But seriously, I went to an amazing meeting this morning. And it wasn’t just because it was called the Sunday morning Amazing Grace Al-Anon meeting, either. We read from today’s reading in Hope for Today, and what I heard most of all was about letting go.
Boy, do I need to let go. I’ve been ashamed to talk about this here, but since I talked with my sponsor and with my friend Sherrie, who guest posted here and writes here, at Sherrie Theriault’s Blog, I feel better. My uber sponsor bolstered my spirits by speaking of a few small resentments she had rattling around in her head.
But what was most important was what Sherrie did. First, she made me laugh. Laughter is very important for the soul. 2. She let me know that I have a double standard, one for myself and one for everybody else, and I’m much harder an myself. 3. That resentments sometimes have layers, and if my sister just stopped drinking seven months ago, it’s not surprising I still have resentment left; and 4. That it’s okay, even good to let readers know other seasons of your soul. You need to know that there was a whole season I did not go to meetings. More importantly, you needed to hear from me during that time, that I was still here, what I was doing, how I was doing, so that you too could read and perhaps say, “Oh yes, that’s me.” or “Gosh, I don’t ever want to go there.”
It was great to see my sponsor. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, what with one thing and another, and we just held each other for the longest time. “Look at you!” she said. “Look at you!” said I. We made a time to get together on Wednesday.
I’m not often speechless. It’s not usually hard for me to know what to say, but writing in this blog has been so hard for me lately, and that’s not like me. It’s like I feel like I’m supposed to have the “answers,” as if 1) there are certain answers one has to follow as a member of Al-Anon and 2) I know them.
Let’s get a couple things squared away. The only “answers” I really know in Al-Anon are told to me (either through the other members, the big book of Al-Anon, my sponsor, whatever) by my higher power. And what I don’t know will be revealed in time. I trust that. I trust it as easily as I trust the sun to rise every morning and to set every night. There is a God, and it’s not me.
Which brings me to the second part of what I’ve been feeling and why it’s been so hard to write lately. Not only are there certain answers, but I have them. Alcoholic boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parent/sibling/friend? Just come to me. I’ll cure what ails you. NOT. So not. What I say on here, what I share on here, on this pithy little blog, is just my own experience, strength and hope. I don’t have the answers anymore than the next guy.
What scares me is when I write posts like “Five Ways to Tell if You’re Codependent,” because it makes it sound like I’m an expert, which – we’ve just just established – I’m really not.
So if you’re here for answers, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re here because you just want to hang with another struggling, trying-to-get-her-act-together codependent, you are so in the right place. And man, can we have some fun. Because my life is anything but boring. I’m worried about two people right now, my mom (who is not an alcoholic) and my sister (who is). More on that tomorrow.
When you know yourself you are empowered. When you accept yourself you are invincible.
— TINA LIFFORD
At the Sunday morning meeting yesterday, when we broke up, I chose to sit at the Hope For Today table. The topic of the reading for that morning was perfectionism, and how, despite being gentle with other folk, we can be merciless with ourselves.
As I listened to the other people at the table, I learned something important, something I could so relate to. What we say to ourselves about our imperfection, our blunders, or our stumblings along the way of life is more important to recovery than the imperfection itself. How we get back up, dust ourselves off, and continue on, makes a huge difference.
Raise your hand if any of these statements sound familiar:
“You stupid idiot!”
“How could you have done something that dumb?”
“Well, there you go again…”
“&%$* it! Why even bother at all?”
I’ve said these things to myself, and others. “If you were a real writer, you’d write every day…be published…” and self-defeating statements that I begin to believe because I’ve said them over and over to myself so often. Would I dare say that to a struggling writer friend? Not in a million years. I know what that would do to her spirit. Yet somehow it’s okay for me?
No. And it shouldn’t be for you either, if you want to move forward and beyond perfectionism. Guess what? Everyone has a flaw. If you don’t see it, that just means they cover it up really, really well.
