I’ve just come down from the big slope and hill at the front of Cumberland Heights after watching the Eclipse. Along with everybody else, we’ve all been talking about it for weeks. The science, the mystery, the spirituality of it all. Metaphors abound.
At the simplest, the Eclipse shows how active addiction gradually shuts out everything else in our lives until the Moment of Totality–Step One. When everything is blotted out and we can no longer see our way backwards or forwards, we finally surrender. We finally admit that we cannot control our alcohol and drug use—that we are powerless and that our lives are unmanageable. We admit that addiction is killing us. Like the Earth and all that is on it, we cannot live without the Sun, or in our case, what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous calls, “the Sunlight of the Spirit.”
What struck me on the hill was the beauty of that Step One surrender moment. Patients, alumni, staff, and their families were scattered across the hill. As I looked around at the moment of Total Eclipse, I saw a couple of stars and a planet that couldn’t be seen until the darkness was more complete. You know, those people you take for granted when you really sick and who are still standing by you when you finally ask for help. I saw sunset colors of gold and soft orange from all four sides—’a 360-degree sunset,’ as my friend Claude called it. The view I see every day suddenly seemed precious in a way I often miss—just like my family, my friends, and the other truly important stuff I ignored in active addiction.
I did not feel the beauty of my first Step One surrender. I was too defeated, too scared, and too unsure that there was anything on the other side. I didn’t know about Step Two and Step Three—how a Higher Power working through a fellowship of other recovering people would save me. It took time for me to see the beauty and the freedom of the Step One surrender. It took time for me to understand that Step One was the beginning of a new life for me.
As the Totality happened today, there was a spontaneous cheering from all across the slope and hill at Cumberland Heights! It wasn’t planned; it just came from deep inside us. It was the sound of sober and clean people celebrating. “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and drugs-that our lives had become unmanageable.” And, in that very moment, the Sun started to come back out.
Cinde Stewart Freeman is Cumberland Heights’ Chief Clinical Officer and has been with Cumberland Heights for 25 years. During her tenure Cinde has served in nursing, clinical management and administrative roles.
Cinde is a bachelor’s prepared nurse with a master’s degree in counseling. She served on the Board of Directors at both AWARE and Thistle Farms. Cinde has developed and presented professional trainings on a wide variety of clinical skills, as well as process improvement, clinical supervision, and workplace wellness. She is an Oral Examiner for the Tennessee Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors and a Qualified Clinical Supervisor for the LADAC.