Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are. - Jon Kabat-Zinn
There is a divine plan of good at work in my life. I will let go and let it unfold. —Ruth P. Freedman
We are never certain of the full importance or the eventual impact of any single event in our lives. But of one thing we can be sure: Each experience offers something valuable to our overall development. We must not discount the experiences that are long gone. They contributed to all we've achieved at the present. And wherever today takes us will influence what tomorrow will bring.
Perhaps our greatest difficulty as recovering men and women is not trusting that life is a process and one that promises goodness. That growth and change are guaranteed. That our lives have design, and we're blessed therein. Trusting isn't easy. But we can learn, and we'll discover freedom.
Letting go of the outcome of every experience, focusing instead on our efforts, making them as good as possible, validates our trust in the ultimate goodness of life. Our frustrations diminish when our efforts, only, are our concern. How much easier our days go when we do our work and leave the outcome where it belongs.
I will know a new freedom when I let go and trust that "my plan" is unfolding as it must. I will do my part, and no more.
The Greatest Trip Of All
Things that have happened in my life since I came to Al-Anon have helped me learn from my experiences. The closest example of the way my life has been since I came to Al-Anon would be the time our family took an overnight trip down a fast river. I had been in Al-Anon quite a while and my husband had been “dry” a few years—without a recovery program –when he decided our family should try river rafting. Our sons were 14 and 11 at the time, and our daughter 12.
We accompanied a friend who had guided many rafting trips. He put our children on a big safe oar boat while my husband and I rowed a separate craft along with four other people and an oar-master. The arrangement seemed innocuous enough. There were experts along, and they said the children would be safe. They did, however, caution us that we should not lose our oars, because each oar would cost $100.
The trip began serenely enough. We were several boatloads of people happily floating downstream. The first day was easy as we learned how to use all the skills that the oar-master taught us. After a night’s camp on the shore, we began our second day with the warning that we would be going into class-five rapids—named “Skull” and the “Funnel.” As we progressed, the walls of the canyon squeezed us. Soon we couldn’t even talk over the rapids’ roar.
The oar-master motioned that we should “row right” of a large rock looming ahead. The boulder was back-lit with spray, making the river look like foaming latte. I could see nothing more, because from there the river dropped. We began rowing for all we were worth, but our boat hit the boulder as if drawn by a magnet—and the boat immediately flipped over. All I knew was freezing water and darkness. Incredibly, I had my oar as I swam up and out from under the raft. I could see that I was hanging briefly on a precipice above a long line of rapids. I just had time to say, “I’m in your hands, God,” before I was swept away.
The ride down the canyon in my life jacket was a trip that filled all my senses. Cold water tossed me. Rock walls rushed at me until the very last instant when I missed them. The water tore me along and rocks bumped me all the way. At last I reached relatively calm water at the foot of the Skull.
When I saw my husband, he and our boat mates had been pulled into the big safe boat that our kids were riding. I was the only one that they couldn’t reach. I laid back on my life jacket as I shot through the Funnel. When I passed the “Room of Doom,” I didn’t know it was a whirlpool of such power that people had died there. At the bottom of the Funnel, I saw where our boats had beached, and I staggered out of the river to join my family and friends.
When I fell in the water upstream, I had worn canvas slip-ons, a hat and my contact lenses. I still had all of them. In addition to that I had ten oars—because every time I saw an oar, I grabbed it and added it to my bundle. The experts told me it was this added buoyancy that really saved me!
I’ve been able to draw several recovery analogies from my river adventure. In Al-Anon, I still have life to contend with, but there are no easy guarantees that anything will be easy. Help is available for me to take, and every little piece that I grab, when added together, can make a big difference.
I am grateful to Al-Anon for everything it has given me. Some of the “oars” I have today are certain realizations that I have about me and my own disease. For example, my obsession is really just a mask for my impatience and ego. It comes from my mistaken belief that if I don’t fix it, no one will. Al-Anon teaches me I have to ask if what I’ve been doing really works. I have to acknowledge the finite quality of my mind and control—which is only over myself—and I have to Let Go and Let God.
My anxiety is a mask for self-pity and despair. It comes from my mistaken belief that affirmation of my existence depends on others agreeing that I have reason for despair. I have to ask myself not what’s wrong, but what’s right. I have to laugh and celebrate with others, instead of just commiserating.
My anger is a mask for fear. It comes from my mistaken belief that I cannot effect change without a powerful negative emotion to shock others—as with an electric fence. I have to ask myself, “What is the worst thing that can happen here?” No matter how bad it might be, my Higher Power is up for it, so I must trust.
Denial is a mask for my lack of ownership and responsibility. It comes from the mistaken belief that by finding something or someone to blame, my problem will go away. I have to ask myself, “Whose problem is it?” I need to acknowledge reality—which is really the greatest trip of all—when I choose God’s world over one of my own creation.
Guilt is a mask for my dishonesty. It comes from my mistaken belief that I must convince others of the good intentions I don’t really have, in order to be considered “nice.” I must ask myself if I am “shoulding” on myself, and be honest enough to practice good self-care.
This wonderful adventure called life in Al-Anon is always taking me to new places—and on wild rides. I wonder what “oar” I’ll pick up next!
Nancy B., Colorado August, 1998
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
Today's Hope is an Al-Anon themed site and is not affiliated with Al-Anon's World Service Office. The daily sharings contain a reading from Al-Anon's Conference Approved publication The Forum, an inspirational quote/saying and a recovery based reading/meditation. The intent of Today's Hope is to share experience, strength and hope. Please take what you like and leave the rest.