Endigar 755

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 29, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 26;

I’d read the Twelfth Step many times before I saw it. But there it was: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps . . . ” What a promise! If I worked these steps, I’d have a spiritual awakening! There was hope, even for me!

Now that’s not why I first came to Al-Anon. Like many, I came to find out how to make someone stop drinking. It was much later when  realized that my life was missing a sense of direction only a Higher Power could provide.

Those wonderful Twelfth Step words gave me the encouragement I needed to begin at the beginning. Slowly, sometimes painfully, I worked my way through the Steps. In time, something amazing happened. I was filled with a sense of my God and His love for me. I felt whole. I knew I’d never be the same again.

Today’s Reminder

The Steps offer me a road map for living that leads to a spiritual awakening and beyond. I can’t skip ahead to the end of the journey – which can at times be a hard one – but I can put one foot in front of the other and follow the directions I’ve been given, knowing that others who have gone before me have received more along the way than they had ever dreamed.

The first time I ever hear the Twelve Steps read at a meeting, I became very still. I felt I was not breathing…I was just listening with my whole being…I know deep within me that I was home. ~ As We Understood

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I have made it all the way into Step 9 several times, with a timid approach to Step 10 off and on and an old familiarity with Step 11 from previous spiritual training. Step 12 I have only touched once. I was burned in the attempt. I sponsored someone I held deep resentments for, believing that playing the martyr was the true path to that highly desired “Spiritual Awakening.” This was a familiar path in my past religious affiliation and in my co-dependent role as family diplomat. I desire this promise above all others. I need it. God never offers a superfluous gift.

I want to include something my daughter shared with me, a music video by a singer she was familiar with. I share it here because it seems applicable and because it is so very real and raw. The musician is Macklemore and the song he does is called “Drug Dealer.” The video aspect of this song amplifies the reality of this disease, so if the link I include goes dead, search for the Official rendering.

 

Endigar 754

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 25;

Before I discovered Al-Anon I often used other people’s problems as an excuse to avoid my obligations. I loved the drama of another’s crisis and talked about it at every opportunity. My own life seemed increasingly trivial, and my problems felt silly.

It was therefore very difficult for me to focus on myself when I came to Al-Anon. I wanted to talk about the alcoholic when I came to meetings, but no one seemed interested. They all kept asking about me – how felt, what did, what wanted.

I found that I was overly interested in others because I had such a low opinion of myself. My Sponsor helped me to see that when I acted as if someone else’s life was more important than mine, I was harming myself. This had to stop if I wanted to learn to value my own experience. Focusing on myself was the beginning of building self-esteem. It took practice, but with the support I got in meetings, I grew more comfortable. I learned to talk about myself and to view my feelings, achievements, and concerns as valid and important.

Today’s Reminder

Today, if I’m tempted to gossip or to create a drama around someone else’s life, I will ask myself, “What is going on with me?”

“We talk about the part we played in our problems and how we change our attitudes and actions by applying the Al-Anon program to our lives.” ~ Al-Anon Spoken Here

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When does compassion become self-destructive? My Higher Power and I are parents to that core being, that cosmic child hidden deep within. When I find in my moral inventory places where my parents failed me when I was a physical child, I am recognizing a responsibility on my part to re-parent my own inner psychic child. I cooperate with My Higher Power for this complete psychic change.

Compassion becomes self-destructive when it allows me to martyr my own core, and to give my inner parenting to intervene where I am not invited. I do more good demonstrating self-care than demanding it.

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Endigar 753

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 24;

I will dare to be myself. I may be tempted to paste a smile on my face even though I am angry, in order to please another person. When turning down an invitation, I may want to make excuses so that nobody will be hurt. I may be inclined to cancel plans that I care about, without protest, because a loved one prefers to stay home and I don’t want to make waves. These may be perfectly acceptable choices, and I may opt for any or all of them. But today I will be honest with myself as I do so — I will not pretend to feel what I do not feel or to want what I do not want.

Al-Anon does not tell me how to behave. It doesn’t legislate right or wrong choices. But Al-Anon does encourage me to look searchingly and fearlessly at myself, my feelings, motives, and actions. I can only learn to love myself if I am willing to learn who I am.

