Thursday, January 23, 2014


Two days ago, I dropped my steam iron, and since the floors here are cement under the carpet or linoleum, the distance from the ironing board to the floor was enough to finish it off. Not only did the plastic post holding the soleplate to the body of the iron snap, but the thermostat also broke, rendering it a one-temperature iron, and that temperature was "too high."  Since I do a fair amount of sewing, for which a decent iron is a necessity if one wishes results professional in appearance, yesterday I walked in the glorious warm sunshine, to purchase a new one at the chain store a few blocks away.

Later in the afternoon, when he returned home, I was laughing as I described for Robert my shopping experience. None of the irons were on display, and I'm not about to buy an iron I haven't hefted for weight and ease of use, so I rather nervously ignored the sign instructing customers to NOT OPEN THE BOXES and when I found a likely model, squatted down on the floor with my prize, and hauled it out of the box. Because of my willingness to do this, I discovered that the iron I was leaning towards getting, had a "shot of steam" button located at the front underside of the handle, right where it would irritate and annoy my hand during sustained use. After half an hour of disregarding that notice, taking irons out of their boxes, examining them, and putting them back, I found an iron I liked, and debating the price with myself for a while, finally decided to buy the blessed thing so I could return home and begin work on the winter coat I'm making for myself.

Some of you may be wondering how the title of this post has any bearing upon the content. It occurred to me that because of Al-Anon, any annoyance or frustration I felt about breaking an iron of which I was rather fond, lasted less than a minute. I had the initial sensation of "Oh, blast!" but that was quickly replaced with shrugging shoulders, and an acceptance of the loss. One cannot un-ring a bell.

Before program, I'd have chastised myself mercilessly for catching my foot in the cord and pulling the iron onto the floor. I'd have spend hours berating myself for not storing the cord at the back of the ironing board instead of at the front, and I'd have been intensely frustrated about having been the cause of the destruction of a favourite item.

No more. When I consider the myriad past hours of my life spent bashing myself for my real and imagined inadequacies and faults, I feel for that woman I once was, who lived with minimal self-esteem, and crushing burden of perfectionism, regret and anger. Obsession was entwined with my lack of self-acceptance, and the belief that somehow, some way, I should be able to go through life without screwing things up all the time.

What an amazing sense of release and serenity, has come with the knowledge that we are all continually making mistakes, and that most of us have an impossible standard for ourselves. I'm grateful for my sponsors, who have sat in loving communion with me, as I struggled and squirmed  against the realisation that what I'd once blamed upon outside forces, or other people, was in fact evidence of my own human frailty.

That's all, merely evidence of my human frailties.

I wasn't, and am not, a monster of any sort, I'm only human, and cannot do what isn't humanly possible. I can't be perfect, so why try? Why lash myself when I fall short of perfection, as I am bound to do?

When I got off my own back, I discovered that I can be loving and accepting of the human frailties of my fellow travellers, in Al-Anon and outside of it. When mistakes are made, and a friend, family member or sponsee is rushing to blame, reproach and castigate themselves, I try to find the most loving way possible to remind them that we may be imperfect, but we are not flawed.

Mistakes can be an invitation for hours of depressed obsession and fixating upon what we most dislike about ourselves, or they can be a learning experience - what can I take from this to help me in future?

Be kind and loving to yourself, whether you've had an excellent easy day, or a difficult and frustrating one. You deserve to be loved, because you are an amazing gift. Try to remember that, next time the temptation to obsess about what you are not, arises.

Letting go of obsessing, and accepting myself as I am just exactly this moment, not as I might be were I to work hard at self-improvement for another 15 years, gives me the freedom to enjoy today.

Monday, January 20, 2014

When LIfe, or Other People's Choices, Cause Us Pain.

One aspect of life about which I felt the most resistance, growing up, and to be honest, for many years into adulthood, is defined with utter clarity in the cry we hear from children: "It's not fair!"

Too right, life isn't fair. My most recent personal experience of this was meeting, becoming friends with,  and falling in love with Robert, only to have three blissful months with him in delight and joy before receiving a diagnosis of cancer.

It was the first time in many years that I had felt that instinctive resistance and frustrated anger about the unfairness of life - how could it be that I could meet the love of my life, this wonderful intelligent caring, witty, enjoyable, decent man, and be loved by him in return, only to have such a thing happen so soon into our relationship?  I spent about 24 hours filled with a towering fury at the unfairness of it - we were both in our mid-50's, and for each of us, this time together has been the culmination of all desires and wishes long thought unfillable.  How could this be happening? After that day spent sick with rage and resentment, I realised that I had a choice, I could either hold onto that old feeling, or I could open my heart and mind and let it go, turn it over to my Higher Power. If I didn't, I would destroy the very peace, humour and satisfaction of our relationship.

I made a conscious choice to let go of my sense of life's unfairness in this instance, because I have worked for 29 years to learn to live in peace and serenity, rather than suffer the ravages of a life lived with fear and anger as my constant companions.

There will also be times in my life when those I love may make a choice which may cause me great pain. A friend may become angry with me for whatever reason, a family member may want something from me that I'm not willing or able to give without trampling my own boundaries. I cannot change them. I can only choose  to allow myself to feel my feelings, and then make my own choice, to release them, to turn them, and my life, over to my Higher Power. I have never felt comfort arising from resentment, rage or fear - I've only repeatedly tormented myself with thoughts filled with frustration and anger.

I want peace, and I know what I must do to achieve it, I must LET IT All GO. Everything. I must accept my own powerlessness, and ask my Higher Power for comfort and serenity. With serenity, I can accept that life isn't fair, and have a good life in spite of that truth.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Similarities and Differences

I heard a woman today say that before meeting her third husband, she had reached a place of satisfaction with her life, and with herself, and she wasn't looking for a relationship. She had, however, decided that were a possibility to present itself, (himself) she was at the very least, open to the idea. In the spirit of that, she decided to sit down and make a list of what she required in a man. When she finished, her list contained 70 items.

I was awestruck. Several months before meeting Robert, while out walking one day, and talking to my Higher Power as I often do on solitary walks, I had said that if I was ever to get involved with a man again, I'd like him to have integrity, be capable of loving me, be someone I could love, and be a man I could trust and respect.

This woman and I were similar, in that we each felt that were we to get involved again, we needed some fundamental character traits to exist in a potential partner before we were willing to even consider becoming friends with him. My list was considerably shorter than hers, but that may have more to do with my having been in Al-Anon for many years, and having discovered that in order for me to be happy, I need to be more focused upon who I am and what I'm doing, and less upon what someone else is doing.

I have grown to like simplicity. This doesn't make my list right and hers wrong, it just makes them different. But I like to believe that there is more similarity between the two of us than there is difference. In our middle age, we each learned that we could be happy in ourselves, that we didn't need a partner to feel complete and satisfied. Neither of us was actively looking. That's also the case for Robert - he wasn't out looking for a partner.

So many times in my life, it has been when I've finally let go and accepted that I don't have something, and decided to be content and satisfied without it, that it will appear for the taking. I don't know how this works, I just know that it does. And pretending that I'm fine without it doesn't fool the universe in the slightest, I have to have truly turned it over, and let it go completely.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Some stay around for a while, some drop in and have only a few things to impart before moving on, and we may never see them again. This woman today felt like a teacher for me, and delighted me with her ability to impart her message with clarity and humour. Life is grand.