Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"I've Decided Not To Go Tonight, Because ..."

I like to say this to my spouse, who will make noises of agreement and support, knowing full well that all I'm doing, is giving myself permission not to go to my meeting, on nights when it's hard to pull myself out the door. This doesn't mean I'm staying home; it's being said in the minute before I haul myself to my feet, and walk down the hall, to go get ready.

This may sound silly, but it works for me. In doing Step Four: "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves," I've discovered that I have a secretly rebellious streak. Just let me get the idea that I'm being expected to do whatever it is, and that (childish) part of me will begin to mutter darkly in the background, insisting that I don't have to do anything I don't want to, and nobody can make me do anything, and all manner of variations on that theme.

I've learned that rather than argue with my sulking inner child, it's much better to just agree with her, and continue along my adult path. (Do I sound as though I've got multiple personalities, here? Just an analogy - no actual voices arguing inside my head.)

I've learned that if I give myself permission to not do whatever it is that my rebellious streak is up in arms about, whether that be my yoga exercises, walking the dogs in the rain, cleaning the bathroom, or going to a meeting, I can sidestep all that mulishness.

MrSponsorPants has a good post today about making sure that we are listening to others, and truly hearing them. I've discovered through working my program, that I need to do this for myself, as well. I cannot ride roughshod over myself, insisting that my responsibilites require that I ____, and if I were truly mature I would ____, and I am bloody well going to do ____, whether I like it or not. This may work for some, this taking of self firmly in hand, but it often will not work for me.
It sets me up for failure, because the rebellious part of my nature will begin to place roadblocks in my path, trip me up time and again, anything to assert my independence, no matter how self-defeating the result.

I think of the years I spent pre-Al-Anon, trying and failing to force change upon myself, and in the process, waging an internal war. I recall how confused I was about my own behavior; I didn't know myself. I didn't understand that the abuse in childhood, had robbed me of my ability to feel as if I had any rights at all in life, so when I reached adulthood, all I had left to sustain me was my silently livid, internal rebellion.

I have learned that I need to listen to myself grumbling away: allow that part of me to feel heard: agree that yes, it is within my rights to not do this thing.  In the strange alchemy of self-willfullness, the moment I do this giving of permission, is the moment that the internal resistance melts away, and I can get up and go do it. Strange but true, and I'd never have figured this out, if I hadn't been willing to do a Step Four. And then another and another, as I work my way down through the levels of excavation of self.
I love this program, for all that it has given me, in so many areas of my life.


  1. Wow. When I read this I thought I am not alone. Until the past few years I could always force myself to do stuff because I was responsible and people could count on me to come through no matter what. Recently nothing seems to work and sometimes there is an argument in my head. "you got to do this" and " I am not going to do it " I can't seem to get past this and have started to worry. Nothing really seems to be that important to me anymore.

  2. I do what feels comfortable to me. If I am sick, I don't force myself to have to go some where. I am okay with just saying No.