I have two sisters, both older than I. One, M, is two years my senior, the other, G, is four years older. M and I get along well. Although she's never had experience with program or 12-Step of any kind, with her life experience, she's evolved into someone who can question her own responses, ponder her own behavior, and be firmly on the side of improved communication.
G reminds me very much of myself before Al-Anon. I offended very easily, I was rigid in my thinking, and I was determined to "win" any conflicts or hassles in which I became involved. My way was not only the correct way, it was the one and only way. I will occasionally cast my mind back to the younger me, and feel empathy for those who had to deal with that prickly, mutinous, sullen and immature woman.
One of Al-Anon's greatest lessons is that I cannot change another person. No amount of heckling, badgering, whining, manipulating, wheedling or pressure is going to affect a permanent change in the thinking or behavior of any other human on this planet.
I can only change myself. My only sphere of true influence lies within my own skull. The mind of any other person is only available to me as that person chooses to share themselves. I have no way of knowing whether or not that sharing is conscious, true or honest.
I've always loved the music of Tom Petty, and in the chorus of "The Waiting" he sings:
"...The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part..."
I cannot have a relationship all my own way, no more than I could walk in sand without leaving my footprints. With my oldest sister, all I can do is do my best. When I feel the need to set a boundary, I make the effort to be as kind as is humanly possible in the way I state my need for respect. After that, I have to wait. I wait for her response, or lack of same. I let her, and her response go, as far as I'm able at that point.
These days, I'm fairly skilled at letting go of what I cannot control. If it's beyond me, I can see that with clarity, so I try not to let it eat at me. When I'm trying to let go, and can't manage it, I ask my Higher Power for help. My prayers for assistance seem to have simplified down to one sentence:
"Please help me with this."
I no longer specify how I want to be helped, or when, or where. I just ask for the help, and then let that go, too. I've grown old enough now to have a wonderfully clarified sense of just how little I know about life and its mysteries. Suffice it that I've experienced them, I don't have a burning need to explain them anymore, not to myself, nor to anyone else.
All I have to offer is my love, my humour, and occasionally, the little bits of wisdom I've gained from this marvellous program. That and my gratitude; it overflows this earthly container on an hourly basis.