Turning It Over

  

           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.

 

I’m Glad I Stayed

From “The Forum,” March 2017:

“’I came for a quick fix and found a way of life.’ ~Bertie P., Florida

As I look back, when I walked through the doors of Al-Anon, I had planned to stay long enough to find out how to get the miracle of sobriety in my home. I’m still there!

I was broken spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I had given up on everything and everyone. A friend dragged me to Al-Anon, but I was sure it was hopeless.

After my first meeting, I was still very angry. How could all those people be happy and smiling? Their homes could not be as bad as mine. Fortunately, I wanted to laugh and smile too. A member, who later became my sponsor, took an interest in me as a newcomer, and I kept coming back.

The slogans and all the tools annoyed me, and I didn’t share…Did I ever have a closed mind! But…I kept going…

I started taking care of myself and gave the alcoholic a choice to get help or go his own way. Five years later, the real miracle was finding me…I learned how to change my life and really live.”

 

Wishing/hoping/praying that my daughter Angie will tire of her life and seek recovery is holding myself hostage to something I have no control over. And I don’t want to be a hostage. I want to be free. My recovery program has given me the tools to live my life unencumbered by other people’s choices.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

 

Turning It Over

From Courage to Change, January 23:

“In Step Three, we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”  This is a big decision for those of us who have a tough time making even small decisions. Until I found Alanon, I tended to let others decide how I should live, where I should go, and what I should do. The paradox is that, though I took little responsibility for my own life, I saw myself as an expert on everyone else’s life and felt accountable for all that happened.

The order in which the first three Steps are written helps me overcome these attitude problems. First, I accept my inability to control the disease of alcoholism and admit that my life is unmanageable (when I try to exert control, my words). Next, I come to believe that a Power greater than myself can help. After taking these two Steps, it becomes possible, desirable, and even logical, to make the enormous decision to trust my life to a Higher Power’s care.”

 

Many feel that the First Step is the hardest: to admit that we are powerless to help our loved one through addiction. We love, and intuitively, we want to rescue him from the disaster than might be coming. But—and this is a process that takes longer for some than others—once we accept the reality of our powerlessness, and ask for help to let go of our loved one in his addiction, there is a freedom that defies description.

And we can move on with our lives.

Remember life? It’s still out there!

Letting Go…Over and Over Again

From The Forum, June, 2015:

 

“My son’s future is his—not mine. ‘He is not living his life for me,’ I thought as I shuffled into the cold kitchen. It was three o’clock in the morning. I was in search of an Al-Anon daily reader. My son, my only child and someone I loved more than anyone, had been arrested, spent the night in jail, and was in more trouble than I ever imagined possible.

I had never thought that my child, whom I put through college and spent many waking hours imagining his promising future, would be in that situation. However, all of that changed when his addiction became known to the family. From that time on, I faithfully attended Al-Anon meetings, sometimes four times a week, got a Sponsor, chaired and spoke at meetings, and volunteered to speak at an Al-Anon meeting at the women’s prison.

My son’s future was my future, and I told myself that my efforts made in recovery were for the both of us. Deep down, however, I was betting that my recovery would ultimately guarantee his recovery. In my heart, I believed that the love we shared along with the Al-Anon and A.A. program would be the life raft he needed to recover. I was his mother. I could make it happen…

Now, weeks after the arrest, awake at 3 a.m., I reached for the book, Courage to Change, and randomly opened to a page that said, ‘You can’t live someone’s life for them.’ It was what I needed to hear. As challenging as it was, I had to stop living his life and focus on myself. I had to let go of the life he was creating and embrace my own life…

Finally, I was beginning to understand that for my serenity, I had to live each day focused on myself and my recovery.”

 

In my memoir, I said the same thing, a reflection of my early time in recovery. Drowning in codependence, I hadn’t yet accepted that Angie’s illness was something I wasn’t responsible for nor was it something I could control with my own recovery:

“In fact, I was still so joined at the hip with her that, in the beginning during the brief periods when she was in recovery, I used to claim at meetings that our mutual recoveries were intertwined. I remember saying, ‘I have no doubt that her recovery goes along with my recovery.’ My Program friends just nodded their heads in support, probably wondering what the heck I was talking about. It would take a number of years and much Twelve-Step work to rid me of that notion.” (A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero)

 

Of course it gives us parents much comfort to think that we have the ability to save our children. We all wish we had that power. But it ultimately rests with the addicts themselves. We can offer love and many forms of support. But because of the complexities of the disease, we need to let go and allow the addicts to take responsibility for their own recovery.

Many, many addicts can and do recover. But when they do it’s because they have empowered themselves to get well. And may God bless every one of them as they struggle to be free!

The Freedom That Comes With Surrender

From Courage to Change, January 14:

“I learned in Alanon that I’m bound to fail to make someone else stop drinking because I am powerless over alcoholism. Others in the fellowship had failed as well, yet they seemed almost happy to admit it. In time, I understood: by letting go of this battle we were sure to lose, we became free.

Gradually, I learned that nothing I did or did not do would convince my loved one to get sober. I understood intellectually, but it took time before I believed it in my heart…Today I will take the path to personal freedom and serenity that begins when I surrender.”

 

My mother love doesn’t operate on an “intellectual” level. I behave on instinct, and it’s a natural instinct to want to save our children. I tried to save Angie—for years. I thought that NOT trying was giving up. And I would never give up on my child.

