stuck there! And, of course, if he had not altered the length of his cross the night before, it would have fit comfortably across the chasm, to the perfect path to the other side.

Our Higher Power gives us everything we need. What we do with it becomes our business. Well, not really, but we sure can learn painful lessons about acceptance and surrender. Don't give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens.

One more thing. The cross I have been focusing on in this essay; some people suffer and bear it to the grave. Some people suffer and bear it to make sure everyone sees them suffering and bearing. Some people even want to carry everyone else's. Well, just in case you don't know the Passion of Christ story, Jesus only carried his cross for 3 hours.

See Also:

Addiction - 60 Day Key Fob And A Powerful Thirst
I have worked in the addictions field now for 12 years, and I am certainly baffled. We had the honor of watching and walking through, the painful excavating and facing of, the dark places inside a young adult I'll call Peter.

Is There A Treatment For Alcohol Addictions?
If you drink alcohol frequently then you could have alcohol addictions. These addictions are one of the hardest to eliminate. The causes are deep seated emotional problems. To end drinking, requires a strong will and a good method or process that you can follow.

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About the Author:

Jane Derry - General Manager and Spiritual Counsellor. You can learn more about the work I do at http://ahomeaway.com/ exploring sobriety through stories, fables and koans.

Jane's Mission: Through my commitment to live by spiritual principles, it is my intention to model and inspire hope and encouragement to people, especially to those suffering from the disease of addiction.

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