Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let It Be. (And If You Can't, Call Someone!)

For me, this has been one of the most continuingly difficult lessons of Al-Anon: detach. Let it be. Let go of the outcomes, let go of other people's choices, let go of what I want, what I think I need, what I feel, what I once felt, all of it.

Open my tightly clutching hand, and let it fall away. Turn my thinking to another topic, find a way to entertain myself, which will keep me not only off the gerbil wheel, but out of the room inside my head where that wheel is kept.

Don't go there, and stand in the doorway, wondering if I should just "go over, and dust it a little..." I know from long experience that in this area, I have much in common with the alcoholic - once I move that mental wheel even an inch, habit and compulsion will sweep me onto it, and before I realise it, I'll be running as fast as I can go, ramping up what might have begun as a slightly uncomfortable feeling, into a mess of overwhelming pain and frustration.

Last night, after the meeting, in the coffeeshop, we were talking about how hard it can be to call someone. That phone is the heaviest thing in the world when we are in the "I should be able to handle this myself!" state of  mind. Maybe we are suffering from false pride, not wanting to admit to others that we are in pain. Perhaps we are ashamed that we aren't further along in our program, that we don't have the answers right now, to help ourselves. Maybe we are afraid we will be bothering the other person, or setting ourselves up for an obligation.

I have been in all of those places, and believed all of those premises.  I have also learned to let those thoughts go through my head, and then go over and pick up the phone and start calling. 

If you decide to wait to feel comfortable, before your first time of calling a program friend when you need to, you will never do it.

It is going to feel wierd and uncomfortable. You will squirm and agonise, feel embarassed, and awkward. Everyone does. Call anyway.

There will be those who aren't home. Either leave a message asking to be called back, or go to the next person on the list. If you reach someone, ask if they have a few moments to talk. If they don't, thank them, and call the next person on the phone list.

Accept that these first few phone calls are going to bring up a host of feelings that you don't particularly like to feel. Look at it this way: you were most likely scared spitless the first time you went out onto the road in a car, learning how to drive, but the end result was enough to make you willing to suffer through that fear.

The end result of learning how to reach out, is the massive wealth of experience, strength and hope, just waiting for you to walk over, pick up the phone, feel what you feel, and plug into that source of help and comfort.

Think of it as learning how to drive your life down the road into serenity.


  1. I have done for myself since I was very young. I am very capable. Probably over responsible. My survival skills developed into being independent. Both of my parents were not available early on. For me it is foreign to go to someone else for words. I share in-group, but to call someone when I am in distress, need program guidance, or help working a step? It just does not occur to me, to call someone. I have heard many say they get a lot from that aspect of the program. Yes, I really need to make that next step…..get a sponsor and call others. Thanks, for raising awareness on this area of the program I have neglected.

  2. I can get in the mode of not calling someone, but I can also get in the mode of calling everyone I know about one problem in one day and talking myself into a state of even more stress and a really bad headache. I can be a compulsive phone-caller, I guess. So for me I guess it's about finding a balance in there somewhere. It's sometimes challenging for me to know when to talk about it and knowing when to do footwork and knowing when to let it go.

  3. I remember not wanting to call when I first came to Al-Anon but I did it anyway. I called everyone who gave me their numbers. It helped me to come back.