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, June 30, 2008

Emotions Have to be "Felt With"

I was reminded this last weekend that emotions can't be reasoned with. I can't argue them away. They have to be "felt with."

I was babysitting my granddaughter who is almost two. Her mother told me she was having a hard week - being very clingy, crying a lot, having night terrors. Very unlike her.

Even so, when she cried for almost an hour, I spent most of that time attempting to reason with her - a two-year-old - saying "if you stop crying we can have fun, your mommy always comes back, grandma is sad when you cry... "

Eventually, she stopped crying with the help of a pacifier (which she's not supposed to have but that's what grandmas are for), then we played and even talked about her crying and getting her "binky."

It seemed to me that if she could talk about it "reasonably," she should have been able to stop crying...

Then I remembered that just last month, I had a few spells like that myself where I felt the feelings of being abandoned as a child and cried like a baby. No amount of reasoning with my emotions worked to get rid of them. I had to feel and express them because I had denied them as a child and most of my adult life.

So not only was I asking more of my granddaughter than I had been able to do, I was trying to deny her her feelings and the space to express them.

We do not know what is going on with her now. I do know, though, that "this too shall pass," just like my feelings are lessening with time - now that I've "felt with" them.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Step 6 - A State of Being

Someone asked today where I've been. To tell you the truth, I've been spending a lot of time on the couch with an icebag on my head. I got that flu bug that's been going around, plus I've been "working" Step 6. You ask, what do those two things have in common? Well, when you get the flu, you often have no choice but to rest.

I noticed the other day in a Step 6 meeting that it is the only Step that is NOT an action - "were entirely ready" is more a state of being. When I get to Step 6, I've already taken a lot of action, and although I'm relieved, I am also exhausted. It is now God's turn to show me just how bad my character defects are - just how sick I am - before I can move on to Step 7.

So this state of being is a lot like having the flu. I ache all over, am nauseous, and feel weak and out of sorts. After a while, I am sick of being sick. Because the flu is a virus, there is no pill I can take to cure it. I simply have to wait it out along with taking extra care of myself. I have to learn to let go of trying to fix myself and let God take over.

A dear friend of mine told me the other day that I have to stop trying to analyze it and just accept it. This is how it is and there is nothing I can do, no action I can take, no power I can demonstrate, that is going to change it. Eventually I learn that all I can do is be willing to be willing. I've tried on my own to change myself and it hasn't worked.

It's as if I've tried to cure the flu by making myself vomit. It may make me feel better temporarily, but it doesn't make the flu go away. In fact, it may make it worse by dehydrating me. What I resist will persist. I have to stop fighting and rest, rest in the knowledge that God will relieve me of my symptoms when the time is right. I can't rush it.

So that's where I've been. Resting - letting myself be "entirely ready." I wish I could say I'm all better, that it has passed. But the bug as well as my character defects still linger. Soon I will be able to move on to Step 7 where I can once again take action and ask God to actually remove my character defects rather than just amplify them so I become very willing to let them go.

Until then, I can trust the process.

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