A Respite – 305

 

What does recovery have to do with a weekend “up north”?

Readings and Links

A listener suggested Al-Anon phone meetings, which can be found on the Al-Anon web site Electronic Meetings page.
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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.

 

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.

Consequences – Episode 245

Do you try to reduce the consequences of your loved one’s choices and actions?  Do you have trouble enforcing consequences on undesirable behavior by others?

con·se·quence
ˈkänsikwəns
noun

  1. a result or effect of an action or condition.

synonyms: result, upshot, outcome, effect, repercussion, ramification, corollary, concomitant, aftermath, after effect;

  • Setting Consequences
    • I have to be willing to enforce them.
    • They should be realistic and relate to the behavior.
    • They should impact the other person more than me!
    • What is the difference between “threat” and “consequences”?
    • When I set a boundary and consequences for violating that boundary, am I attempting to control or manipulate another’s behavior?
  • Consequences of OTHER people’s behavior – Is NOT my business
    • When I “do for others what they are capable of doing for themselves”, I set myself up as enabling, and deny them the natural consequences, good or bad, of their actions.  Resentment, disappointment, anger…
    • When I try to instill consequences, punishment, discipline, I often exacerbate an issue and set myself up yet again, for resentment, disappointment, anger…
    • A definition of “enabling” that I learned is “getting between someone and the consequences of their actions.” (see Courage to Change January 5, June 16)
  • Consequences of MY behavior – IS my business
    • When I take care of myself, …
      • Feel better
      • Act better
      • Cope better
    • When I do not take care of myself I…
      • Blame
      • Resent
      • Slip into old behavior
      • Get sick, angry, lonely, tired
  • Mentioned or implied in several slogans including Live and Let Live, Let Go and Let God, One Day at a Time
  • Related topics – CONTROL, ENABLING, RESENTMENT, DETACHMENT, BOUNDARIES

Resources

We read from at least some of these articles.

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.
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Detachment with love – Episode 188

Do you get caught up in other people’s problems or emotions? Does the phrase “loving detachment” just baffle you?

We start with a reading from an Al-Anon flyer titled Detachment.

  • What thoughts about detachment does the reading bring up for you?
  • When you first heard the word “detachment” in a meeting, what did you think it meant?
  • Did “detachment with love” make any sense to you at all?
  • What is the difference between detachment and distancing or separation?
  • Why do I get angry? Fear. Because I care.
  • Maybe I have to become “indifferent” when moving from anger to love.
  • What forms of detachment have you found/learned?
    • Emotional — my emotions are not ruled by someone else’s.
    • Detaching the person from their disease (How Al-Anon Works, Detachment section in Chapter 11):

      If someone we love had the flu and cancelled plans with us, most of us would understand. We wouldn’t take it personally or blame the person for being inconsiderate or weak. Instead, in our minds, we would probably separate the person from the illness, knowing that it was the illness, rather than our loved one, that caused the change of plans. This is detachment.

    • Detaching from outcomes
  • How has detachment helped you?
    • Treating others with more kindness and compassion.
    • Give a power greater than myself a space to come in.
    • Not getting “pulled down”
    • Being able to love the person while hating their actions
    • Finding forgiveness
    • More serenity.

Upcoming topics include slogans (what's your favorite?), Alateen, and parenting. 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 “Detachment with love – Episode 188”