Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wresting My Attention Back Where It Belongs.

From the ODAT, page 58:

"When I ask, "Why does he drink when he knows it damages him and his family?" I really mean: "How can he justify what he is doing?", implying a condemnation I have no right to make. Al-Anon teaches me that the drinker knows no more about his compulsion than I do. I know he suffers from it, too. I will not waste time and energy trying to "figure out the alcoholic." I will concentrate on figuring out why I do what I do."

When I get caught up in trying to decipher the meanings of another person's words or behavior, I have lost my focus. I am engaged in an exercise which will swallow entire swathes of time in my life, to no end, since I'm never going to be able to achieve the level of understanding that I'd love to attain.

Or think I'd love - who knows if I'd be any more satisfied than I am at this moment? Just why does why seem so important? Do I still carry the belief that if I knew why, I could accept more easily?

The first time I read that page, and realised that I was doing that very thing of wanting the alcoholic to justify his behavior, I felt a tremor run through the bedrock of my certainty. (My entire position in that marriage was one of being in the right, while he was in the wrong - I cringe to remember my righteous indignation and stubborn judgement of the alcoholic.)

That was a beginning for me, when I was new to program, to realise that if I'd already said whatever I was about to say, did I need to repeat it, or was I striving to control the uncontrollable? From the starting point of keeping my words to myself, I had to then work, to wrest my focus back onto myself. I found it supremely difficult, because as an Al-Anon friend joked, "The alcoholic keeps giving me so much material to work with!"

Keep your hands in your own pockets. Clean your own side of the street. Tidy your own closet. All ways of saying: mind your own business, and leave the alcoholic to his/her Higher Power. I can, if I'm honest, occupy myself quite satisfactorily for the rest of my days, with tidying my own closet, since it seems that I no sooner get it all organised and close the door, than it re-jumbles itself to the point that the door won't close, and all my character defects are once more sliding from hangers onto the floor, and the sheer volume of accumulated assumptions and other stuff, is making it impossible for me to find anything comfortable that I'd want to wear.

Life is a journey; I choose my direction. I choose to walk either toward recovery, or back to the cave. And I make that choice every time I take a step. I pray to be given the ability to recognise when I'm heading in the wrong direction while telling myself and others that no, really, I'm not going backwards, that's an optical illusion - something to do with the light this time of day.


  1. This is great stuff. Part of me hopes a lot of newcomers read it. The other part realizes that's not my business. 'Why' is a question I've been dragged down by. It's just not a useful question to dwell on. 'How' to live is so much more fruitful for me.

  2. What a perfect post for me to read today. THank you for sharing. I've bookmarked your site, and will be back!

  3. It is so freeing to keep the focus on me and not the alcoholic. I am much happier just minding my own business. Great post.

  4. I appreciate the wisdom and honesty in this post. I really needed to be reminded to focus on cleaning up my side of the street and allow others to find their own way instead of trying to control the outcome.

  5. The saying "Quit rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic" rings so true for me when I am not tending my own stuff. My sponsor says if my name isn't on it, don't pick it up. A wonderful post that I needed to hear..again and again.