One Day at a Time in Al-Anon
There are the super-optimists who imagine that Al-Anon has a magic formula for curing all life's ills. A weekly hour for a meeting, they think, and all will be well.
A situation in which the lives and sanity of an entire family are at stake is not so easily solved, but the super-optimist resolutely clings illusion that Al-Anon can fix everything. It "fixes" nothing; that is up to us. Not in the once-a-week meeting alone, but with plenty of in-between reading, constant recall of the principles and constant use. Al-Anon does have the formula, but it is we who must use.
Changing our whole way of thinking is a monumental task, not to be taken lightly. But many thousands of members can testify that it's the most rewarding and self-serving activity ever devised for curing sick family relationships!
" 'Listen, read, think, use' says Al-Anon to those who really want a better way of living."
Courage To Change
I was convinced that I had to take care of everything 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'm happy, I can give into 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.
Hope For Today
I had a job in my alcoholic family, and I learned it very well. The job was to keep silent about what was happening in my home and how I felt about it. I became an adolescent with no coping skills. Gradually so much pain and anger built up inside me and I had to find some way to relieve it. My alcoholic parents' reservoir of coping skills was virtually nonexistent, so they had no way to recognize what I was going through, let alone help me through it. Left to my own devices, I escaped through food. Only later, when I started coming to Al-Anon, did I realize that my use of food was very similar in motive and pattern to my parents' use of alcohol.
First Al-Anon taught me through the Step Four process that it was all right for me to identify my buried emotions and to allow myself to feel them. Step Five encouraged me to share the results of this emotional inventory with another trusted person, and I chose my sponsor. These Steps helped me clear pain from my heart and fill that space with something healthy. Today instead of eating when I feel anxiety or some other uncomfortable emotion, I choose to use an Al-Anon tool. I call my sponsor or another Al-Anon friend. Sometimes I read from Al-Anon literature to calm my soul. Occasionally I sign up to volunteer as a monthly chairperson, or pick a few names and numbers from my phone list to offer words of hope to a hurting newcomer. I can't always control my pain, but I can choose what I do to heal it.
Thought for the Day
What coping behaviors do I use to soothe my pain? Are they really helping me?
"I've learned a lot . . . about coping with my feelings and making my life better."
Living Today in Alateen, p. 133
The Christian life boils down to a battle of the wills: Christ's vs. our own. Every day we live we must answer, "Who's in charge here?
Recently I received a letter from a fine Christian couple, and I smiled understandingly at one line; "Although the Lord has taken good care of my wife and me for the past thirty-eight years, He has taken control of a for the past two and a half."
Tell me, how long has the Lord taken care of you? Be honest now . . . has He also taken control of you?
What is man that You take thought of him?
Linda Gorham Yankton South Dakota
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