I love the simplicity of the AA and Al-Anon programs. Since AA works so well, Al-Anon has adapted much of what it uses almost word for word for its own purposes, like this prayer. I take that at face value, meaning that those are the four things I need to truly concern myself with when I come before God each night with my daily inventory.
Where have I been selfish, dishonest, resentful and fearful today? Who do I need to talk to/make amends with? An apology alone is not “making amends.” To make amends means to provide just compensation for a loss, injury, or insult. It’s an action. If I apologize and rake someone’s leaves because, say, I caused an injury that made him unable to rake his own leaves … that’s making amends.
The tenth step is freeing for me because it keeps my inventory list low. Instead of full tank, I want an empty one, when it comes to the tenth step, you know? If I go to bed every night, and I hit my pillow … I want to drift off to sleep as easily as possible.
To that end, sometimes I have tenth step friends I call on for help. Just yesterday I called a friend in Al-Anon because I was on my way to a NaNoWriMo kickoff party and I got scared and panicky.
How does this step look for you?
I think the single most difficult thing for me to learn in Al-Anon – and some days it’s something I only strive for – is to live life in the moment. It’s so much easier to fall into the pitfalls of yesterday or tomorrow.
Think about it. We can get to yesterday and tomorrow with only a daydream or two. We can get to yesterday’s mistakes and tomorrow’s worries in the time it takes to drive from work to home, something we do on autopilot. Those kind of drives leave a lot of room for daydreams about yesterdays and tomorrows.
But try this, just once. Turn off your radio and your cell phone. Really pay attention to what’s happening on the road in front of you. Drive like you’re taking the test to get your first license. Feel the steering wheel underneath your hands. Hear the sounds around you; really listen. See everything, take it all in. We are only alive for this one moment. We don’t any of us know what might happen from one moment to the next.
The members of Al-Anon I admire most are the ones who really live out the slogan: One Day At A Time. They know that they can only solve one problem at a time, and the other problems will still be there waiting. 😉 They also know that nothing lasts forever, just like each day has a beginning and an end. Sadness doesn’t last forever, nor happiness.
They make their way, in the moment, eyes wide open.
What ways are you living in the moment?
A lot has happened since I last wrote here in August. September 5th I celebrated my 50th birthday, and so was out of town for the Insecure Writers Support Group. I hate missing it. I enjoy reading others’ blogs, and being able to share my own insecurities and fears.
Well, last I shared I had submitted a story near and dear to my heart to Glimmer Train Press. Usually, when I’m rejected from them, it happens quickly. They get something like 40,000 submissions and have two people who read them, so they have to be fairly speedy. But two weeks passed by and I still hadn’t heard anything, my story was still “in process.” (Yeah, I checked the status every day – lol.)
Finally, one day I checked, in a hurry and not even really thinking. It had been at least a month and I was getting my hopes up. When I read the status as “complete,” which meant basically “thank you for letting us read your story, but it’s not what we’re looking for at this time,” I felt . . . numb. I didn’t cry, I didn’t shout, curse, or any of those things. I felt really numb.
I posted on Facebook that my story had been rejected and many friends came forward to commiserate and to encourage me to resubmit the story immediately at other journals, other magazines. One offered to read it and make suggestions. The outpouring of support shook me out of my numb state and helped me see different perspectives.
It was, after all, one journal. Glimmer Train Press itself admits that it usually rejects people many times before it accepts something from them. They are not an easy journal. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad story.
I’ve already submitted it to two other magazines, and I’m thinking about looking at addiction journals, since it’s based on a true story.
I hope you are all doing well. Write on.
Sometimes it’s difficult to be grateful. When I first joined Al-Anon, I had to search for things to be grateful over. I mean, I had to search. At first, it was little, tiny things like “putting my feet on the floor” in the morning as I got out of bed, being grateful that I “had feet” to put on the floor . . .
I’m not sure why that was. Maybe I was so focused on fixing the alcoholic in my life, so angry that I was even there in the first place, that being grateful seemed like the polar opposite of where I wanted or felt like I needed to be. Listening and being allowed to grow at my own pace at the tables . . . never being rushed or nudged along, never being told “you’re doing it wrong,” I was able to come to learn gratitude in my own way.
Now there is so much I’m thankful for. From the sun and moon in the sky to the falling temperatures and changing leaves (I love Autumn and Winter) . . . sometimes I’ll be driving along at dusk and see the sun setting and just say out loud, “Look at you, God. Look at what you decided to do tonight.” Because it’s always different, you know? (Sorry. I try not to offend anyone, but I choose to call my Higher Power, God.)
I have too many people in my life to mention for whom I’m thankful. I sure hope they know who they are by now. 😉
Just feeling really good today. I hope you are too. If it’s a difficult time for you, remember nothing lasts forever. Even tough times. It’s true.