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Monday, October 31, 2016

Good Morning World

Good Morning World! 

It feels odd to say that while the sky is dark and my family is sleeping.  Yet, morning it is. 

I have been tempted to come on here and just kind of complain.  I don't want this to be a place for that though.  Here is my plan.  I'm going to do my passages, talk about gratitude and joy and then if I still want to complain go for it.  I have a feeling that I will not want to, after that.

Gratitude Quickie
1) Deep Cleaning
2) Halloween!
3) Health
4) My spunky baby girls
5) Church


I grew up in a family where scorn, criticism, and teasing were everyday modes of communication. To cope, I developed the ability to hide my pain and confusion behind sarcasm and ridicule.

Making myself feel bigger and better by making fun of others never filled the emptiness I felt inside. Until I could trust myself and others enough to ask for help, I was stuck in a spiritual hole with no hope of getting out. I eventually grew tired of my sarcastic behavior, and I worked with my sponsor to explore the pain behind my harsh words and attitudes.

With the support of God and my friends in Al-Anon, I am now working the Steps on this particular problem. I have accepted that I am powerless over changing my behavior alone.
I now believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to a more loving way of communicating if I'm willing to learn.

Finally, I have reached the point where I am ready to have this defect removed from me. With humility and self-forgiveness, I ask my Higher Power to do so.

 Sometimes I still find myself picking at the faults of others.

Old habits are hard to break. Now, however, with the help of the program, I can see more clearly when I'm falling back into this spiritually destructive pattern. I know I'm not perfect and I still have miles to travel down the path my Higher Power has carved out for me. Al-Anon gives me awareness and trust that I can break these old patterns one day at a time.

Thought for the Day
Just for today I will release any need to judge or criticize others and begin to see them in the same way I might want them to see me.
"I cannot hurt others without hurting myself." One Day at a Time in AI-Anon, p. 20


So many of the choices I’ve made in my life have been reactions to fear. Something in my world changes: a loved one seeks sobriety, a friend is displeased with something I’ve said, I’m given a new task at work, the grocery store runs out of chicken – and inside I panic. I‘m attacked by thoughts of disaster. I imagine failure, torment, agony. And then I act. I do something rash or fruitless in order to put a bandage on the situation, because the one thing I most fear is being afraid.

Fear can become a power greater than myself. I may not be able to fix it or make it go away. But today, with a Higher Power who is greater than my fears, I don’t have to let them run my life or make my choices for me. I can grab hold of my Higher Power’s hand, face my fears, and move through them.

Today’s Reminder
Al-Anon is a program in which we find spiritual solutions to the things we are powerless to change. Today, instead of seeking relief from fear by trying to do battle with it, I will turn to my Higher Power.

“That the Birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.“ Chinese Proverb

JOY - Reading for fun.  It makes me feel alive!

Update: I don't want to complain, but my body does feel extremely tired.  I may try to listen to my body and sleep some more.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Good Morning, World!  It's 4:15am!  And one day away from Halloween Day! 

Gratitude List
1) Chalk rooms!!!
2) Clean kitchens!
3) Waking up at 4am and getting stuff done!
4) Halloween!
5) Overuse of exclamation points!!!!

Passage 1 - service,
We get so used to hearing Al-Anon described as a fellowship that we sometimes forget the significance to each of us personally of that word. The Oxford English Dictionary says that it is “Participation, community of interest, sentiment and nature; the spirit of comradeship…especially spiritual, etc.” In a fellowship, we give of ourselves and the more we give, the more we get.

If I go out of my way to help a fellow member in trouble, and try to help him or her understand a problem and deal with it spiritually, I am actually getting more than I give, for I learn more from examining my own ideas and clarifying them. Many a solution to a difficulty of my own has come to me while I was helping someone else.

The good that I get from the spiritual teachings of Al-Anon will work most fully for me as I use opportunities to give it away to someone else. In this fellowship, I am but a channel for God’s loving help.
“Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” - Romans


PASSAGE 2 - gratitude
When I was a newcomer to Al-Anon, I remember hearing people say that they were grateful to be involved with an alcoholic. Needless to say, I thought they were crazy! Wasn’t the alcoholic the cause of all their grief? I couldn’t believe that these people had anything to be grateful for. Yet they seemed to be happy despite their problems (which sounded exactly like my own).

Today I find that I am grateful to have found Al-Anon. I too needed to hit a kind of bottom, feel the pain, and reach out for help before I could find any lasting happiness. Because of Al-Anon, I have a relationship with a Higher Power that I never knew existed and friends who give me real support. 

I have learned that gratitude and forgiveness are necessary to my peace of mind. Now I can truly say I that I am a grateful member of Al-Anon.

Today’s Reminder
Today I will practice gratitude. I will think of some of the things, big or small, for which I am grateful. Maybe I’ll even put this list in writing or share it with an Al-Anon friend. Sometimes a tiny action can be a great step toward seeing my life with increasing joy.
“When things look blackest, it is within my power to brighten them with the light of understanding and gratitude.“ One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

**I had to laugh when I read the beginning.  I read so many different books on relationships before we got married.  It was Hubby's drinking which brought me to al anon and it is what I have needed my whole life.  I can be grateful in the drinking, in that way.  I am not grateful in other ways and I am certainly not grateful that hubby is this sick.  I wish we could still go wine tasting and have a glass at supper.  I even miss the denial. 

When I first found out about the sexual infidelity, I felt like my life was a facade.  In some ways, it was.  I told Hubby that I had lost my history.  He told me that all those times were still there and still real.  It was something I needed to hear.  Yes, I can define it differently.  I thought I was in a relationship with a committed man and I was, in a way.  He's just been sick this whole time, in some way and, that, I didn't see. I saw the marathons, I saw his physical fitness, I saw his success at work and I saw the fun we had together.  That was health to me.  I'm getting off track, but we did have fun.  I can look back at the last 12 years and say that we have had so many fun times together.  Peru was wonderful. So were all our vacations.  I loved cheering for him at his marathons, cooking together, going to family get togethers, binge watching shows and having junk food nights.  All those times really were good and fun!  I don't have to invalidate those and have decided I'm not going to.  We had a fantastic love story!  And I did have a great time in our relationship.

I miss that denial and wish I could slip back into it (at times).  There were negatives too, of course.  But, so many great times!  We've had great times since the kids were born too, of course.  More of those have been solitary with me.  This sickness has been hard on us.  His deepest spiral started when I got pregnant with L and J was only 14 months.  The beginning of J's life, still have that dream like relationship quality in my mind, despite some problems surfacing.  Hubby was a mess for the beginning of L's life.  And while we have many fun family moments, we don't have many great memories with just the two of us.

I am open and interested in what the future will bring.  Moving on......

