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, December 29, 2008

The Post-Holiday Blues

I think we all get them at one time or another, the post-holiday blues. Sometimes it's just a natural human feeling, that something we have looked forward to has come and gone and it's back to our normal lives. Other times it's because family gatherings brought out the worst in our dysfunctional families, either in others or ourselves. For me, the holidays brought out the alcoholic behavior in one loved one and the co-dependent behavior in another, and consequently the wanting to fix their relationship in me.

But I didn't stop there, I started thinking about my lack of a relationship with my blood father and how much he has hurt me over the years. I became the victim again, reliving my own feelings when someone who should love me hasn't or can't. Thinking like this, obsessing about someone/something I cannot fix, gets me nowhere fast. Actually, it gets me into a sadness that can lead to despair which can lead to depression. So even though it's okay to feel my feelings, I better make sure I don't let them take over my life again.

So knowing that my goal is serenity and I have lost it, I use the Serenity Prayer to gain acceptance of what I can't fix and understanding of what I can. I can continue to work on myself. I ask myself what I really need today and then do First Things First. I am grateful I have laundry to do - that keeps me busy and less stuck in my head. It is a physical task that is not too taxing. I'm also grateful that I can get a massage today, something that will release my physical pain which could easily be the result of my negative thinking.

Most importantly, I can remember that with God's love and help, I can give myself the unconditional love I so desperately needed as a child and then as the wife of an alcoholic. I can treat myself the way I would treat my child or a good friend. I will stop beating myself up for things I have no control over and for things I have already made amends for. I will also stop beating myself up for being human, for falling short of my own high expectations, and for having the blues. It's okay as long as I remember that I am still okay.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good Grief

I've been reading the Al-Anon book "Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses" to help myself get through the grief of losing a loved one. A lot of the content has to do with loss around the disease of alcoholism, so it doesn't always pertain to my situation. I lost my 103-year old grandma, who was probably one of the healthiest and most spiritual people in my life. However, my immense reaction to her death did have to do with the effect that alcoholism has had on my life. It felt like I lost the only person who has ever loved me unconditionally, plus the person who represented my Greater Power for that very reason. So my grief has been deep and that is okay - my feelings are okay. The following quote from the book is so true:

"Today I know that grief is the price I pay for having loved and having been loved well." pg. 107

And I was able to make amends to my grandma by spending quite a bit of time with her the last couple of years. I would granny-sit so my aunt who lived next door could go on vacation. I was able to give her time the way she was able to give me time when I was a child. When I was so involved with my husband's active drinking, I had no time for most of my relatives and friends. I lost many relationships, but grandma was always there for me when I decided to drop in for a few hours and then later, for a few days. Like my Greater Power, she did not judge or complain, she just loved me. I am so grateful she lived long enough for me to really understand that.

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