Today’s Reminder

I have a right to want what I want and to feel the way I feel.  I may not choose to act on those feelings or desires, but I won’t hide them from myself. They are part of me.

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

~ William Shakespeare

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Nightmare

I am a “double winner.” That is to say, I am qualified for both AA and Al-Anon. The 12 Steps in both Fellowships have provided ways for me to get to know myself, the true me. There was a me encased in diplomatic roles hiding away. There was a me that was rejected and replaced by my own alcoholic disease. The 12 Steps process helped separate the true me from the false, and coaxed the child in me from underneath the bed, hiding away from a world of uncontrollable chaos. I am not my shortcomings. I am not the enabler of self-destructive behavior in myself or others.

The words, “I will dare to be myself” are powerful only when I know who I am. An active alcoholic might say that their self-will run riot is just who they are. An active co-dependent might claim martyrdom as the truest reflection of their love. I have experienced the misery of letting this disease in myself and others define who I am. No more.

So I have been courting and encouraging my higher Self into the “Sunlight of the Spirit.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 66)  The exploration of this Self’s desires and feelings bring satisfaction, serenity, and often the ability to enjoy life. I am deeply grateful to the program and the Higher Power that loves me through this process, and introduces Me to me.

Endigar 752

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of 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 Al-Anon, 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 to overcome these attitude problems. First, I accept my inability to control the disease of alcoholism and admit that my life is unmanageable. 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.

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 moving 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.” ~ Paul Tillich

 

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Mother's Painting

I love this entry for its clarity and personal resonance. I also appreciate the introduction to Paul Tillich. I will have to learn more about him. What a great quote. I think I will post it in my kitchen along with other words of wisdom that have inspired me.

Often I felt this sense of responsibility for everyone around me. I hungered to establish peace in the home. As a young teenager I wrote a family constitution complete with bills, amendments, proposals for projects, and protocol for family meetings. I would tape-record our meetings and pushed for greater regulation of my brother and improved overall household management. My mother initially went along with this social experiment but soon retaliated at what she perceived as criticism of her parenting. My father remained silent and would not take the head chair I had designated for him. Instead my little brother took the exalted position. It just fell apart and became a family gathering with no hope of change.

What I failed to achieve with political proclamations I sought to gain through emotional manipulation and indirect communication. What an aggressive diplomat I have been.

Step three has taken the personal twist of turning my will and other’s lives over to the care of GOMU (God of my understanding). I work on myself and walk out the path made obvious to me by my Higher Power. I trust my God for the results. The results are not my responsibility. The work and the walking in anticipation of GOMU’s care and guidance is my responsibility. I live a much happier life seeking progress rather than perfection.

Endigar 751

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 28, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 22;

I tried so hard to learn detachment. Living with active alcoholism was confusing , and the idea of detachment seemed vague. The alcoholic in my life was a restless sleeper who fell out of bed almost every night. Feeling it my duty, I would always help him back into bed. One night, after attending Al-Anon meetings for a while, I stepped over his body and got into bed, leaving him on the floor. Triumphantly, I went to my next Al-Anon meeting and told them, “I finally learned detachment!” “Well,” they said, “that’s not exactly what we meant. We meant detachment with love.

I left that meeting with a new understanding that I put into proactive the very next time my loved one fell out of bed. When I found him in the floor, I still didn’t help him into bed. But I did put a blanket over him before stepping over his body and going to bed myself. This, to me, was detachment with love.

Today’s Reminder

With my Higher Power’s help, I will keep  loving blanket of detachment with me. I will cover my loved ones with it, whether or not they struggle with a disease, keeping in mind that when I am dealing with other human beings, I am dealing with children of God.

“Detachment is not isolation, nor should it remain focused on not enabling the sick behavior of the past. Detachment is not a wall; it is a bridge across which the Al-Anon may begin a new approach to life and relationships generally.” ~ Al-Anon: Family Treatment Tool in Alcoholism

 

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sleep_by_aneteya-d5rlqzy

I suppose that if detachment becomes a passive-aggressive form of retaliation, it becomes an unhealthy way of processing resentment. Who does the practice of detachment benefit? Is it me or is it my actively addicted loved one? It benefits me, first and foremost, and if I cannot recognize the spiritual significance of my own life, then I am actively sick. I have to want to live. I have to desire life. My own life. Detachment is really attachment to me, true connection with the higher form of Self through the help of a Higher Power, a spiritual path to recovery from of a twisted and malfunctioning conscience and a maligned view of what love looks like.