Today, take some time and notice how you talk to yourself. Catch the harshness of your tone, and change it as soon as you recognize it. Pretend you are talking to your very best friend.
You are, you know.
“Every now and again take a good look at something not made with hands—a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world.” –Sidney Lovett
When I pray the serenity prayer, I place a special emphasis on the first word, “God.” Now, don’t stop reading at this point. See, what I love about the Al-Anon program and the CoDA (Codependency Anonymous) program is they allow for each to come the “God of his own understanding.”
I had a relationship with God before I ever started the program, but I soon realized it didn’t work for me. I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father, so my very first concept of God was as a tyrant who sat up in heaven keeping score and who did not like me very much. It was exacerbated by my Catholic faith (I’m not saying Catholicism is a bad thing necessarily; it just did a weird number on me in many ways).
To keep this from being a long, drawn-out story, let me just say that it wasn’t until I came to Al-Anon that I realized I needed to rethink my concept of God. Yes, He’s sovereign, and all-knowing and all that is still true. But He’s personal, and I can speak with Him just as easily as I speak to my best friend, my ubersponsor. He wants to know the things that are important to me, the things that worry me, the things I feel bad about, and so forth.
But for me God is the most important part of the serenity prayer. Sometimes I forget that, and today I wanted to remind myself. Because . . . I’m so thankful I don’t have to do this alone.
I hope you are having a great Sunday! Peace out.
That’s part of the inside of my car. The back seat is still pristine. My point is, I think a lot of times we get wiser from making mistakes.
Progress not perfection. I’ll clean it today.
At least, that’s how it goes for me.
Take this blog for instance. I don’t know how many times I changed the “theme,” the basic looks of he blog before I finally settled on this one. And it’s still hard. Every time WordPress comes out with new themes I allow myself to “window shop,” but I do NOT buy. It’s tough love on myself. Sometimes I would get triggered to change my theme just by visiting someone else’s blog, and I’d think, “Dang! That looks SO good.”
Next thing you know . . . well, yeah. My blog had that same theme.
Now I’m having trouble accepting the niche I’ve made for myself with a blog based almost entirely on Al-Anon. Except for a few book reviews, my monthly CW Blog Chain and monthly Insecure Writers Support Group post, that’s what it’s about.
I am nearly finished with a 10-week Blog Course which has been telling me a lot of the opposite of what I do here. I know I will never be popular. I’ll never earn the Versatile Blogger Award, or The Sunshine Award, or all the lovely things that other bloggers are awarded.
But I’ve accepted my choice, because if it helps even one person who deals with an alcoholic or who struggles with codependency in his/her life . . . oh MAN, it’s worth more than all the accolades in the world. You know?
Dear Readers, you are my heart and soul. Peace out.
Wednesday was a difficult day for me, and I thought I had lost all the ground I had previously gained in Al-Anon and then some. That was the day we picked up my sister from jail, and subsequently spent 11 hours in the car driving her around, back and forth from her probation officer to different places, only to have doors slammed in our faces and told to go back here or there . . .
I admit, I lost my cool a time or two. I don’t do freeway driving well, and I had to listen to Stella (my GPS), find the places, while trying not to worry about my 85-yr-old mother next to me in the passenger seat who had also been in the car the same length of time.
Then this morning I read this passage (April 5th) on acceptance from Courage To Change: “It’s all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances.” The reading goes on to say that many of us find ourselves going back to the basics even after we have found ourselves in Al-Anon for a while after the alcoholic gets sober and THEY go through big changes. What is important is what we do with our feelings. Talking them through at the tables helps. A lot.
So today I’ll go to a meeting. I didn’t have time yesterday. I have family here from out of town. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, or blaming them in any way, because I enjoy them! But I’ll have time today while they are visiting friends of theirs.
Have a great and wonderful day, gentle readers.
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
At this morning’s Al-Anon meeting, the topic of the table was about being powerless.
I knew all about the powerlessness over the alcoholic, over other people, places, and things. This I had come face-to-face with many times.
