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Lessons In Letting Go

  “Her apartment was only two miles away from the condo. I parked on her street and was relieved to see her car, so I knew she was home. Running up the stairs, I tripped over a cat and sent it screeching down the steps. I knocked on her door but there was no answer. I knocked again—again, no answer. Music was playing, so I knew she was home. If she’d answered her phone, I could have told her I was coming. But I was determined to see her so I banged on the door. Finally, she came and opened it, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth while she zipped up her jeans. Without waiting for an invitation, I brushed past her and approached the bedroom, but stopped in my tracks. Joe, her boyfriend, was lying on the bed, prostrate, his long legs hanging off the end. He was so out of it I don’t think he knew I was there. ‘Mom, come back here,’ she hissed, frantically beckoning me back into the living room where she was standing. ‘This is not a good time.’” ‘It’s never a good time, Angie. You’ve been avoiding your father and me, and I want to know why.’ ‘Mom, I know you’re worried. Joe’s really trying to kick the stuff, honest. Me too. We’re detoxing right now. That’s why it’s not a good time.’ ‘Not a good time…’ Summer of 2005 was upon us, and Angie had been struggling with serious drug addiction for four years. First it was methamphetamine, then cocaine, and now meth again. There had been countless betrayals, one...

Getting Ready For Change

From Hope for Today, June 17: “Thought for the Day:  Although God does not completely eradicate my defects, I am provided with Al-Anon tools to maintain my separation from them. ‘I expected to just say, ‘Okay, God, take over!’ and they’d be gone overnight. It didn’t quite work out that way.’”   If only things were so simple! I’m in partnership with my Higher Power, but I still have to do the footwork. The key word above is “separation.” I will always have defects; that’s what makes me human. But to be able to step back and look at them, to separate myself from them for just a bit, gives me the chance to take a look and decide what to do. It’s hard, sometimes, to let go of some defects. Sometimes stubbornness masquerades as determination; sometimes martyrdom looks like healthy self-sacrifice. There are a million ways to justify our behavior and rationalize it. But when a defect stands in the way of my well-being, or that of someone I love, then I’m grateful for the objectivity I’m given, allowing me the grace to separate from it.  ...

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....

Beach Combing

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...

The Path To Peace

From Each Day A New Beginning, August 19: “‘…to have a crisis and act upon it is one thing. To dwell in perpetual crisis is another.’ Barbara Grizzuti Harrison Exaggerating the negative element in our lives is familiar behavior for all too many of us.  But this obsession is our choice. We can stop at any moment. We can decide to let go of a situation that we can’t control, turn it over to God, and be free to look ahead at the possibilities for happiness…Perhaps we can learn to accept a serious situation in our lives as a special opportunity for growth first of all, but even more as an opportunity to let God work in our lives. Serenity is the gift promised when we let God handle our lives. No crises need worry us. The solution is only a prayer away.” In my recovery program we are quick to replace the word “God “with “higher power.” A tree, the sunset, a friend—anything but me, because “my best thinking got me into the rooms.” The point of this reading is Step Three: turning our crises, burdens, whatever is too much for us, over to another being who is stronger and wiser than we are. It took me a long time to take this step because I thought I was strong and wise; I didn’t know how to rely on others. My faulty thinking was: I’d better be able to handle all this cuz who else has ever helped me when I needed him? Fortunately, I’ve learned to change my attitude about many things, including my ability to handle...

“Let Go And Let God”

“In Al-Anon, letting go and letting God means exchanging the finite, narrow limitations of our own self-will for the infinite wisdom of our Higher Power. We turn our lives over to the Higher Power’s care, confident that in God’s time, solutions to our problems and relief from our pain will come to us. The lily symbolized this slogan and was inspired by the biblical passage that tells us: ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’ By making the Twelve Steps a part of our lives, learning to trust God’s will, and practicing program principles in all our affairs, we continually renew our faith and achieve our own special beauty as our serenity grows.” My life is so much simpler when I let go of things and people I can’t control and turn the struggle over. What had been weighing me down is lifted from my shoulders and I feel lighter, more at peace. This frees me to live my life better, unencumbered by negative thoughts for which I have no solutions. Life can still be good for us; it’s all a matter of...