PASSAGE 3 - trust/step2

I asked my sponsor to meet with me before the Al-Anon adult child meeting to talk about taking my Second Step: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." She suggested we take a leisurely walk before the meeting and she listened patiently while I talked. I told her I thought I had the Power-greater-than-me part down, and the sanity or insanity part made sense, too. To me sanity meant being centered, feeling comfortable with myself. What escaped me about Step Two was "believing," not the abstract idea of believing, but the nuts-and-bolts "doing" that creates the basis for how I live my life. I asked how to transform the idea of believing into concrete action.

I can't remember what my sponsor said in reply to my frustration and confusion because a profound spiritual awakening overtook me. The moment will be forever frozen in time. The moon shone brightly over almost-bare autumn branches that swayed slightly overhead, sketching lines across the moonlight. The feeling that filled me that night was like the sun shining into my very being, bringing with it a burst of consciousness and clarity.

The answer to my dilemma arose from somewhere deep inside me. It was trust. Trusting, then acting on that trust, was how I could turn my belief into something tangible. I had never fully trusted anyone or anything-other than ideas-during my childhood. On that night, however, I knew my God was no longer just an idea. God became a great trust within me that will provide me daily, through the Al-Anon program, with all the guidance, comfort, and support I need to act faithfully on my beliefs.

Thought for the Day
Step Two invites me to develop my trust.
"I don't need to understand the Power greater than myself only to trust it." As We Understood. . ., p. 159

Looking forward to a joy filled day! 
It is now 5am.  I probably have a half hour before the little ones arise and I'm going to attempt to clean out the car.  I also should do budget stuff today and get halloween costumes together - eesh!
Friday, October 28, 2016

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

One of the many saying I've learned in Al Anon is "nothing changes if nothing changes."

I think I sometimes liken my situation to the situation of my parents when pondering whether to stay with hubby or not.  Despite trying to learn everything I could about healthy relationships, I missed many red flags because my family of origin normalized things that shouldn't have been normalized.  I didn't know what I didn't know, if that makes sense.  I often think that I don't want my own baby girls to experience that.

There is a fallacy in this thinking, however.  In my parent's relationship, neither my mom nor dad changed anything.  They spent their lives living out the same unhealthy patterns.  They are still doing that.  And they still feel it is normal. 

In our situation, things have already changed dramatically.  Both parents have already changed! 


 Before: "No" was not respected in our home. I violated that ALL the time.  If Hubby didn't want to talk, it didn't matter.  You are supposed to solve problems before bedtime, so it was the right thing to do and I was going to make him talk or not leave him alone until he did, so we could solve our problems, darnitt!  This included following him from room to room and all manners of disrespect.   

Now: "No is a complete sentence."  Hubby respects my no.  I respect his no.  And we both respect J's no.  Today, J started to explain her no to Papa.  Papa asked her if she wanted a shower, she said no.  He said ok and she started to explain that she didn't like showers and go on and and on and on (this girl is verbose!)  I told her she did not have to "defend or explain" and she just kind of stopped, took a deep breath and said, "oh."

Nothing changes if nothing changes.....................  things have changed!


Before: If I got irritable, it was someone's fault. 

Now: If I get irritable, it's probably because I'm "Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired" and I need to take care of my self before assessing whether the irritation is legit. 


Before: I defined my success by the success of my spouse and relationship. My kids were little, but perhaps I would define my success as the success of my kids too (not sure, but possibly).

Now: My husband's success does not reflect on me.  If he messes up, it does not make me look bad and I am not responsible for it.  The success of my marriage does not define my success in anything. 

**I'm still working on a gazillion things that I think define my self worth, but there is progress.

And I'm sure there is more.  There is more gentleness and acceptance and patience.  This is not my parent's marriage.  It doesn't mean that if Hubby doesn't get help, I should stay.  When he is good, he is great!  But.... when he slips/relapses, he is not emotionally safe.  I have been exposed to things I don't think anyone should be exposed to.  When he drinks, he does not respect no's or boundaries.  And while he may be learning through my recovery, it does not help him with his changes.  He has demonstrated a strong pattern of slips with some time in between them. 

Tonight, I'm finally going to try to get a little more specific with how I write this out for him.  He went to an AA and SA meeting on Wednesday and then nothing yesterday and nothing today.  I think I need to figure out my boundaries and make them concrete, then get ready to act.  Completely stinks!  Some people will change and some people won't and some people won't right now or in even 10 years.  Glad to be doing this, in a way, and then thinking I'm making a HUGE mistake in another.  I liked being a part of a nuclear family.  This doesn't mean my kids won't get that.  But it means they might not.  If I stay no matter what or have lesser guidelines for my comfort level, they will likely get it.... but, at what cost.  Last time Hubby had a lapse, he followed us out to the car when I felt uncomfortable and I drove around for hours before I felt safe to come home.  I don't think this should ever happen.  And if the kids were older, they would have understood and remembered.  While my childhood was dramatic, it was not the kind of drama that hubby is capable of.  And on that definitive note, going to clean up a bit and then work on this note to Hubby.

What an interesting day today was.  So much to be grateful for.  Let's start with five.

1) Grateful for new friends
2) Grateful for my little L
3) Grateful for this adorable house
4) Grateful for a clean back yard
5) Grateful for a higher power being in control and one more....

6) Grateful for grace

Ok, let's do some passages......

There are times when the “poor me” mood is upon us; we’re overwhelmed by all the troubles we have to face. This is especially likely to happen when we have begun to try to change our thinking about ourselves and our relation to others. We may, at first, become too analytical and try to solve too much at once.

For this frame of mind there is an almost infallible prescription: to empty our minds of all thoughts but one: today and how to use it.

This day is mine. It is unique. Nobody in the world has one exactly like it. It holds the sum of all my past experience and all my future potential. It belongs to me to do with whatever I like. I can fill it with joyous moments or ruin it with fruitless worry. If painful recollections of the past come into my mind, or frightening thoughts of the future, I will put them away. They cannot spoil today for me.

“Today is my special gift from God. How will I use it? The less I let others affect it, the more serene and satisfying it will be for me.”

**How inspiring!  "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, that's why they call today a present.  It is a gift, right?" The only thing I don't agree with is to put away painful recollections.  Sometimes the only way to do that is to acknowledge them.  Not to dwell in them, but acknowledge and accept.  I completely agree with the overall tone of this though. 

It’s amazing how my attitude toward others tends to return to me like a basketball rebounding off a backboard. My impatience with other people often generates even more impatience with myself and my world. When I am unkind to someone, I get defensive and expect others to be unkind to me. Likewise, when I accept someone unconditionally, I find that my whole world feels safer.
 So it’s in my best interest to treat others as I wish to be treated. I try to imagine that my words and actions are being addressed to myself, because in the long run I generally get back what I give out.

