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 18, 2011

It's Okay to Not Visit One's Family

I know that recent readings in Al-Anon's daily readers have spoken about treating one's parents the way we wished they had treated us, but I was reminded by my sponsor today that I've already done that, over and over again. The problem is the reaction I get from them is just more of the same - judgment, criticism, and blame.

I've made my amends for my part and shown them compassion, but now it's time to show myself some compassion, to not continue to put myself in harm's way. When I was raising children, when I realized they were being treated poorly by my parents, I took them out of harm's way.

Now that I have grandchildren, I would never let my parents be alone with them. So why do I continue to put myself in the same room with them?  Is this what forgiveness really is?  No, forgiveness is letting go of the resentments, not feeding the resentments. So just for today, just for now, I am not going to visit my parents.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Those Pesky Resentments

We have woodpecker problems. No matter what we've done to get rid of them, they come back every spring. This has been going on ever since we moved into our dream house. You could say that our struggle with the woodpeckers has been a bit of a nightmare.

But just like recurring resentments, our attitude towards the woodpeckers makes all the difference. We can get angry and start throwing rocks, accidentally breaking a window or two; or we can shoo them off whenever they start their pecking.

Trouble is, we're not always here to take care of them, just like with our resentments--we're not always aware of them until they have reared their ugly heads and done some damage. I'm usually aware of my big resentments when they start pecking at me again, but lately I've realized that I have a lot of little resentments that I need to deal with.

For example, I recently made new friends on a social website from a list of high school acquaintances. I was careful, though, not making friends with those people who had "done me wrong" such as a girlfriend who dumped me back in 5th grade. Fifth grade! That's going back a very long time. How silly of me, I decided. I'm only hurting myself, so I changed my mind.

I was also given the opportunity in my Al-Anon program recently to figure out what was going on with me when asked to do service work and my immediate reaction was "ick, absolutely not, that person/group 'done me wrong.'" Fortunately, I reasoned things out with a trusted friend who suggested I write about it before answering.

In one case, I still said "no" because I didn't want to commit to the time a project would take. In the other case, I said "yes" but they had already found someone else. In that case, it was a win-win: I learned how a resentment was holding me back but they probably found someone better suited to the request.

As far as the woodpeckers go, they probably aren't leaving any time soon. And getting angry at them does not help the situation. In fact, anger makes the situation worse. After all, the woodpeckers are doing what woodpeckers do. We have no control over them. We are able to pound on the wall or go outside and shoo them away.

Or hope for the same miracle of nature that happened last year. Starlings came and fought the woodpeckers away. We still had birds nesting in our siding, but starling don't make gigantic holes like woodpeckers do so the damage was a lot less last year. Sometimes, letting nature take its course is the best non-action one can do.

It reminded me of the slogans "Let Go and Let God" and "Live and Let Live" and how surrendering a resentment or a pesky problem can work wonders. May you find peace and serenity this spring as you let go of resentments, big and small.

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