In time, I learned about the nature of addiction—what it was and what it wasn’t. It’s not a choice or a moral failure; it’s an illness, and I have no more power to cure her from that than from any other disease.

So, other than leading Angie to programs that might help her, I’ve let go. There’s nothing more I can do. I pray for her and hope she reaches for recovery from the illness that has separated her from her family. And I hope she comes back to us.

But life is short, and I want mine back. I’ve turned my attention to other people and things in my life. I count my blessings every day, and I’m grateful to be alive. There are lessons I’ve learned that only suffering teaches, and I join hands with all loved ones of addicts here. God Bless Us All!

There Are Many Paths To Spirituality

From Each Day A New Beginning, November 28:

“’The idea of God is different in every person.  The joy of my recovery was to find God within me.’ ~Angela Wozniak

Coming to believe in a greater power brings such relief to us in our daily struggles. And on occasion we still fight for control to be all-powerful ourselves, only to realize that the barriers we confront are of our own making…The program’s greatest gift to us is relief from anxiety, the anxiety that so often turned us to booze, or pills, or candy. Relief is felt every time we let go of the problem that’s entrapped us and wait for the comfort and guidance God guarantees.”

 

 

My program of recovery is not based on any organized religion. I was raised in a church, but my concept of God was childlike—a vision of Santa Claus to give me what I asked for. I lacked the maturity and discipline it takes to develop faith and hold on to it.

When I started to read the literature and use the tools available, I entered into uncharted territory where I was asked to let go of my grip on circumstances and allow someone else to take over. Many people think of “God” as that other force, but just as many others focus on nature or the recovery fellowship found at meetings.

The point is, my isolation is over and I am now partnering with a Being who is all-loving and all-powerful. I have learned to surrender to His will and put my faith in Him. This is the spirituality I speak of, and my path is only one of many out there.

Acceptance of what is, and nurturing my faith that all things are unfolding as they are meant to, have given me a sense of peace and serenity that I had never known before. When I’m willing to take myself out of the driver’s seat and surrender to God’s will, I feel free and able to move forward with my life.

 

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

Accepting Ourselves

“If we have submerged ourselves in the needs of others we may have lost sight of who we are, our self-esteem and individual rights. Awareness of the futility of doing the same things over and over, trying to control another person, and expecting that one day these actions will work, is freeing if we allow it to be. We are entitled to our own opinions, beliefs, limitations, and strengths. Accepting and loving ourselves for who we are will enable us to grow and change.

The less we try to manage others’ lives, the more effective we become. If we are accepting of others and the things around us, we can simply be ourselves.”

The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I have accepted that my Higher Power will restore me to sanity. I will cease trying to force solutions and control my daughter.

She has her own path and her own Higher Power. And I have mine.

Letting go of Angie in this way has been very hard. But it’s the only way that I’ve successfully been able to reclaim my life and live well. There are other voices calling out to me, and I’m listening.

 

The Serenity Prayer At Work

From Each Day A New Beginning, November 19:

“Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.” ~Minna Antrim

“…Our longing for only life’s joys is human—also folly, Joy would become insipid if it were our steady diet. Joyful times serve us well as respites from the trying situations that push our growth and development as women…

Joy and sorrow are analogous to the ebb and flow of the ocean tide. They are natural rhythms. And we are mellowed by their presence when we accept them as necessary to our very existence.”

 

Of all the tools at my disposal in recovery, I think acceptance has been the most valuable. When I practice the Serenity Prayer, I am free of the resistance and pain that have held me hostage for so long. I’m learning to “lean into my life,” as a friend said at a meeting. In this way, I can let go of things that have held me back. I can practice serenity and strive to be happy—an ongoing process. And I wish that for all of my sisters and brothers in recovery. God Bless!

 

Positive Thinking

What I love about spiritual recovery is looking outside of myself for power and inspiration. It’s a conscious choice I make. I’m not a victim of past mishaps or present circumstances, but I need help to guide me toward living well. So I turn to Spirit, God, Higher Power, whatever you want to call Him/Her. I’m grateful there is a Being to lead me out of my spiritual darkness. I’m happier if I actively turn my head toward the light and hold onto a positive attitude, regardless of the storms raging around me. If I keep my faith alive, I know that I’m going to be okay.

 

 

 

Our Power Over Words

From Each Day A New Beginning, October 23:

…words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply engraved in a child’s mind, they are not easily eradicated.” ~May Sarton

How burdened we become, as little girls, with the labels applied by parents, teachers, even school chums. We believe about ourselves what others teach us to believe. The messages aren’t always overt. But even the very subtle ones are etched in our minds, and they remind us of our “shortcomings” long into adulthood…

Our partnership with God will help us will help us understand that we are spiritual beings with a wonderful purpose in this life. And we are as lovely, as capable, as successful as we perceive ourselves to be…It takes practice to believe in ourselves. But we can break the past’s hold on us.”

The step work in my recovery program has been critical in helping me find the “courage to change.” Whatever we become as adults, and however we got there, need not define us now. “Happiness is an inside job,” and I’ve needed to dig deep to get at the source of what wasn’t working in my life. But I needed to help. My Higher Power and the fellowship I’ve enjoyed in the rooms for almost sixteen years have helped me discover the miracle that was always just around the corner. I’m so grateful to be alive and have this second chance to live my life in a better way. I wish the same for all my friends here. God Bless!