 If I am unhappy with what I receive, I might try looking for that same behavior in myself. It may not take exactly the same form, but I find that whatever I dislike in another is something that I dislike in myself. The reverse is also true: What I admire in others probably reflects an admirable quality within me.

Today’s Reminder
There is something for me to learn from every interaction I have with other people. I will make an extra effort today to take note of the attitudes I’m giving and receiving because they both can teach me about myself.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.“ Ralph Waldo Emerson

**"What I admire in others probably reflects an admirable quality within me."  I had not thought of that before and appreciate that viewpoint.

I got caught up on "accept someone unconditionally."  How exactly does that work in a marriage to someone who is unhealthy.  I think it means that I accept them whether or not they change as being their own entity and then make my boundaries according to what I need.  It reminds me of that quote I always go back to about love.

""The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them"  - Thomas Merton

Love and acceptance must go hand in hand.  I remember when I first started al anon, I told someone that I really need to relearn what love looks like.  Well, a year and a half later and how far I have come!! 

One evening at my home meeting, a woman shared how she argues a lot with the alcoholic. I wasn’t listening too attentively, but then she mentioned the slogan “How Important Is It?” Her words struck me hard and called me to attention. I decided to experiment with that slogan, applying it to my own situation.

The first time I tried it, it was a real eye-opener. My alcoholic husband had arrived home late, and I was ready to begin the drill, asking every conceivable question I knew I should not ask. To keep myself from doing so, I said the Serenity Prayer over and over and then asked myself, “How important is it?” a feeling of relief flowed into me as I answered myself, “It’s not important enough for me to become the police!”

My husband knows me well and was prepared to walk into the house and be barraged with queries. I could see the muscles tighten in his neck as he stepped in and waited. All I said with, “Hello.” He relaxed visibly, and we passed the rest of the evening together with serenity and even a little fun.
Since that evening, I’ve applied this slogan to many of my affairs. I’ve learned that if an issue isn’t going to be important in 30 days, then it’s probably not worth troubling myself with now. Today there aren’t many things happening in my life with such lasting effect that I have to make an issue of them.

Thought for the Day
How easily do I give away my serenity? “The perspective we gain when we apply this slogan makes it possible to set aside petty worries, minor irritations, and baseless judgements so that we might celebrate the extraordinary richness and wonder that life offers.” How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p.72


Thursday, October 27, 2016
So, I gave in today and put on a show for the girls so I could write. I've been wanting to limit screen time to a half hour at night, but alas.

Unfortunately, L is still in my lap, playing with my credit cards.  I really don't know a good way to entertain the kids while doing this.  Suggestions welcome.


I want to start out with a quick gratitude list...

1) grateful for a new sponsor who calls me "darling"
2) grateful for my late Grandma
3) grateful for the women's group tonight
4) grateful for playdates
5) grateful for fun Halloween celebrations (I'm so excited for Monday!)

Gratitude lists are so darn fun! 

Ok, passages


When we try to absorb too much too quickly in Al-Anon, we may be discouraged and fail to continue with the program. But let us consider that philosophers throughout the ages spent their whole lives in contemplating such truths and, since our busy lives leave us little time for meditation and study, we would be wise to take it slowly, concentrating on one idea at a time.

I will select a single thought from one of the Twelve Steps, or a phrase from my Al-Anon reading, and try to apply it each day. This will give me a little nugget of security on which I can add other concepts as I need them. In this process, we find an important application of our slogan Easy Does It.

I will not try to grasp the whole program at once, lest I become distracted and confused. I will remind myself that the only vital thing is to apply what I have learned – to make it work for me in all the happenings of my daily life.

“If I learn nothing more in Al-Anon than to keep hands off what is not truly my business, this alone will lighten and brighten my life.”

**Yep!  I get all over the place.  I can take pride in the fact that I'm gentle with myself.  I love the idea of applying one phrase at a time.  


One sweltering summer day, I sought escape from the heat at a nearby beach. Lying there with my lemonade, I looked at all the people soaking up the sun. No matter how many people were on the beach, there would be enough sun for everyone. I realized that the same was true of God’s love and guidance. No matter how many people seek God’s help, there is always enough to go around. To someone who believed that there was never enough time, money, love, or anything else, this was amazing news!

This awareness was tested at an Al-Anon meeting when someone spoke about his Higher Power with a personal love and intensity that matched my own. I felt as if his intimacy with God would leave less love for me. But I think that the opposite is true. I often feel closest to God when I hear others share about how well a Higher Power has taken care of them. Today I try to remember that there is enough love for us all.

Today’s Reminder
I may not have everything I want, but today I have everything I need. I will look for evidence of abundance and let it remind me that my Higher Power’s love is broad enough to touch all who have the courage to place themselves in its presence..
“I can learn to avail myself of the immense, inexhaustible power of God, if I am willing to be continually conscious of God’s nearness.“ One Day at a Time in Al-Anon



I never realized how much my self-esteem disappeared while I was growing up with alcoholism. As a carefree child I possessed self-worth, but it slowly became buried and dormant as I dealt with this family disease. 

When I came to Al-Anon, it took all aspects of the program to rebuild my sense of worthiness. At meetings I had the right to pass if I wanted, yet I gradually found my voice to speak my mind and heart. I asked someone to be my sponsor and then called her for help. I found a God of my understanding and learned that I had choices and could make good decisions on my own. Little by little, all of these things helped me rediscover my self-esteem.

To keep what I had received, it was suggested that I give it away. Therefore I continued to fortify my self-respect through service. I started by setting up chairs and making coffee. Eventually I chaired meetings, became a sponsor, and served as secretary, alternate group representative, and group representative. As I retained my self-worth by doing service work, I learned the Steps and Traditions through action.

The results of my hard work have been a sense of autonomy, self-esteem, and gratitude. Those qualities keep me open to the gifts God offers me through my relationships with others. They give me strength and courage to maintain the relationships already in my life. They also help me to be open to new connections, which used to frighten me. Thank you, Al-Anon, for offering me the loving support and guidance through which I have regained the self-esteem I lost so many years ago.

Thought for the Day
I will take time each day to nurture my new-found self-esteem.
"Today, when faced with choices, I will opt for the path that enhances my self-esteem." Courage to Change, p. 118
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
It is so easy for my mind to get stuck on unhealthy things.  There is a motto (you know I love my motto's), "Get Busy, Get Better."

And busy I shall be. 

But before I get busy today, with adventurous things such as exploring our beautiful nature center, library, park, etc.  I'm going to spend some time getting my head on right.  Hubby drank last night.  He drank and slept in the garage, but he came in briefly and I saw him.  I hadn't seen him like that for awhile.  And even though, I had the house to myself this morning and last night, I had all these wonderful tools at my disposal.  My mind keeps hurting for him.  It's so darn sad!  I guess it's ok to be sad for him.  Deep breath. Naming the emotion helps, I think. 

So, here's my emotions quotes..........

1st - Daniel Tiger, of course.  "It's ok to be sad sometimes..... but, you'll feel better again!"

2nd - Feelings may not be comfortable, but that doesn't make them bad. With a change of attitude, I have choices about what to do with my feelings. Anything can be used for my good if I allow it. Recognizing this opportunity may take every ounce of imagination I have, but maybe that's why God gave me imagination to begin with. 

"My feelings are neither right nor wrong but are important by virtue of being mine." . . . In All Our Affairs


And today's passages:

PASSAGE 1 - boundaries, easy does it
People often marvel when they see the Al-Anon program bring about changes in the lives of those who practice it. This is its secret: that it is built on the fundamental ethical philosophy which has been known throughout the ages. It is stated in such widely different books as the Bible and the fables of Aesop.

To deal gently with our fellowman is suggested in Galatians: “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness…”

The same thought appears in the fable of the wind and the sun, who challenged one another as to which could first remove the cloak of a passing traveler. As the wind blew hard and cold, the man wrapped the cloak tightly around him; then, the sun shone, and its warmth made the man take off his cloak.

In Al-Anon, this same thought is repeated in many ways that point out that we can do nothing by force or compulsion. I will remind myself not to be too determined in my judgment and actions.
“Kindness is the mightiest force in the world.”


**This made me think of boundaries as kindness to yourself and the other person.  I appreciate this viewpoint.

PASSAGE 2 - hope
"Wow!" That word expresses such wonder, excitement, surprise, and humility. It's a word I use often, yet I pay little attention to its meaning or power. for example, this morning when I awoke, the sun was shining brightly, the sky was a deep and cloudless blue, and the autumn trees radiated gold, bronze, and copper Without thinking about it, my first reaction was to exclaim, "Wow!" 

I was struck by the fact that I had nothing to do with creating such a beautiful morning. That meant I probably had no effect on the rainy or snowy mornings, either. In fact, weather was one of the many things completely out of my control. This perception relieved me of responsibility for the weather, sunny or cloudy, and reminded me of the many things in life over which i have no control. I can only let go and let them be. I felt grateful for this reminder, and I began to count my other blessings as well. My job was simply to enjoy the morning and be grateful for the experience of beauty. The day was off to a great start.

Now I take more notice of the "wow" moments in my life. I acknowledge my feelings, such as the gratitude, joy, and humility that come from appreciating something I didn't affect or create. For each person or event that crosses my path today, I thank my Higher Power. I accept that I don't have to work hard for this day's delights because they are a gift from my Higher Power. All I need to do is pay attention and enjoy my honest emotions as the day progresses. 

Thought for the Day
I take time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.
"When I gather flowers, or marvel at nature's wonders, I do not lose face when I concede that I am not in control." Courage to Change, p. 283
 **This resonates so much with me!!  What a wonderful passage. Going outside has helped me develop perspective when my mind is turbulent, like nothing else.


One of my defects of character is to make choices passively – letting things happen rather than taking action. For example, I stood by and watched my children suffer abuse because I was unable to make a decision. and follow through with it. I had been severely affected by alcoholism, and I was not capable of doing otherwise at the time. It was the best I could do under the circumstances, but harm was done, and I owed amends.

One way to make amends is to stop practicing the defect. In every are of my life I can ask myself: Am I taking responsibility for my choices today? Do I make a positive contribution to my meetings, or do I assume that somebody else will take care of everything? Am I making choices I can be proud of at home, at work and in my community or letting the choices be made for me?

Today’s Reminder
Al-anon has no opinion on outside issues. It doesn’t define my responsibilities or select my values – that is up to me. It does encourage me to define my values, to take responsibility for choices I am already making, and to make amends where I have done harm. I need not think of myself as a victim of unseen forces that make disasters happen. Today I can make active choices.
“Making amends isn’t just saying, “I’m sorry.” It means responding differently from our new understanding.“ As We Understood

So...... this one hits hard.  My dad is an awesome guy!  He separated from my mom years ago, but never left our family.  He is there for every Birthday, every holiday.  He is funny and loving!  He had a great job and provided for our family well.  He also was a functioning alcoholic (I believe, in retrospect).  I also believe that this is why I am with Oscar.  His addiction didn't start until years after we were together (for alcohol, at least), but I didn't notice many signs because they were normal to me.  So.....

"I stood by and watched my children suffer abuse because I was unable to make a decision and follow through with it.......It was the best I could do under the circumstances, but harm was done."

Well, this is where I feel I am.  No, Hubby is not "abusing" the kids.  He is wonderful.... much like my dad. 
Except, I would call him a barely functioning alcoholic, instead of a functioning one.  To our kids, he is a hero.  And because he has such a high paying job, can be a big part of their lives. 

But, these patterns, the secrets, the things I saw as normal were perpetuated because my mom stayed and chose not to "out" my dad.  I understand why she did.  I loved having a family that was together..... But, I also didn't know how to recognize someone who was unhealthy.

In the meeting I am in right now, there are a lot of old timers.  They started in the program because of a spouse and are now in the program because of a child.  This is unsettling.

My sweet children are already genetically predisposed to bipolar from Hubby's side (only 10% chance) and alcoholism on both sides.  I don't think they need the secretive/compartamentalization modeled for them.  If Hubby were in program, I would know that he is showing up and will see change eventually, but................. as is.

We just get Mr. Amazing with spurts of unhealthiness.  Argh! 

My kids have been interrupting me and this moment, J is telling me she loves me, sitting in my lap, kissing my typing hand and snuggling.  My house has been momentarily destroyed with markers, crayons, paper, plastic balls and hangers.  Yet.............. I am so grateful that I chose to write these feelings out and read these inspirational passages.  

Just what I needed this morning.  
Monday, October 24, 2016
I slept in this morning for the first time since I can remember.  Yes, it was riddled with interruptions from adorable children, but it was the sweetest medicine I could find. 


That's all it took!  And I am refreshed!  I am going to talk to Hubby about making this a regular thing.  At least once a week. 

Aside from the sleep, it is a magical morning due to the rain.  We are going to gear up and get outside!  I feel most alive when outside and I know it gives the children something I can not provide indoors. 

Alrighty................ to my passages.  Since my computer broke, it has been hard to carve out the time.  Now is the time!

One evening at a meeting, there seemed to be an unusual number of complaints from members about not having what they felt entitled to, or about the alcoholics’ behaviors and generally about their sorry lot in life.

