Brianne Fitzgerald NP, MPH
Governor Charlie Baker has unveiled his plan to begin the process of re-opening the state. The re-opening of individual businesses is significant, but not any more so than the re-opening houses of worship. We are all grateful as we move away from quarantine, and perhaps none more so than those individuals who gather in the basement of these houses of worship any night of the week to share recovery and fellowship through 12-Step meetings. We have all suffered hardships; Zoom meetings for school aged kids, work Zoom meetings, and 12 step Zoom meetings. Hopefully, the population understands the 40% capacity rule, the social distancing, hand washing, and the masks. Once houses of worship open, we hope that they will include a well-known recovery intervention. It costs nothing, and it is available every night of the week in church basements all over the state to any person at all who has the willingness and courage to open the door and come inside.
Addiction is a disorder of isolation. Meetings provide connections, socialization, hope, and coffee. Individuals come here to learn how to help themselves as well as offer support to each other. Walking into a meeting for the first time or the first time again may cause some tension and fear until that first step is taken. It may be in that singular meeting where one begins to learn how to deal with life stressors and trauma.
Just listening to or repeating the Serenity Prayer, a part of most meetings, can calm the nervous system, shutting down the fight or flight response. One may unclench your fists and find themselves less reactive to those roiling internal emotions. When you walk into a meeting, you realize that you are not alone, that you can drop your burden and rest even if just for a bit. The simplicity and repetitive nature of this serenity prayer believed to have been written by an American theologian, Reinhold Niebur, can take one outside of the personal turmoil and chaos. Meetings and the networks developed and sustained by over 70 years of constancy have changed countless lives.
Governor Baker, please speak up when elaborating on houses of worship and how vital they are to community stability, including the availability of 12 step recovery programming.
The Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.