As addicts, we have done whatever possible not to feel pain.  As codependents, we have immersed ourselves in the pain of others, perhaps attempting to mask our own.  When tragedy strikes, some of us choose not to feel, and some of us get so entrenched in circumstantial pain, that our feeling loses boundaries.  Recovery offers us perspective, as well as tools, to deal with pain.

Last Friday morning, as I had felt cold in my kitchen, I put on a fleece jacket.  My heart, though, was where the real chill had been lodged. I stared at the news account confirming the deaths of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, along with the other holy Jewish martyrs, may G‑d avenge their blood.  Their baby Moshe's pants were covered with blood.  My fleece jacket was covered with flour. 

Since Wednesday night, I have been offering prayers and saying Psalms. I gave extra charity and involved my kids in praying for the safety of the victims of the terrorist attack in Mumbai.  I spent Thanksgiving Thursday with family members, encouraging my nieces to light Shabbat candles and my nephews to don Tefillin.  I was glued to the computer, feeling morose, and judging myself for feeling so distraught!  Others around me were going about their daily life, what was wrong with me? 

Then I saw the news. I wasn't surprised,  I was sickened.  Frozen. Motionless. Nauseous.

I had to prepare for Shabbat. I began to make challah.  I was in a bad mood!  Then I thought, Rivka Holtzberg can no longer do the Mitzvah of separating challah.  I will do that Mitzvah today with more focus.  I will do it for her sake.  I will do it because I am alive and my kids love my Challah.  I will do it, even with despair.  Flakes of flour made a ring around my waist, at the point where the stainless steel bowl rests against me while I work the dough at the kitchen table.  White rings around my waist, dark rings around my eyes. As I was kneading the dough, I began to turn to G‑d with my feelings of distress. 

As addicts and codependents, what do we do with the pain of terrorism? Torture?  Ruthless brutality? Lives cut short? We turn to G‑d, as we have done zillions of times in our own recovery.  We pray for the willingness to accept what we cannot understand, let alone control. We speak to program people, who understand the way our minds work.  We take strength from the teachings of our Torah.

We utilize the Steps to help sort out our emotions and behaviors.  We recognize our personal powerlessness. I can't help how upset I feel right now!  We surrender to G‑d.  Please ease my pain.  Please help the families who are reeling from this tragedy.  We get in touch with our character defects.  I am being irritable to my family members because I am so disturbed by the trauma! We humbly ask G‑d to help us be who He intended us to be.  Your will for me is to be the best Jewish wife and mother that I am able to be in this moment.  We make amends.  We continue to take stock.  We try to improve our conscious contact with G‑d. Extra meditation, extra Psalms. We try to stay focused on His will for us.  I have to tend to my children; I have to prepare food.  We continue to be a light, and to spread light.  Shabbat is coming and I have twenty guests to welcome into my home.

What can we learn?  What can we do?  Answers come with Step Twelve.  If we practice the spiritual principles of recovery, which are all rooted in Torah values, we are doing our part to perfect the world.   By the grace of G‑d, we have been redeeming ourselves from our own inner exiles.  By working the steps, we are better prepared to be sources of light, comfort, healing, warmth and inspiration to others.

We possess the unique advantage of light that comes after darkness, because we have been in some of the darkest spots of the spirit.  We have been privileged to hold G‑d's hand as He helps us climb out.  In the pervasive darkness of this tragedy, there are a lot of questions and no answers. We have been in the places where "whys" consumed us.  We now know that recovery is about actions, not about thoughts or questions.  Doing the next right thing, not thinking about it.  We know how to trust G‑d when nothing makes sense because sometimes our own survival, let alone our recovery, doesn't seem to make sense.

Let us use our spiritual tools to remain spiritual beings.  Let us help light up the world after the Mumbai massacre by practicing the principles of recovery in all our affairs.  Let's be leaders in taking on new Mitzvot and doing new acts of kindness. Let us be particularly bright lights, lights of example, as were the holy ones who were taken brutally from this world last week.  Let us accept our feelings or our lack of feelings, but let us do good.