Oxygen Will Be Flowing

I wrote this share last summer, addressing it to my amazing S-Anon recovery community.


While flying last week, enroute between CA and MN, I listened to the familiar refrain of the onboard flight attendants: “In case of an emergency, secure your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others.” (That was a HUGE lesson I needed to learn in early recovery, and we reference it often in a recovery context.)

But on this particular flight last week, my ears tuned into the following line: “Oxygen will be flowing to the mask, even though the bag may not inflate.”

This struck me as significant. “You mean, something positive (help, inspiration, life support) might actually BE happening, even though I cannot SEE or FEEL it happening?”

SO MANY times in my early recovery, longtimers told me, “Give it time,” “Trust the process,” and “Just take the next indicated step.” That idea was HARD to grasp, and I didn’t like the idea of waiting for this supposed transformation—particularly while my life was in the throes of constant emotional and relationship distress. Instead, I wanted immediate resolution, instant solutions and on-demand comfort.

I remember one particular night, approximately one year into recovery. I was wailing aloud to my S-Anon friends: “It’s been a YEAR… A WHOLE [BLEEPING] YEAR!!! Shouldn’t things be different by now? Why isn’t everything BETTER? I want HIM to be BETTER, so that I can start feeling better! But honestly, it feels like everything is actually getting WORSE. WORSE!!! I mean, seriously… how long do you think I can put up with this? You promised me serenity, but this is definitely NOT serene. How much more of this do you think I can handle? How much longer, before I simply fall apart?”

In retrospect, of course, I see things differently: I now realize that as I worked on my recovery, recovery was actually working on me. Even though I didn’t see my oxygen mask “inflating,” S-Anon’s was bringing me life—in the subtle forms of serenity, dignity, emotional growth. That source of sustenance WAS indeed flowing, despite my inability to grasp it. With every day that I did my part (letting God and others do theirs), things actually WERE changing for the better. They simply were not changing in a way that I could tangibly perceive. By my second and third year in S-Anon, my battle-scarred recovery finally morphed into its own, unique (and visible!) lifeline. Eventually, I could actually grasp that previously elusive “something positive,” believing that it WAS materializing for me after all.

Today, I’m grateful to honor my recovery—on days when I “feel it,” and on days when I still JUST DON’T. I’m grateful for my S-Anon family, for all of you who “kept the faith” on my behalf, long before I was capable of grasping it myself.

I recently heard a recovering person say, “Just let us love you, until you’re able to love yourself.” That’s what our S-Anon community has done for me. I watched you “secure your own masks first,” then reach out with ESH to help me don mine. You’re STILL there for me, at times when I need you most; you remind me to close my eyes, to breathe deeply, and to trust the process—to let the oxygen flow, especially during moments when it seems utterly and absolutely invisible.

In Gratitude and Recovery,
Crystal M