Archive for Courage to Change

Endigar 835

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 11;

Why continue to come to Al-
Anon? Because without spiritual help, living or having lived with an alcoholic is too much for me. I often need help to maintain a rational perspective. I long for a closer relationship with my Higher Power. The people in my meetings are so warm and loving that I would feel deprived if they were not a regular part of my life. The Steps, Traditions, and Concepts all serve to put structure and goals in my life. Al-Anon is the light that helps me find my way in the dark.

As a longtime member, I am very familiar with Al-Anon, but I am no more of an authority than any other member. I try not to present myself as a paragon of Al-Anon wisdom, and I discourage newcomers from putting me on a pedestal from which II am bound to fall.

I retain the right to have problems, to cry, to make mistakes, to not know all the answers. I still have and use a Sponsor. I continue to give service to Al-Anon, but I don’t have to be in charge.

Today’s Reminder

The amount of time I’ve spent in Al-Anon is less important that what I am doing with that time today.

“I don’t resort to Al-Anon only to learn to live with the active drinking problems. It is my way of life, an increasingly rich and rewarding life, as I learn to use the program in depth.” ~ One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

 

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I have dealt with social anxiety all my life in one way or another. Staying part of a group has not been my forte. I learned to distrust “outsiders” from my family of origin. I feared too much self-revelation and how that could be turned against me.  Over time I found power in the group to resist the twisted indoctrination of my childhood. My group participation is a work in progress but one well worth the investment.

Endigar 834

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 6, 2020 by endigar

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

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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.

Endigar 833

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 5, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 09;

After years of denying my feelings in order to protect myself, detachment (emotionally separating myself from the disease of alcoholism) was fairly easy for me. But it was with indifference. Detachment with love was out of the question!

A major change of attitude began when my Sponsor repeated a line from a play that had helped me understand the need to detach with love: “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them.” I realized that by detaching with indifference, I might be taking the easy way out.

In Al-Anon I’ve come to feel safe enough to feel my feelings. I no longer need to shut out the love I feel for myself or for the alcoholic in my life. I can see myself as more than my feelings, and I can see the alcoholic as more than his or her disease.

Today’s Reminder

The unconditional love I receive in Al-Anon helps me to rediscover what love is. As I learn that I am consistently lovable regardless of my strengths or limitations, I begin to see something consistently loveable in others, eve those who suffer from an unlovable disease.

“With a change of attitude … past actions can be put into proper perspective; love and respect can become a part of family life.” ~ Youth and the Alcoholic Parent

 

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To know love in the rooms, I must actually be in the rooms as continuously as I can schedule. This is part of the magic of attending 90 meetings in the first 90 days of sobriety or group connection. Being there is the only way to nurture the possibility of experiencing the love of those who most definitely have in common some of my tragic realities.

When I first came into the rooms it was important for me to listen, but I could not let that be an excuse to go mute. I can quickly share a status update and then say that I need to listen. The point of such an exercise is not to allow myself to become invisible, to surrender to my tendency to distance myself.

I require love from others to learn to love myself. Love requires connection. Therefore I find it necessary to risk connection to give and receive the love that heals us all.

Endigar 832

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 25, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 08;

There can be great value in examining the past. It can offer information about the present, as well as clues that might help us make changes for a better future. For those of us who denied, distorted, or lost touch with painful memories, facing the reality of our past can be a critical part of our Al-Anon recovery. Fond memories must also be recognized if we hope to look back in a realistic way.

Still, it is important to remember that the past is over. We are powerless over what has gone before. Although we can take steps to make amends, we cannot change the fact that we have harmed others. And we cannot change the fact that others have harmed us. We have only the power to change this present day.

The best use we can make of the past is to face it and then move on. We can certainly learn from all that we have experienced, but we mustn’t let it hold us back from living here and now.

Today’s Reminder

I will not get so bogged down in dealing with old wounds that I forget about new growth.

“The past is but the beginning of a beginning.” ~ H.G. Wells

 

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It is actually difficult for me to recall my past. It is blurry or lost in neurological oblivion. Writing down the bits and pieces I have helps give me an anchor in the swirl. Talking to others who have been in my life helps me re-acquire some of those memories. Exploring the past takes work for me. Yet I have used that broken swirling mess of a past to keep the courtroom of my vicious resentments staffed and ready to avenge. This courtroom exacts a heavy taxation on my psyche. It prevents me from building trust until all cases on the docket of the anguished child have been cleared.

The 12 Step program stood for my defense when I did not know it was myself I was judging. I began to find memories that affirmed my life rather than to serve as crime scene photos. I learned the utility of detached observation and gained some personal growth. It is a work in progress. It is a work that proclaims the significance of my life right here in the present. This court drama is adjourned. And I am grateful.

 

Endigar 831

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 07;

Could it be that God has a sense of humor? I attended a new meeting recently at which I had been invited to speak. I had conjured up in my imagination a large group of serious-minded Al-Anon members sitting in the perfect location with the perfect format while I uttered a daunting barrage of wise words.

What I found instead was a small group perching in a temporary meeting place with a substitute secretary who had misplaced the perfectly-scripted format. Everything that could go wrong di go wrong.