But then someone at the table mentioned being powerless over her own self, and it felt like all the air been sucked right out of me. That’s it! That’s what I’ve been feeling over the last couple of weeks.
Powerless over myself.
But how can that be? Aren’t I supposed to be in control of myself? Then again, nothing I do is of my own willpower. My higher power, who you all know by now I choose to call God, takes care of all that for me. I can’t even save myself!
The curious paradox is when I saw this connection, when I began to accept that I am powerless over myself, then I could believe that a power greater than me could restore myself to sanity. Only THEN could change begin. Because – between you and me – I’m pretty messed up.
Have a great Sunday. Peace out.
“Serenity isn’t freedom from the storms of life. It’s the calm in the middle of the storm that gets me through. It’s up to me to try to keep this calm, even when the storm gets worse.” -Alateen–a day at a time, p. 30
This picture, and this quote, are so perfect for the topic of the day, which is of course, serenity.
Serenity manifests itself in several ways for me. When I need that calm in the middle of the storm, these are the places I go/things I do/people I seek:
1. Pray. I often think it’s not always the first thing I remember, but it always is, when I look back on the storm. When I have time to think my prayers are long and detailed, but when I don’t, my prayers are like this, “Oh dear God . . . please God . . . please please please . . .” So I don’t always think I’m praying. But God hears me, and He always begins calming His child.
2. Talk it out. I usually call my super sponsor. She’s always honest with me and tells me if she’s not available or if she’s just walking out the door, in which case I would call someone in one of several of my meeting lists to talk with. Unless of course, I call my super sponsor in tears, in which case she has told me she would drop everything to talk to me. This also brings on serenity in the midst of the storm.
3. Go to a meeting. Even though it’s hard, because in the midst of a storm, I’m afraid I’ll fall apart and cry, the best place for me to be at that time is at a meeting. It centers me, it reminds me I’m SO not alone, and I’m SO not the only one who has storms. Plus I usually get hugs, and there is a tissue box at meetings. Yes, other people have cried too. I’m SO not unique. Dang.
4. Read Al-Anon Approved literature. Anything, whether it’s from a meditation book or from the Big Book of Al-Anon itself, will help to bring me serenity and calm me in the middle of a storm. One definition of serenity I found for serenity is tranquility, and I would guess that’s tranquilizer-free. Whenever I read something, even a paragraph conference-approved literature, I find a gem that helps me feel stable and grounded, free from floating anxiety.
5. Help someone else. Have you ever called someone for help, asked them politely how they are and found that they are in a worse state than you? Helping someone else can put things in perspective for me, adding to that calm center, and remind me how blessed I truly am.
6. Make a gratitude list. Yes. Right in the middle of the chaos. Find a quiet corner or go outside if the weather is nice. Find one thing to be thankful for, even if it’s just “I woke up this morning,” or “I have all four of my limbs and they’re in perfect working condition.” I’m always so surprised that once I write one down I’m able to write one more and then before I know it I have five.
What are some ways that serenity manifests itself for you? How do you get to that calm place in the middle of a storm?
A few posts ago I declared myself a fraud and think I also said something about being worthless, perhaps. I would like takesies-backsies on both of those.
Since then, I have spoken with both my Al-Anon super sponsor, and my therapist, Heather, and they have helped me learn something valuable.
I thought I was a fraud because the nearly year-long time I had spent going to Al-Anon had only gone into my head-sense, but had not traveled the 12 or so inches to my heart.
Both my super sponsor and my T. heartily disagreed, and I have to say I finally understand. I’ll explain why. It takes everyone WHATEVER IT TAKES and AS LONG AS IT TAKES to get to the next level in the program.
Just like it might have taken my sister getting arrested to get straight finally, it might have taken MY SISTER GETTING ARRESTED for me to take the focus totally off her and put it completely on me where it belongs. I gotta tell you it feels weird, but freeing, because I get to learn about my needs, and get to learn a lot about myself for the first time in a long time.
I don’t jump every time the phone rings anymore. In fact, the phone is eerily quiet. I’m journaling, and I’m eight days self-injury free.
The freedom that comes with accepting yourself right where you are means you don’t need to pretend. You don’t need to say you’re fine when you’re not. You don’t have to paste on a fake smile until your face hurts at a party. If you need to you can slip out and take a break. Or *gasp* not go at all. You don’t have to put yourself in situations that threaten the core of what you value, if you know those values. If you don’t – there’s freedom in working that all out.
The best part is we are not alone wherever we are on our journey. Our Higher Power (mine is God) is with us, talking us through it, holding our hand at the scary parts, walking ahead of us, lighting the way. He’s been there before. He’s done that. He knows exactly what it feels like. More importantly, He knows us way better than we even know ourselves.
This has been a post for the Christian Writers Blog Chain. The theme for July is FREEDOM!
As always, love you big. Peace out.
Yesterday we talked about how there can be a disconnect when dealing with codependency. A disconnect within ourselves, with who we are, what our own needs, emotions, and feelings are.
Today, I would like to present five ways to get to know ourselves better. There are, of course, many ways. These are just five to get you started:
1 Make collages: Any magazines will do. Family Circle, Redbook, Vogue, Cosmo, to name a few. Sit down on the floor or at a table with several magazines spread around and a pair of scissors. Then flip through the pages and cut out anything that speaks to you. Faces, places, objects, famous people, nobody in particular, babies, adults, old people, trees, whatever that resonates to you at the moment. Put the cut out pictures in a pile separately. Later, glue them on a large blank paper or perhaps begin a sketchbook of collages and date them, keeping track of how you have changed.
2. Journal. I suggest a blank, unlined journal, for several reasons, but this must be purely your choice. The reason I suggest an unlined journal is because sometimes you might like to draw or sketch out what you’re feeling. Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe what’s going on. There’s no better way to describe a black hole, for instance, then to draw a black hole. And sometimes I like to paste in special things I’ve found that have meaning. A goose feather that fell next to me while I was writing one day, for instance. With journaling, you can be exactly whatever. No one is grading it. No one checks your grammar, spelling
erors errors, or whether or not you mention them. It is YOURS and YOURS alone. Keep it in a lock box if you wish. Get to know yourself.
3. Create. Paint. Knit. Crochet. Make something out of clay. Write a short story or go big and write a novel. Getting creative can help you know yourself because the left side of our brains, which taps into creativity, also deals a lot with emotion. So GO, DO! Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes don’t count when you are using this creativity to know yourself. They don’t even figure into the equation. You might even consider paint-by-numbers if blank canvases freak you out. Yes!
4. Join a support group. Whether it’s Al-Anon or another support group, it’s important to find a place you’re comfortable to dig deep and TALK about yourself. When you talk in general about whatever the support group topic is, you will find yourself learning more and more about yourself.
5. Do the unusual thing. If you usually don’t walk during the day, WALK. If you usually don’t speak up for yourself, be bold for one day. Think about what you do, then do the opposite for one day, just to see how it feels.
As always, love you guys to pieces. Peace out.
When we spend our lives, or the majority of them, obsessing about another person – namely a relative or friend who is alcoholic – we lose pieces of ourselves until we no longer no who we are. We become so enmeshed with the other person we forget where they end and we begin. This is also called codependency, and it affects millions of people around the globe.
We become numb to our feelings, oblivious to our own needs, unable to name our emotions.
When I watched my sister sentenced, handcuffed, and taken away to jail on Tuesday, I didn’t cry. Nor did I cry when I spoke about it with my sponsor the next day or mechanically field call after call from “well wishers” wanting to know what had happened.
I didn’t cry when my doctor spoke softly with me about my depression, and changed my medication, told me I was severely dehydrated and needed to drink more water. I didn’t cry as he poked open my burn blister to drain it and gave me silvadene cream to treat it. I didn’t cry as I explained my worthlessness to him. He asked how long I had felt like this, how often did I see my therapist? I told him as long as I can remember, and – once a week.
That evening I went to an Al-Anon meeting. It occurred to me on the way there that I’d been taking “Fake it ’til you make it” to an extreme. I had been saying all the right things at the meetings, wanting so hard to believe them. I read the Al-Anon literature, underlined the important parts, and it got into my head . . . but hadn’t traveled to my heart.
So – at the meeting, I shared my worthlessness, and I burst into tears. I apologized for them, of course. But people told me not to be ridiculous, don’t apologize for feelings. I’ve been teary ever since.
Gentle reader, I’m a big fat fake. I’m just now finding out who I am. I didn’t even know, when I bought CK 1 the other day, whether or not it was meant for women. That’s the measure of my clueless nature. I just knew I loved the smell, and I wanted it.
If I bore you, that is that. If I am clumsy, that may indicate partly the difficulty of my subject, and the seriousness with which I am trying to take what hold I can of it; more certainly, more certainly it will indicate my youth, my lack of mastery of my so-called art or craft, my lack perhaps of talent . . .
A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point. –James Agee
I dearly love you all. I DO know that much. Peace out.
Withdrawal sucks. No two . . . okay, well maybe two words about it.
It’s been over 24 hours since I checked my blog stats. Now, before you start snorting Pepsi out your nose and all over your computer screen, please realize this is a very big deal for me. In the not-too-distant past, I’ve been known to check my stats anywhere from 1-8 times a day, to see how many likes I’ve been getting, what posts are most read, etc.
Even now, my fingers ache oh-so-bad to just click over and see how things are going.
Knowing where this comes from doesn’t make it any easier. Who do you know that had a fairy tale childhood, with a happily ever after ending? KNOWING is useless. I deal with it, I’ve forgiven it, let it go, “over with, done with, gone” . . .
Then stuff like this crops up, like a weed among the flowers, or . . . better yet, a flower that suddenly sprouts up through a crack in the sidewalk. Ever see one of those? I have. They are little miracles. They remind me that I’m not quite finished, and maybe I never will be.
But you know what? It’s okay. I’ve got plenty of time. Acceptance will carry me through for now.
It’s just okay.
Thursday morning I saw my Super Sponsor and we decided to talk about the third step: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Actually, I requested this step, because I’m having difficulty with “Let go and let God.” I turn things over to Him and then my mind gets on its hamster-wheel the things I’ve turned over to Him are back with me going ’round and ’round and I can’t make them stop.
Much of this, I knew had to do with my sister’s upcoming sentencing hearing, and it will be very difficult for me to be separated from her for whatever period of time, whether it’s sixty days or five years. My sponsor suggested that I need to do something after I turn my sister over to God. I need to either read in one of my daily meditation books, my Bible . . . or do something active, like take a walk, write, clean something, so that I don’t just sit there and GIVE my sister a chance to come back to me. You know? Let her stay with God. It’s too much for me to handle.
It’s not easy, and I fall many more times than I stand . . . especially after I came home from that to find that my sister had taken off and no one knew where she was. She took her purse and her cigarettes, but not her cell phone. She was gone for two nights. Nearly 48 hours.
Did I leave her entirely in God’s hands? I wish I could say I did. I prayed for her safety. I got angry. I fretted and cried.
She’s home safely, a bit bruised and worse for the wear, but at least she’ll make her probation appt on Monday and she’ll face up to her sentencing hearing on July 3rd. Nobody’s perfect. I don’t have any stones to throw. Do you?
We all try so hard to do the very perfect thing. All we can do is the next right thing. And keep breathing. Even if we meet God partly halfway, He’ll gladly meet us all the rest of the way. At least, that’s the kind of God He is to me.
Okay, so I can totally relate to this picture here. When it comes to the Third Step, Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, I’m a total control freak with the big things.
And what exactly ARE the big things? I mean, I can turn over parking spaces, book ideas, my dog’s ear infection and different things like that.
