Earlier tonight, I was feeling angry, frustrated, and knew that I needed some input from a rational mind in order to calm myself down. I called my sponsor, and sitting in my office looking out the big window at the lights on the hill opposite, talked to her until I could feel my irritation and annoyance slipping away, and serenity returning.
I am so grateful for this program. Without it, I'd have spent all the rest of the evening, and most of the next day, seething and roiling with my anger and frustration. I wouldn't have been able to enjoy my own life for the next 12-24 hours, because I'd have been totally focused upon the source of my frustration. I'd have chewed the conversation over until I was in a livid boil of raging aggravation.
I used to begin by feeling mildly annoyed, work myself up into a fury, then go "deal with the problem" while I was in that state of rage, rationalising any bad behavior on my part by pointing to what the other person had said or done as my justification.
Al-Anon was the first place where someone suggested that perhaps what I was doing was having a temper tantrum. Or, to quote my first sponsor, a "hissy fit."
I was terrifically offended. I had been provoked! I had been mistreated! I had been offered the perfect excuse to "lose it" and had taken that excuse and run with it, as I so often did. I couldn't see that in doing so, I was damaging my own self esteem, because on some level, I knew that behaving that way wasn't acceptable, provocation or no provocation.
When I focus on someone else's behavior, and how they choose to behave, I am handing them my serenity on a plate. I am offering up my peace of mind, my ability to enjoy life, everything which makes my life worth living I'm handing over, and for what? The momentary satisfaction of of stating my own unsolicited opinion, or chewing over the wrong I decide that someone else has done?
It's counterproductive to spend my life that way. I want peace, and I want serenity, and I can find both of those in the same place they always wait - within me, when I'm in conscious contact with my Higher Power. I can't get there when I'm feeling angry or frustrated. I have to sit quietly, offer it all up, and be willing to have it removed.
I have to want to let it go, more than I want to be "right." Being right never did give me more than a bit of fleeting satisfaction - nothing like enough to sustain me in serenity.