In short, I soon felt right at home. My Higher Power had substituted enough familiar, spontaneous elements so that I could feel completely comfortable.

My concept of this “important” meeting and the “important” words I’d be speaking and hearing had quickly disappeared. We were just a group of members in the fellowship doing our best to muddle through and lend each other a helping hand.

Today’s Reminder

I give thanks for the ways my Higher Power finds to cut my pretensions down to size. When I can laugh a little, I feel less afraid.

“I want to remember, every time I’m tempted to take a heavy somber view of a happening, that it may not be so bad after all . . . I’ll cultivate a knack for recognizing and enjoying humorous moments” ~ One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

 

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I do not have humor as an intentional part of my recovery. It is more of an organic outburst when fear is successfully confronted by trust. Trust takes time to build and so most of my laughter has occurred in places and times I realized were safer and more compassionate than I expected. These places were primarily in the 12 Step recovery rooms in the beginning. Soon I began to see them in my daily walk. Laughter is the reward of courage coupled with action. I make sure to harvest it in full as I journey forward. May you stay in the program long enough to see the magic of laughter in your life.

Endigar 830

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 06;

Just as the common cold has symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing, alcoholism also has symptoms such as blackouts and mood changes. I have to accept that I, too, display symptoms similar to those of the alcoholic, among them obsession, anxiety, anger, denial, and feelings of guilt. These reactions to alcoholism affect my relationships and the quality of my life, but as I learn to recognize them and to accept that I have been affected by a disease, I begin to heal. In time, I discover feelings of self-worth, love, and spiritual connectedness that help me to counteract the old responses. No matter how severely I have been affected, Al-Anon can help restore me to sanity.

Alcoholism is stronger than good intentions or genuine desires. I didn’t choose this family disease; neither did the alcoholic. So I try to behave with compassion for us both.

Today’s Reminder

My acceptance of this family disease allows me to stop wasting energy fighting a hopeless battle, and to run instead to sources of genuine help and hope –Al-Anon and my Higher Power.

“By accepting the idea that alcoholism is an illness from which problem drinkers and those who care about them can find release, you will have no reason to be ashamed of alcoholism — no reason to fear it.” ~ So You Love an Alcoholic

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The disease concept of alcoholism did battle for me in the face of my past religious understanding of the drunkard. The destiny of those who fail to find sobriety  and maintain it was an eternal hell; especially if one had access to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. The profound sense of failure and shame did not help me find freedom from the direct and indirect effects of alcoholism. it was not until I approached the assault on my willpower and sanity as a disease of the body and mind that I could find the detachment necessary to implement a plan of action. I have also been able to connect to God through the 12 Step programs in a way that I never did in church gatherings.

I am grateful that I learned to put a disease in remission rather than perform a suicidal exorcism.

Endigar 829

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 05;

As wonderful as it is to see a loved one find sobriety, it often presents a whole new set of challenges. After all the years of waiting, many of us are dismayed when sobriety does not bring the happily-ever-after ending we’ve awaited. We once knew exactly what to expect, and now everything suddenly seems different. The homebody is never home; the life of the party is always sleeping; communication, intimacy, sex, responsibilities, and decision-making all change. At the same time, problems that we always attributed to drinking may persist even though the drinking has stopped. This stirs up some very strong feelings with many of us.

Even longtime Al-Anon member may find it more important than ever to go back to the basics of our program and learn once more to focus on ourselves. It’s all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances. By accepting whatever we feel and sharing about it with other Al-Anon members, we are better able to take care of ourselves.

Today’s Reminder

I will allow myself the dignity to discover exactly how I feel about the changes that are happening today, and I will share those feelings with an Al-Anon friend.

“Al-Anon gave me the awareness that what I felt did matter.” ~ . . . In All Our Affairs

 

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There are three words I did not associate with emotions: dignity, self-control, and empowerment. Expressed emotions made me vulnerable to attack. Feelings shared without measured consideration enslaved me to libelous labeling, and worse, social disregard. “I just want you to be honest with me” was a veiled threat. It meant instead, “I just want to gather enough evidence from your mindless self-testimony to justify my assault against you. ”

In such a world view, sharing genuine thoughts and feelings was no small task. It is not a natural state of affairs for me, or for those like me. Yet it was necessary to prevent my fortress of isolation from becoming my prison of analytical paralysis.

The recovery rooms revealed that there are others like me. I do not have to die from terminal uniqueness. Clumsy and afraid, I can learn how to reach out and share for the purpose of turning emotions from violent masters to supportive servants. Fear will never leave me. That is not the goal. It has its place. A much smaller place than the one it was used to occupying in my head, but its existence is legitimate. The goal for me is to develop a new array of internal residents such as growing trust, unrepentant love, and the breath-taking awe of life. This process started and was nurtured in the 12 Step program. I am beyond grateful.

Endigar 828

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 12, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 04;

I used to love the stillness of early morning, but over years of living with an alcoholic, I stopped noticing it. Instead, I woke up the same way I went to sleep –frantic. Before I was out of bed I already had a long list of crises that needed my attention. So no matter how early I got up, I was already late. Sometimes I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t get up at all.

