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, April 13, 2009

Why I Hold Grudges

I’m working the Steps this year by reading and answering the questions in Paths to Recovery. The first question in the defects section in the chapter on Step 4 – made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves – asks why do I hold onto my resentments? I’m not sure I’ve ever asked myself this question; I’ve only acknowledged that I do indeed hold onto grudges, thinking it is what I learned growing up with a very sick mother, having been abandoned by my father.

Perhaps knowing why I continue to hold onto my resentments even when I know they hurt me is the key to really letting them go. Suddenly I realized that I hold onto my grudges to protect myself from getting hurt. As a child, I put on my suit of armor and became as hard as steel so no one could hurt me again like my father had and like my mother continued to do. Even then they got through, although I didn’t feel it, not really.

But as I grew, both physically and emotionally, the suit of armor became too small; it began to spread apart and the gaps left me more and more vulnerable as time wore on. I still had resentments, but my coat of grudges no longer protected me the way it used to. As I’ve grown spiritually in Al-Anon, I’ve learned that my health depends on me completely shedding this false protection that no longer serves me. Instead, I will cover myself in God’s acceptance, love, forgiveness, and approval of me, as well as my own acceptance, love, forgiveness, and approval of me.

In this way, I no longer need to hide behind steel plates; the problem with the armor was that it protected me from everything – even the good stuff in life! Now I am protected by a transparent bubble that lets hurtful opinions and actions bounce off of me while letting kindness and love through. I no longer need to fear what others can do to me, so I can let go of my old, childhood resentments and finally be free of their constraints. I can grow up and enjoy the maturity of adulthood. Just for today, I know that I did the best I could even as my parents did the best they could.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Lessons Learned in Service

I am so grateful for service work in Al-Anon. It is what we do after working the 12 Steps for our own recovery. It is part of the 12th Step to pass on our own experience, strength, and hope. But it is also how we keep our recovery going and don't slip back into old ways of thinking and behaving. I am grateful that I've had the opportunity to learn lessons in a safe environment.

I've learned how to communicate with others.

I've learned how to ask for help.

I've learned that I don't have to do it perfectly.

I've learned to show up and shut up.

I've learned that I can love someone with whom I disagree.

I've learned more tolerance for others in their struggles.

I've learned that keeping busy is sometimes the best way to stay out of someone else's business.

I've learned to let go of resentments, old ones as well as new ones.

I've learned to feel my emotions without letting them get the best of me.

I've learned patience with myself and others on this path of recovery from living with the disease of alcoholism.

I've learned that it's never too late to grow up, get out of myself, and stop pointing the finger of blame.

I've learned to not whine and stay away from Pity City, Pop. 1.

I've learned that I can love myself the same way others love me - I can really listen when they compliment me rather than just hear the constructive criticism.

I've learned that even a hopeless case that was me can become the person I was meant to be before I reacted negatively to my parents' behavior.

I've learned that I have always done the best I could, just as my parents did the best they could.

I've learned that the best way to live is to ask God each and every morning to let me be of service, even if some days that service is taking care of myself first and foremost.

Thank you for letting me share.

Labels: , , , , , , ,