When you encounter difficulties and contradictions,
do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time. - Saint Francis de Sales
“You must realize that fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts that you create. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”
This is an interesting quote that I don’t know that I totally agree with. As for me, I believe that feeling fear is not a choice, but acting on that fear is a choice. I spend a lot of my time judging my emotions as “good” or “bad.” For example, I’ll decide it’s “good” to feel happy and laugh but it’s “bad” to feel angry or scared.
These, for me, have been among the most self-defeating thoughts I have ever had. When I criticize myself in this way, I reject myself. When I think in this manner, I decide that some parts of me are “good” and worthy of acknowledgment and some parts are “bad” and do not.
The disconnect for me here is believing that I am what I think, because I used to believe that if I think it, I must do it. My recovery program has shown me that this is not the case. I can think whatever I like so long as do the next right thing. This realization has propelled my recovery forward, drastically.
Today, when I am angry, I do not deny myself of the dignity of feeling my own feelings. Instead, I let myself feel anger, accept myself, and in fact love myself as a person that can feel angry. Doing this allows me that moment (or several moments or days, if need be) of pause to address my own emotional needs through connection with my Higher Power and trust that everything will be OK, no matter what.
Once I do this, I then make a conscious choice as to how to behave as a result. This process allows me to realize that I am not my feelings but my feelings are a part of me. That is, I do not need to be controlled by my emotions when I can accept them for what they are and love those parts of myself. Then I can act in a self-aware and conscious way towards the situation. This is a gift of my recovery program.
My Lifelong Recovery Tool
Detachment was the topic of my very first Al‑Anon meeting so many years ago. My son was 18 years old and I was frightened for his health, safety, and future. He was living on his own, renting a small room in a household of young people who partied all the time. I had distanced myself from him because it hurt too much to watch him slowly kill himself with alcohol.
I was angry and resentful that he was turning out like his father. I remember feeling stunned to learn at Al‑Anon that I had been detaching from my sick son in a very unloving manner. The kind members of my new home group very gently let me know that I could learn to practice detaching with love. This was a new concept that took many years for me to understand. At the time it hurt too much to even spend time with my son and see him drunk.
I have learned that instead of cutting my son off from my life and my heart, I can love him without loving the disease of alcoholism. I used to think he was weak and selfish. I lost respect for him. Today, I no longer judge him or criticize his drinking. I have turned him over to his own Higher Power, and I can just be his mom who loves him unconditionally.
He has had periods of sobriety, sometimes even years, but at the moment he is drinking again. I simply have to detach with love (and not even think about changing him). I know that no one would choose the disease of alcoholism, and that gives me compassion. I pray each day for peace, using the Serenity Prayer as my guide.
By Liah H., Hawaii August, 2020
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
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