Sunday, December 18, 2011

What I Wanted to Say - Recovery Topic

I am a grateful member of Al Anon and having known nothing of the program or principles until July 2011, I am continually amazed at how applicable everything I learn is to my journey.  I am grateful to my husband's addiction, as wrong as that sounds, for re-setting me (and us) on a more positive path to self-discovery - if things had gone down differently this year, I would not be sitting here right now, happily blogging about my life and feeling optimistic and FREE...

Here is the reading I can't quite get out of my head - and think about this for your life, regardless of whether you have any connection at all with the disease of addiction - from Courage to Change, an Al Anon daily meditation publication:

I was convinced that I had to take care of everthing and everybody - I had no choice.  But with the help of Al Anon I have learned that, while I do have responsibilities, there are also many things I do not have to do:
I don't have to understand everything.  Some things are not my business, and others will simply never make sense to me.
I don't have to be reluctant to show my feelings.  When I am happy, I can give in to it!  When I'm not, I can turn to my Al Anon friends who help me to grow through the tough times.
I don't have to feel threatened by the future.  I can take life one day at a time.
I don't have to feel guilty about the past.  with the help of the Steps, especially Eight and Nine, I can make amends and learn from the mistakes I have made.
I don't have to feel alone.  I can go to a meeting, or pick up the phone - there is always somebody to reach out to in Al Anon.
I don't have to take responsibility for other people's choices.  They have their own Higher Power to help them make their decisions.
I don't have to give up on my hopes and dreams - my Higher Power is not limited by my lack of imagination.

That's from p. 351, the December 16th reading.  I love it.

What I wanted to say about this reading on Friday night at my meeting, but didn't, was that I can see that these very things - permissions to let go, if you will - have allowed me to look up from staring at my plodding feet, struggling just to push through from day to day, and really start again to enjoy the world around me.  I can see and feel the colors and light of the world now - after months (or years) in the tunnel.  Even my struggles with my career and the feeling of being burned out with what I do have lessened - not because the emotional toll of my job is necessarily any different these days, but I think because I am feeling relief from the strain of the ongoing power struggle within myself.  I was feeling so much joy at the meeting on Friday, that I think I felt embarrassed (see the one about allowing yourself to be happy when you are happy?  I can be happy, but it seems too unMinnesotanScandahoovianLutheran to actually point that out to others)


  1. Wow, Sarah, I love this refection of yours and I can clearly relate. I am very familiar with the 12 step programs but more from a professional place. The way you laid it out above from the 12/16 reading is also lots of me in a nutshell. The responsibility BS? Bingo! The frigging need to UNDERSTAND stuff? Really? Why can't I just say, "that's just the way it is." Nope, not me - always gotta gnaw my way through things. I don't have issues with showing happy - happy is FUN and easy and joyful and all that good stuff. What I DO have issues with is showing anything BUT happy. I am learning to take off the mask I have been wearing for many years and not pretending always that everything is hunkey dorey.
    Keep on writing. I look forward to your posts.

  2. I think it was your use of the word tunnel, which was the word I also chose, in sharing my own mental catharsis, a 48 year-long struggle, from which I emerged, just over a year ago. Then I started to "write" in March, as opposed to the writing I have done all my life. That lace veil which has been draped over me since age ten, preventing me from moving at will around the globe, has evaporated, and I am free. No fear-not ever.

  3. I appreciate your reflection about gratitude for Sean's addiction. Isn't it so odd that real good comes from 'bad' ? Although I can't say I appreciate Becky's death b/c it feels like I am happy about it, I do appreciate the good that has come from my life and others that knew her. I believe we have a choice to bring good or wallow in misery and bitterness from misfortune. Which choice we take, makes all the difference.

  4. As Carl Jung said, "I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become." It can be so hard, though, to pull yourself out of that dark place.

  5. I'm with sebtown on the "understanding" issue--it's a bit of an obsession of mine. I haven't yet found a way to let go of the idea that if I look at something (be it a person, concept, action, whatever) from enough angles I will be able to understand it and (this part's probably the key) that that understanding will somehow magically make whatever it is easier to deal with.

    At the halfway house where I work, we have two readings at each meal. This book is one of our dinner books. The readings are full of a-ha moments for me, too.


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