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Al-Anon Lifer Patient Expert

Littleton, Colorado
I'm a long-time member of Al-Anon which is where I continue to recover from the effects of living with alcoholism in family members. It is where I've learned to love myself and make serenity my main goal in life, no matter what is going on. I now have a Greater Power of my own understanding who... Full Bio
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Nov 10 2009 by pataspalmeadas
I just happened across your blog. It is wonderfully authentic. I am new to Al-Anon (3 months) and am a sponge right now for anything I can find that might offer me insight or compassion. Thanks for taking the time to write this. It helped me today.
 
Aug 19 2009 by Al-Anon Lifer

It's mid-August and when I realized that I had indeed worked Step 7, I began working on Step 8. Since I've been here before several times, my list isn't very long or complicated. What keeps it simple this time is putting myself first - finally.

I've heard it said many times at meetings and even read it in Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature that I'm the person I have harmed the most with my negative attitudes, reactions, and behavior. But I just got around to truly making amends to myself this year.

A sponsee on the same step asked me how one does this, make amends to oneself. My answer was that I'm just figuring that out, although I've been doing it ever since I came to Al-Anon almost 20 years ago. First, I went to meetings. Then I got a sponsor and worked the steps. Then I've done service work.

All through it, I've learned to use the tools of Al-Anon to detach (with disdain at first), then to detach with love, then to detach with love for myself. I detach to protect myself from my own resentments and also to protect myself from further harm.

Now I'm in the process of becoming willing to make amends to myself, to truly take care of myself by loving myself, forgiving myself, accepting myself, and approving of myself - all the things I never got from my parents and consequently from me. I didn't think I deserved unconditional love.

But I do. So "Let It Begin With Me" has taken on a new meaning this year. If I can truly love myself, then I can finally, really love others. This doesn't mean that I am selfish or allow others to harm me. It simply means that I see myself and others as my loving Greater Power does.

How I actually make amends to myself comes in Step 9. I won't find that out for sure until it happens. Step 8 is just making a list and becoming willing to follow through with whatever my God wants me to do. Right now, I get the feeling that it is to recover those things in life which used to give me joy. How this happens, I won't know until it does.

In the meantime, I can rejoice that I'm beginning to feel free, really free, for the first time in my life. May you find this joy and contentment through the Al-Anon program by working the steps. But first, go to a meeting or better yet, six meetings as close together as possible. Doing that changed my life and it will also change yours, if you let it.

 
Jul 25 2009 by Al-Anon Lifer

Oh, my, it's almost the end of July and I am just getting around to posting my thoughts on Step 7. Could be because I'm really still on Step 6, which just goes to show you that God is in charge of my recovery, not me.

In fact, that's what my sponsor asked me think about, that perhaps I need to be willing to let God decide what character defects to remove from me. Maybe I still need one or two of them to protect myself - maybe they are really assets still.

So I did quite a bit of meditating on Step 6 this last week and it all came down to the first slogan I used in Al-Anon - Let Go and Let God - to realize that I'm not in charge no matter how much of my life I try to control. I learned not to control others, but myself? Am I really that powerless?

In many instances, yes. I have limits and I will never be perfect. In fact, the older and more mature I get, the more I realize just how far from perfect I am. This doesn't mean I need to beat up on myself. It simply means I can accept myself just the way I am now - and love me the way God loves me.

Now that I'm willing to let God decide what's best for me, I can move on to Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove these character defects. I've become humble once again, knowing that I don't get to decide what gets removed or when.

It's like losing weight - I can diet and exercise, but the actual part of my body that loses fat is pretty much out of my control. I can only do the footwork and leave the results up to nature (God). And sometimes, I don't even have to do that much before a burden gets lifted - sometimes I ijust need to Let Go and Let God.

(c) 2009 Al-Anon Lifer

 
Jun 17 2009 by Al-Anon Lifer

It's June and that means Step 6 for many members of Al-Anon - "Became entirely ready to have God remove all our character defects."

So how do I become entirely ready? I've listed my character defects in Step 4 and shared them in Step 5, so I know what they are. Wanting to let them go though, is another matter.

This is how it usually works for me: I ask God to help me become willing to let them go and then He/She makes it perfectly clear just how much these defects no longer serve me.

For example, this month I listed my inability to completely forgive my parents. And wouldn't you know that my blood father calls me after years of silence on his part. I immediately feel the pain and anger towards him that I first felt at 8 years old when he ran off with his girlfriend, never to return.

I'm way past wanting to feel like this. I really want to forgive him not so we will have a lovely father/daughter relationship but so I will have some peace. God has given me the opportunity again to let go of my resentment by helping me truly be ready.

Like my sponsor says, I only need trust the process and wait until it's time to do Step 7 where I can ask God, after finally becoming willing, to take away my lack of forgiveness. It's worked before with other character defects so I know it will work again.

And again, a lot of it has to do with my attitude and willingness, just like all the previous steps. May you, too, find the peace that comes with working the Steps of Al-Anon.

 
May 12 2009 by Al-Anon Lifer

It's May 12th and I'm long overdue to write on Step 5, probably because I'm not finished with my Step 4 from last month yet so not working Step 5. But I have worked it several times so will share my experience, strength and hope (ESH)  with you.

Step 5 is the step I feared the most when I first worked the steps - so much so that I didn't do it and consequently got sicker with my disease of Al-Anonism. I feared telling anyone, even a counselor, my biggest, deepest, darkest secret. In fact, I didn't share that with anyone until my second full 5th Step with my second sponsor, on the second full day of 5th Stepping.

 I finished and she asked me if there were any coffin nails (things I was going to take to the grave which would have a part in my demise). I gulped and said yes and shared my secret and all was okay. In fact, that's when I truly began my recovery. I was forgiven and loved "no matter what"!

What a concept!  I had heard that no one would forgive me, mostly from myself, but a lot from the media and popular psychology. Now I've learned from this same dear sponsor to forgive myself - only in this way can I love, forgive, respect others, too.

So all I can say just for this month is "it works if you work it"!  Don't be afraid. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Blessings to all of you on this journey of recovery with the rest of us.

 
Mar 07 2009 by Al-Anon Lifer

It's March, so along with a lot of Al-Anon members, I am working Step 3: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."  In the first two steps we learned that "we can't" and "God can".  Now it's time to say "I think I'll let Him".

A lot of people find this Step daunting, even scary. The God of their childhood or life before Al-Anon was perhaps not trustworthy or punishing. I, for example, met my alcoholic spouse in church. I had to unlearn a lot of religious beliefs before I could determine my own beliefs. And those are still evolving.

Another thing I've learned is that Step 3 is not that scary when you realize you're only making a decison to turn your will and life over to the God of your own understanding. It doesn't mean you have to do it right now or completely. This process is daily and comes easier with time, especially time spent working the rest of the steps.

Many members call their God their Higher Power. I prefer the term Greater Power since my God is not up in heaven above me but rather all around me. My God is also not male, so when I hear the words "Him" and "He", I consider them generic terms. This helps me experience the God of my understanding through other people, nature, a good book or movie - just about anything that speaks to me, especially Al-Anon's Conference-approved literature (CAL) and other Al-Anon members.

The freedom to choose the God of my own understanding was very important to me. The God of my childhood religion had not made sense to me, although many Al-Anon members have that God. That's okay. The important thing is to find a God of some kind, any kind, that you can trust to help you recover from the effects of someone else's alcoholism. To borrow a phrase from Alcoholics Anonymous, "May you find Him now."