Down the Rabbit Hole

A few weeks ago during RO (Radically Open) DBT class the topic was forgiveness. Since I was not facilitating the group I allowed my mind to catch something and followed the thought where it went. Normally I don’t allow myself to do this because I go so far away, so deep into the rabbit hole of whatever the thought is, that it is very difficult to come back in any sort of timely fashion.

The thread that I followed connected to the concept of a Loving Kindness meditation. I’ll lay out the process: Close your eyes and imagine that you have come across a lost and frightened child, dirty, torn clothes, crying. Notice in your body what you are feeling. Where you are feeling it. For me, this is a profound sense, primal even. It is the feeling of compassion, sorrow, and the desire to offer comfort – to say “you’re safe now” and embrace the child with a warm blanket of security.

I think everyone has this to some degree, and the matter of degree is only expressed by how distant you are from your emotions. It’s IN us. This feeling is hard-wired in our DNA.

The meditation goes on to connect that feeling to another, perhaps someone who has harmed you, and ultimately towards yourself. Where I veered off course was the thought “how could anyone do that to a child?” Discard them like that. And I thought no one would! Unless there was something wrong with them… And I see that all the time in my work – the broken (on both sides of the equation) and I always wonder how anyone could do such a thing to another person. And the answer is that it is because there is something WRONG with them! We are not born that way, yet we are.

As a Christian this makes sense. On the one hand we are created in God’s image, which is fundamentally Love. But when humans chose poorly, chose themselves instead of God, we and the world we live in were broken, separated from Him. Thus the evil that is abuse, trauma, addiction…

We have both the good and evil inherently encoded in us. So, for the sake of argument I will press this further.

This coming Saturday the Celebrate Recovery group at church is hosting an “opioid crisis response breakfast”, a gathering of many disciplines the “drug” community. I have of course already judged that my head will explode so in advance I have chosen to check said judgment at the door and just listen.

If I were able to I would make this speech:

I would challenge every one of you to consider your attitude towards the addict. You can say – and rightly so – that they made a choice to stick the needle in their arm or hit the pipe. Yet from another perspective they really had no choice, they couldn’t help it. Somewhere along the line they were broken.

No one is born an addict; they become one. Their choices, being generally limited from the beginning (looking at statistics for socioeconomic status) but from the first high the choices became increasingly narrow. Then the cycle of addiction is expressed (being high, coming down, seeking more drugs, getting high again) and choices become basically nil. In most cases only an outside influence can effect change (the Law of Inertia.) You all are that outside influence, so please approach this responsibility with care and compassion. These people are broken and they are in need of mending.

My hobby (as well as my profession in a sense) is Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with precious metals. The thing that is beautiful could not have been so had it not been broken. Please handle with care.

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