Saturday, August 13, 2011

Standing Guard At The Door Of My Mind.

From One Day At A Time In Al-Anon, page 226:

"Why do I allow myself to suffer? Is there any meaning or validity to the items I am permitting myself to suffer from? What if "he said this" - or "she did that." Even if it was meant to hurt, it cannot reach the real me, if I stand guard at the door of my mind."

The first few hundred times I read that paragraph, I felt distinctly annoyed with the writer - how was I supposed to not be hurt, when deliberately hurtful things were said and done by the alcoholics in my life?

And just how was I to "stand guard at the door to my mind" anyway? What did that mean? Following swiftly upon my annoyance would be a feeling of despairing frustration; I was never going to "get" this program!

Until the first time the alcoholic said something designed to wound, and my internal dialogue, rather than feed the fire with exclamations of "How dare he! The nerve! That (rude word) has been drinking all day, and I've been working, and I come home in a good mood and he ruins it by..." offered up the first line of the Serenity Prayer:

"God grant me serenity."

That's how I stand guard at the door of my mind. By changing my thinking - asking my Higher Power for help, so that my first response is not anger, frustration or despair, but a deep breath, a reminder to myself that this is a sick individual, and a refusal to accept whatever unkindness is being offered to me.

I don't have to take it on. I may not always be standing guard effectively, and some things may get past me, and cause me hurt. Learning this new behavior, can feel like trying to use one leg to block a determined cat from getting outdoors, while still opening the door far enough, to be able to have a conversation with the person standing on the step.

That's where another reminder to ourselves comes into play; let go of expecting perfection.  Good enough is good enough. We'll try again next time. We may not in this lifetime attain such a blissful state of serenity, as to never be affected by the unkindness of those who profess to love us. That's okay. We do what we can, with the knowledge and skills we have at the time.

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