Growing up, I played house a lot. I had a doll house, a Barbie dream house, and a
kitchenette and cribs for my baby dolls in the basement. The idea of home was so strong I didn’t always need these props: I played house with a blanket over a card table, a refrigerator box with magic marker windows, or a mansion in the woods with rooms delineated by sticks and leaves. I suspect a sense of home is hard-wired into us.
My life in active addiction, however, only had moments of feeling at home, mostly because I used alcohol and drugs to enjoy a party, make a connection with someone, or tolerate household chores. The cornerstone of my addictive life was looking to something outside myself to soothe me, the very opposite of being at home in the world.
So, for me, recovery is a process of coming home—to myself, to authentic connections with others, and to a closer relationship with my higher power. The route to coming home is not to run away but to stay in the moment, whatever that feels like, rather than distract myself with something else. I tend to want to run precisely when I’m growing spiritually, find myself on new emotional territory, and need to lean on my higher power more than ever. Feeling at home is not simply feeling relief; it’s deeper and carries glimpses of my connection to earth, community, and Spirit. So if I equate feeling at home with feeling comfortable or at ease, I may miss out on my soul’s invitation to grow.
Here’s how I know when I’m spiritually at home:
I listen to others without interrupting or asking too many questions.
I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full, and gravitate toward delicious, wholesome foods.
I get enough sleep and get up without resistance in the morning.
I reach out to others with an email, a card, a phone call, a sincere ‘how are you?’, with an eagerness to connect.
I welcome quiet in the car, in the house, and in my head.
I cherish the daily chores of making supper, driving to work, grocery shopping, and exercising. These tasks help me feel alive and purposeful.
I laugh a lot.
I feel love for others at a 12 Step meeting whether I know them or not.
I hear something helpful in everyone’s share at a meeting.
I change gears and transition easily.
The perfect book crosses my path, the recipe calls for exactly what I have on hand, or words fall into place when I write or speak.
Nothing matters so much as being in alignment with my higher power, the source of home. Taking time to make conscious contact each day before I do anything else gives me a shot at appreciating the wonders of the season, the gifts of recovery, and the richness of my relationships. Savoring these strengthens the foundation of home. How do you know when you’re home?
JoAnn Campbell-Rice is a spiritual care professional at Hazelden in St. Paul, MN, and worked at the Dan Anderson Renewal Center for eight years. A writer with a private practice in spiritual direction, JoAnn lives in Minneapolis, MN.