Friday, May 29, 2009

Alcoholism Is A Disease - part 2.

When I lived with active alcoholism, I was angry all of the time. I awoke angry, I stomped and seethed throughout my day, I went to bed angry. I probably was livid in my sleep.

When acceptance was suggested to me, as a coping mechanism I hadn't yet tried, I didn't want to do it. I felt as though that would be allowing the alcoholic to "put one over on me." I felt frustration, believing I would, in essence, be granting him permission for all of the behaviors I hated and resented.

From the ODAT, page 76:

"Acceptance and surrender are the two attitudes that open all doors to us in the Al-Anon way of living. Yet they are the most difficult for many of us to acquire. No matter how badly we think life has beaten us, we still cling to the idea that acceptance and surrender are a kind of hopeless giving-in, a weakness of character. Not so! Acceptance means simply admitting there are things we cannot change. Accepting them puts an end to our futile struggles and frees our thought and energy to work on things that can be changed. Surrender means relinquishing our self-will and accepting God's will and His help."

I believe acceptance became possible for me, when I truly saw just how much of my life I'd wasted, focusing upon whether or not the alcoholic was drinking/was going to drink/had been drinking/was thinking about drinking. I wanted out of that endless cycle of anger and resentment, and I wanted out now.

I didn't have the perspective to realise I was doing this for myself - that took far longer to accomplish - I had to take it on faith. I had to decide that any gains or losses felt by the alcoholic, must be secondary and incidental, and were not my concern. I was my concern. I had to let go.

How did I let go? I was talking to a sponsee about this just the other day - what worked for me was thought-stopping. I had to learn to be aware of my internal dialogue, and when I caught myself starting down that road, I had to back up, and force myself to think of something else. I did this by reciting the Serenity Prayer, or one of the Slogans as a mantra, I did it by thinking of my garden, or a book I was reading, anything that was a positive in my life.

I had to do this repeatedly, until I became proficient at it. If you are new to 12-Step, what have you got to lose by trying to work the program? (Really trying, not just trying it half-heartedly a few times, then declaring it pointless and inaffective.) We don't have to be completely won over by all aspects of program in order to find help. I practised thought-stopping while still furious with the alcoholic.

Practise makes progress.

1 comment:

  1. Surrender is a word that has come to me in prayer and meditation several times. It feels a little harder than acceptance. But clearly, it is something I'm called to because God wouldn't send it to me so often if He didn't want me to embrace it.

    Thanks so much for your reflections. I am new to Al-Anon and not really working the program yet, but trying to feel my way through it.