My life has changed. I heard someone in Al-Anon say that when they open their eyes in the morning, they also open their ears. Now as I awaken, I listen for the birds. I choose not to review my plans for the day until I’ve had my breakfast. I prefer to take time to appreciate my favorite part of the day.

Al-Anon is helping me to clear my mind of my burdens so that I am able to enjoy the wonder of the moment. I am beginning to enjoy a childlike awe about the splendor of nature, to see the beauty all around me, to let my face break into a smile spontaneously, to laugh, to love, to live again. Today I can say, “Good morning, God,” instead of “Good God, it’s morning.”

Today’s Reminder

Today I’ll be keenly aware of my senses. I will think about what I am experiencing at this moment. I won’t let the beauty of this day slip by unnoticed.

“Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.” ~ Albert Camus

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I am hungry for something of the Great Beyond to find me. Every day. Each day. Our day.

There is nothing to compare with this moment. It presents the awe of mystery over the fear of uncertainty.

I hunger for it, and my seeking gives me a way to make a connection. The 12 Step program answers my desire. The rooms give me a place to develop this daily skill. There are times when we learn to accept silence as listening moments. The awkwardness gives way to opportunity.

I hate when I allow a rush to rob me of this moment. And over time, without this “beyond connection,” I am overwhelmed.

I love this developed relationship with one day at a time.

Endigar 827

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 8, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 03;

Many of us resisted coming to Al-Anon because we didn’t want anyone to know about our problems. We feared that our boss or our friends would find out, or that it would get back to the alcoholic.

These fears accompanied me to my first Al-Anon meeting. To my horror, just as I sat down one of my neighbors walked into the room and sat down across from me. What could I do now? Run?

In the midst of my panic, I noticed a sign on the table that said, “Whom you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.” And on the wall I saw a banner with the Traditions, one of which said that anonymity is Al-Anon’s spiritual foundation! I stayed for the meeting, but I still worried.

My neighbor never said a word to anyone. In time I began to trust that it was safe to get the help I so desperately needed, because the only one who would ever mention my membership in Al-Anon was me. To this day, I am confident that my anonymity was and always will be proacted, and my gratitude is beyond measure.

Today’s Reminder

Unless I protect the anonymity of all members, Al-Anon will not be a safe place for any of us.

“Our free expression–so important to our recovery–rests on our sense of security, knowing that what we share at our meetings will be held in strict confidence.” ~ Al-Anon Spoken Here

 

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Protective anonymity allowed me to enter the rooms of 12 Step recovery free from the ignorant judgment of “normal” people. How do I explain addiction with its direct and indirect impact to the non-afflicted, when I am struggling to understand it myself? Protective anonymity bought me time to expand my small windows of sanity into a productive embrace of life.

Then that protection turned into a foundation of personal transformation. This was the development of spiritual anonymity. For me, the spiritual skill of stepping away from the obsessive need to control the world around me and to trust others to the work of their own Higher Power has been the foundation of confidence through serenity.

It is an ongoing process.

Endigar 826

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 3, 2020 by endigar

From Courage to Change of April 02;

I have heard that the time to be especially gentle with myself is not when I’m doing well, but when I’m doing poorly. I may be able to push myself hard when things are going my way, but I invite trouble if I try this when I’m already struggling to manage the basic activities of my life. I used to worry that if I didn’t push myself all the time, I would turn into a slug and nothing would get done. But my Fourth Step inventory showed me that the opposite is true. I tend to be very hard on myself, so hard at times that I make my own life unmanageable. As a result, I often accomplish less than I would if I took a more gentle approach. For me, the best antidote is the slogan, “Easy Does It.”

When I notice that I’m having trouble with my day, I try to slow down. And instead of automatically assuming I am wrong, I try to consider the possibility that I might be right on schedule.

Today’s Reminder

“Easy Does It” suggests not only that I learn to slow down, but also that I lean to lighten up. Today I will strove to take a more accepting attitude toward myself and to enjoy the day, regardless of what I achieve.

“Improving our own attitudes, and our own state of mind, takes time. Haste and impatience can only defeat our purposes.” ~ This Is Al-Anon

 

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There is a distinct difference in the aggressive positive selfishness needed to overcome addiction and the gentle self care necessary to navigate life with humans.

The first reality I have to embrace is that I am not God. I cannot mastermind the perfections of my fellow human beings according to the enlightenment of my personal experience. There is only one human being I am capable and thus responsible for perfecting through the actions of my free will and that is me. This is Self-to-self recitation.

The next thing I have had to grasp is that there is something or someone out there that seems to give a damn about humanity. This entity cares greatly about helping without overriding free will. Many use the variable term God to refer to this invisible and apparently intelligent force. It has both the power and desire to nurture the very best that we can be. I am not that being. And I can give up trying to be God because that position is already taken.

If I ever want to find this God/Goddess being, I involve myself in helping others, because that is where it really likes to hang out. I don’t help others to become their God, but to get to know and develop a relationship with the One who gives a damn about humans and life and freedom.

These realities help me to surrender to my own need for self-care, for Self-to-self recitation and nurturing.