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, March 20, 2009

Sometimes It's Okay Not to Feel

When I heard that my mother was in the hospital with serious side effects from taking too much of her narcotic pain medicine, it crossed my mind that she could die. She is, after all, almost 80 and has been in bad health for years. When her possible death did not bother me, I was a bit bothered by my lack of emotion. I simply thought, "Should she die, I would go to her funeral." Period.

Then I read in Hope for Today (March 19th) that we have sometimes already grieved the loss of someone long before they are actually gone. We have already shed our tears and gone through the appropriate stages of grief, which I believe are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. After years of trying to fix a relationship that was not to be, I realized I was already at the last stage of acceptance, thus the lack of feelings (or at least intense feelings).

I was more into thinking about Dad and how he would do as Mom's death would affect his life dramatically. This still didn't prompt in me the need to be by his side, for it would mean travel when that was the last thing I needed right now. My first obligation is always to myself, to take good care of me. Plus I have a sister right there should Dad/Mom need someone. And I have other family members close by me that I need to help in the coming month.

Fortunately, Mom recovered and is now home with a new regimen, and Dad is relieved. If I had gone into my prior mode of drama resulting in rescue, rather than calmly accepting what is and what could happen - without getting into all the what-ifs - I would have wasted energy that I do not currently have to deal with Mom/Dad, again. I've spent time on those relationships, even travelling to Europe once to rescue them. As such, I've made my amends. I've done what I can do and that is enough.

This may sound cold to some of my readers, but I assure you that it is simply the result of years of grieving over what I never had and never will have with my parents - healthy, functioning, nurturing relationships. Both my sponsor and a professional (who included my mother in my therapy for a time) told me that some people simply do not change. I had to move on to take care of myself and look to other relationships for my needs - first and foremost the one with my Greater Power.

With that comes love and forgiveness of myself as well as the same for others. Forgiveness, by the way, does not mean we forget. It means we let go of the resentments. And love isn't always a feeling, it is more a willingness to respect another's humanity - flaws and all - realizing that they, too, are children of God. I also rely on the God of my understanding to let me know when and if I should step up to the plate, and this time it was obvious that I belonged on the bench - simply watching the game and praying for those involved in the action.

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At Sunday, March 22, 2009 12:33:00 PM, Blogger AllisonRhodes said...

I identified a lot with what you had to say. I have been separated from my dry alcoholic husband for several weeks, but I began to accept and grieve the loss of my dream of "family" months or years ago.

And although he would never believe it, I've already forgiven my husband. He is a child of God who has a set of personal problems that are incompatible with my emotional and physical recovery (I have a chronic health problem aggravated by stress). I wish him happiness in a vague way, the way I wish it on everyone in the world by default, but don't really feel.

You are right - for those of us in Al-Anon it is very important to realize that it's OKAY not to feel. Allison


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