Thursday, January 7, 2010

You Can't Control Other People.

When I was in my first marriage, and very new to Al-Anon. I might have given lip service to that idea, but in my deepest heart, I still had the belief that if I could just find the right words to get through to him, he'd hear me, and quit drinking.

I must have been exhausting to live with, always at him about it, nattering and nagging and bitching and complaining and manipulating...all to no avail. I was a raving lunatic, and so was he. Before Al-Anon, I'd imagined the two of us to be preoccupied with different ends, but they were the same - both of us were completely obsessed with alcohol.

Step One is always there for me to take, and it works wtih such beautiful simplicity: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

My own efforts to manage, direct, and control, were precisely what worked to make my life unmanageable. The harder I tried, the less it worked. That's the part I couldn't get for so long - that I had to let go first.

I have an obsessive sponsee who continues to ask how to let go? I have the same response every time: "Think of something else. Force your mind up and out of that rut, and think of something else."

My first sponsor used to say that to me, and I'd feel frustrated and irritated; I wanted something that would be truly helpful to me, not some simple suggestion along those lines. I hadn't ever tried to put her suggestion into practise, mind you, but I knew it wouldn't work. Until the first time I was so desperate that I actually tried, and discovered to my delight that it did.

I paid much closer attention after that.


  1. Oh my! That was me to a T. My first sponsor, bless her patient heart, would make us start out each phone call with the Serenity Prayer. I got so angry that she wouldn't listen to meeee. To myyyyy problems and current crisis and blah, whine, blah. I smile now but she irked the crap out of me. I kept coming back though, and I got better.

    Are you sure you didn't know me back then ;-D


  2. I remember being obsessed with how much my ex husband drank...........glad I'm divorce. I was nutty for putting up with it.. so who was insane? lol

  3. Boy oh boy, have I been there! I drove myself crazy, and blamed it on the alcoholic. It is both so simple... and so hard.

  4. I like to think about opening my hand and letting a bird go that has been trapped. That is my vision of letting go.