From One Day At A Time In Al-Anon, page 58:
"Trying to analyse why another person persists in destructive behavior cannot help me out of my own difficulties. I can overcome them only by turning my thoughts inward, to face my own mistakes and to learn how to improve myself. The alcoholic is not my problem. My problem is me."
This morning I'm listening to Father Tom W, a Jesuit priest who has been a member of Al-Anon for many years. He jokes that it's his gift to spot in other people the desire to control, although he seems to have great difficulty recognising his own insanity. He speaks about the attitude so many of us have when we're new to program - "I'm not the one with the problem, why should I have to be the one to go to these meetings?"
We may not have the addiction to alcohol but we definitely have an addiction - ours is to the alcoholic. They spend hours in a day thinking about the alcohol, and how they are going to buy it, hide it, use it, but we spend the same insane number of hours thinking about tthe alcoholic - trying to control, or change, bound and determined to fix this person.
So many of us come into Al-Anon with the feeling that if we just try harder, we can solve the problem. But the way we "try harder" is by redoubling our efforts to make another person behave or believe differently We spend even more of our time focusing upon the alcoholic, analysing and judging, trying to decode them, so that we may gain better control over them or the situation.
Some of us will be faced with an unpleasant reality, and rather than deal with it, will turn, walk straight across the road, and into the building marked "Denial." We can live inside that structure for years, working, sleeping, socialising there, refusing to face the fears which thrreaten to overwhelm us when we contemplate stepping out through the front door and coming smack up against the truth of our situation.
That's how it was for me, the last few years of my marriage. It wasn't until I fully accepted that my problem was me, that I was able to decide that I'd lived for long enough in denial about the true nature of the man to whom I was married. I didn't have to hate him, or even feel anger about it anymore, I was able to leave when I did because I'd worked through the problem with the guidance of my Higher Power, and could say, "I need honesty in my relationships, without it, I am living in a fog."
That honesty is a requirement for me. I've tried the other way, making the best of what I'd learned about the other person, trying to pretend that the difficulties were surmountable, and for another woman, they may very well be. For me, no. But until I could let go of blaming him, analysing him, focusing upon him, and could instead wish him the best in his life, I was unable to get free.
Anger, rage, resentment and blame keep me trapped. Understanding, acceptance, and love, set me free. I choose freedom. I choose acceptance and love.