Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Feelings Are Not The Alcoholic's Fault.

I was raised in a very blaming environment - I've written about that elsewhere so won't go into details again - suffice it to say that I promptly internalised this attitude as I moved out into the world.

It wasn't until I entered Al-Anon that I began to dimly perceive that perhaps there was another way to live - a way which didn't include the assignation of blame, before changes could be made.

When I detach, take a step back from the heat of my feelings, I can see that no-one makes me feel anything. They may do A, and then I may feel B, but the two things do not have to follow "as the night the day," if I'm working my program, and have a healthy amount of detachment operating at all times.

When I am blaming another person for the way I feel, the receiver of the line to my Higher Power, is off the hook. The connection is disengaged. I can't get through to Him, and He can't get through to me.

I asked someone to be my sponsor, and she accepted with delight. (Only in 12-Step would someone agree to accept long blathering phone calls detailing the minutae of another person's navel-gazing, and consider it an honor.)
I knew that I'd picked the right person for me, during the very first phone call I made to her.

I was wallowing in some feelings of being hard-done-by at the hands of my significant other, and she heard me out, then made a comment which at one time would have caused me serious offense, but due to the wonders of Al-Anon, and the personal growth I've achieved as a result, now made me burst out laughing.

As soon as I did, the self-pity vanished, and I was able to say to myself, "Okay, now let's get some helpful thinking done here."

I feel what I feel, and that's fine. Not only am I'm entitled to my feelings, but it's of vital importance that I recognise and identify them, because my feelings let me know what's going on, when my head can't quite grasp it yet, due to fatigue, manipulation, whatever.

So I allow my feelings. I give myself permission to feel them to the depth of the container (me) - I even agitate it a bit, through prayer, meditation, and reasoning things out with someone else, to make certain that I'm getting them all out. Then I have a choice about what I do next.

In program, I've learned that I cannot change another person. (If I can't make them wipe the crumbs off the counter, why would I imagine I could make them change their personality, or coping mechanisms?)

I can only change myself. I can choose to remain mired in my misery by railing against fate, the alcoholics in my life, and the wrongs they have done me, as I perceive it. Or, I can choose to do things differently this time, rather than go down that same tired old road. I can choose to see my feelings as an indicator that change is necessary, and work to bring that change about, by working the Steps of Al-Anon.

I can set boundaries, and be willing to maintain them, even when I'm in HALT, even when that little voice of unreason is murmuring, "Oh just this once, it doesn't matter, surely?"

That sneaky little voice is my disease of codependence speaking to me. When it starts up, I need to have a conversation with my sponsor, a program friend, and my Higher Power. I need to do the work required, if I want the result that's promised.

I feel what I feel, that's nobody's fault. I hated that idea when I was new in Al-Anon, because I had no idea how to manage if I wasn't blaming. I can still fall back into blaming if I'm not working my program, and maintaining my healthy boundaries.

It's easier to lie back, weep wail moan and blame, than it is to get myself up and go to a meeting. But I want what the meeting offers: experience, strength, hope, love, and a good laughing fit. I'm willing to let go of blaming, to gain what is only possible when I do so - serenity. Gratitude. I heard someone at a meeting say recently, that she cannot love herself, if she's caught up in hating the alcoholic. I need to hear that kind of powerful insight, those reminders, to keep me balanced, focussed and content.


  1. Good stuff. I am glad that I have lowered my expectations significantly. No one is going to change because I want them to. They have to change because they want to. I wonder why it took me so long to figure those things out.

  2. I'm really glad your blog is back and up and running, if you will.

    I know that people don't cause me to feel any one way, but I am still having a hard time with others' actions and choice of words and methods of approaching me.

    I'm really sensitive about some things, I suppose, and I don't always know what to do with that awareness.