Sunday, December 7, 2014

Other People's Feelings

I grew up believing that it was my job to make other people happy, however that could be managed, and I tried to do so, even if it meant that the outer me was smiling and pleasant while the true, inner me seethed with resentment, judged, blamed, and felt I was being used.

I've slowly, sometimes at a snail's pace, been able to let go of most of my people-pleasing. A newcomer approached me after a recent meeting, to ask if I'd sponsor her. It wasn't until afterwards that I realised that I'd stopped to consider carefully if I felt physically or emotionally up to the job. I don't want to do her a disservice by not being able to offer her the time she may need, but I also don't want to take on, that which is beyond my capabilities because of my health challenges.

I will be seeing the oncologist tomorrow to find out whether or not they are going to offer me another 12 rounds of chemo. If they offer, I will accept. I've been supremely fortunate in not having had much in the way of side effects, and if it can extend my life, I'd like that. I still have many yards of fabric, with plans for the garments I can make, with all those lovely materials, and patterns.

I also have lots of paintings I'd like to do.

Last week, Robert was talking to a friend who lives with alcoholism, and is miserable, but whom, after having been taken to his first meeting by Robert, didn't choose to continue with Al-Anon. I feel for him, but was astonished to hear that he had dismissed a remark made by Robert about how good it feels to accomplish goals, even the smaller kind, with a contemptuous: "People don't set goals!"

I thought that was sad. I know I get enormous pleasure from achieving my goals, whether they may be to: create a painting: make myself a coat, or other garment:  clean my apartment until it sparkles and gleams. There are many times, and many areas in which I set a goal for myself.

Before Al-Anon, my goals were mostly to change another person in some way - show them the error of their ways, perhaps, or make them feel better.

I believe that we cannot change the feelings of another person. I also believe that we don't have to be slaves to either our own feelings, or the feelings of someone else, even if that someone is a loved one.

We can detach, allow them to have their feelings without blaming, for as long as they need to work it out. While we are waiting for them to come back to a even keel, we can be doing what gives us pleasure and satisfaction.

It used to be for me, that if  a loved one was angry, I was distressed until I could "make" them happy again. I felt it was my fault if they were upset, that I needed to "fix" it, that somehow it was my problem.  I can recall my shock the first time my first sponsor said to me, "It's not your problem, stay out of it."

Stay out of it? But I had so many great ideas about how to fix it!

That makes me laugh now, the arrogance inherent in that thinking, but I was oblivious to it at the time. I merely thought I wanted to be helpful; I was unaware of my controlling.

I'm learning that everyone has the right to their own feelings, and that it is neither my responsibility nor a chore I wish to take on, to make anyone but myself happy

My main goal in life is achieving serenity.


  1. Achieving serenity is a wonderful goal. And I hope that you are doing well.

  2. You wrote: " A newcomer approached me after a recent meeting, to ask if I'd sponsor her. It wasn't until afterwards that I realised that I'd stopped to consider carefully if I felt physically or emotionally up to the job..."

    Did you mean you "HADN'T stopped to consider?" Or that you HAD stopped to consider? Great post either way, but just wondering about this one sentence. Thanks so much for this terrific blog. Saving my mind and my life, truly. Happy New Year 2015!

    1. Hi Catherine,
      Not sure why you would be confused about that sentence. I meant it as written, that I stopped to consider. Thanks for your kind words on my blog.

  3. TAAF, you're right: rereading the sentence " I realised that I'd stopped to consider carefully" means you HAD stopped to consider. I guess because I have never "stopped to consider" any request before I said "yes, of course!" that it was confusing to me. LOVE YOUR BLOG. I can hardly believe you could written this all by yourself... but you did! This could easily be an ebook right now, on Amazon for download. I'm reading every single post and seeing myself ("before" and "after") in each one. It's incredible. Spending the holidays reading about all of this and thinking and thinking about how I can use these ideals for a better 2015. Thank you for this gift!