Monday, November 26, 2012

Twelve Steps

I think I need to be a 12-Step junkie.  In my lifetime, I have gone to 12-Step programs for:
*being the child of an alcoholic (Alateens)
*being the older child of an alcoholic (Post-Teens)
*being the adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA - Adult Children Of Alcoholics)
*being co-dependent (CODA - Co-Dependents Anonymous)
*loving alcoholics - my mom, my husband, my relatives (Alanon)
*being fat (OA - Overeaters Anonymous)
and now,
*being alcoholic (AA).

There are answers in 12-Step programs.  There are tools that I need to use daily.

And, as the tools are laid in front of me, I need to pick them up and use them.   They are NOT going to pick themselves up and start doin' my biddin'. 

I have come across a speed bump in life.  Actually, a week of speed bumps:  the loss of a student, the realization that I need to quit drinking before it causes more problems in my life, and a very hefty dose of anxiety about one of my children. 
  • I need to be at school, emotionally present, for my students who are grieving the loss of one peer and the serious injuries of another.
  • I need to be physically present at play rehearsals.  It's something I enjoy.  It's something I'm committed to.  
  • I need to go to AA meetings for myself.  To remind me that the ONLY person I can fix is me.  
  • I need to go to Alanon meetings to be with other people who are learning that they are powerless to change others.  
  • I need to sleep.
  • I need to eat.
  • I need to remember the word B.A.L.A.N.C.E.
I hate the anxiety diet.  My goal of weighing 209 tomorrow?  This morning, I weighed 206.

I would so rather be fatter than have this kind of anxiety.

I have lots of choices.
I can choose to stick my head in the sand and deny all that's happening around me.
I can choose to lay in my bed and cry.
I can choose to deal with my fears by drinking.
I can choose to deal with what's in front of me.
I can choose to recognize that life is never all happy, all sad, all good, all bad.  Every day carries it's gifts and it's pains.  I can choose to focus on the pains or I can choose to focus on the gifts.

I'm really trying to focus on the gifts, while acknowledging, and being honest, about the pains.

My favorite part of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book talks about acceptance.  It says Unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy.   The next sentence is just as important to me - I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

OOOOKKaaaay.  I know you want to hear the whole passage that these sentences came out of.  Here it is.   

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.  

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake.  Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy.  I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.  

For me, serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not.  When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me.  I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgement, or assistance!  

The key to my serenity is acceptance.  But "acceptance" does not mean that I have to like it, condone it, or even ignore it.  What it does mean is I am powerless to do anything about it....... and I have to accept that fact. 

Nor does it mean that I have to accept "unacceptable behavior".  Today I have choices.  I no longer have to accept abuse in any form.  I can choose to walk away, even if it means stepping out into the unknown.  I no longer have to fear "change" or the unknown.  I can merely accept it as part of the journey.

I spent years trying to change things in my life over which I was powerless, but did not know it.  I threatened, scolded, manipulated, coerced, pleaded, begged, pouted, bribed, and generally tried everything I could to make the situation better - only to watch as things always got progressively worse.  

I spend so much time trying to change the things I could not change, it never once occurred to me to simply accept them as they were.

Now when things in my life are not going the way I planned them, or downright bad things happen, I can remind myself that whatever is going on is not happening by accident.  There's a reason for it and it is not always meant for me to know what that reason is.  

That change in attitude has been the key to happiness for me. 

I know that doesn't work for everyone.  Many people that I love and respect believe differently.  That's OK.  That passage has just always worked for me.  

Thanks for listening.  Thanks for being there.  Please pray for us.  And I'll pray for you.

Love,
Jenn

3 comments:

  1. Definitely praying for you and your family. I empathize so much, being the daughter of an alcoholic. For me, I KNOW that I can't drink much, because I know that I have an addictive personality. I've turned to other things which are safer - reading, playing on the computer - but I still am seeking something other than being present in my own life. Because my own life is hard to face. I get tired of being strong, of being lonely. But, my faith is strong, and I know that I am not alone to face everything that comes my way. God loves me, and you.

    You're not alone. Let your many friends know what we can do to help.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jeanne. We have a lot in common, don't we. I'm glad you came into my life.

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  2. I especially like this part... "For me, serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me. I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgement, or assistance! " That is something I need to remind myself of as well.

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