Friday, December 9, 2011

Forgiving Ourselves

A reader left a comment about the difficulty in forgiving oneself for past wrongs inflicted upon family members.

I used to be a person who couldn't let go. Of anything. Not what others had done to me, nor what I'd done. I carried my memories (of miseries received, and those I'd dished out) like a ratty old sweater which I'd come at last to understand I didn't like, both for its ugliness and lack of ability to warm, but which I grabbed and donned without a thought, because every day when I arose, I put it on. It was just part of my morning ritual: wake up, get up, put on that guilt sweater.

I was disbelieving when it was suggested to me by other Al-Anon members that I could choose not to wear it. I remember wondering, what could I wear instead? It seems as though we Al-Anons are creatures of sustained, intense habit, and any presentation of options to replace our habits can be met with considerable rationalisation and justification of why we do the things we do, even as we admit to the unhappiness they cause us.

I was recently introduced to an idea I've been mulling over - we argue for our misery and our limitations so strongly, because it gives us the excuse not to change. If it's ferociously complicated and entangled and convoluted, why, no reasonable person could expect us to change much, could they?

Whereas, if it's quite a simple process, we have not much excuse. Simplicity can be done. If this 12-Step truly is a simple program, then I'm not practising it because I choose not to. I can say "It's so hard!"  for as long as I decide to; there are no "musts" in Al-Anon, and nobody is going to tell me that I'm doing it the wrong way. I'm left to work at my own speed, and arrive at my own conclusions. I choose recovery, or I choose otherwise.

I used to believe that when I'd been in for many years, I'd be "fixed." I don't think that nowadays; I've got a greater understanding of the way this program works for me - what I get is directly proportional to my willingness to let go. I've given up trying to know why that is, and have accepted it as my personal truth.

1 comment:

  1. I've come to see that there are things that I can hear from newcomers that make more sense than what I hear from those who have been around a long time. "what I get is directly proportional to my willingness to let go"--Amen.