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”

Rediscovering Myself – Episode 163

bluemoonDid alcoholism erase you? How did you find yourself in recovery? Who are you? What do you want? Do you know now?

  • In what ways did I lose myself “before program”?
    • Focus on the alcoholic
    • Taking care of others before myself
    • Belief that others must participate in everything — I can’t do something if my partner doesn’t want to.
    • Isolation and withdrawal from life / activities
    • Expectation that my loved ones would read my mind
    • Expecting others to make me happy
  • What messages did I first hear in Al-Anon that started me to rediscovering myself?
    • Take care of myself.
    • Detachment with love.
    • It’s ok to ask for what I want.
  • What have I found out about myself in recovery?
    • Things I like (to do).
    • Things I don’t like that I thought I had to like because others like them.
    • New insights into my character
    • New things that I never thought I would like
  • What did I forget about myself that I have rediscovered?

Upcoming topics include choices and sadness. We will also explore the statement “Courage and fellowship will replace fear. We will be able to risk failure to develop new hidden talents.” to see how it has come true for 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.
Continue reading “Rediscovering Myself – Episode 163”

Gratitude 2014 – Episode 97

A power greater than ourselves provides the beauty of a flower.Can you be grateful for painful events? How do you cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”? Can gratitude help you sleep better? Join Spencer and Wendy as we talk about our experience with gratitude.

We used these questions to guide our discussion.

  • What does “gratitude” mean to you?
  • Do you see gratitude differently now than before you came to Al-Anon?
  • Do you practice an “attitude of gratitude”?
  • How has this changed your life?
  • Have you found gratitude for painful occurrences in your life? How or why?
  • What are you grateful for today?

We also found a couple of interesting articles about gratitude. Powerful Lessons in Gratitude starts “As I write this, I am coming to terms with the death of a good friend of mine who was killed in a tragic accident over the weekend. … However, I realize that even in death we have the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of life.” Both of us have found gratitude in the middle of pain and loss, and that gratitude has helped us to live our lives with greater serenity and even joy.

Another interesting article is 8 reasons to love gratitude, which has this list of benefits. The benefits are backed up by scientific study, believe it or not.

  1. It can make you happier.
  2. It can reduce blood pressure.
  3. It makes hearts healthier.
  4. It's associated with better sleep.
  5. It helps people exercise more.
  6. It helps make vets more resilient.
  7. It can help your relationship.
  8. Even a little bit helps.

Spencer was happy to hear that he doesn't have to practice gratitude every day in order to gain its benefits!

Our topic for next week is Tradition 12, which states “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.” 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 “Gratitude 2014 – Episode 97”

beg – a meditation

DSC_5239

 

 

 

You carry a basket full of bread, yet
you beg for crumbs from door to door.
You are up to your knees in water, yet
you beg for a drink from everyone you see.
Why are you so blind and stubborn?
Beg at the door of your heart instead.

— Rumi

 

 

I am reminded by this poem that “true happiness comes from within”. Recently, I, deliberately and with not very much forethought, put my serenity into the hands of another person. And when that person didn't take care of my serenity in the way that I thought they should, my spiraled quickly downward and out of control. I had not asked that person whether they wanted my serenity, I had not asked them to take care of it. I just handed it over.

As I was telling a friend, who has long-term recovery, about this incident, she remarked, with the forthrightness of her program, “Of course. Your drug of choice is other people. You picked up.” She is a very wise woman. I had forgotten that I cannot look for fulfillment outside myself. Other people can enrich my life, but they can not be expected to satisfy my needs. As Rumi tells me, I am “blind and stubborn”, begging from others what I can find in my own heart.

Today, I can remember to look within.

A meditation for July 9, 2013.

Continue reading “beg – a meditation”