Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning About Yourself

Anniversaries are a great event in AA. Yesterday four anniversaries were celebrated ranging from six months to over 20 years. These are often happy occasions and they set the tone for the meeting. We talk about how they did it, often it took more than one try, but for some just walking through the doors and surrendering to God or your higher power is all it takes. Time before and after meetings is important too. This is when you often get the best advice. This was proven to me last night. Sunday I was really feeling low, and of course my spouse was an easy target. I wanted him to feel bad too. If I'm going to suffer so are you which is ironic since most people have already suffered thanks to the alcoholic. I was sharing my argument with a fellow AA member when they stopped me in mid-sentence: "Did you ask him how he was feeling or did you tell him?" I replied "I told him." "Then how do you know what he is feeling? He could be happy for you, he could be sad, he could be scared to death. You put your agenda first. You wanted him to feel bad because you were feeling bad yet you never really found out his feelings. He can feel anyway he wants to. He doesn't have to go to Al-Anon unless he feels a need or wants to. You have no right to tell him what he should do or feel. That's your selfishness, your wanting to control. But in reality his feelings are his not yours." I sat there and for the first time and realized how true this was. I am selfish. I do want people to do things in certain ways, or I want them to feel certain things, but rarely do I just let it happen. I want the agenda. I wasn't hurt by this person pointing this out, I was thankful. It's like someone let me see a piece of myself very clearly for the first time. In AA we work through steps that help us take care of ourselves. No, you do not neglect others but you stay focused on things that you can change. Your thoughts, your feelings, your reactions, you do not waste time and energy trying to control everyone around you. You accept yourself for your limitations and you embrace the differences of others. I had another lesson taught to me by this same person last Saturday. This person was asking if I felt I was the one person in the house doing everything. Yes , I replied. "We were all like that and I bet you liked to bitch about all you were doing too". Yes, came the reply just a little slower this time. "It's a character flaw in most alcoholics. We always feel we are the victim. You will learn to do things because you want to, and you won't need to complain about it. And you will learn to say no." Respect your boundaries. They are there to keep you from overwhelming yourself. They can also help keep you humble. I have switched my routine to reading and meditating and asking God for help in the morning. That way I can thank him and express my gratitude at night. Its a great way to begin and end my day. I am grateful to be learning something new each and every day.

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