One of my favourite quotations is from Blaise Pascal: "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."
I have enjoyed solitude from early childhood, because solitude was safety. I thought that I liked solitude because I was self-sufficient, and in some ways that is true - I can easily amuse myself with various pursuits such as painting, sewing, reading, meditating, or walking. But another reason I liked solitude was due to my fears. I feared other people. I had been physically and emotionally battered by so many different people by the time I was in my teens, that I had an enormous fear of people.
I can recall saying bitterly to myself when I was in my early twenties "I hate people!" People were so seldom a source of love or comfort, and I hadn't even a dim grasp of how my own personality was to blame for many of my troubles. I was a furiously angry, resentful, bitter and prickly person by the time I was a young adult, and getting involved with my first husband was a recipe for disaster, him being a full-blown practising alcoholic.
I went to my first Al-Anon meeting at the suggestion of my doctor, to whom I would pour out a litany of complaint about the alcoholic, when I was in his office for other reasons. I attended meetings faithfully for a while before I got a sponsor, the first of whom didn't work out for reasons I've gone into elsewhere on this blog.
When I first started working with the woman who was the most deeply influential person in my life for about ten years, and whom I consider my "first" sponsor, because she was such a source of information, help, support and humour, I had no self-knowledge of any import. I knew a few basic things about myself in terms of likes and dislikes, but about my motives, attitudes, thinking, or choices, I was utterly ignorant. Not only ignorant, but resistant to the suggestion that I needed to investigate those areas of my life - wasn't this program to help me deal with the alcoholic, and if so, why all this focus upon me?
I wasn't to blame for my misery, he was, so why were we spending time taking my inventory? It was a long hard haul uphill, for me to be able to look honestly at my own motives and admit to my Higher Power, myself and another human being, the exact nature of my wrongs.
I've come a long way in 29 years in Al-Anon - this wonderful program has allowed me to shed the heavy weight of shame and self-loathing instilled by the early abuse, and I no longer find it difficult to admit to my wrongs. If anything, they have become funny to me - the ways in which my mind will still assure me that I know a better way to - make the bed, fold the towels, cut tomatoes for salad - anything and everything.
Yesterday morning Robert was doing something, with me standing beside him, and I heard myself say, "Why don't I...." - realised I was about to say something controlling, and finished, "...shut my mouth?" We both laughed, and he replied good-naturedly, "That's an option."
It isn't that I've become someone who never has those controlling thoughts anymore, it's that I've learned to hear them as I'm having them, and most of the time, keep my mouth closed, say nothing, and let the moment pass. When I don't manage that, and do say something controlling, I will hear myself, and add, "Not that I'm a control freak, or anything." This always makes us both laugh, and the result is a shared intimacy, rather than the resistance and further efforts to control that have always resulted from my earlier controlling ways.