Indirectly, my detachment well-lived will provide an example of valuing my own life, and if my alcoholic or addictive loved one is going to make it, they have to want to live. That is step zero for them. And for those of us who love them. It all begins with this healthy dose of positive self-care.

 

 

Art Credit: “Sleep” by aneteya on deviantart

Endigar 750

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 21;

Before Al-Anon, I could never tell the difference between what was and was not my business. I felt I had to take care of everyone around me until I couldn’t stand it any more. I usually kept this up until I became physically ill. My body tried to tell me to pay attention to my own needs, but I simply wasn’t ready to listen.

Al-Anon helps me to listen and learn from my body, my soul, and my Higher Power. How do I do it? I try t check in with myself on a regular basis. Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? If so, I can make a point of stopping what I’m doing long enough to attend to my needs.

When I pay attention to the messages I’m being given, I have a better chance of detaching from other people and situations, should that be appropriate. For me, this is the foundation of serenity.

Today’s Reminder

I no longer have to wait until my health, my financial situation, or my emotional state collapses before paying attention to my needs. Today I can practice becoming more aware of what my inner voice is trying to teach me. I can listen and learn.

“Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this!'” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

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The-Tree-of-Life_Full_27543

What does self-care look like? My first thoughts are images of a protracted vacation from life, with young island women fanning me on a beach while I read and enjoy the rumbling rhythm of the ocean waves before me.

There are elements of that image that might be true self-care, such as the detachment from the stress of trying to control life and its uncooperative players. Or maybe taking time to reflect and, if the waves represent the care of a Higher Power, finding the serenity of a relationship with the Infinite One. Yet I think it is important to recognize that the sacrifice I have given for others I must be willing to do for me. It takes carved out time to grow spiritually. My sacrifice is to carve away by making plans with this goal in mind. I have been willing to drive others to meetings. Now I must insure that I do this for myself. I have utilized finances to support others, I must be willing to save some for my own future.

My willingness to take care of myself gives permission and guidance for others to do the same, if they so chose. Self-care is probably the most effective thing I can do to benefit those I love.

Endigar 749

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 20;

“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions.” Anonymity makes it possible to leave not only our surnames, but all the labels and expectations with which we have been burdened, outside the Al-Anon rooms. Through our commitment to anonymity we can put aside what we are and begin to know who we are.

As I began to recognize how valuable this spiritual principle already was in my life, I understood why it was so important to protect the anonymity of others, including the alcoholic. If I want the benefits the program has to offer, I have an obligation to extend to others the same respect and courtesy that keep me feeling safe, free from labels, and free to be myself.

Today’s Reminder

In taking my place among the thousands of anonymous individuals who make up the Al-Anon Family Groups, I know that I never again have to be alone. I won’t jeopardize this valuable resource by violating its most fundamental spiritual principle.

“Each person should be able to leave an Al-Anon meeting secure in the knowledge that what he or she has shared will not be repeated.” ~ Why Anonymity in Al-Anon?

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animal-camouflage-photography-art-wolfe-1

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” The Twelfth Tradition.

When first I entered the recovery program I saw anonymity as a protective social mechanism to empower me to risk openness. In the beginning, I desperately needed such a safe place.

As time passed I was no longer in need of such sheltering. It became apart of my spiritual development in that it protected Me from me. It protected my connected and empowered spirit from my isolating and self-destructive ego. When I was in a military rehab facility, we expressed the importance of this anonymity by removing our shirts that contained rank, surname, and unit of service. All that was left was the assembled individuals and their stories coming together to heal. No expression of one individual was greater than the other. Anonymity morphs from protective privacy to a love for principles above our own personalities. Anonymity neutralizes the lethal, severed ego of the alcoholic and addictive community.