One, a forthright person, spoke up.

“You know, all this sounds as though some of us were childishly expecting life to be entirely free of problems. I recall a long-ago radio comedienne whose favorite line went something like this, ‘Well, you have to take the bitter with the better.’ That’s pretty good Al-Anon philosophy, too, because it tells us we have to accept some unpalatable experiences along the way, never forgetting, at the same time, to keep an eye on the good things.”

Am I expecting everything in life to be just the way I want it? Maybe I ought to take a good look at those expectations and see if they are realistic for my particular situation. If I’m constantly reaching for the moon, I’m going to miss a lot of pleasant things right here in my little world.
“The Serenity Prayer is excellent medicine for discontentment.”

**WOW!  This is so good for me to hear.  "Am I expecting everything in life to be just the way I want it?"  I think the answer is yes!  And I've always heard the expression, "If you reach for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars."  And that IS me.  I do want the moon.  I run a successful tutoring business.  It gets filled without me even advertising.  I get to stay with my kids most of the day and live in an adorable 2.5 bedroom home.  And yet, I am constantly discontent.  Wanting more money, a bigger house, a house I own, etc.  It is insanity!  Grateful for this message this morning and I think I'm going to make some affirmations for myself repeating what I just did here.

Category: Gratitude, One Day at a Time

The process of recovery in Al-Anon has been likened to peeling an onion. We peel away a layer at a time, often shedding a few tears as we do.

But recovery always makes me think of the bark of a birch tree. The birch’s bark is necessary for protection, yet as the tree grows, the bark peels away gradually of its own accord. If it is removed prematurely – by a deer scraping his antlers or a porcupine searching for food – the tree is wounded and becomes vulnerable to infection , fungus, and insects.

Like the birch tree, I can be wounded if I am prematurely stripped of my defenses. Most of us have spent a significant amount of time trying to cope with these wounds from the past rather than growing and changing. But in Al-Anon I am encouraged to grow at my own pace. AS I do, I find some of my defenses and ideas too tight, too limiting. And so I slough them off, just as the birch releases its old skin. They are no longer needed. 

Today’s Reminder
I have an innate ability to heal and to grow.  I don’t need to force myself to change. All I have to do is show up and be willing. when I am ready, the changes will come easily.
“. . . We all have our own answers within ourselves and can find them with the help of our Al-Anon program and a Higher Power.“ . . . In All Our Affairs

**I have a new favorite quote!  This is one of the attitudes I enjoy best about Al Anon. 

Category: Time takes time

My years in Al-Anon made me aware that I need to be careful about how I hear and interpret certain words. Consider "defects of character" and "shortcomings," which are found in Steps Six and Seven respectively. I came into Al-Anon believing I was responsible for bad things that happened and that I was "bad" or "defective." Years of meetings have led me to think otherwise. I now view my problem areas as survival skills that served me well while I was growing up. Now they work against me, preventing me from living a serene life. Today I have Al-Anon and its tools to thrive, not just survive.

I can also run into problems with the words "searching and fearless" in Step Four. To cope with the blaming and criticism in my home, I became a perfectionist. It's all too easy for me to interpret "searching and fearless" as "perfect." Then I end up frozen with fear, thinking I have to take the perfect inventory, which by my somewhat still twisted standards would mean inventorying every single, tiny word and action I had ever committed during my lifetime. I could drive myself insane! It helped when a member reminded me that when a grocer takes an inventory, he or she inventories what stock is on the shelves *today*, not what was on the shelves yesterday or the day before. That idea makes my inventory seem much more manageable. All I need to do is consider the things about myself that are bothering me and getting in the way of my growth, just for today.

Thought for the Day
Paying attention to how I listen, and how I interpret what I hear, can aid my recovery.
"If I can get my mind off my own problems and really listen ...I'll learn a lot more today ..." Alateen -- a day at a time, p. 227

Category: Step 4

Slogans for Today: One Day at a Time/ One Moment at a Time,  Let it begin with Me
Friday, October 14, 2016
I am so grateful that I get to spend Fridays with my girls.  I have a makeup appt tonight, but it's not until 7pm.  I get all day with my sweet little ones.  We can go to the beach.  We can go apple picking.  Most likely, we will probably end up at the auto repair shop, because my car has needed fixing for a bit and today is a good time.............BUT, we could do anything.  The sky is the limit.  How wonderful!

We come to Al-anon because we believe it has something we want. In other words, we come to get something for ourselves. At first we have no idea that this “getting” is intimately involved with Giving.

We soon discover that our willingness to help others has an immediate and beneficent reaction on us. Our progress in the program depends on that satisfying sense of sharing, giving of ourselves, whether it be to enlighten and comfort a newcomer, serving as a group officer, supporting our fellowship or listening patiently to someone in trouble.

The more I give of myself and the more generously I open my heart and my mind to others, the more growth I will experience as I deal with my problems. I learn in Al-Anon never to measure my giving against my getting; the very giving provides my reward.
“The giver is only a channel for the gifts he has received from God. He cannot hoard or withhold them without blocking the channel.”

** I think I sometimes feel that me asking for help is an inconvenience on another.  I need to remember that I am giving that other person an opportunity to learn and grow and receive rewards, as well!

“Do not search for the truth,” said an ancient patriarch, “only cease to cherish opinions.” For me, ceasing to cherish opinions is part of the Tenth Step. Much of what I find wrong in my life is related to my opinions – that is, my prejudices, assumptions, self-righteous stances, attitudes.
For example, I continue to assume that I have the inside track on how everything should be done, and that other people are too short-sighted to recognize this great truth. Reality proves me wrong. I also revert to the idea that ignoring my feelings is practical, even desirable. This, too, is wrong. And I act as if I can run my life without my Higher Power. Wrong again.

I give thanks for Step Ten’s reminder that I need to continue taking personal inventory and making frequent corrections, especially in the areas where I tend to repeat my mistakes.

Today’s Reminder
It is no easy task to change the thinking of a lifetime, even when I am sure that I want to change. The Tenth Step allows me to be aware of sliding back in to faulty thinking. I don’t have to abuse myself when it happens – that doesn’t help at all. By promptly admitting when I’m wrong I am doing what I can to change.

“No longer must we accumulate burdens of guilt or resentment that will become heavier and more potent over time. Each day, each new moment can be an opportunity to clear the air, and start again, fresh and free.“ . In All Our Affairs

Thursday, October 13, 2016
I am so grateful to be in this cute home with these adorable joyful little children!  The bright blue walls, covered in artwork..... the chalk board room that is screaming with character...........our little backyard, filled with tree stumps great for hopping on.  It is chilly this morning in the home... it feels like Autumn. 

Feeling extremely grateful. 

