For the Family: The Joy Thief…Attachment

I don’t know about you, but when I stop to consider any disruption to my happiness I immediately begin to correlate it with my circumstances. I can point to any number of things that are not in alignment with my will and assign varying degrees of blame to them. Recently I sat down to look at a reading before my meditation and the words on the page began to awaken my spirit. They spoke to me directly it seemed about my quest for joy. Anthony de Mello states, “You falsely think your fears protect you, your beliefs have made you what you are and your attachments make your life more exciting and secure. You fail to see that they are actually a screen between you and life’s symphony.”

The writer began to describe a symphony in harmony and then asked me to imagine that in this orchestra there were a multitude of instruments that played together beautifully. Enjoying my morning Dunkin Donuts coffee, I could almost hear the music softly in the background. But then he asked me to imagine that there was one instrument that could not manage to harmonize with the rest. My focus was continually distracted by the image of this seemingly uncooperative instrument. If only it would harmonize with the others I could enjoy the music. The joy of the moment was suddenly lost.

In family recovery, we often live our life and base our happiness on this very attachment. We believe that if our loved ones would only participate in recovery then all would be well. Or when they do participate in their sobriety we measure it to our vision for participation. My belief system tells me that I will not be serene in my life until this scenario has been met to my satisfaction. It produces the inability to enjoy the beauty of the forest because I am distracted but the ugliness of some of the trees. Is my insistence that my expectations be met the actual culprit of my loss of joy? Is it possible that it is preventing me from experiencing the music of life as I draw to the disharmony of one single instrument?

My attachment is fueled by my belief system. My belief system is born from my fears. My fears are further created by my attachment. This cycle keeps me in bondage of self. This bondage causes unhappiness and discord not my circumstances. Depending on the level at which I attach myself to the roles I assign others is the exact level I experience freedom in my life. This is one of the hardest realizations not only to come to but to put into practice with the alcoholics and addicts in my life.

When we can fully concede to our innermost selves that everyone is on their own journey and allow them the dignity to proceed without our interference, we open ourselves up to receive joy. That is the moment in which the outcomes, the circumstances, the players and the instruments in each orchestra no longer have the power to control our happiness. We can participate with love and grace rather than control. We are free to no longer insist that scenarios play out to our own liking and simply appreciate them for what they are in each moment. How might this come about you may ask? In setting others in your life free from the bondage of your attachment. We make a commitment to value the people, circumstances and outcomes as they unfold organically and without our consent. That is the moment we can return to the present moment, the beautiful background music and last but not least, the Dunkin Donuts coffee!

Audrey Woodfin
BRC Recovery