But when it comes to people I love it’s an entirely different story. I have a pretty big deal coming up on the 29th, next Tuesday, and I’ve been talking around it, and in vague terms. Today I’m just going to come right out and say it, because I could use your prayers or comments of support, whatever you can offer me. Even just your “likes” on this post will send my heart soaring. Honestly.
My sister was arrested for her 4th drunk driving and I’m driving her to court on Tuesday. She faces from 1-5 YEARS in prison. There is a possibility of treatment instead, so we’re praying about that. Fortunately, she didn’t hurt anyone else while she was driving (or herself), so she’s not dealing with manslaughter charges.
I’ve been doubling up on my Al-Anon meetings, and talking to my sponsor a lot, because my sister calls me often to speak to me, looking for reassurance, or just to talk. She speculates much about the future, and I try to help her take it one day at a time, and one hour at a time if she needs to. We just DON’T KNOW what will happen. Only God knows.
That’s where I get hung up. I get all twisted up inside when I think about Tuesday. As much as I’m reassuring her, I think of how much I will miss my sister. No matter what happens, she will go away for quite a while. If it’s treatment, it will be long term somewhere. I talk to her every day without fail except for when she is drinking. Then I miss her the most.
The only time I have peace with this is when I’m sleeping. I try so hard to turn her over. I pray to my higher power, which is God, and I say, “I know she belongs to You. She was Yours way before I ever even knew her. You can take such good care of her if I just let go. Help me to let go. Please.” *laughing* Praying a prayer for help to turn someone over doesn’t even seem to make a lick of sense, does it?
But it’s the best I can do for now.
Okay, so I spoke with Mary, my temporary OA (Overeaters Anonymous) sponsor yesterday evening, and she told me she would like me do several things that she did for her sponsor and that had worked for her.
1. To call her every day, and tell her what I’ve eaten the day before, if I’m on track with my meal plan for that day.
2. To read three pages in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, find something on each page that means something or touches me in some way, and write about each thing in a notebook . . . every day.
3. Go to more OA meetings. I only go to one OA meeting a week so far.
I guess that’s all she said for now. But it feels totally overwhelming, and I’ll tell you why. These are all my reasons:
1 I’ve put Undertow on the back burner and have started a novel, the beginning of a series, called Where is Faith? , to be followed by Faith in Prison, and finally Faith Forever.
2. I’m working on putting together a book proposal for Where is Faith? which is not exactly an easy process. They are generally quite a bit longer than synopses, and more involved.
3. I love to write, but I’d rather be journaling my feelings regarding my cravings when it comes to food. Like, when I get hungry, is it emotional or physical hunger, and if emotional then what the hell is going on?
4. The reason I only go to one OA meeting a week is because I usually attend four Al-Anon meetings a week, and I told her that, but it didn’t put her off mentioning other OA meetings I might like.
Well, Mary did say at the end that we could try this for two weeks and see how it goes. We might be incompatible, and that’s okay. But when I talk to her today I’m going to ask her about the journaling thing. What is the point of the pages? Why that particular assignment? Is it just to make sure I read the big book? Because I’m reading it.
I don’t know. I’m just so overwhelmed. It’s making me tired and pissed off.
I’m exhausted; tired down to my bones; dog tired. I have not been sleeping well the last couple of nights. I know why, and it’s because I haven’t been praying enough, and haven’t been “letting go and letting God” when I am afraid. I shouldn’t even be afraid, if I’m working my program right.
Well no, I take that back. Feelings are feelings. They come and go, like thoughts. There’s not much we can do about them.
In other news, I finished reading “Eat, Pray, Love” finally. I loved this book. It’s not a book I would have picked up on my own, you know? I mean I didn’t even see the movie. But Paula Balzer, in her book Writing & Selling Your Memoir suggests several different memoirs to read if you’re writing your own. I’ve read this one now, and Drinking: A Love Story, which I also loved, for different reasons.
They are about different subjects, for one thing. “Eat, Pray, Love” is about a woman who, after her divorce goes on a pilgrimage to discover what she wants for herself and spends a year divided equally between Italy, India, and Indonesia. She eats her way through Italy, prays her way through India, and loves her way through Indonesia. It’s a funny, serious, charming, and informative book.
