From Courage To Change, January 23:
“Today’s reminder: At the start of each day I can make the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. This way I begin my day with a strong assertion that I choose to accept the reality of my life. I am growing in a healthy direction, growing ever more able to live a good life and to love those I meet along the way.
‘Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.’”
My will(fullness) has gotten me into trouble often. I’ve exercised bad judgment and made questionable decisions, especially around my daughter Angie. I wanted to help her beat her addiction—as if I had any power over that.
When I was finally, after much trial and error, able to accept my powerlessness, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Nothing changed in our situation except the way I began reacting (or not) to it.
Taking my attention away from Angie and the struggle that is hers alone, what was I going to do with all my energy?
Focus on myself and all the blessings God has given me. When I turn my burdens over to Him, I am free.
Thoughtful. Honest. Intelligent. Necessary. Kind.
From One Day at a Time, p. 20:
“If only I can learn to quiet my mind before I speak! I do not want to act with impatience and hostility, for I know it will react on me. It is a mistake to think this requires self-control; patience can be acquired by learning to let go of self-will. Jonathan Swift said: “Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul. Men must not turn into bees who kill themselves in stinging others.”
One of my favorite sayings. Simplify. Makes my life much easier to manage when I clear out the unnecessary stuff.
I try to focus on essentials. Everyone has a different set of them, but mine are important to me. What is necessary for my well-being every day? Food, exercise, rest, some human contact, some kind of work—in an office, in the garden, on my computer, shopping, cleaning.
If I start to feel overwhelmed, then I’m doing too much.
Back to basics. Simplify.
And the world will keep turning.
My sister lost her husband a few months ago and she’s just starting to come out of the fog. I called her for her birthday last week but she couldn’t talk. She was sobbing. So she decided to spend her birthday visiting a friend of our mother’s, a 96-year-old woman who is bedridden with round the clock care. And my sister experienced how things could be so much worse for her.
It’s all a matter of perspective, how we see things, how our attitudes govern the way we live our lives.
Gratitude in hard times takes the wisdom of knowing that my life could be worse in an infinite amount of ways.
Take time to smell the honeysuckle! 🙂
“Enough is enough when the hurt inflicted is greater than the lesson learned.”
I felt that because I was Angie’s mother, I just had to put up with things. But underneath that martyred attitude was a shaky self-esteem that whispered to me, “This is what you deserve. It’s your fault.”
When I recognized the truth of that, I became willing to take up the yoke and start working on myself. After many years of working the steps and arriving at a place of self-love, I no longer hear those voices.
I’ve gotten my life back, and concentrate on what I can control in my life. I give thanks, multitudes of thanks, for what I’ve been given. This year on Mother’s Day, I’m able to celebrate myself. And I’m grateful to Angie for getting me into recovery.
God Bless Us, Mamas. We do the best we can!
“In recovery, we learn to profoundly adjust our expectations, hard as it is. We raised one child, and now we have another. We are all too aware of the change that drugs have produced in our children. A parent wrote in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope a very revealing statement, something I could have written myself. It is a key to understanding my story, my mother and father’s stories, and my daughter’s painful struggle:
‘I expected my children to be perfect, to always do the right thing. I tried to control them by giving them direction and making them do things in a way that I felt was correct! When they didn’t, I could not handle it.
I could not accept their drug use and I felt that their behavior was a reflection on me. I was embarrassed for myself and scared to death for them. I became so distrusting of my children that I showed them no respect. I would meddle and invade their privacy looking for any excuse to challenge and confront them.
When I came to Nar-Anon, I learned that my interference and my attempts at controlling them were actually standing in the way of their recovery. I learned to let go of the control I never had in the first place.’
Weeks were passing by and I was growing suspicious that I wasn’t hearing more regularly from Angie. I knew in my gut that they had moved to Richmond hurriedly for a reason, and if they were running away from something, they were probably using drugs too. I called this hotel chain later in the spring where she was supposed to be working, and of course they had never heard of her. This was another kick in the gut, another knowing what was right in front of me, and I could do nothing to stop it. She was a runaway train in the grips of her addiction, just like her mother had been many times before her.” Excerpt from my award-winning memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie c. Romero
“One Day At A Time”
I never knew how to honor that slogan about living moment to moment and staying in the present. I was always wedded to either the past, usually full of regrets, or the future, full of anxiety and fear. I’m not sure why so many of us do that. It’s been a challenge for me to learn to live right now and pay attention to what’s right in front of me.
Doing so has helped me get more out of my life. It’s a waste of my time to stay stuck in the past to things I can’t do anything about now. If I made mistakes then, yes, I can try to right the wrongs. And the best way to do that is by “living amends.” Changing my attitudes and behavior and doing things differently now.
As to the future and worrying about a time that hasn’t arrived yet, that’s wasteful too. And worrying about the future takes my attention away from the present. I want to appreciate the smell of the honeysuckle as it’s blooming right now, not feel sad that it will be past its prime in a month.
My recovery program has given me many tools, including this slogan, to learn how to live my life well.
I have a huge collection of shells that I’ve amassed over fifty years. But I’ve pretty much stopped collecting because I have no more room to put them! It’s time to enjoy what I have. And to wonder what they’ve represented to me all these years.
Ego. Such a fundamental part of the human condition, and yet the very thing that makes us human and separates us from God. It’s ego that keeps us struggling in our relationships, ego that keeps us from accepting things as they are and feeling content with what we have. Ego and our willfulness beneath it that traps us in our restless search to outdo ourselves and others.
And it’s ego that makes us want to leave an imprint in the sand.
All human beings wrestle with ego, but addicts have found a solution that elevates them from their soul sickness: losing themselves in substances and behaviors that provide oblivion for a time. “We want what we want when we want it.” That tired old phrase smacking of egocentricity and childishness.
Addicts in their disease are all about themselves. In Alcoholics Anonymous, one definition of an alcoholic is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex..
To be “relieved of the bondage of self,” as the Third Step Prayer states in the Big Book, I’m learning how to nurture a relationship with God and remember my place in relation to Him. My importance is next to nothing in the scheme of things. This keeps me right-sized and humble. I’m just another grain of sand on the beach.
Learning to live beyond ego has been one of my biggest challenges. And, like all my work in the school of recovery, there is no graduation.
I line up all my conches and other shells, like students in a classroom, mindful of what they are teaching me.