Friday, February 25, 2011

Encouraging Ourselves.

I've been discussing fears of various sorts with a few people this last week - it's a subject that always seems to bring forth heartfelt sharing. Many of us have spent much of our lives in fear, and before Al-Anon, either didn't realise it, or if we did, had no tools for change. Al-Anon offers me wisdom and all the tools I could ever want. It's entirely up to me whether I pick them up, ask to have them explained to me, and then go on to try them out, or, turn my chair so that I can't see them, and continue to complain, "But it's so hard!"

Yes it is hard, at times it can feel impossibly hard. But so was my life before Al-Anon. Trying to change the alcoholic felt like facing an ocean with a teaspoon, bailing madly away, one little splop of water at a time flung backwards over my shoulder while thousands of millions of gallons poured in from the deep, washing ashore over my toes, and then receeding. When I was completely engrossed in my bailing, I could lose sight of the movement of the tide, until a wave of a size I wasn't expecting could knock me off my feet - one crisis following another, just as the waves do.

I came into Al-Anon expecting to either be told how to find a much larger bailing spoon, or how to drain the ocean in some other fashion. I was surprised to be told to leave the ocean alone, that all those teaspoonfulls of water were as nothing, in the face of this powerful disease.

I was given the gift of myself, and that was one I hadn't ever been expecting to receive, and wasn't sure I wanted, really. I'd whine to my first sponsor about how hard it was, and she'd cheerfully agree that yes, it was, wasn't it, but so were most things worth having in life. She offered me the tool of perspective, and self-love, suggesting that instead of concentrating so hard upon what I hadn't managed to accomplish yet, why didn't I instead work for gratitude about those little bits I had achieved? Why, she asked one day, was I so hard on myself? Didn't I think I needed encouragement from myself?

Encouragement from myself? I was brought up short, silenced by surprise. Lashing myself, verbally abusing myself, ripping myself to shreds, I could do all of those with no effort whatsoever, they were second nature. Encouraging myself was a beast of another stripe. It took quite some time, to begin to see, that I lived with myself from waking to sleeping, wouldn't it be more relaxing and pleasant to be giving myself encouragement, cheering myself on, paying attention when I got somewhere with all my efforts?

Yesterday I was out in the glorious sunshine, doing something physically tiring. At times I'd find myself feeling dispirited and anxious, and would wrest my focus back to gratitude for the blessings I do have in abundance, but of which I can lose sight when I'm: hungry angry lonely, tired.

Back home again, I received a little gift of encouragement from an unexpected source. A treasure I'm going to use to encourage myself, when I'm out again today.


  1. I'm in constant danger of gushing, I so enjoy your blog.

    The message you carry here, and they way you carry it, are one of many templates of the type of person I want in my life. That's a handy sense for me to be aware of.

  2. I have felt a lot of that this week--the HALT. I am doing what I can to take care of myself, but really feel a need to be at the hospital.

  3. I always wonder where I got the idea that I could fix things. How I became so powerful and responsible for everything. I couldn't really control myself or fix my own stuff. It was hard for me to accept that I was powerless but then the idea of freedom set in and without the burden of being responsible for others I was able to focus on my own shortcoming and assets. Relief even if I have a slip every once in a while.

  4. The first thing I gift I recieved when I started the program changed my thinking, my actions and gave me this "new found self-worth". I am #1, not all the others who I was more focused on and taking care of. Gifts keep coming.
    What was next? The gift of "taking care of ones own business", was the next concept I unwrapped.That was my second gift.