Endigar 834

From Courage to Change of April 10;

Having lived with alcoholism, many of us have come to think of ourselves as innocent victims of other people’s abuse. It can be shocking to discover that we too have harmed others. Listing those we have harmed (Step Eight) becomes a discovery process in which a more realistic sense of responsibility can begin to develop.

In my case, however, the problem was not in recognizing the harm I’d done, but in letting go of my exaggerated sense of responsibility. I thought that everyone I ever knew belonged on my list, especially those who were disappointed in me. For example, my parents are unhappy with the partner I have chosen. My sister wants me to pay off her debts. My kids wish I’d let them stay out all night without calling. As I thought about this Step, I realized that I am not responsible for their unfulfilled desires. So when I revised my Eight Step list, I needed to take names off.

Today’s Reminder

Certainly I make choices that harm others and call for making amends. But sometimes a choice that is right for me may be uncomfortable or even unacceptable to others. Other people’s expectations are not my responsibility unless I have helped to create them. I can remind myself that conflict is part of life.

“With this Step we sort out our part, taking responsibility for our actions but also releasing ourselves . . . from the burden of falsely-held responsibilities.” ~ In All Our Affairs

END OF QUOTE—————————————

Guilt is supposed to be a useful emotion in helping me identify when I have harmed myself or others. Raised around someone who carried the trauma of a loved one destroyed by alcoholism, guilt gets redefined. Guilt lets me know when I need to become someone else’s painkiller. My effectiveness as someone else’s drug of choice becomes the guiding morality of my life. If my co-dependency is left untreated, I become powerless to resolve the festering guilt of impossible expectations. Shame will eat me from the inside out.

I want to live. This requires that I assume responsibility only for that which I am truly guilty. I identify warped, shame-enhancing morality so that I can extract it from my daily living. I want to know and be known for who I am and no longer recoil from that process of self-revelation. The 12 Step program has me moving in the direction of genuine relationships and life fulfillment. I am grateful.

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