Before I can receive help, be it through Al-Anon, my Higher Power or any other source, I must first be willing to receive help, and that requires that I believe both that I'm in need of help - I can't do this all on my own - and that these sources of help have something to offer me.
I need to be teachable. Do I understand that my way is only one way of doing things? Do I accept that my thinking can be distorted? This has to have been one of the most intensely difficult lessons I had to accept when new to program, this concept that what went on inside my own head could be less than sane. But, when through the working of my first Fourth Step, said thinking was dragged out into the light of day, laid flat and closely examined, there was no other conclusion - in some areas, my thinking was not that of a sane and rational person. I was obsessive, obsessively controlling, fearful, and able to deny to a quite astounding degree.
I've had another realisation lately that I've had some denial operating, and it's strange when the denial falls away to look at this same thinking again, and wonder - how did I get there from here? Just how did I make that elephant disappear? Did I sidle past it, telling myself that it was a piece of furniture? Did I pretend it was really only a small pet? Did I just never go into that room anymore? How did I deny that?
I'm learning, again, that I'm very skilled at making excuses for the alcoholics that I love, be they sisters or husband. Making excuses means that I am not looking at life the way it is, but the way I would prefer it to be. It means that I'm pretending - this isn't really happening, something else is. How many times did my first sponsor ask, "What would you think if someone else said to you, what you just said to me?" and how many times did I have no other honest reply but, "I'd think they were making excuses." Making excuses for someone's unacceptable behavior is a choice, and for me, is usually based somehow in fear - fear of rejection, fear of love being withheld, fear of loss.
This afternoon I spent with someone who knew and loved my friend the same way I did, and remembering him we laughed and wept, and laughed again. My friend was a man of staunch loyalties and a great sense of the inherent silliness of human beings. He could make us laugh until we clutched ourselves and gasped for breath, and yet we always knew that if we ever needed him, he would walk through fire to help, because he was a man who loved people.
Al-Anon has helped me to move from being terrified of people to loving and enjoying them - how can I repay a gift of that magnitude? I can give back what was so generously and freely given to me. I have a sponsee coming in a little while to work the Steps, and I will think of my beautful loving friend when I go to open the door and invite her into my house.
Thanks so much to all of you who have written - I appreciate each comment, each email, and I've reread them a few times - thank you for the love you've shared with me.