My first sponsor used the description "chewing over" to describe the choice of dwelling upon, to the point of insanity, a passing remark made to us by another person. Seems to me that we members of Al-Anon tend to be dedicated dwellers - we can haul out a comment made weeks past, and commence a spirited and instense chewing, like some supercharged ruminant with their cud. I know I'd go for hours, trying to work myself into the person's head, to decide if I could figure out "exactly what they meant by that.." and feeling more resentful and angry the longer I chewed it over.
I heard an AA speaker describe the start of each and every day for him before his Fourth Step - first thing he did the moment he opened his eyes was to turn on his "resentment replay machine" and replayed every perceived slight he could remember receiving. Hearing this, I was laughing, but it was with a painful sense of identification - I'm sure that were I to add it up, I've spent literally years of my life feeling that terrible, grinding resentment.
As I've grown in Al-Anon, and learned how I have been the architect of my much of my own misery, I've been able to let go of all of my old resentments. When I think of my childhood, and my first marriage to a drinking alcholic, it's with a calm detachment. I don't fill up with that hot anger and resentment anymore. It happened, what can I learn from it?
Now, when I catch myself starting to dwell upon something just said or done that I don't like, I stop and pray to my Higher Power:
"Please take this from me, I don't want to feel this way. I want to feel your love, and be loving. I want to let go of my anger, resentment, judgement, and be filled with your love."
This works for me, each and every time I choose it. I can be loving, patient, tolerant, compassionate and maintain my serenity. I can speak with loving calm to the person, if I need to reset the boundary. I can let it go if I don't. Let it fall from my hand, and be swept away downstream, so that all I can see is the sparkle of light on water.
Domineering: my dictionary defines this as to "oppress; assume authority."
Did I oppress? Did I assume authority? Absolutely I did. I tried with all of my power to oppress the alcholics in my life. I assumed authority which wasn't mine to take, and commenced to browbeat, hound, rant and rave. I justified this behavior by pointing to the wrongs they had done to me. I transferred all blame to them, and could see myself as being purely innocent. When I began to work my Fourth Step, I was shocked to realise just how "selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and inconsiderate" I had been. I didn't want to see myself in that honest light. I wanted to blame, and slide out from under. I wanted to continue to be domineering and get my own way, because that was the only way I could see to get what I wanted in life.
I've noticed, through my time in Al-Anon, that I become less and less focused upon what I want in life, and more open to the will of my Higher Power. I don't fight and squirm for weeks and months, trying to force solutions. I try to let myself be guided.
I can't work to be open to guidance from my Higher Power, and at the same time, be domineering. I no longer have that strong belief that I know the right way. I see that I have my way, and you have your way, and I don't have the right to try to force you to live your life according to my rules. I don't even have the right to try to force myself to live by those damn rules.
It's like trying to force jello through a straw - I've got things I'd rather do, such as live in peace and serenity.