Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Common Denominators - Dwelling & Domineering.

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.


  1. I can not even begin to tell you how important this is for me to hear right now. I need to print this off and put it w/ my al-anon stuff if that's ok w/ you.

  2. This is so important for me to hear. I've forced solutions for so long, I had to have the answer NOW! Al Anon is teaching me to pause, think and respond, not react. Thank you for your experience.

  3. Amazing how easy it is for me to see how crazy I was before getting into Al-Anon. I am glad to have found a different way to live that doesn't involve oppressing another.