Somethings you just have to live and hurt through

Everyone had an opinion on what I should and should not do in my marriage. It was kind of interesting how our families viewed our situation. My family gave me sympathy but encouraged me to stay and fix my marriage, to do whatever I had to do to make things right. Like I said they gave me sympathy for the hurtful things I shared with them, but in the end they put monkey on my back to fix it.

His family on the other hand were conflicted. Sense they were heavy drinkers they didn’t see anything wrong with the way he drank. Sense they never thought that I was good enough to be in their family in the first place, they pretty much thought that the reason he drank so much was because of the mistake he made in marrying me. As his drinking problems escalated they began to be concerned. I can even remember one time my brother-in-law telling me that he did not know why I put up with it. He even told me that he would not blame me if I left my husband.

Then my husband got sick. Alcohol had damaged his heart and he was given a few years to live. The doctors told him that if he did not stop drinking that he would not even have that. So he stopped. That changed everything. Again, both of our families gave me all the responsibility. My husband was self-employed and worked when he could. I was working and between the two of us we kept ourselves financially afloat. I took care of the kids, of him and everything else and at bed time I collapsed into exhausted sleep.

Then one day he told me that he could not take the stress of family life. He got a job in another city and moved away. Three months later he showed up for Thanksgiving and said that he missed us and wanted us to join him. I wanted to give our kids an opportunity to be with their Dad for as long as he had, so I moved. All of my friends thought I was crazy to do that. Our families were convinced it was the right thing to do. Our children were young and could not wrap their minds around the fact that their father had a terminal illness. They could not understand why we were moving and they had to leave their friends. That was the beginning of rebellious behavior that made my life a nightmare long after their father had died.

My husband had been sober about two years when I uprooted our family and moved to join him. I moved in December. In March I discover he was drinking again. Even after all of my years in recovery I had this little voice that said that maybe it really was my fault that he drank. After all he was a dying man that had been sober two years and three months later I joined him he started drinking again. Never mind that we had really only been apart three months of his two years of sobriety. Never mind that he had been drinking long before I found out in March. Never mind all that I had learned about alcoholism – I did not cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it. Just like that I had been sucked right back into the chaos of his drinking.

Four months later he showed up at my work and invited me to join him for happy-hour after work. I felt like he had sucker-punched me, but I went anyway to see what he was up too. It was almost like he was trying to pick a fight with me. But I was not playing his game and that made him even more angry. He started to tell me how things were going to be from here on out. When I said I don’t think so he told me he wanted a divorce. I felt angry and I felt relief. I looked at him and said no problem and walked out of the bar. What I did not know at the time was that he had already rented and apartment and had the utilities turned on. You know what they say about alcoholism – cunning, baffling and powerful.

But you know what our families saw? Both of our families blamed me. In their eyes it was my fault that he started drinking again. They thought that I was the one that had ask for the divorce. To them I was a horrible person because I was divorcing a sick and dying man. Neither of our families ask me what happened. I was not even given and opportunity explain or defend myself.

I called my sponsor back home. She ask me if I was going to meetings. I hem-hawed around and told her I had tried but not any of them were like my home group. She told me to get my but back to meeting and work my program. Without the love and support of the people in my program I could never have gotten through that time in my life with any shred of sanity.

They told me to just keep doing the next right thing for the right reason. They helped me to always be aware of my motives and be honest with myself. They loved me when I felt the whole world was against me. There were many times my husband wanted me to engage in tit-for-tat behavior but I was able to avoid that trap because I had learned in my program that I did not have to react or engage in his unacceptable behavior.

I am not saying any of this was easy. There was nothing easy in my life at that time. There are just some hurts in life that you just have to live and hurt through, but thanks to my program I chose how I wanted to live through those difficult times. And I only had to live through it one day at a time. Some days were better than others. Because of the self-honesty my program requires I was able to look at things through the eyes of the Serenity Prayer and get the wisdom to know what was my responsibility and what was not.

My husband had also been in recovery and in the end he had two years of sobriety when he died. Thanks to both of our programs we had we did not hate each other when he died.

Wisdom of the Serenity Prayer

There is so much wisdom in the Serenity Prayer. This prayer guides us through the chaos and the pandemonium in our lives. The only problem with this prayer, for me, was the way it had become a chant in my mind and not a resource to help me find a solution to my distress. I would say the words over and over again but at the same time my mind was running ahead trying to solve my problem. Eventually it dawned on me that I was only parroting the words. I need to sincerely pray the words.

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” In the beginning, I really struggled with the past and I prayed this prayer because I could not let the past go. Self-pity was smothering me. I had to deal with the past to be able to move on. I can’t rewrite history; I can’t change the past. The only thing I can do with the past is change my attitude about my past. This attitude adjustment did not happen just because I said this prayer; But, saying this prayer did help me to have a sense of peace about what I had to do to be able to let the past go.

