Well, things are much better today. The molecules of dog poop that had attached themselves to my nasal lining were cleaned out in the shower. I no longer think that I am walking in or smelling poop. The old dog is eating rice for a couple of days to settle her stomach. I will also pick up some special dog food for stomach issues. She can scarf down anything when we aren't looking so she might have eaten something on the beach that caused the diarrhea attack. She is fine though, wagging her tail and being her happy self. She and I appreciate your concerns.
Last night I went to my home group meeting. The topic was about powerlessness (Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable). It is not coincidence that I hear just what I need when I go to a meeting. I understand what being powerless means. I have no control over what others say or do. And 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. If only for a few seconds/minutes, when I hear criticism and blame directed at me, I am momentarily stunned. And then, if I am using what I have learned in Al-Anon, I can choose not to defend myself or get angry. I can simply realize that what is going on may not be about me at all.
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 thinking.
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.
Not reacting to another's anger is truly a gift. There are other gifts too. When I got home from the meeting last night, there was a surprise waiting for me. It was in a little box and contained this: