Contentment and even Happiness – 285

The Suggested Al-Anon Welcome says, in part “… it is possible to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is drinking or not.” How can this happen?

I was recently talking with an Al-Anon friend whose loved one had relapsed. My friend wondered if it was possible to have a life that wasn’t full of anger and sadness even though there was active drinking in their home again. I tried to speak from my own experience, because I had been in that place for a couple years. I did find “contentment and even happiness” while my loved one was still drinking. How did I do that?

In my first year in Al-Anon, my wife had 8 months of continuous sobriety before relapsing. So I was at least able to start to get into the program before I was challenged to really apply the tools and principles I had been learning. It would be another 2 ½ years before she “hit her bottom” and found long term sobriety (one day at a time).

Before Al-Anon, my soul was full of anger, despair, resentment, fear, frustration, and rage. I felt that I was a failure, and didn’t understand why she couldn’t just drink “normally”. Was that too much to ask? And obviously it was my job to make that happen! Except that nothing worked.

During the next 2 ½ years, there were short periods of sobriety, or at least not drinking. But emotionally, I was in a very different place than I had been. I was definitely unhappy about the drinking, and felt frustration and anger with each relapse. But I didn’t carry those feelings with me all the time. What made the difference?

Recently, I heard her tell a friend, “I was a low bottom alcoholic”. Those words surprised me (13 years later!) I knew it was bad for her at the end, but I didn’t really know how bad. From my perspective, she had gotten to a point in her life where she had nothing to do but drink. We still had a house to live in, cars to drive, and enough money to put food on the table.

But during those months, I hadn’t put my life on hold to try to fix her. I was getting sleep, I was doing things I liked, and I definitely had periods of contentment and happiness. Also sadness that the person I loved might be drinking herself to death (and some fear that it would come to that.) Looking back, I think those gift of the Al-Anon program came from:

Acceptance and compassion

  • Alcoholism is a disease. I can’t cure it. I can’t control it. Lots of AA speaker talks (probably at least 100) convinced me of this.
  • I came to understand that she hated what was happening at least as much as I did. She was also powerless over it. (vision of her in the passenger seat, screaming, with her alcoholism driving).

Detaching with love

  • Worth a whole episode (12, 188)
  • I cannot tie my happiness to someone else’s behavior.
  • I can love someone, even when they are not behaving as I want them to.
  • 2 kinds of detaching:
    1. Detach my loved one’s self from their actions in my head.
    2. Detach myself from them. (Stay inside my hula hoop.)
  • Don’t “nag”. Only makes them mad and me frustrated.

Taking care of myself

  • Physical health, but maybe more importantly emotional and spiritual health. (Prayer and meditation.)
  • Do nice things for myself. Give myself permission to enjoy life.
  • Work the steps!
  • Live one day at a time.
  • Attitude of gratitude.

Surround myself with support

  • Go to meetings.
  • Call friends / sponsor.
  • Read the literature.

The last few months weren’t the best time of my life, but they also were, by far, not the worst. Using the tools and principles of the Al-Anon program, I made a life that didn’t depend on my loved one’s sobriety. But also, it didn’t exclude her, and I was able to be there on that day when she woke up in the morning and said “I don’t want to drink today, and I don’t want to drink tomorrow either.” (I also know that my happiness was not depending on that event coming to pass. I am certainly immensely grateful that it did!)

Readings and Links

We read from Courage to Change, August 1.

I talked about the reading about Concept 8 in Paths to Recovery.

Erin sent a link to a STOP acronym on Pinterest.

Contact us

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

 

Would you rather be right or happy? – Episode 276

sing joyously

  • What is your first thought when you hear this question?
  • Do you believe that “right” is “truth” and that there is only one possible “right answer” (way to do something, opinion about a topic, etc.)?
  • Do you have “black and white” thinking?
    • Why?
  • What would it take to see the world in shades of gray (or colors)?  Red is no more “right” than blue, for example.
  • What does the word “happy” mean in this context?
  • When has holding onto a position hurt more than letting go would have hurt?
  • Is Right and Happy possible?  Sometimes. But in dealing with difficult people, sometimes, it’s just not worth the fight, conflict, escalation…
  • A lotta references to “conflict” and controversy are relevant in readings, and traditions, as well as arguments.
  • Can you “Live and Let Live” even if you are “right”?
  • Have you come to learn that most times, “urgent things are seldom Important, and Important things are seldom urgent”? (calling 911 for a paper cut…)
  • Slogans
    • How Important is it?
    • This Too Shall Pass
    • Is It Worth My Serenity?
  • Perspective episode also comes to mind, and First Things First… And Force vs Power
  • Sayings;
    • QTIP
    • Don’t
      • Take the bait
      • Pick up the rope
      • Be a willing participant in a toxic dance
    • “I don’t need to win anything today…”

Readings and Links

We opened with a reading from Courage to Change, October 29. We also mentioned the June 3 reading.

We read from How Al-Anon Works on dealing with conflict (p. 98 in the soft cover edition), and Eric read about acceptance from …In All Our Affairs, p. 96.

We were inspired by a Psychology Today article Right vs. Happy. And Eric ended with a quote from Chief Joseph.

Coming next

Our topic for next week is new topic. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email
feedback@therecoveryshow.com
with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here. Continue reading “Would you rather be right or happy? – Episode 276”

I am Powerless – Episode 257

Read a transcript of this episode.Flowers in the hospital room

A “first step” meeting came at just the right time for me, this weekend. My mother had fallen and broke her leg. She lives almost 500 miles away, and I am powerless over the fact that she broke her leg, over the treatment that she gets, and over how she is feeling. I am using the tools of detachment with love, of finding the wisdom to change the things I can, and accepting the things that I cannot change. How do you find power is your powerlessness?

I read from Courage to Change, October 10.

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Denial and Acceptance – Episode 253

I deny!Did you admit to yourself or others the presence of alcoholism in your life? Why not? What happened when you broke through your denial into acceptance?

  • What is it?
    • Do we have to be somehow aware of a problem to be in denial?
    • Definition from Merriam-Webster:
      • psychology : a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality
      • — in denial: refusing to admit the truth or reality of something unpleasant; a patient in denial about his health problems
    • Withholding from someone else but more especially from ourselves
  • How did we experience it in our lives?
    • In our alcoholic situations.
    • With aging parents.
    • With our own health.
  • What it the relationship between denial and admitting?
    • We probably have some form of awareness of a problem in order to deny it
    • We must admit a problem exists to start to move out of denial.
  • What tools have we found to combat it?
    • “3 As”: awareness, acceptance, (alternatives,) action.
    • The Steps themselves.
    • Self-awareness (Steps 4 and 10)
    • Listening to my inner voice / gut
    • Support of a Higher Power (Steps 2, 3, 6, 7, 11)
    • Honesty and Courage
    • Compassion
  • How is our life better when we accept reality on its own terms?
    • Serenity
    • Freedom
    • Accurate perception of myself, becoming the person I want to be
    • Catch slips earlier
    • Loss of fear

Readings on denial

How Alanon Works, Chapter Five, Pages 21 and 22

Hope for Today – pages 123 and 138 (May 2, May 17)

“Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth.” From Survival to Recovery page 267, The Promises of Alanon – in Chapter “Joy is our Birthright”

Join our conversation

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Denial and Acceptance – Episode 253”

Fear of Financial Insecurity – Episode 236

find meDo you dread mail from your bank?
Are you anxious about paying the bills?
Can you see a “way out” of your financial situation?

  • What is my experience?
  • Ignoring the problem
    • We’re just fine.
    • Just use the credit card.
  • Cash advances
  • Balance transfer
  • Borrow from parents.
  • Take money from retirement (is this amends?)
  • Can I win the lottery??? (no)
  • Refinance the house.
  • Worry, anxiety, can’t sleep.
  • The problem is drinking — too expensive.
  • Bankruptcy?  No! Not an option!
  • Bank balance anxiety…
    • Don’t check it.
    • But be afraid of the envelope (later, the text message)
    • Step 6/7 — ask for help, and receive it.
  • How to recover? How to not be anxious all the time?
  • Sobriety helped, but not the only answer.
  • Make a plan to pay off credit card balances.
  • Tradition 7
  • General Warranties of the Conference In all proceedings the World Service Conference of Al-Anon shall observe the spirit of the Traditions:
    1. that only sufficient operating funds, including an ample reserve, be its prudent financial principle;
  • Where am I today?
    • Credit cards at zero.
    • Loans taken to pay off credit cards almost zero.
    • Home line of credit is the next target.
    • Student loans — refinance for lower interest. 5 years to go.
    • We were able to recarpet our home from savings, not credit!
    • But it took time.

Upcoming topics include parenting. In particular, if you are the parent of an alcoholic or addict, we'd love to hear your fears, experience, strength, and hope. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com. Or just leave a comment right here.

Readings

Courage to Change, Dec 11

How Al-Anon Works, Chapter 31 “Letting Go of a Loved One’s Alcohol, Drug, and Money Problems”

Continue reading “Fear of Financial Insecurity – Episode 236”