I traveled to Raleigh to do some work. In the meantime, I had a chance to go to the Al-Anon Literature Distribution Center where many of the books and pamphlets are shipped to groups in NC, SC and surrounding states. And I had an opportunity to go to dinner with my Service Sponsor, a person who guides me in the practice of the Traditions and Concepts. I continue to do a lot of service work, but I also recognize that I can talk to this fellow if I have questions about whether I may be taking on too much. I do have a tendency to say Yes to things that I really don't want to take on, but do so out of a sense of duty. It's all about balance. And it was a great chance to meet face to face with him.
When I got home on Sunday, I was catching up on news when I saw that a lady who was a passenger on a weekend cruise I captained had shot her husband during a domestic dispute. As more details come out, it appears that she shot him and cut herself with a knife to fake self-defense. I knew that she was a hunter and carried a gun. She talked a lot about guns and her belief in being armed. I cannot understand the love of guns or the need to have them around. I don't know what went on in her head to decide to shoot him, rather than walking out the door and leaving. I don't think I can know how lives get so messed up.
I have thought about this tragic situation for the last couple of days. No matter what, it seems that understanding the motives of people is baffling.
"...... when someone commits a violent crime, they always report in the news about his possible motive. As human beings, we need to somehow make sense of things. If someone murders someone, do you think it makes the family of the victim feel better to know the murderer's motive? No. Except for self-defense, there really is no excuse for murder. Motive, if there is any, is irrelevant.
You want to know why. In many ways, you might feel like you need to know. But, if you could come up with a reason or a motive, it wouldn't help you." — Beth Praed (Domestic Violence: My Freedom from Abuse)
By no coincidence, last night's meeting topic was on motives. It was a good reminder for me to examine my motives and understand what kept me in destructive relationships and accepting of negative behaviors and humiliation. What came across is that each of us is entitled to live without fear, uncertainty and discomfort.
Before Al-Anon, I did not think about motives. I had reasons to stay for many years with an alcoholic, and those stemmed from beliefs that had been developed from outside influences and from poor self-esteem. Then when I learned there were layers of truth underneath the reasons, I did not want to examine them because sometimes the truths about me were unacceptable to the mask I had created. There was shame amidst my shadows.
Looking at the real motives and truths is an ongoing inquiry. My true motives may be unclear in the heat of the moment, but for the most part, I stay clear of people and those tasks that are unhealthy for my emotional well being. I used to stick around for unacceptable situations simply because I didn't think that I deserved any better. I stuck around to please another or because I was afraid of a negative reaction. I let fear dictate my actions--fear of loss, of abandonment, of worthlessness. Now, I do know that I can sort out my thinking in time, so that I realize what my motives were at the time I opened my mouth or made a bad decision. It has helped me to not react until I have asked myself what my underlying feelings are at the moment. "Pause when agitated" is a good mantra.