From Courage to Change, September 4:
“As we let go of obsession, worry, and focusing on everyone but ourselves, many of us were bewildered by the increasing calmness of our minds. We knew how to live in a state of crisis, but it often took a bit of adjustment to become comfortable with stillness. The price of serenity was the quieting of the constant mental chatter that had taken up so much time; suddenly we had lots of time on our hands and we wondered how to fill it.
Having become more and more serene as a result of working the Al-Anon program, I was surprised to find myself still grabbing for old fears as if I wanted to remain in crisis. I realized that I didn’t feel safe unless I was mentally busy. When I worried, I felt involved—and therefore somewhat in control.
As an exercise, my sponsor suggested that I try to maintain my inner stillness even when I felt scared or doubtful. As I did so, I reassured myself again and again that I was safely in the care of a Power greater than myself. Today I know that sanity and serenity are the gifts I have received for my efforts and my faith. With practice, I am learning to trust the peace.
Today I will relish my serenity. I know that it is safe to enjoy it.
‘Be still and know that I am with you.’ English prayer”
When I was obsessing about Angie, and deeply enmeshed in her constant drama, I felt a lot of things: needed, important, and valued—all of these things not good for my addict because they kept me in my own illness: pandering to her needs and enabling her.
I pray every day to remain detached with love from my precious daughter, the hardest thing in the world, to abandon my need to rescue—and to enjoy the God-given peace I’ve worked so hard to have. I wish the same for us all!
“I have faltered many times in my recovery. But learning to focus less on my desired outcomes and more on the journey has enabled me to learn more things along the way. I’m learning to slow down and enjoy the ride. And most importantly, it has kept me out of the driver’s seat and open to receiving life’s valuable lessons.”
“Ever since I was a very young child I’d been fragile, like thin ice on a lake—don’t walk on it; you might fall through and drown. My sense of being OK was always shaky when I was younger. Many of us who grow up with low self-worth become chameleons. Chameleons change their color out of fear to protect themselves from predators. We don’t have clear personal boundaries, often not recognizing where we end and others begin. We don’t really know who we are, so we attach ourselves to whomever we’re around, often seeking their approval by pretending to be like them. But like the chameleon who turns green in the jungle, we are afraid to distinguish ourselves. I remember telling Angie back in 2010, ‘I know who I am now.’ Well, that’s an ongoing process.”
Melody Beattie is my heroine:
“When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.” Charles A. Beard
Over the years in my struggle with Angie and her drug addiction, and certainly at the beginning, I wondered if I would ever run out of tears. They seemed to swim in a bottomless well of grief. But I’ve been fortunate to discover and nurture many spiritual tools that have helped me walk through this nightmare and that have sustained me. Though I’ll never stop grieving for my daughter and missing her, my life gets better when I apply acceptance, gratitude and faith in God’s plan for me. As I’ve learned to “let go and let God,” I’ve freed myself to appreciate all the blessings in my life that are right in front of me. And this is how I cultivate being happy.
Quote from Cherishing Our Daughters by Dr. Evelyn Bassoff: “ ‘Veronica is learning to live with her real disappointment and to be supportive but not overly invested in her daughter’s life. ‘I am learning important lessons in therapy. One is that the only life you can direct is your own; my good advice (to Anne-Marie) only falls on deaf ears. Unless my daughter musters the courage to make changes, I cannot do anything more for her. And so, over and over again, I say to myself, I am not responsible for the way (Anne-Marie) chooses to live. Another is that you love your child forever not because she is happy or successful or makes you proud but because she is your child.’”
“Enough is enough when the hurt inflicted is greater than the lesson learned.”
All of us on this painful journey arrive here at different times. It took me many years: many years of being manipulated by guilt and finally finding the freedom to let go of it; many years of my determination to save my daughter from the disease that’s killing her, desperate to take control of what I had no control over; and many years of readjusting my focus onto all the wonderful people and gifts in my life. As I said in my memoir, “I have lived a very blessed life,” and to be able to say that in spite of my struggle with Angie, well, that says a lot about the power of spiritual transformation.
“Angie was flitting back and forth between hotels in expensive cabs, with garbage bags of stuff and her terrier, Loki. Sometimes I think she got that dog to stay alive—to be accountable to something or someone other than herself. She and Loki stayed with me a couple of nights in my motel. By the time I checked out I was covered with fleabites. When I told her that she should have the dog defleaed, she flew into a rage. “It’s not Loki, Mom, you’re just too cheap to stay in decent motels. You always pick fleabags to crash in.” Whatever.
When Angie was in her first psych ward back in October 2007, they used art therapy on the patients. She made me a bead bracelet. “These are your favorite colors, Mom, ” she said, carefully placing it on my wrist. I finger those beads now and again, like Greek worry beads, a reminder of the hope I nurtured then. On one of the nights she stayed at my motel, she was out all night while I tossed and turned, wondering where she was. When I awoke, there was the most fragrant smelling flower in a glass of water at my bedside. She had picked it outside of her hotel in Japan Town and left it for me to enjoy in the morning. I still have what’s left of that flower, all dried and brown, another reminder that “Joy & Woe are woven fine.”
A great resource for adult children: