I went to a meeting this morning. I was so grateful there was an Al-Anon meeting on Christmas Eve morning that I could attend. The topic around the meeting was taking care of ourselves, but I heard a smattering of frustration and fear on the topic of holidays in general, my own included. I talked about how I was trying to remember the Three C’s: I didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and can’t cure it . . . and the Three M’s to avoid for myself: manipulation, martyrdom, and mothering.
It all comes down to the wisdom of knowing the difference between things I can change and things I can’t. It should be such a simple thing. All I can change is myself or things about myself. Period. Can’t change circumstances or other people.
Circumstances will be different for me this Christmas Eve with my family. I can’t control the outcome. I can’t control whether or not people have a good time, or are upset about something. I can control my own responses and reactions. That’s about it. There’s not a lot I can do otherwise.
When I think of the word detachment it helps. If I’m too enmeshed with someone or something, I can’t possibly back off enough to even BREATHE, let alone know the difference.
Have a great day today. Whatever you do, take care of yourself. Even if you just need to go to a quiet corner and meditate, do that.
Peace, both individual and world peace in general, has everything to do with the 3rd step I’ve learned in Al-Anon – made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I have had to revisit Step Three a whole lot during the last few weeks. Because of my codependency, I sometimes still have issues with boundaries. I let other peoples’ feelings leak over into me, and think that my positive feelings about the season should be enough to lift anyone’s spirits. It’s like I forget about the invisible line that separates me from other people.
It used to be for me, if you and I went to a movie and you didn’t enjoy it, it became a personal affront. I almost couldn’t stand the idea that you didn’t like it, didn’t have a good time, and felt like what you were saying was “I didn’t like you. I didn’t like being around you.”
In the past while, since Thanksgiving, I’ve come across several people I care about who are – to put it bluntly – humbugs this year. They would rather the season pass, the days go by, without acknowledging anything special. It started to bring me down. A couple times I even got angry. I was losing my own joy and inner peace. My serenity felt lost at sea.
Then I remembered that part of the Third Step is turning other people and their lives over to God. I remembered, when the alcoholic in my life was drinking, that I used to pray, “God, this is too big for me to handle. I don’t know what to do. But nothing is too big for You, so I’m turning this (person, situation) over to You.” And I would feel, if not immediate, then very soon after a peace wash over me.
That helped me this morning, when I logged onto Facebook and again saw an expression of humbug over Christmas. I turned that person over to God, and I let it go. Peace and happiness over Christmas day are both an inside job. Nobody can ruin that inner peace unless I let them.
I wish you peace and joy this holiday season. And I hope your day is lovely. I pray we can focus on the people around us, the loved ones we are with, thankfulness for what we already have as opposed to what we don’t, do only what we can, or do even less, and remember that serenity doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free existence. It does mean that we can maintain inner peace though the troubles. I pray we can look on the brighter side, and let go of what we can’t control.
“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?