Endigar 732

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 31, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 06;

Between meetings, I need to keep in close touch with other Al-Anon members by telephone. Like may who have been affected by alcoholism, when I came into the program I was tremendously overburdened. Lots of patient listening at the other end of the line continues to help me get these burdens off my chest.

Sharing Al-Anon recovery by telephone allows me to reach out to someone else for support. The person I am talking to is not my counselor, confessor, or problem-solver. Nor is he or she obliged to sit and listen to all my sob stories.

Instead, this person may help me reason things out. Sometimes I’ll be reminded of an Al-Anon idea or tool that will enable me to gain some perspective on my situation. I am not given advice about what I should or should not do — that is for me to decide. By the time the conversation is over, I’ve usually found some relief from the problem that had seemed so enormous while it stayed trapped inside my head.

Today’s Reminder

It is my responsibility to solve my own problems with the help of the God of my understanding. Since God often speaks through other people, when I reach out and make an Al-Anon call, I become willing to receive that help.

“We cannot climb up a rope that is attached only to our own belt.” ~ William Ernest Hocking

 

 

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I think it is important to update this idea of communicating via telephone to include chatting via computer. This will be helpful, I think, to those in the program who are introverted. I personally despise talking on the phone, and only use it for conducting business. It is my least genuine form of communication. If I get a chance to think about what I am going to say, I can search for that elusive and hard won honesty and for me, this is better achieved via the written banter of computer chat. If I am in an urgent situation and I need to find some source of immediate help, using the phone is a good path to take. Some people are able to conduct real exchange via the telephone, but not me. It has been rare for me to find it personally beneficial. Face to face conversations are better because the full spectrum of communication is in place. Body language, facial expression, and contextual clues all add to the discourse. Yet I understand the benefit of having the greater frequency of contact and accountability found in technologically enhanced communication. I must build a web of interaction to remain connected.

Endigar 731

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 05;

I was terribly confused about the meaning of “compassion ” when I came to Al-Anon. I thought it meant making excuses for the alcoholic or covering bad checks. Al-Anon helped me to find another word for this behavior: “enabling.” I learned that when I cleaned up the consequences of alcoholic behavior, I enabled the alcoholic to continue drinking comfortably and acting out without having to pay the price. A more compassionate way to respond to those I love might be to allow them to face the consequences of their actions, even when it will cause them pain.

How do I know whether a particular action is enabling? While this is not always clear, I find it helpful to look carefully at my motives. Am I trying to interfere with the natural consequences of a loved one’s choices? Am I trying to do for someone what they could do for themselves? Am I doing what I think is best for me? Do I resent what I am doing? If so, is it really a loving choice? Sometimes the most compassionate thing I can do is to let others take responsibility for their behavior.

Today’s Reminder

Today I will remember that I have choices, and so does the alcoholic. I will make the best choices I can and allow others in my life to do the same without interference.

“I must learn to give those I love the right to make their own mistakes and recognize them a theirs alone.”

Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism

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It is difficult to separate the enabling from genuine compassion, particularly when the two have been a hybrid creature indoctrinated into my psyche from childhood. I learned to dance around trip wires, to attempt face-reading to understand what was really being communicated, to distrust outsiders, to play diplomat and keep the peace. We were different and isolated because we were superior as a family, and I was to champion that reality. This infected my spirituality as well, since I expected God to be in need of appeasement and that love and attention would be withdrawn if I inadvertently offended Him. I lived hidden inside an icon of acceptability, knowing that if anyone discovered the creature inside, I would be a source of disgust and disappointment.

The aggressive form of self-care necessary to recovery from alcoholism is also good in helping me sever the twin headed beast, that enabling-compassion hybrid. It also takes time as well as fearless and truthful self appraisal. I have to accept the fact that my guilt-o-meter has been damaged and I am going to need outside connections to help me correct my perspective. If this does not lead me to healthy connections, that is, others in my life who desire my most potent self-expression, then I must re-evaluate. If this causes me to gravitate toward isolating selfishness in its many forms of self-destruction, I must re-evaluate.