For some reason, I'm not in the mood to share it right now.  But, I'll get it out there..... I got a sponsor!  YAY!  I was extremely nervous.  I had decided to give it to God and just announce at the meeting that I needed a sponsor.  An old timer came over to me at break and asked how I was doing.  I told him I was nervous and I told him why.  He asked if anyone's story or temperament resonated with me.  I told him that I'd been trying and just didn't know.  He told me it can be difficult for someone like me because I have a lot of knowledge and can make myself look really good (truth!), but I need someone who is healthy enough who can see through it all.  Yup!  That's me!!!  Anyways.... he recommended a longstanding member of the group. He said, "C might help you."  He said, "She's one of the most stable in the group and I think would be a good fit for you."  I didn't want to ask her.  I really didn't.  But, I was going into this with trust mode.  Leave it to higher power mode.  I was nervous and scared.  I don't do many things that make me nervous.  This woman has a similar story to mine.  Her husband was a sex addict too.  She didn't share a lot, but I guess she also didn't use the  meetings to just let it all out because she can do that with her sponsor.  She shared a long time ago that she had managed her husband's business, after he passed away, meticulously.  She kept the books perfectly and when the inspector came, said it was the cleanest place he had ever visited.  Well...........this pretty much had made me not want to go with her.  These are the things I feel the most shame about not being able to do well.  She is also our group rep.  Her term is over and she has been eyeing me as a possible replacement.  I don't feel up to committing for 3 years.  But, anyways..... I think she is a good choice.  I asked her.  She was very flattered and said yes.  It felt wonderful and during the actual asking, my nerves disappeared.  She doesn't have a strict way of doing sponsorship and I wonder if there had been some enmeshment with my previous sponsor.  I look forward to learning a lot and completing my steps. 

Also, just so interesting because it makes sense that she would be a good choice for me.  She is a leader, has a similar history, established in her program.... but, I was attracted to people who were less far along (so, of course, I could look better and feel better about myself.)  Epiphanies  and progress - my favorite things!! 

Passage 1
Al-Anon meetings opened my eyes to something I had never thought about before: Shouting and slamming doors were not the best way to handle an already difficult situation. While there may be no harm in occasionally letting off steam with a raised voice, shouting can become a destructive habit. I’d never thought to ask myself if this was how I wanted to behave. Did this behaviour get me what I wanted or encourage me to feel good about myself?

When I took a good look, I realized that the answer to this questions was, “No.” Loud, angry words and actions demonstrated my frustration and pushed away all hope for peaceful solutions to my problems. 

The slogan that helps me back to a rational state of mind is “Easy does it.” When I use this slogan to quiet myself on the inside, it is easier to quiet the outside as well. 

Today’s Reminder
I am seeking a saner approach to everything I encounter. The slogans can be valuable sources of sanity in chaotic situations. Today, if I am tempted to act out of anger or frustration, I will remember that “Easy does it.”
“I will try to apply “Easy Does It” t every incident that might increase the tension and cause an explosion.“ One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

Passage 2
We come together in an Al-Anon group for the purpose of sharing experience, strength and hope with each other. This we do by attending meetings, discussing, listening, counseling, and telephoning each other for comfort and renewal of confidence.

It is wonderful to know that this close communication, this keeping in touch, is not limited to the members of a single group; it embraces the whole world! This message came to the United States from the publication of the Al-Anon groups of South Africa:

“Learn to face things as they come, and when they come, with calm deliberation. We may not be able to control events, but we can control our attitudes toward them.”
This clear message from a faraway continent will inspire Al-Anon people everywhere in their search for serenity. It demonstrates how closely akin we are in our loving fellowship.

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind….for we are members one of another.” - Ephesians

 **A quote for my favorites page.  I hope I can teach L and J to "face things as they come, and when they come, with calm deliberation."  I actually think I may put this one in my office. 

Passage 3:

“One Day at a Time” seems so simple, yet it is the most challenging slogan for me. I often worry about tomorrow. I don’t worry so much about how other people will react to me. Instead, I worry about how I’ll handle myself in a given situation. Will I have the courage to stand up for my beliefs, my rights, or my needs?

Step Eleven encourages me to seek my Higher Power’s will for me and the power to carry it out. The essence of knowing my Higher Power’s will for me in the context of living one day at a time means I’ll know the right thoughts, feelings, words, and actions at any given moment. Having the power to carry it out means I will be provided with those qualities needed – willingness, courage, patience, etc. – to transform the knowledge into action at any given moment.
The real test come when I was faced with a frightening situation in a courtroom. I didn’t know what to say, but my Higher Power did. I turned my fears over and asked for the right words, and they were supplied. I survived the ordeal because I trusted that my Higher Power would give me what I needed when I needed it.

Thought for the Day
My Higher Power already has the answers to all the questions or needs I’ll ever have. To ask is to open the door and let the answers into my awareness.
“We can rest assured that the answers, choices, actions, and thoughts we need will come to us when the time is right because we have placed them in the hands of our Higher Power.” How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p. 76

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Once upon a time, there was an Enormous Thumb belonging to a woman with an Alcoholic Husband and Three Teenaged Children.

The four of them lived under her thumb, so of course they couldn’t do much growing up. Often their spirits writhed under the weight; every time they tried to get out from under, they’d do something wrong and the thumb would clamp down on them again.

Father managed by keeping himself flattened out drunk most of the time; he was so cute about escaping to a bottle that, no matter how much mama watched, she couldn’t catch him at it until he’d drunk himself into unconsciousness. Everyone thought she was a Very Nice Lady, and they were sorry she was having such a hard time with her family.

There was really no reason for her to come to Al-Anon to solve her problems because she always knew just what to do about everything. But she did want to make her husband stop drinking, so she thought she’d try it. She was quite unhappy at first because some of the members were not inclined to Pull Any Punches. She was quite indignant when they tried to show her what she was doing to her family, but to everyone’s amazement, the Thumb began to shrink and lose weight, and things looked brighter.

More and more she realized what she was doing and, being a Determined Character, she applied the program every day and her other problems took care of themselves very nicely.

I would love to get 50 people and see what "applying the program every day" looks like to them.  I relate to the line above about everyone thinking she was so nice.  I think there is some intonations here that she caused the drinking (just hints)..... but of course the three C's "Didn't Cause it.  Can't Cure it. Can't control it."

I needed my husband to get sober so that we could live happily ever after, because I couldn’t face the ugly disease that overshadowed every aspect of our relationship, and I couldn’t face the emptiness I felt in my own life. It was so much nicer to think about a future of bliss, if only he’d change.