“Courage to change the things I can,” The operative word is “things.” The prayer does not ask for courage to change people, it ask for courage to change “things.” I am powerless over my alcoholic’s drinking and the insanity that comes with it.  I am powerless over his, as well as other people’s, behavior. I am not powerless over how I am going to respond to it. I can allow myself to get sucked into the chaos if I want to, or I can detach. Most of the time when I allow myself to get sucked into the chaos, it is not long before that chaos escalates into a full blown catastrophe because I allowed their chaos to make me crazy!!!  It is not easy to detach from their insanity. It takes courage to stand up to my fears of “What if?” But the real reality here, is that they are going to do what they want to do whether I like it or not. I can hang on to trying to control the uncontrollable or I can stand up to my fear over what they are doing and mind my own business. So for me it was like praying, God, grant me the serenity to have the courage to not get sucked into their insanity again.

The “wisdom to know the difference” of what I can and cannot change is key to my sanity. I have to confess their have been times that I have tried to change something that I could not change before I got the “wisdom to know the difference.” For me, their has been no clear rules to follow. Asking myself if this is my responsibility; Asking myself what is best for me; Asking myself if I can live with the consequences if things turn our different from how I want them too helps me to have the wisdom to know the difference. But the most important thing is asking for God’s guidance and for Him to help me understand what his will is for me in this situation.

I have found that earnestly praying this prayer has given me a sense of peace that allows me time and a clear head to take the action I need to take that gives me peace in my life.

My recovery programs have a powerful influence over how I live my life.

Me? Control issues? Come on man! I did not have control issues!!! I was just doing what I had to do trying to control my out of control life; but I wouldn’t classify what I was doing under the “control issues” column. I was merely running interference trying to minimize chaos and destruction in my life. But control? Never! I was completely unaware and oblivious that I had a little, well maybe a lot, of manipulation going on. I was simply trying to survive the best way I knew how without drawing attention to myself.

As a child I was completely defenseless against the rules and decisions my parents made for and about my life, especially when those matters hurt me and left me feeling insecure. As an adult I tried to do everything in my power to ensure that I would not feel that hurt and insecurity any more. As a child I was not allowed to have a voice or an opinion. “Children were to be seen and not heard.” What that overpowering control taught me was to be stealthy and antonyms when I was trying to make my hopes and dreams come true. It was not a conscious behavior on my part. It was just something I learned as a child to survive.

Transparency and honesty in my relationships never occurred to me. Nowhere in my life had anyone been interested in what I felt, what I thought or what I wanted. I knew that I was powerless, but I hated feeling powerless. So I tried desperately to control the uncontrollable through manipulation and subterfuge. Of course ninety-nine point nine percent of the time it didn’t work. The few times that it did work my victory felt hollow and I was always waiting for the other shoe to fall and destroy what I thought I had gained.

To say I was confused was an understatement. My burning desire was to be accepted, but I never trusted the real me with anyone. I was constantly trying to be all things to all people. In away, I kept the very people that I wanted to like me at arms length so that they would not have the opportunity to hurt or reject me. I know the whole thing sounds confusing. It was confusing to me too! By the time I started going to my recovery meetings I had no idea who the real me was.

This kind of life taught me that a life without honesty was shallow and insecure. Emotionally crippled, I did not have the skill set to have real honest to good healthy relationships with anyone. In recovery I learned that I had a choice of how I was going to allow my past, or the hurt in my present circumstances, define me and how I lived my life. The scary part was that I knew how to survive in the hurt; it was the only life I knew. In the beginning I was afraid and intimidated to reach out for something better. It was through my recovery programs that I learned how not just how to survive, but I learned how to thrive and be happy.

My recovery programs have a powerful influence over how I live my life. Through my programs I found I had a whole tool chest full of all of just the tools I need to survive and thrive. I talk about the 12 Steps all the time and how they transformed me. But there is more in my tool chest than the 12 steps. I had all of these little slogans that I could grab onto to help guide me through turbulent waters in my life. I was constantly reminded that Rome wasn’t built in a day – this is a One Day At A Time program. I did not get this way overnight and I was not going to wake up tomorrow and instantly be changed from the inside out. My sponsor constantly reminded me to look at my motive. Was I doing the right thing for the right reason?

Slowly over time I began to learn how to trust which led me to the most powerful tool in my tool box; The 3rd Step. Turning my will and my life over to God’s care took the lid off of the pressure-cooker that was my life. Getting the wisdom to know the difference from the Serenity Prayer was turning every issue great or small over to God’s care. Taking that 3rd Step also made manipulation and control very uncomfortable for me. Trusting God with my will and my life takes daily action on my part. As long as I trust God with the decision making process in my life I am fine. Now, I recognize that my feelings of insecurity are directly portionable to how willing I am to let go and let God be in control of my life. When I am obsessed with trying to force the solution that I want my emotions are like a yo-yo. I am way either up or way down.  Trusting God is the only way I can face life’s challenges and still keep my sanity.