I do not want to get buried in the icon of appeasement for a severed ego, mine or anyone else’s.

Endigar 730

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 04;

When I first found Al-Anon I was desperate and lonely. I yearned for the serenity that others in the meetings so obviously possessed. When members shared about the tools that had worked for them, I paid close attention.

Here is what I heard: Go to meetings and share when you can; work all the Steps, but not all at once — start with Step One; get a Sponsor; read some Al-Anon literature every day; use the pone to reach out between meetings. Gradually I took each of these suggestions and began to see real changes in my life. I began to believe my life could amount to more than a string of painful days to be survived. Now I had resources that helped me to deal with even the most difficult situations. I came to see that , with the help of my Higher Power, I could handle anything that cam to pass and even grow as I did so. In time, the tools and principles of the program helped me gain the serenity I had long desired.

Today’s Reminder

Al-Anon gives me tools I can use to achieve many goals, including serenity, sanity, and detachment with love. And Al-Anon members who share their experience, strength, and hope show me how to put these tools to work in my life.

“Daily vigilance will turn out to be a small price to pay for my peace of mind.” ~ The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage

 

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The tools of Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous are the same. The Steps represent a practical guide for establishing spiritual healing and growth. The one difference I have found is this idea of “detachment with love.” This is not code for abandoning the ones we love when addiction moves in and takes them hostage. The world of the active alcoholic or addict is an inverted life, in which rewards become damning and consequences become a saving grace. This requires those bound to the alcoholic or addict to resist covering or enabling and allow the consequences to come. Detachment for me means to change the focus from the spiritual welfare of the loved addict or alcoholic to my own. It requires that I develop a certain kind of selfishness or aggressive self-care that will insure my own survival and life improvement regardless of what my qualifying addict or alcoholic chooses to do. This means that my heart may break as they reap consequences, but I will live through it. And if they decide to seek the sanity of truthful self evaluation, they will have my life as an example of thriving in the midst of chaos storms.

I am free to love, but I will not let my love be twisted into a call for martyrdom. Even the story of the Messiah is not a story of slaughter embraced but death overcome. I prefer the image of an empty tomb to the exaltation of a device of torture and tyrannical control.

Endigar 729

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 03;

I am writing my life story with every single today. Am I moving in a positive direction? If not, perhaps I need to make some changes. I can do nothing to change the past except stop repeating it in the present. Going to Al-Anon meetings and practicing the principles of the program are some of the ways in which I am already breaking out of unhealthy and unsatisfying patterns of the past.

I believe that my life is built upon layers of little everyday accomplishments. When I think this way, setting goals and taking small risks becomes nothing more than a daily striving to make my life better. Taking some tiny action each day can be much more effective than weeks and months of inactivity followed by a frenzied attempt to make radical changes overnight. It certainly leaves me more serene. When I face a new challenge, I try to take my beginning wherever it may be and start from there.

Today’s Reminder

No one can make me change. No one can stop me from changing. No one really knows how I must change, not even I. Not until I start. I will remember that it only takes a slight shift in direction to begin to change my life.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao-tse

 

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There are some things I must do every day. Personal hygiene and feeding my body are examples. Those are the small circles of my life that I must be able to repeatedly complete. The power of my life is built on the foundation of ever expanding concentric circles. I must master the inner circles to expand and grow into the larger ones. If I attempt to invest myself in the outer cycles first, I will lack the energy and foundation to complete my work. Frustration and depression soon follow these unrealistic self-expectations.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but you must keep stepping.” ~ a friend’s qualification to Lao-tse’s famous words.

