Monday, November 29, 2010

Forest of trees

I heard someone share at a meeting recently that "In a forest of trees, I didn't recognize that I was a tree."  I clearly didn't have much of a grip on the things that were wrong with me, until I was able to stop the denial.  Before I came to Al-Anon, I could point out over and over what was wrong with the alcoholic.  I knew that she was the one who was making me unhappy.  I could not tell that there was anything wrong with me until the disease progressed.

And once alcoholism had me by the throat, I began to feel the stress, see the craziness, and figure out that something was very wrong with me.  I was out of control with anger, paralyzed by fear.  And that is what brought me to my first meeting. 

After working the steps in Al-Anon, I realized that I had been unhappy for a long time.  The unhappiness went way back, into childhood.  I did a lot of things to try to gloss over the pain of living around alcoholics.  I pretended to be happy.  I put on a brave face.  I did my best to persevere. I tried to gloss over the pain with work.  Finally, I was able to face my unhappiness and undergo some modicum of relief from my denial.  I felt what it was like to be a lone tree. 

Whereas my sole purpose in life was riveted on the alcoholics for so long, I was eventually able to refocus my attention where it needed to be: on me.  I began to find things that I enjoyed doing.  What a revelation to finally get a much needed reality check on denial.  

When I don't look at something that can and is affecting the quality and quantity of my life, then I am in denial.   When I avoid those "three fingers" of responsibility pointing back at me only in favor of aiming the other one out at someone else, I am in denial.  When I don't take appropriate action on something I need to take care of inside of me, that's denial.

As I have learned in meetings, I cannot run from this disease.  I have to stay rooted in my own truth, face whatever occurs, and yet be flexible enough to not break.  I am an individual who gets support now from others around me and know that I am not really alone anymore.


  1. nice. its easy for us to slip into denial...much harder to step back out of the river...

  2. No, we are never alone, we just see it that way sometimes.

  3. I love how you just seem to channel wisdom. Thanks, Syd. I guess, by definition, I would be an ACOA. I've got a life time of unhappiness that I am trying to work though. It's about time.

  4. Thanks for your candid posting. It rings true, so true. Blessings to you.

  5. My life, before al-anon, was a mess of denial, chaos, drama, and going from disaster to another. I didn't know serenity. Now I do and it is the most important thing in my life.


  6. It's funny. I joke about my "old drunk, dead daddy," but I rarely actually think about how profound his drinking influenced me as a child. I blame all my problems on my step-father and believe me- there was enough blame to be given.
    It all started before he entered the picture. The whole messy muck of it.

  7. I so enjoy reading your true stories of recovery Syd, thanks for sharing this one!

  8. Love that tree comment. Denial makes me unhappy; it's my choice to practise it, or make a healthy choice instead.

  9. Keeping the focus on me ...
    Gives me so many more choices to work on rather than fixing someone else.
    With the help of the program I can break through my denial sometimes but it's slow and steady.
    Steppin it one day at a time

  10. I found your blog tonight and wanted to thank you for sharing. I've only recently realized just how destructive my behavior has been, for me and for my partner. I've been looking for someone to say the things that I'm feeling and frightened to say, and your blog's convinced me that maybe Al-Anon is the place for that.
    It was an additional strange comfort to see your photos - I grew up on the Eastern Shore of MD, and seeing the marshes of home is comforting and familiar. Thank you.


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