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...

Friday, January 25, 2008

As Simple As A Schedule...

I've been to a lot of meetings this month on the first step, on being powerless over alcohol plus people, places, and things - on my life being unmanagable when I try to control the disease of alcoholism and anything else that is beyond my control. However, the Serenity Prayer tells me that there are things I can change, I just need the wisdom to know what they are. It's not that I have no control over anything.

So this morning when I was feeling "scattered" because I had things I wanted to do today, rather than things I had to do at a specific time, I decided I would write those things down and make a schedule for myself. Suddenly, I felt in control, realizing that I could get everything done and have time to relax a little, too. Writing down times next to items like "checking my email" and "blogging" seemed a bit trivial, but guess what, it worked.

It reminded me of something my mom did a long time ago that I thought silly. She made herself a little schedule for each day which included important things to her like "read the Bible and pray" along with obvious things like "eat breakfast." But now that I'm more or less retired and the kids are raised, my days easily get away from me and that makes me feel out of control. Writing down a schedule seemed to work, just for today.

By the way, almost immediately, my daughter and I made plans to go to the mall to find her a new outfit for interviews on Monday. That wasn't in my schedule, but there's nothing wrong with being flexible. I still got my errands and laundry done, and now I'm blogging. In a few minutes, I will go to the gym. Oh, our dinner plans got cancelled, so shopping and lunch with my daughter was my social life today.

I can't believe that such a little thing like writing down a schedule gave my day some order, and me serenity. I could have done what I so often do on these "free" days and run around in circles getting very little done and then wondering where the time went. Thank you, God. I'm still learning.

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Monday, January 21, 2008


I watched The Savages yesterday, a movie about grown children stepping up to the plate to take care of their father at the end of his life. The twist was that the father had abused them and, for most of their adult lives, had been estranged. I was touched by their ability to do the "right thing," even though I'm not sure I will be able to do the same when it is my turn.

I started this blog the last time I attempted to see my biological father. He chose not to see me. It is complicated and I don't want to bore you with the details. Let's just say that both my professional counselor and my sponsor told me, at the same time, to emotionally divorce my father. I'm still in that process because it still hurts.

It hurts when your "daddy" leaves you when you're still a little girl. It hurts when he doesn't come to visit you when you're an adult. It hurts when you know he'll probably die before the relationship can be mended because you need to protect yourself from being hurt again and again...

So even though I still feel sometimes like I need to make amends, I am told that I don't, because in so doing I would harm myself. In other words, I don't need to mend a relationship that I did not break. I've tried and tried and tried, and it hasn't worked. I've done my best. I've done enough. It is time to truly let go, to surrender, to leave him in God's hands.

On the other hand, I am willing to help take care of my mother-in-law who loves me despite my character flaws, as well as my aunt who still cares for my grandma at 103. I may also help out with caring for my mom and dad (the man who adopted me) when the time comes. These people have done the best that they could, and for that, I am grateful and willing.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


It wasn't very long ago that I was wishing to have my dog's mind, at least as far as her disposition goes. She's consistent in both her actions and attitudes. She's always at the door to greet me, wagging her tail whether I've been gone 5 minutes or 5 hours. She may be a little extra hungry if I get home late to feed her, but she doesn't hold a grudge. She didn't even hold a grudge the time we left her out in the pouring rain (unintentionally) while we went to a movie.

Today, however, she did something out of the ordinary. I was folding clothes in my bedroom upstairs and she bounded up the stairs all excited. "She must have been outside," I thought, "and wants a snack." Instead, she began running from room to room, all on her own. I say all on her own because this is the game we play with her when we haven't had a chance to take her for a walk. We take turns calling her and she runs back and forth, jumping up on the couch in the loft and then the bed in the bedroom. All I had to do today to keep her going was say "go" and "come" and she ran for at least five minutes, as happy as could be. "Pure joy," I laughed, "she's happy and running just for the joy of it."

Oh, how hard it is for me to be happy and do things just for the joy of it. Like playing the piano or writing a poem. Today is one of my good days, even though I'm home alone all day doing laundry and cleaning house. I could have decided not to be happy today when I woke up late and thought, "Oh, no, I have so much to do!" Instead, I said, "Wonderful, it's cold and snowy outside and I don't have to go anywhere. I get to stay home all day and be domestic, maybe bake something with those two ripe bananas, maybe even write something..."

Recovery is all about our attitude. I've said so many times in meetings that nothing really changed in my life but my attitude, and that made all the difference. How grateful I am for my happy dog who shows me over and over again that life is for living right here, right now. She's so patient, waiting for me to do things with her, and so forgiving when I ignore her for days. So today I gave her an extra snack because she helped me hold onto the joy I had chosen this morning. Just for today, just for joy, pure joy!!

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