I heard just what I needed to hear at my home group meeting last night. My sponsor and I met before the regular meeting and talked about having Step One moments. And then the regular meeting was on Control. God planned the program.
I know rationally that alcoholism will rear its head at any time, even with those who are sober. It is frustrating that I can still let its effects hurt me. When I hear the criticism and blame directed at me, I realize that this is a means to avoid responsibility. It is a mechanism of denial for what the real problems are.
I am a good listener and am willing to inventory my part. But there comes a time when I consider feedback that is laced with anger and resentment to be worthless. If I let my guard down and let myself accept what is said as "truth", then I am lost in a mire of self-pity and my own resentment.
I know enough to not believe what I hear. And I know that I'm not powerful enough to cause someone else to drink or make a mess of their life. I don't want to be blamed for someone's behavior. I am not the reason a person drinks, and I'm not the reason that they don't drink. The state of happiness of another is not my job.
But I am to blame if I am miserable. I am to blame if I accept the anger of another and then own it. I am to blame for doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. That's the insanity of my disease.
So to be reminded of how powerless I am over others at the meeting last night helped me to get the focus back on myself. I thought that the following reading was particularly relevant:
"Many of us learn the value of self-expression in Al-Anon. We discover how we feel and benefit from giving voice to those feelings when it seems appropriate. But there's a difference between expressing ourselves and using words to control others.
Sometimes the only way I can determine whether I'm trying to control someone else or whether I'm simply expressing my feelings is by noticing how many times I say the same thing. If I mention something that is on my mind and then let it go no matter what response I get, I am speaking sincerely. If I repeatedly make similar suggestions or ask prodding questions again and again, I am probably trying to control. If I am satisfied only when the other person responds in a way I consider desirable -- agrees with what I've said or takes my advice -- then I know I've lost my focus." from Courage to Change.