In Al-Anon I had to unlearn a lot of romantic nonsense in order to find a satisfying life in the here and now. When my husband and I separated, my fantasies crashed, but with the support of the program, I learned to look to myself for happiness and to my own real life for enrichment. Two years later, when my husband and I reunited, I had to unlearn a new illusion, this time about recovery. My idea of health was now based on living alone. I had to learn to find a balance between taking care of myself and being there for my partner; I had to learn to love again.

Today’s Reminder
Recovery can involve as much unlearning as learning. My security cannot be based on learning “the rules,” because once I truly learn them, they change. With my Higher Power’s help, I will find some security in being exactly where I am today.

“The Twelve Steps of our program have led me to a faith in God today which is based on acceptance of the world as it is. I no longer agonize over how the world should be.“ As We Understand

**Wow!  Well, this is the one I needed for today.  I added it to my favorites.  So much of this is speaking to my feelings today.  I also love how they separated for two years and got back together.  I think sometimes someone can be a loyal and loving spouse and still separate.  And sometimes you stay separate and choose different life paths and sometimes you can rejoin together, as long as you are both healthy.  And isn't healthy what we want?

When I think of boundaries, it helps if I think of a castle in a lake. Boundaries are the drawbridge connecting the castle with the world. Usually the drawbridge is down, and people can walk freely back and forth. However, when danger is sensed, the drawbridge rises to protect the castle.
To protect myself from the dangers of my alcoholic family, I shut down and kept my drawbridge closed to guard my feelings and thoughts. Eventually my castle grew musty and foul inside. When I reached Al-Anon, I couldn't distinguish between real and imagined threats. By listening to members share, I learned to recognize danger signals in the behavior of others and how to respond appropriately.

On occasion the danger signals are not clear. Sometimes what I perceive as a threat is something I've conjured up in my own mind. If I immediately shut down my feelings in reaction, I usually end up hurting myself or someone else. In the end I might lose an opportunity to grow or a chance to love and be loved.

With the help of my Higher Power and the Serenity Prayer, I've learned to distinguish between real and imagined threats. I learned to recognize and respect others' boundaries. I'm also able to discern when it's wiser for me to remain open to someone I love and trust even when I want to close up out of fear. I remind myself that I can't experience love, joy, and trust, and completely abandon myself to my Higher Power if I can't risk feeling the other extremes of sadness, hurt, and fear. 

Thought for the Day
Knowing when to open and when to close my boundaries is a learning experience.
"Boundaries are flexible, changeable, removable, so it's up to me how open or closed I'll be at any given time." *Courage to Change*, p 20

**This was also a fantastic one for me to read today.  I do have difficulty differentiating between real and imagined fears, especially when in terms of the kids.  I think that would be a fantastic prayer to include on a regular basis.  I'm considering announcing that I would like a temporary sponsor at my current al anon meeting.  I think part of my fear in getting a sponsor is that I will choose incorrectly.  Maybe, I should take the "choosing" out of it and just let someone choose me.  Kind of put it in higher power's hands a little bit.  Then make it temporary, so I can shift as needed.  It is a very scary thing for me to do, actually.  That is Step 3 right there.  "I can't.  You can.  I think I'll let you."  But, I want to be working the program with some accountability and support. 

Ok.  So, I did it!  I posted a full post again!

Grateful for:
1) my magical mountain view
2) De-cluttering my house.  Somehow, something I've been wanting to do for the last year has happened in the last month (including complete organization of medicine, arts and crafts, etc.)  VERY grateful!!!
3) safe people to talk with.  Overwhelmed with gratitude for those people in my life.
4) family - my sister, my mom, Oscar's family.  So, stinking precious.  And, of course, my very own.
5)  Epiphanies.  This is very often my letter E in the ABC's of Gratitude.

I'm also grateful for my chaos.  It leads so often to these epiphanies.

Joy: I haven't done this section in awhile.  Reflecting on photographs brings me joy.  I love leafing through physical family photographs, analyzing different expressions, the lighting, the scenario.  It lights my imagination on fire and helps me relive previous and often precious times.  When organizing, I came across many photos of hubby and me, but I haven't framed too many photos of the kids.  My plan for today is to decorate some more frames (yes- my house is child friendly in the extreme!) and put up some Autumn photos.  
Monday, October 3, 2016
I did some fantastic Step 4 work last night, after stepping away from it for months.  I've always enjoyed doing it.  Yet, I have put it off.  I am ready again, however.  And am enjoying it thoroughly.  What I am noticing is a desire to answer the questions in two ways.  1) How I used to act and 2) how I act now.  I am learning truth, but also seeing so much growth.  That feels good!

Yesterday, we attended Spanish Church again.  I think we may switch to attending every other week, because I really can't understand much of the sermon.  I sat there and after trying to understand for awhile, asked for a pen and started working on my own stuff.  The Spanish chapel is at a local megachurch, there are many in LA.  It is held in the old chapel... where the megachurch initially started.  The space is lovely.  Beautiful architecture, stained glass at the top...... of a Bible rather than a St..  We begin with music, then drop the kids off at Sunday School.  When I returned from Sunday school, the congregation prayed in small groups of 3-4, holding hands.  I sat down, soaking in the Holy Spirit.  A woman came up and asked what she could pray about for me.  I sat there bathed in the warmth of the Holy Spirit, but couldn't think of the Spanish words for hope or clarity.  And so, just said happily, "nada, gracias."  She squeezed my shoulder.  I like the church.  I like the pastor.  I'm going to start with a Spanish tutor next week, and my thought was, "Keep coming back and maybe I will understand the sermon next year."  It was a powerful thought.  I want to learn to speak Spanish for my kids, yes....  But, more so, I would like to speak Spanish for me.  This is something I would like to accomplish and I would be extremely proud of achieving.  It is also possible, one step at a time.

I also realized that nothing is wrong with me, in terms of learning Spanish.  It was an epiphany.  It is a bit more common that people can understand more Spanish, than they can speak.  I can speak much more than I can understand.  I always thought I had a deficit in this area and, "Just wasn't good at languages."  An affirmation I have my students say is, "I learn in my own way and that is COOL!"  How crazy, that I had such a fixed mindset in regards to languages.  Anyways, Awareness, Acceptance, Action.  Now, that I've accepted this mindset that is not working for me, I can toss it. I have also realized that while I learn in my own way, most beginning to intermediate speakers are not ready for conversational speed Spanish. 

While sitting in church, I wrote a gratitude list.  I'll put it here.
1) This church!
2) My therapist
3) Hubby going to SA meetings
4) My friend whose name starts with CH
5) L not crying when I dropped her off.

I am also grateful to see scripture through new eyes, when reading it in Spanish.  A verse I was decoding was, I Pedro 1:14  "Como hijos obedientes, no se conformen a los deseos que antes tenian en su ignorancia...."   I left out the accent marks, but easy enough to understand.  As obedient children, do not conform to the desires that you had before... in your ignorance." 

