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...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Amends are for Yourself

I goofed last night. Before we went out to dinner and shopping, I put the dog in the backyard. Usually she does her thing and then lets herself in via the dog door.

But yesterday afternoon, I had closed the gates on the deck when my granddaughter was visiting, so the dog had spent the evening waiting for us to open a gate for her.

To make it worse, it was pouring rain! Talk about needing to make amends, or at least a 10th step!

In this case, however, I hadn't intentionally hurt my dog. It was by sheer forgetfulness. Yet, I felt guilty and went from giving her extra snacks and chicken soup to wrapping her in towels and then blankets. I expected her to snuggle up on the couch; instead, she lay at my feet and went to sleep, as if nothing had happened.

When we went to bed, I let her lie on my throw, which I never do, and she let me scratch her until I realized that she probably had no concept of my guilt or why I was spoiling her. She was just enjoying the extra attention. She had forgiven me the moment we'd opened the gate for her.

When I realized this, I knew that I had made amends to her, but what I had really done was alleviate my own guilt. That is what amends are for, first and foremost. We have no control over the reaction or response of the "amendee." Some are forgiving, others are not. It should not matter.

What does matter is that we make things right to the best of our ability, even when we did not intentionally hurt someone, and in so doing find serenity and grow in our relationship with God as we understand him/her. Thank you, God, for my sweet little dog...

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Friday, August 17, 2007

A Good Day

After a week of suffering physically, I gave in and went to the doctor yesterday. I took care of myself. So today, I'm feeling better. Plus I got a good long night's sleep. I took care of myself. I also got to babysit my granddaughter today. I also got to go out to dinner with my spouse and we didn't argue about anything. I took care of myself. So today was a good day. And now it is raining with the sun shining at the same time. I love fall and it is coming!

I remember thinking yesterday that summer will be here again in no time and how would I ever survive those long, hot months... talk about fearing the future, especially the uncontrollable like the weather! But that was yesterday when I was tired and not feeling good. I hadn't taken care of myself yet. But after I did, I had a good day. And I expect tomorrow will be a good day, too. Because you know what? It usually just depends on my attitude, my taking care of myself...

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taking Care of Myself?

What does this mean? Well, tonight it meant figuring out how to get past being angry at someone without giving in to them. I don't have to accept unacceptable behavior but I do have to behave myself. "I" statements work best, so I said, "I will stop being angry with you if you promise to stop...." I know I had to get past my anger despite what the other person decided to do, but this was a way to ask for what I wanted and communicate without pointing my finger. We in Al-Anon have learned not to be doormats, but we've also learned to "say what we mean, mean what we say, without being mean," especially when someone seems to be saying mean things to us. We learn to take the high road without going to that place of judgement. We need to have compassion for others, but also for ourselves. We need to nurture ourselves because often we haven't been nurtured. And in this way we take care of ourselves and make amends to ourselves.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Eighth Steppin'

So I did another 8th step today with my sponsor. Turns out I'm the only person I need to make amends to. All the others are 10th steps. So how do I make amends to myself? Well, my sponsor had me write a list of my assets. It was hard at first. You know it's not "nice" to toot our own horn. But after awhile it got easier and my list grew, and so did my self-esteem and self-worth. I really have come a long way. I am a nice person, even good. I'm honest, open, and willing, ready to help, ready to serve, and humble... Well, I don't know about that, not now that I have this list! Ha! It's always a fine balance, this recovery thing. But I do know I'm in a better place than I was, even just a month ago. And I owe it all to my program, my Greater Power, and help from others like my sponsor and program friends. Thank you!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Announcing Al-Anon's e-CAL

Hi Everyone - I may decide to close this blog because there is a new way to share online and pass it on, through Al-Anon's website and e-CAL (electronic conference approved literature). I just finished sending a few items there, but of course, they have to go through the approval process. In the meantime, I'll try to come here more regularly because I know how much writing it down really helps me, whether anyone out there is reading it or not. Plus, as a writer who doesn't write, and who wants to begin writing again, it is a great place to warm up and practice my craft. So do let me know what you think about the new e-CAL. I think it is great that the WSO is using new technology to reach out to "anyone anywhere" effected by the disease of alcoholism in a relative or friend. Here's the link:

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wouldn't It Be Nice!

I got this letter today that promises me all my wishes will come true, like winning a million dollars, my children will find love and success, I will lose weight, I will have more friends, I will be happy in my work, etc. etc. etc., and I only have to buy this special wish ring. Just $5 plus shipping and handling and following the instructions that come with it. Wow. What a promise. Unfortunately, there is no magic ring that will make my dreams come true. There is no "secret."

Instead, there is hard work, honesty, kindness, love, service, and prayer, yes, prayer, but not the kind that asks for material wealth and a perfect body. The kind that asks "only for God's will for us and the power to carry that out." This means to me that I shouldn't even be asking God for specific things for me or my children, rather simply for God's best for us and how may I be of use to God and others.

There are days God tells me to take care of myself, to be good to myself. For example, when I suffered some head trauma in a motorcycle accident, I needed extra rest. Without it, I wouldn't be good to anybody. In fact, I was acting like I used to before recovery, shooting off my mouth, blaming others for my unhappiness, making unnecessary demands on others, and being generally miserable. After a few days of rest and doing almost nothing, I felt better.

Now I am able to serve again and enjoy life again, even if there is no shortcut to losing weight and no magic spell to make sure my children find love and happiness. There is only God, love, forgiveness, and letting go. Oh, and putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next best thing, and suiting up and showing up. All the things we hear at meetings. They do work, unlike a so-called wish ring.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Gone But Not Gone...

Thank you for missing me. It's a nice feeling. I have been gone from blogging for a while, but I'm still working my program, going to meetings, doing service work, all the really important things. I've also been traveling and going to meetings in places like Rome, Greece, Prague, and Montana. Yes, I live a charmed life these days, but I still live with me and that can be a challenge. I was also in a motorcycle accident and am recuperating from a little head trauma - a great excuse, I've discovered, for my laziness (the doctor says I need to rest) and my motor mouth (speaking before thinking). So I have a lot of reasons for not blogging, but they just aren't good enough anymore, not when other people are suffering from the effects of someone else's drinking. We are in this together, so I'm here to extend a helping hand...

TODAY'S EPIPHANY: Along with new countertops we just got a new sink, so I spent a week searching for the perfect sink protectors like I had for my old sink. Alas, I couldn't find any anywhere that worked, not even online. Then I bit the bullet and went to WalMart, thinking it would serve me right if I found what I needed because I've spent years refusing to shop there for political reasons. Even though WalMart has heard the outcries from the people and changed some of its methods, I continued to nurse my resentments against IT and other giant corporations that have done ME wrong. Well, you guessed it. I found the perfect sink protectors at WalMart, along with some other nifty accessories, and all for a good price. So I was thinking today as I was enjoying my new sink that I bet I've missed a lot of life's gifts while avoiding those people, places, and things I hold grudges against. Like the program friend who once, just once, spoke to me about her religion. And, well, there are a lot of examples. I really am my own worst enemy. God, Just for Today, help me to let go of all my resentments so I can truly enjoy the blessings life has to offer. Amen.

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