Muggle Struggles, trying to teach “normies” 12 step basics to navigate pandemic

By kscott15 05/22/20

Normies, normal people, earth people, whatever you choose to call people who are not non-addicted/non-alcoholic... I choose to call them muggles. Just like in J.K.Rowling's magical world where witches & wizards would struggle to relate to or understand "non-magic folk," those who have not experienced substance abuse addiction struggle to relate to or understand those who have and visaversa. I've had many moments throughout my recovery when I am trying to explain my addictive thought processes or set recovery related boundaries with muggles, and they just can't understand. Muggles can try to relate, of course, but to truly understand addiction & recovery, you have to have had it touch your life in a very personal way. That is in fact the definition of this term, Muggle Struggles. 

Currently, I have been experiencing more muggle struggles than I was pre-COVID. As someone in long-term recovery who works in the addiction treatment field, I have found myself becoming rather frustrated with the muggles in my life for their inherent lack of understanding of spiritual principles amidst this pandemic.

1. Powerlessness: I wish that every muggle had the 12 steps given to them as some sort of COVID-19 homework assignment. Powerlessness is something that those in recovery have lived & learned. Is this pandemic terrifying? Yes. Can I control it? No. Do I have faith that it will all work out somehow, like every other hardship during my addiction & recovery? Heck yes! Those of us in recovery have had life chew us up & spit us out in some way, shape, or form, yet we have made it through time and time again. Most muggles do not comprehend powerlessness, they've never had to. I am constantly seeing muggles in public or on social media complaining about the consequences of COVID life and I see nothing but bitterness and contempt dripping from these interactions. Just last week, a muggle friend of mine posted on social media about 3 different COVID conspiracy theories, so I asked them... "What do you hope to gain by sharing fear? We are all in this powerless situation together and adding to the fears of your friends may make them feel otherwise. Irrationational fear typically doesn't lead to positive outcomes, especially when it's much easier to accept powerlessness in the situation." Wooooweeeee you would've thought that I was speaking binary code with the responses that were posted... "What do you mean we are powerless? We need to rise up and protest this non-sense! " "Powerless my @$$! If man can get to the moon, we can find a way to reopen society by next week!" And here I am, living in a serene state amongst the chaos, because I already practice powerlessness in my daily life. I can't control who relapses. I can't control other peoples emotions or behaviors. I can't control a novel coronavirus. So why supply additional stress to myself over a situation that I cannot possibly control? Muggle struggles. 


2. Principles Before Personalities: Oh boy, this is one recovery concept that I have to remind myself to practice often because any time that I fall short to practice it, I end up just hurting myself in the long run. Principles before personalities essentially means to remember to put your core values into practice before jumping to react in response to someone elses's personality. For instance, if someone does me wrong I am not going to react in anger, I am going to respond in love, I might even pray for them that day if I'm feeling especially spiritual. I want what's best for everyone I come into contact with, even if they do not reciprocate that same intent. Yet, muggles are on the news fighting over toilet paper and politics(2 things that belong in the same place in my opinion). For so many muggles, their first reaction is to be defensive or put others down, that sounds entirely too emotionally taxing to a lot of people in recovery. We have learned that practicing principles before personalities allows us to see the hurt you've caused us, and modify our responses to it to match our values. We may not easily forgive that hurt, but we sure as heck don't need to foster any avoidable resentments. Muggle struggles. 


3. Empathy: This is one basic concept of recovery that every muggle in America could really use a dose of here and there, ya know- just everywhere. Even the queen of shame, vulnerability, & empathy- Brené Brown- draws numerous parallels to her life's work and Harry Potterisms. I read a transcript of an interview she gave on the anatomy of recovery, where she was called a Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher, it's true- on so many levels. Mastering concepts like empathy, can really be an incredible defense against the evil of the world. Whether that evil is walking through the death of a loved one, or losing wages due to stay-at-home orders, empathy is what I predict will bring hope to society. We can't continue to judge, to incite fear, or to place blame through this chaos... we will just add insult to injury. In recovery, we are taught to empathize with the next struggling addict and to help guide them through the 12 steps. How beautiful it would be to see a society where people empathize with their pain-filled neighbors and they offer each other support and guidance rather than yelling at them to put a face mask on while they're mowing their lawn(insert eye roll here). Muggle struggles. 


I don't know about you, but I see a lot of people around me that are just trying to weather the storm to the best of their ability. Even more people becoming traumatized throughout this entire experience with its twists and turns. Personally, I've never liked the text book definitions of trauma, I think the idea of defining trauma is pretty ridiculous actually. How can we define something, that can only be measured by the person experiencing it? Two people could experience the same horrific event at the exact same place at the exact same time, but only one become traumatized. We all have different past histories and different pain tolerances, so to label both people as had experienced trauma doesn't make much sense to me. Yet I do think a lot of the impact of this pandemic is traumatic, I can see the pain and destruction in its wake already. I like to define trauma as, the level of pain a person experiences that causes their inner child to crack. Some pain levels cause that inner child to become a jigsaw puzzle of shattered pieces, where other pain levels cause hairline fractures- but both are cracks to the inner child. Cracks that let out old feelings and responses, but cracks that be mended. I don't know about you, but I want to be the person that's there helping my neighbor pick up their COVUD jigsaw puzzle, not the person spreading fear & blame. 


To all those reading, muggles too, I leave you with my favorite Dumbledore quote: "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."


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