Endigar 728

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 02;

Turning to an alcoholic for affection and support can be like going to a hardware store for bread. Perhaps we expect a “good” parent to nurture and support our feelings, or a “loving” spouse to comfort and hold us when we are afraid, or a “caring” child to want to pitch in when we are ill or overwhelmed. While these loved ones may not meet our expectations, it is our expectations, not our loved ones, that have let s down.

Love is expressed in many ways, and those affected by alcoholism may not be able to express it the way we would like. But we can try to recognize love whenever and however it is offered. When it is not, we don’t have to feel deprived; most of us find an unfailing source of love in Al-Anon. With the encouragement and support of others, we learn to treat our needs as important and appropriate, and to treat ourselves as deserving.

Today’s Reminder

Today the alcoholic may or may not be able to give us what we desire. And no one person will ever offer all that we require. If we stop insisting that our needs be met according to our will, we may discover that all the love and support we need is already at our fingertips.

“In Al-Anon I discover in myself the power to throw new light on a seemingly hopeless situation. I learn I must use this power, not to change the alcoholic, over whom I am powerless, but to overcome my own distorted ideas and attitudes.”

One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

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I heard someone in a meeting talk about being lonely and how it is treated as something that must be banished from life. He said that the reality he had to come to terms with was that he had experienced loneliness while with other people and he had also experienced loneliness in solitude. His conclusion was that loneliness was simply a part of life and his own state of mind. It is expectations of what people can achieve in my life that lays the foundation for great disappointment.

I think it is alright to have some expectations. How else would you build trust. I suspect that proper expectations come from knowing the truth about myself and others in my intimate sphere. If I project past pain into a situation, I might expect others to rewrite a tragic history they had nothing to do with. I do not know why, but it seems that it is only the crucible of harsh life experiences that unveils the deepest truth of who I am to myself and others. And it takes work to know others and build trust. It is a good investment to make.

Artwork by Tomislav Tikulin

Endigar 727

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2016 by endigar

From Courage to Change of January 01;

We live in a society of instant gratification: instant coffee, instant breakfast, instant money from our local ready bank machine — it’s everywhere we look! No wonder so many of us arrive at Al-Anon’s doors looking for the instant answer to all the problems that come from living with and loving an alcoholic.

Recovery is a process. It takes time to regain, reclaim, and recoup all that was lost while we tried on our own to cope with active drinking. Building trust takes time, change takes time, healing old wounds takes time; there are no immediate, ready-made solutions. But the tools and principles of our program — Steps, Traditions, slogans, meetings, sponsorship, service — can lead us to the answers that are right for us.

We all have dark times in our lives, but the journey to better times is often what makes us happier, stronger people. When we stop expecting instant relief, we may come to believe that where we are today is exactly where our Higher Power would have us be.

Today’s Reminder

Al-Anon is a “One Day at a Time” program, No matter what is going on around me, today I know that I am moving forward. I will trust the process of recovery. I’ll let time take time.

“If I am under pressure and setting myself deadlines, I will stop for a few minutes and think of just this one day and what I can do with it.”

    ~ One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

 

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This is relevant to me. I have lived in response to fear rather than to move proactively in trust. I have been impatient as I tried to outrun the process of loss. The world around me was a place just looking for me to surrender to it’s inevitable decay.

The intuitive path of my faith in a God of my understanding began to alter me. The challenge of the process of day to day living does strengthen, does secure possibility, and does make me ready to live free.

Endigar 726 ~ What Now?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 4, 2016 by endigar

The Daily Reflections have been a source of writing inspiration for greater than a year now, but that circle is complete. I think that, as a “double dipper” which is recovery slang for an alcoholic/addict that also has co-dependency issues, I will look to the Al-Anon book “Courage to Change.” There are other possible books in recovery that I have longed to read, and tasking myself to write something about them might help fulfill that goal. This year I will complete my graduate studies and procure a teaching certificate. So my writing might continue to be less frequent than I would like. I ask for your patience and appreciate your presence here with me. I hope to encourage others out there to keep trudging forward. It does get better.

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