Sunday, November 29, 2009


In trying to lessen my load a bit, I decided to not post here for a week, and let a few other daily routines lapse - not posting is the only one I miss. I've only been writing this blog for not quite nine months, but in that time, it has become a part of my morning Al-Anon "setting myself into a positive frame of mind for the day" custom, or at the other end of the day, my gratitude for, and inventory of, the day just lived. As soon as I'd decided to give myself a break from it, I promptly commenced to miss it. I began to suffer the mental equivalent, of the stiff and rusty feeling my joints have, when I miss a day of yoga practise.

So it goes.

I'm going to write, and try to let go of how long or how often; I have always been my harshest taskmaster. If it's only a paragraph, well, that's what it's going to be that day.

The first half of the first sentence in today's reading in Hope for Today runs as follows:

"I was practically consumed with frustration and anger..." This is an accurate description of who I was, when I came into Al-Anon. It's hard to recall what that felt like, because I've changed so much.

This wonderful program has given me a life I'd have never thought possible, with the miseries of my childhood behind me. I am living proof of the fact that what is promised to us in the closing is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth;

"If you try to keep an open mind you will find help. You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened."

As a newcomer, I had my doubts about that last bit, because I thought I'd had a far worse time of it than anyone else at the table, and in my childhood, perhaps I did, but my first sponsor taught me that pain is relative. Each person's pain is agonising for them.

I had to take quite a bit on faith when I was new to program, but for some reason, I could trust my sponsor enough to believe her when she said I would get better if I just kept trying. And part of trying was to work to wrest my attitude from the overwhelmingly negative co-ordinates I'd had it set at for most of my life, to a more positive aspect. Gratitude is self-perpetuating - the more we have, the more we notice; the more we notice, the more gratitude we have.

At first, I could only list a few items on my gratitude list - the love of my dog, food, shelter, work. The basics. As time went on, my list became more detailed, and I even found myself feeling grateful to the people who had caused so much of my childhood misery, for things like: teaching me to love classical music. Teaching me that prejudice is wrong. Teaching me to be responsible to the animals in my care. The dog had to be fed, and her outside area cleaned up, her water freshened, before we sat down to eat. She was dependent upon us for everything, so we had to look after her properly, and before we looked after our own needs.

I began to let go of my black-and-white thinking, which had made me have to demonise them completely. I still don't think they had the right to physically abuse me, but I can see them as flawed and deeply unhappy human beings, instead of monsters. As long as I saw them as monsters, I couldn't get past my own rage. When I began to see them as people stuck in their own awful misery, I could begin to forgive. I forgave for my sake, not theirs. I forgave so that I could step out of that fire of anger which was consuming me, and have a life.

I have Al-Anon to thank for that, and I am full to bursting with gratitude for the life I have now - it's a beautiful thing.

Keep an open mind, you will find help.


  1. Great post. I think that recovery takes a lot of practice at hearing things over and over until finally a light dawns.

    By the way, I have to only comment in the evening because of the embedded comment box. I wish that you had the pop up box which would enable comments at any time but my work computer wont' do this type of box. Sorry for the delays in commenting.

  2. I read recently that it can be difficult to accept the complexity and nuances of life and that blaming others or surrendering to binary thinking is much easier (and sometimes satisfying!)
    Abuse is never acceptable. But you'vr brrn able to take a troubling, complex situation such as your childhood and examine it from many angles. In the end, it sounds like you've learned to put it down, let it go and free yourself to move forward. It's a beautiful thing.