Liz Gilbert also has a totally different voice than Caroline Knapp, of “Drinking: A Love Story,” which I had finished just before I started Liz’s book, so that took a lot of getting used to. Caroline’s story is starkly honest, and is exactly what the title says. It’s about the love story between a woman and wine and other alcoholic beverages, but her first love is a crisp, white wine.
Caroline takes us on her journey with candor and also wit, but pulls no punches, and we are led all the way through to her struggles in rehab and through that to living life sober, to making friends soberly, shopping for groceries stone-cold sober, going to a party sober, etc. Highly recommend both.
Now I’m reading Lighting Up: How I Quit Smoking, Drinking, and Everything Else I Loved In Life Except Sex. It’s another memoir, not recommended by Paula Balzer, but I’m reading it because I read it once a long time ago, and with chronic fatigue syndrome I can read things a second time and it’s like reading it all over again for the first time.
Susan Shapiro is seeing a psychoanalyst to quit smoking. Her voice is wry and emotional, and the book is hard to put down.
I pray I sleep well tonight, and that you do too. What do you do when you don’t sleep well? How do you help yourself sleep?
After being in Al-Anon a while, I learned about the acronym H.A.L.T., which teaches us never to get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
I’ve been rolling along all right, I guess, with the hungry and tired part . . . you know, eating enough (while not correctly) and sleeping enough. But I’ve been slipping in the anger department lately.
And I’m devastatingly lonely. There, I said it. I don’t have any real/life friends other than my sponsor, and– Oh God, that sounds absolutely pathetic. But it’s really not. Because for the most part I enjoy my own company and have been perfectly fine spending time alone, which is different by far than being lonely.
The difference has spiked I think because many of my close circle of online friends are experiencing personal stressors of their own, or are extremely busy, or are in general freaking out. sigh It’s a sign of the times, you know? Life is precarious at best and a thin, delicate thread at worst. Striking a balance within that is like trying to draw polka dots on a King Cobra. A bit scary and breathtaking.
So, after I prayed, and cried, and prayed some more, then cried as I drove to the meeting, I did something quite uncharacteristic for me. I asked for help.
I shared that I’d been ignoring the L. part especially of H.A.L.T., and talked about how that was SO not working for me. Then – before my hands could shake too much – I passed around the sheet of paper and asked if, you know, they wanted to be friends and, if that was they case could they write down their number for me so I could call them and ask them out for coffee or something? lol
I DID. That’s exactly how I said it too. There were five women at my table, and I got four numbers.
I’m so proud of myself. I’m going to do it at tomorrow’s meeting too.
Is it hard for you to ask for help? When was the last time you did, and were the results surprising?
If I want people to accept me where I’m at, in all my mistakes and imperfections, then I’ve got to be willing to do the same for them.
The hardest lesson, the hardest thing I have had to accept is that we are who we are, we do what we do. People do not generally change. Past behavior is a strong predictor of future behavior. Addicts do what they do because they are hung up in their diseases, not because they are bad people.
When something recently happened with my nephew, an addict, I got all surprised – like DUH – what did you think would happen. And I confronted him on the behavior, which he denied. Did it make me feel any better? Did I feel vindicated? Did I feel I had helped my nephew see the error of his ways? No, no and NO. It made me feel stupid, if you want to know the truth.
All I can do is take really good care of myself. I can continue to attend my meetings, read my literature, call my sponsor, talk about what’s in my head so it doesn’t run around rent free, remember to place principles above personalities, and do the very best I can all the time. That’s about it. There’s not much more I can do.
Al-Anon not only helps in dealing with the alcoholics in my life. The thing about it is …. it spreads like a wildfire. It helps me when I’m standing in a long line at a checkout. It helps when I’m dealing with a not-very-nice person on the telephone. It helps with my volunteer work at the library. It leaks out into ALL the areas of my life, and for that I’m truly grateful beyond measure.