Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recognising Our Own Patterns of Behavior.

Last night we had friends over for dinner, one of whom brings his beautiful springer spaniel.  After dinner, we were sitting around the fire, and we watched as his dog picked up a stuffed rabbit, and headed off down the hall, in that mysteriously purposeful way dogs have, even indoors. We asked, "Where's he going?"

Our friend answered, from where he was sprawled in the depths of a chair, "He likes to snoop."

That got us talking about dog behavior, trying to figure out why our little female dog won't share any of her toys with our male dog, yet his dog can walk into our house and do whatever he pleases, even with her favourite toy, a small stuffed rabbit. If this rabbit gets mislaid, falls to the floor and gets kicked under the couch, she cannot rest until it's retrieved. She comes home from a walk, and runs to make sure it's still safely on the couch where she left it. Yet our friend's dog can walk up and pull it from right under her nose, and she will watch, unconcerned. It can be squeaking non-stop under his vigorous chewing, and she will fall happily asleep on my lap.

But just let our male dog try to wander over and have a little sniff of this rabbit, and she'll leap to correct him with a loud snap! barely missing his nose. Our friend joked that he has enough trouble trying to figure himself out, he's given up trying to figure out the dog.

Later on last night, I was thinking about trying to figure ourselves out, and how intensely difficult that can be, when we have no guidance, or understanding; how pride will always manage to convince us that we don't need to do any changing, because hey, we're fine as we are, right? It's someone else's fault that we aren't happy.

Today, I was reading in the Al-Anon ODAT, page 296:

"The search for self-understanding is a difficult if not impossible, thing to achieve fully. But we can learn a lot about ourselves if we have the courage to face our real motives, without deceiving ourselves with evasions. We can, if we don't allow uneasy guilt feelings to obscure our good qualities, which we must recognise and build upon."

"...the courage to face our real motives, without deceiving ourselves with evasions."  Time and again, what I hear from sponsees, when they get to this point in the process, is: "It's so hard!" And I reply, "Yes, it is hard. It's excruciatingly painful, like peeling a few layers of skin off without anaesthetic. But if you keep going, if you are willing to do this, on the other side, it's freedom, it's a blessing, it's a gift."

I had to be willing to say to that prideful self, that angry fearful self - "Enough. I've had enough of you being in control here - I want something different." I thought that humility was humiliation, and that it was kind of nutty to be always wanting to be more humble. But the more I work this program, the more willing I am to be wrong, to be mistaken, to accept that I have screwed up one more time, and I've been "deceiving myself with evasions"  - when I see that again, and am willing to accept it, make an amend, and work to free myself of that pride, that lack of humility, my daily life, each chance I am offered to become more loving, and to share that love with others, it's impossible to describe the feeling - we have to take it on trust, when we're new, because we can't picture it at all.

I started out in Al-Anon, believing that I hated people - truly, I feared them, and my pride was propping up that shaky fearful self in an attempt to project something that other people would respect. I don't fear people the way I once did.  I want to be loving, to give love and compassion, give whatever comfort and support I can, to be a conduit of God's love. That is truly the best way I can imagine living, and it's so far removed from what I once would have considered success ... not even on the same planet. The joy I have received from this, I can't even describe to you.  Joy, peace, and humility - that's my serenity, and I have received it all through this wonderful program for living.


  1. I love your post even more than usual today. It hits right to the heart of the struggle I find myself in (for the countless time) ... lashing out to protect my "prideful, angry, fearful self". I am learning that writing my thoughts is a very helpful way to get out of the funhouse mirrors in my head and deal with things in real time and real size. The reminding and reassuring words of this blog entry helped very much as I worked to sort things out in my mind and in my writing.

  2. If only we could be more like our dogs. We would all know where we stood and would let things go so easily, no grudges. Great post.

  3. Your blog is wonderful and details the process of growth in the 12 steps in an accessible way that I couldn't always find in a meeting. I, too, have found that experiencing peace through humility is so joyful that I crave it. Now I not only recognize the corroding nature of hostile, anger thinking ... I want to abandon it & stay away from that dark place where I'd spent so much time. And I know the steps that will let me do it.