Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Monday, November 06, 2006

On Forgiveness

I've spent the last week both angry and depressed, my only two emotions before recovery. My anger is outward, blaming others. We all know that emotion. Sometimes it is destructive but many times it is telling and almost necessary to understanding what is unacceptable behavior. So as long as we don't act upon our anger and cause more destruction than the cause of our anger, it is okay. It is justifiable.

I can always feel the difference between this kind of anger and the kind that takes flight and starts bombing both the guilty and the innocent. I've even learned to express my justifiable anger tactfully and with kindness, really. I did this the last time my spouse drank. I told him I was leaving, that I could no longer live with his drinking and driving. That I could no longer live with the legal and financial ramifications when, not if, he got caught. I had nothing left to learn living with an active alcoholic.

But something else happened to me this last week besides justifiable anger that soon disipated as I gave it to God and forgave the offense. I became angry with myself for my actions/words years ago which I thought I had forgiven, because I believed that those actions/words were the cause of what I was angry about. I thought I was so powerful as a parent, that my child's behavior more than a decade later was my fault. And so I let myself fall into depression, blaming myself, feeling sorry for myself, because I had not been a perfect parent.

It comes down to forgiveness, not just of another's actions/words but of my own. I have not truly forgiven myself, so my actions/words continue to haunt me and cause me anguish. They control me still. But not for long, for this morning, everything I read pertained to forgiving myself. My Higher Power knows that I am finally not just aware of my need to do this but willing to take this step. To truly put the past where it goes, behind me. It doesn't mean I will forget it for it has been a great teacher. I forgive so much easier because I am forgiven...

There is so much I read this morning that I want to share with my friends in blogland, but this was the most powerful quote from a book my sponsor recommended to me more than a year ago. I have been plowing through it and almost stopped reading it, but I'm so glad this morning that I picked it up again. It's as if this is the message I was to gleam from this book. It was God's message to me today, and I only had to suffer for a few days before receiving it, before realizing that I needed to hit another bottom of sorts before being open to this great lesson:

"Forgiveness...has to do with letting go of the past--giving up the claim to control the past and refusing to be controlled by it." (The Spirituality of Imperfection, pg.223)

Amen and Amen!


At Monday, November 06, 2006 12:29:00 PM, Blogger An Irish Friend of Bill said...

thats a really lovely quote. thanks for sharing it!

At Monday, November 06, 2006 2:27:00 PM, Blogger Motorcycle Mike - Sober Biker said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog and for sharing your life with us in blogland.

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 4:52:00 AM, Blogger Trudging said...

I believe God forgives us(or will if we ask him). So if he can forgive, why can't we.

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 8:42:00 AM, Blogger Al-Anon Lifer said...

I believe now that only God can forgive "sin" and wipe the slate clean. We as humans can forgive other humans for being human. I only realized lately that my problem was trying to forgive the deeds rather than just the person. The Lord's Prayer says, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive THOSE who trespass against us." It doesn't tell us to forgive the trespasses as God does... This was a major insight for me, a spiritual awakening I experienced while listening to a speaker at a convention... But it is just my opinion... As we say in Al-Anon, take what you like and leave the rest :-)

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 4:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are not perfect as parents you are so right and when we have been effected by anothers alcoholism,at times,our parenting can suffer.
Particularily as young new parents.I forgave myself too for not being perfect.I had to let go of things also gave me more room to grow along with my children.
I just posted about this disease and how it effects everyone..but in the end..we can only help ourselves and hope it will impact our families in some gentle or other healthy way.
Super post..thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing~

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 9:42:00 PM, Anonymous Sober Chick said...

You are one amazing spirit. These are some very powerful insights. I don't have children but I have a 9 year old dog, and I really love her so. I have guilt sometimes for not caring for her as I should when I was sick. Others like my mom had to come in and take care of her while I was out and ill. She is a helpless creature, only deserving of love. This may sound silly to some -- but she is my child, and I am responsible for her.

Anyhow, thank you for sharing this experience with us and the growth happening as a result of it. I love you Al-Anons, I have been blessed by falling in love with one. People such as yourself helped him get the boxing gloves on :) and taught him how to re-direct his love.

At Sunday, November 12, 2006 4:01:00 PM, Blogger Nigel Patel said...

I have been troubled greatly lately over not being able to forgive myself for the very recent Geographic Fix I went on and the underemployment and flailing I'm going through as a result.
So, I need to let go of the illusion of control over what I have done and it will let go of it's grip on me?

At Sunday, November 12, 2006 7:20:00 PM, Blogger Al-Anon Lifer said...

Hmmmm... I can only share my experience, strength, and hope... I have acted out many times through geographical "cures" and job changes and suffered for them, plus caused others to suffer, but more importantly, I've made my amends to others wherever possible. Now I'm learning to make amends to myself, which includes forgiving myself for being an imperfect human being. In this way, I can forgive others for being imperfect human beings. However, that does not mean than I condone my past behavior anymore than I condone the behavior of others when it is harmful. We live with our consequences, but those consequences don't have to weigh us down with guilt. We move on, making the best of our present and future, having learned our lessons, realizing that it is indeed "progress not perfection."


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