“When I read a step
and think about it deeply, I find it opens the door to new insights. When I
read that same step again, it reveals new spiritual ideas. They seem to dig
into our consciousness and unearth for us the wonderful potential for good in
all our relationships with life.” ~One
Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.141
I’ve heard it said
that Al-Anon offers answers to heal many troubled relationships. Those of us in
the recovery program share many of the same qualities: being affected by
another person’s addiction. So how have I been affected?
By having a strong
desire to control those around me. Growing up in emotional chaos, I needed to
maintain the illusion of control to survive. But carrying that desire with me
into adulthood too often became a defect. Examining my motives in some
situations has helped me let go of the powerful need I had to be in charge. I’ve
learned to let go of things that are not mine to hold onto.
Just loosen them in my
hands as though they were the reins on my horse. And keep moving forward.
Relying on God, however we understand
God’s presence, is foreign to many of us. We were encouraged from early
childhood to be self-reliant. Even when we desperately needed another’s help,
we feared asking for it. When confidence wavered, as it so often did, we hid
the fear—sometimes with alcohol, sometimes with pills, Sometimes we simply hid
at home. Our fears never fully abated…Slowly and with practice it will become
natural to turn within, to be God-reliant rather than self-reliant
There’s a joke in the Program that
“our best thinking got us here (into the rooms of recovery).” And it’s so true!
I joke at meetings that I’ve always been “CSR,” compulsively self-reliant.” I
have been for much of my life, afraid to ask for help and even more afraid to
accept it. As a child I had to rely on myself for so many things, and that
became a survival strategy. But as an adult, that very façade of strength can
become a terrible defect. Appearing as a formidable wall of arrogance, it only
served to isolate me and separate me from my peers. I had to tear down that
And when I did, when I found the
courage to bare my fears and vulnerabilities and ask for help when I needed it,
I found my humanity. My faith in a power greater than myself enabled me to let
go of my self-reliance and join hands with others as we reached out and helped
It hasn’t removed the problems from my
life. But it has made facing them so much easier.
drinking brought me to the meetings, but day-to-day living keeps me coming
When I joined
the rooms of recovery, I thought that if my daughter would just change, then I
would be happy. I looked everywhere for the magic bullet to bring about this
change. Time passed, and for a while it looked like Angie was changing. And
then she wasn’t. I was confused. How was I ever going to be happy if I kept
riding on the roller coaster with her?
It was time for
me to get off. I needed to realize that a lot of my problems were of my own
making. And allowing my happiness and well-being to depend on other people
isn’t wise because I have no control over them.
But I do have
power over my own life and the choices I make. So I’ve learned to put the focus
back on myself and change in ways that will help me to live better. I’ve let go
of obsessing over a disease I can’t control. And I’ve turned my attention to
other things and people in my life that bring me joy.
program has shown me how to work the tools “in all my affairs.” It has shown me
how it benefits me everywhere. It started with my daughter. But, with or without
success on that front, I can still lead a good and productive life elsewhere,
enjoying healthier relationships to really make my life worth living.