The road to my spiritual life began when I was a young child growing up in an alcoholic family. But I didn’t start to walk this road until halfway through my life when my daughter fell ill with drug addiction.
I was very unhappy growing up. It’s a classic story of family dysfunction that many of us have experienced as children. But back then I didn’t have Alateen to go to. My father was never treated and died prematurely because of his illness. I, too, was untreated for the effects of alcoholism, and grew into an adult child.
Many of us know how rocky that road is: low self-esteem, intense self-judgment, inflated sense of responsibility, people pleasing and loss of integrity, and above all, the need to control. I carried all of these defects and more into my role as a mother to my sick daughter, and predictably the situation only got worse.
I was a very hard sell on the first three steps of Al-Anon, and my stubbornness made me ill and cost me my teaching career. But once I did let go of my self-reliance, my whole life changed for the better. The Serenity Prayer has been my mantra every day. I’ve learned to let go of what I can’t change. I don’t have the power to free my daughter Angie of her disease, but I can work hard to heal from my own. This is where I’ve focused my work in the program.
My daughter has gone up and down on this roller coaster for fifteen years, and right now she’s in a very bad place. But that has only tested me more. My faith grows stronger every day when I release my daughter with love to her higher power, and I am able to firmly trust in mine.
Friends of mine ask me, “How do you do that? You make it sound so simple!” I tell them, “First of all getting here hasn’t been simple. It’s the result of years of poisoning my most important relationships with the defects I mentioned earlier. I knew I had to change in order to be happy. Secondly, I fill my heart with faith-based unconditional acceptance of whatever happens in my life. It’s my choice.”
Somewhere in my readings, someone wrote “Pain is not in acceptance or surrender; it’s in resistance.” It’s much more painless to just let go and have faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to. There’s a reason why my higher power is running the show the way he is. I just have to get out of the way—because I’m not in charge. I also read somewhere the difference between submission and surrender: submission is: I’ll do this if I get XYZ; surrender, on the other hand, is unconditional acceptance. Well, the latter is easier because I’m not holding my breath waiting for the outcome. I just let go – and have faith. Again, it’s a very conscious choice.
We all have different stories. What has blessed me about a spiritual life is that I can always look within myself and find peace regardless of the storms raging around me.