Monday, December 29, 2014

Pointless Rebellion

A reader wrote to ask me about rebellion.

I grew up with an intensely rebellious nature. I was a child, and then an adult, with no respect for authority. I've come to understand that this had its roots, in the sexual and physical abuse I received at the hands of several adults in my early childhood.

 I had enough fear of authority figures, to keep me behaving until adolescence, and then I began to stay out past my curfew, hang out with the wrong crowd, and run away from home for days at a time.

When I look back now, my rebellion was pretty tame, I didn't shoplift or commit other crimes, and the wrong crowd consisted of some people who smoked cigarettes (gasp!) and sometimes pot. That was enough to demonise them in the eyes of my adopted parents, so of course those were the people with whom I wanted to spend my time.

I'm grateful now that I was such a craven coward, because it kept me from doing anything which would have ruined my life through addiction to drugs or alcohol, or a criminal record. I think the police in our tiny town had a pretty good idea of what was going on at home, because they would find me, tell me I had to go home now, and then take me out for a hamburger or an ice cream cone, first.

That early relationship with the police, is probably why I spent 8 years working with the RCMP Victim Services - I've always been comfortable around cops.

I gave myself a great deal of misery with my inward rebellion. I rarely had the courage to express it openly, but before Al-Anon, I was very uncomfortable around authority. I rebelled against the authority figures in my life, because I seethed with anger and hatred towards the people who had abused me, and I had no way to deal with my rage.

 It manifested as pointless rebellion - rebellion for its own sake, not because of a cause, or a deeply held philosophy, or even a belief.  I rebelled because I felt no attachment to any person apart from my adopted brother. Since I felt no attachment, why should I care? was my attitude. As I've said earlier in this, I was afraid to rebel openly, so it was mostly through sullenness that my rebellion was expressed when I reached adulthood. I was a sullen, depressed, angry person before Al-Anon.

One act of pointless rebellion which springs to mind, was the day an employer asked that the women wear dresses or skirts to a work social function. I went to the function wearing dress pants, determined to rebel against what I saw as an unreasonable request. It seems silly to me now, because I often wore dresses to that job, and had many I'd made and enjoyed wearing. I justified my rebellion by telling myself that it was not fair to be asked to wear a dress just because I was female. Now I look back and shake my head at that stubborn creature I once was.

 I would have benefited from Al-Anon, long before I went to my first meeting.

Al-Anon taught me that other people (I do not include abusers in this) deserve respect, in the same way that I deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy. My rebellion faded as I matured in Al-Anon;  I have become much more accepting of reality, and of life itself.

I no longer have my childhood miseries driving an inner rage, because I have accepted that I cannot change the past. It was what it was, and although I was unhappy for most of it, I made it through to adulthood, and I have recovered, through time, and hard work in program. I've changed to such a degree, that when I describe the pre-Al-Anon me as continually angry and seething with resentment, friends in program say that they just cannot imagine me like that.

Another aspect of my life which has been changed and enriched by this wonderful recovery program. I'm grateful.

I have day surgery tomorrow, to get the PICC line removed, and a port installed. I'm feeling happy anticipation, to be relieved of the endless maddening itch caused by the allergy to adhesive bandages, and to know that if all goes well, I'll get out of the hospital within a few hours of entering. I like that idea. I might even make it to the meeting tomorrow night.

Bless you all.


  1. Happy New Year, and hope your latest procedure went very well. I could so relate to your article, and realize that so much of my rebellion came from being in a stern home that was so quick to spank, slap, or hit with a belt for any arguing or disobedience. I would have been such a different parent if I had gone to Al-Anon years ago. I laughed at your story about not wanting to be forced to wear a dress, even when you didn't really mind dresses! How I can relate to such silliness! Well, thank God that we have changed and are still changing in this wonderful program of recovery. One of the best gifts of Al-Anon is liking who I have become so much better than before. Have a great 2015, and best wishes for continued healing.

  2. I remain a bit rebellious or at least one who isn't afraid to speak up about what my truth is. I am grateful for the voice that I received in Al-Anon.

  3. Hi dear friends!
    I am a very grateful Al-Anon member.
    I was having a lot of resentment towards my brother-in-law and his wife who were staying together with us. As during active they never helped me and my small daughter. Whenever I kept my alky in hospital or rehab I had to keep my daughter in the cretch till 9.00 pm. But I had never imagined that we will be together again having fun on birthdays and going out on weekends. Its a miracle of Al-Anon. Myself and my alky we used to sit together and literally in anger and resentment curse them. I have read in one Al-Anon literature i think CtoC ie. Expectations are premediated form of resentments. After I started attending Al-Anon meetings I realised that self-pity resentment these r all destructive emotions and I was experiencing it. Slowly with the help of prog after I started working on my emotions resentment was one major i realise that this is hurting me more rather than the one whom i am resenting. I learned to detach myself with the help of prog tools such as steps slogans "how important is it ? Live And Let Live etc.and most importantly with my HP's guidance. As one doesn't have clarity then to think if you hold tight to this feeling of resentment towards anybody.
    Recently I had started developing resentment towards alcoholic suddenly then with the help of Al-Anon member I started counting blessings with gratitude list which helped me a lot.
    Resentment is a very destructive emotion. Feeling resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the person i resent would die !.
    Somewhere I have read you must pray for those whom u resent most. Pray for love happiness and peace for them even if you don't feel like. I do this sometimes for my boss, my colleague. Forgiveness is the highest form of detachment from resentment. But I realise now that I can work on these emotions only by regularly attending meetings, reading literature which is very important as otherwise we deviate from Al-Anon principles. Be in Al-Anon service work.
    And as Shaila has rightly said that we must write it down whenever we become very resentful towards anybody then that may be your alky your boss your colleague your in-laws. Do some introspection with ourselves. If I feel I cannot accept a particular behaviour I must develop a courage to talk to that person instead of developing resentment and make my life miserable. This I have to learn from Al-Anon program only. Step work first. I am very thankful to my HP and to all of you !