What unhealthy desires did I have before, in my ignorance, that it is time to drop? 

Passage 1

Cheery platitudes are not much help to newcomers in really desperate straits. Nor is the hearty attitude: “Come on, snap out of it – Al-Anon will work wonders for you!”
A wife and mother who has seen everything go down the drain, who has lived through losing her home, going on public relief, with the husband in an institution or a prison, may feel even farther removed from hope in a bright, optimistic circle of Al-Anon people who are on the way up.
Such newcomers should select sponsors who can understand their problems and help them, with patience and tact, to meet the challenge.

It is a spiritual experience to lead a desperate newcomer into a new point of view. We learn the subtle difference between pity and sympathetic understanding. We do not flaunt our own success in Al-Anon; we let it speak for itself.

A good sponsor keeps in touch, gently conveys the idea that it’s always darkest just before dawn, and gives a lift to the bruised ego.
“I pray for the opportunity to help the hopeless; it will show me the way to share myself with someone in great need.”

***Oh my!!  The hilighted passage.... that was me last year.  I didn't feel further removed, though.  It was before I could go to in person groups.  Just a reminder that, we are not alone.

And, huh!  The very next line on sponsor selection.  We often hear about just getting a sponsor. I appreciate the nod towards getting the right sponsor for you. 

Passage 2
Clearly, I didn’t know what compassion was, but I knew what it was not. Compassion was not seeking revenge, holding a grudge, calling names, or screaming and throwing things in anger. Yet that was how I frequently behaved toward this person I claimed to love. For me, the beginning of learning compassion was to eliminate such behavior.

While I still have a hard time defining compassion, I think it starts with the recognition that I am dealing with a sick person who sometimes exhibits symptoms of a disease. I don’t have to take it personally when these symptoms, such as verbal abuse, appear, nor do I have the right to punish anyone for being sick.

I am a worthwhile human being. I don’t have to sit and take abuse. But I have no right to dish it out, either.

Today’s Reminder
I will spend more time with myself in this lifetime than with anybody else. Let me learn to be the kind of person I would like to have as a friend.
He who would have beautiful roses in his garden must have beautiful roses in his heart.” S. R. Hol

**"While I still have a hard time defining compassion, I think it starts with the recognition that I am dealing with a sick person who sometimes exhibits symptoms of a disease."  I first read this as referring to myself!

Passage 3
Have you ever had the opportunity to watch preschoolers put together a puzzle? If a piece doesn't fit immediately, they often push and shove to make it fit, making lots of sound effects along the way.

This is how I lived most of my life. I never felt like I "fit" in my family or anywhere else. I felt like the puzzle piece in a preschooler's hand. Instead of forcing myself to fit, I forced those around me. I tried to manipulate and control everybody in my life to change the shape of their personalities to suit mine. I even attended workshops so I could make changes happen. My personal slogan became "I have to make things happen." My life was unmanageable.

Fortunately I made it to Al-Anon before I wrecked the entire beautiful puzzle of my life. The program taught me first that there's nothing wrong with the way I'm shaped mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. There's nothing wrong with other people's shapes either. Then I learned that the only piece I can change is my own. I have choices now. Instead of spending time with people and situations where I don't fit, I can look for the ones where I do. Regarding the puzzle of my family, I can't change, I can't change the fact that I'm a member who doesn't always fit. However, Al-Anon gives me tools, such as detachment and the Serenity Prayer, to use when I'm around family members. I can change what I can and remember that this family gathering, too, shall pass. Soon I can move on to gatherings where I feel more comfortable.
Thought for the Day!
My goal is not to change others to fit me. I aim to change myself to fit my Higher Power's will.
"Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions and we become irritable and unreasonable without knowing it."
Saturday, October 1, 2016
So, I met my new therapist yesterday (if we end up being a good match).  It was pretty much an intake, but it was even helpful, just laying everything out.  I feel that I learned a lot, even just when laying things out for her.  

Passage 1
In Al-Anon, we often speak of the importance of prayer. This idea calls for some reflection. If I could get what I pray for, would it really make me happy? Do I always know what is best for me? Do I bargain with the God I pray to, (“I want my spouse, but only if he or she will stop drinking,”) or give Him instructions, (“Please don’t let Bill keep on drinking.”)

One thing must ultimately be accepted: Few of us know what we really want, and none of us knows what is best for us. That knowledge remains, in spite of all our determined resistance, in the hands of God.

This is the reason for limiting our prayers to requests for guidance, an open mind to receive it, and the fortitude to act upon it.  I will quietly defer any decisions until my contact with God has made me certain they are right for me. And I will pray to be kept from taking any action, even a little one, that is intended to punish another.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (General Epistle of James)

Passage 2
Suddenly I am aware of thoughts racing and crashing through my mind at an alarming speed – memories, broken promises, fears about the future, failed expectations of both myself and other people. This is a familiar chaos and one that I can now recognize. it is a signal that my life has, for the time being, become unmanageable.

At such a time, serenity is often just a phone call away. A simple acknowledgement of the chaos immediately diminishes it. I step back, step outside the madness, and all at once it washes away or scatters in all the myriad directions from which it came. The pieces of my chaos return to their proper places, where I can either leave them alone or choose to confront them one at a time.

Today’s Reminder
If problems arise today, I will try to acknowledge them — and then put a little spiritual space between my problems and myself. If I can share about them with another person, I will further diminish their power. Recognizing that my life is unmanageable is the first step toward managing it.
“. . . When we bring things out into the light, they lose their power over us.” . . . In All Our Affairs

 **Absolutely love this!!!  Just calling a program person and saying, "my life is feeling a little unmanageable and I want to take my mind off of it.  What's up with you!"  Love that!

Awareness. Acceptance. Action

Passage 3
I spend most of my time at Al-Anon meetings engaging in a very important activity -- listening. Part of what I do when I listen is described in our slogan "Listen and Learn." By listening, I learn about the program. I learn about alcoholism, how others apply the Steps and Traditions, and I learn that practice of the Al-Anon principles allows me to achieve a degree of serenity.

By listening at an Al-Anon meeting, however, I do more than learn, I may borrow experience, strength, and hope from fellow members, but I also lend my own dash of detachment, acceptance, and understanding. I join with others in forging the bond of unity that helps us heal. I strive to contribute to the unconditional acceptance that invites our Higher Power to join us.

Thought for the Day
An important part of what I give to my fellow Al-Anons is my willingness to listen.
"Al-Anon's slogan, 'Listen and Learn' reminds us that if we have the self-discipline to be quiet and pay attention to others' words, we can learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and our world." How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p. 99

**I love the idea of using self-discipline when listening!