One Day at a Time in Al-Anon
If I were to sit down in a quiet corner and look back over the happenings of my troubled life as though I were examining the life of someone else, or reading about it in a book, how would it appear to me? I know I can do this only by guarding against all self-justification; looking at the facts honestly. Have I said or done things in haste, anger or desperation that made my situation worse? Are there things I recall with regret? We learn only from experience, and only by making up our minds not to repeat past mistakes.
I will not fall in with the alcoholics craving for punishment to relieve his guilt. I will not scold and weep, for it will not help me overcome the difficulties we are trapped in. I will try very hard to deal with my day by day difficulties with quiet poise, remembering always that I am doing this for my own benefit.
"When I am tempted or pressured into irrational behavior, I pray that I may stop and think before I do or say anything whatever. I ask God to remove these impulses and help me to grow into the person I want to be."
Courage To Change
Turning to an alcoholic for affection and support can be like going to a hardware store for bread. Perhaps we expect a "good" parent to nurture and support our feelings, or a "loving" spouse to comfort and hold us when we are afraid, or a "caring" child to want to pitch in when we are ill are overwhelmed. While these loved ones may not meet our expectations, it is our expectations, not our loved ones, that have led us down.
Love is expressed in many ways, and those affected by alcoholism may not be able to express it the way we would like. But we can try to recognize love whenever and however it is offered. When it is not, we don't have to feel deprived; most of us find an unfailing source of love and Al-Anon. With the encouragement and support of others, we learn to treat our needs as important and appropriate, and to treat ourselves as deserving.
Today the alcoholic may or may not be able to give us what we desire. And no one person will ever offer all that we require. If we stop insisting that our needs be met according to our will, we may discover that all the love and support we need is already at our fingertips.
"In Al-Anon I discover in myself the power to throw new light on a seemingly hopeless situation. I learn I must use this power, not to change the alcoholic, over whom I am powerless, but to overcome my own distorted ideas and attitudes."
One Day at a Time in Al-Anon
Hope For Today
The first tool I used in my recovery was the Serenity Prayer. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . ." taught me I can't alter the past, neither what was done to me nor what I did to others. ". . . Courage to change the things I can. . ." instructed me to change my attitudes and resentments, my self-pity, and my fears. ". . . Wisdom to know the difference" gave me hope that I could change for the better.
For a while it was necessary to look back and come to terms with what happened to me as a child. In my family there was a lot of emotional abuse and neglect shrouded in denial and minimizing. I still needed to face the truth and climb out of my own denial, which convinced me I would get a chance to relive my childhood and make a better path.
A wise person said in Courage to Change that is necessary to "look back without staring." As long as I keep staring at my past without experiencing my feelings about it, I stayed mired in fear, resentment, and self-pity. So I continued to root out those defects that kept me from being serene. I couldn't let go of something I didn't possess. Only after I stopped long enough to feel my anguish, bitterness, and emptiness could I let them go and move ahead.
The Serenity Prayer helped me believe that serenity, courage, and wisdom were attainable. It strengthened my belief in God and gave me hope for a brighter future.
Thought for the Day
The Serenity Prayer can bring light to the parts of myself still clouded by my past.
"And if a crisis arises, or any problem baffles me, I hold it up to the light of the Serenity Prayer and extract its sting before it can hurt me."
One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, p. 65
God's voice isn't all that difficult to hear. In fact, you almost have to be closing your eyes and stopping your ears to miss it. He sometime shouts through our pain, whispers to us while were relaxing on vacation, occasionally He sings to us in the song, and warns us through the sixty-six books of His written Word. It's right there, ink on paper. Count on it--that book will never lead you astray.
I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God.
Linda Gorham Yankton South Dakota
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