Grant me the Serenity

In the first sentence of the Serenity Prayer we ask God for the serenity to accept things we cannot change and to have the courage to change things we can. There is no doubt about it there are situations in our life that we are completely powerless to change.  I must confess their have been times that my powerlessness has not stopped me from trying anyway. I knew what I wanted. I had a belief about how it should be so I tried to force my solution. Of course I drove myself crazy trying to do the impossible. Many times I would get angry and resentful and some time terribly afraid because things were not the way I wanted them to be. The operative words are accept and serenity.

Accepting does not mean I have to like or approve. It is knowing without doubt that this is the way that it is and there is not a darn thing I can do about it. The serenity part is my state of mind – calm or anxious, peaceful or agitated, quite or distressed, serene and tranquil or angry, resentful and distraught. I have found that my serenity depends on my acceptance. The more I resist the more unsettled I am. There is no serenity without acceptance for me.

The courage to change the things I can begins and ends with me. I can change my circumstances, my thoughts, how I do things and how I relate to people. But I can not change other people. I can change my relationship with them but I can’t change them.
It seems that to have the courage to change the things I can it usually means a changed attitude. I can’t afford to have resentments – I can’t afford to pout, or to be fearful if I want to have any peace of mind whatsoever.

The fear thing is huge to me. It is like a flashing neon sign that there is something, some attitude, in ME that I have to change or it means that I am facing a difficult decision and I just don’t want to face it right now. This is when the courage comes in. Courage to change how I think and feel about the situation I am facing. Courage to take action when necessary and the courage not to do anything at all.

Wisdom comes in being honest about my motive. Am I trying to control or manipulate the outcome. Is it the right thing to do for the right reason. When I really struggle with having the wisdom to know the difference, I call someone in the program and talk it out. I don’t expect them to make my decision for me, but to help me be honest with myself.  It is a process of looking at my motives and my expectations.   There was this little exercise that I have done from time to time.  I write down all the facts of the situation.  No feelings, No emotions, just facts.  If those facts were happening to someone else other than myself how would I respond?  Once I subtract the emotions and feelings many times things it become easier to make an informed decision.

Getting through the holidays

I don’t know what it is about the holidays that brings out the best and the worse in people. The phone calls and emails that I receive seem to triple during the holidays. The key for those of us in recovery is to not allow the chaos and drama of other people suck us in.

The Serenity Prayer has been my life line during these times. It reminds me to mind my own business. There are things that I can and cannot change. Just because it is the holidays and we are thrown together with a lot of different personalities that we don’t usually have together all at one time, does not mean that I have to sacrifice my serenity being the police of the family gatherings.

The things that I cannot change are the untreated dependent and codependent personalities in the room. I can’t change how they think or what they do with their life, but I do have the power to stop myself from getting sucked into their sickness. There are certain key words and phrases that I use a lot – like “really,” “you don’t say,” “no kidding,” I’ll think about it.” I am not agreeing or disagreeing and am I not engaging in the sickness either.

I also use the slogan “How Important Is It” to remind myself that just because someone is trying to push my buttons it does not mean that I have to respond. If what they are saying has no impact or influence on my life it is not important enough for me to challenge what they are saying. What difference does it make anyway. Foolish talk is foolish talk. If I engage or defend myself I am foolish too. I know what I think, what I believe and what I feel. I do not have to explain, defend or justify it to someone who is still messing up their life.

Our slogan “Let it begin with me” reminds me that my actions say more than my words can ever say. Engaging in rude and unacceptable behavior of others only adds fuel to the fire. I have learned to first minimize my exposure to miserable people. Second, I try not to sit next to them at the table or engage in a conversation that is more than a few minutes before I excuse myself to go to the bathroom or do something that will disengage myself from time with that person. Sometimes when exposure can’t be avoided I keep reminding myself that they are the sick one and I am the one in recovery. While they are running their mouth I pray for them and somehow it helps me get through it. I have also learned that kindness goes a long way. Many times a simple act of kindness has neutralized a difficult situation.

Of course some people are so caustic that not any of those things work. That is when I am pleasant but firm in my dealings with them. My grandma always said you cannot hug a porcupine and she is right. I don’t even try.

When I first started my recovery journey I was on a pink cloud and I wanted everyone to learn what I was learning in my recovery programs. No one wanted to hear it. They thought I had become a fanatic. I know now that it is not my words but my actions that is important. I also know that no one will accept this journey until they are ready and it is their idea.

He just knew how to push my buttons

In the beginning of my recovery everything was so hard to do. Many times I knew what I should do but I was so blooming angry at the time that I literally had to force myself to stay quiet. In my mind I repeated slogans and the Serenity Prayer in between thoughts of anger and resentment. When I did that, most of the time, I could get through a difficult situation without allowing myself to get sucked into the drama and chaos.

It was, and is, never easy to ignore the insanity that comes with living with an alcoholic. He knew just how to push my buttons. Sometimes he would do something to directly embarrass me and sometimes I was embarrassed because of his behavior and I was also embarrassed because I felt others were judging me by his behavior.

The hardest part for me was knowing when to back off especially when I could see that things were starting to get out of hand. My first inclination was jump in there and either neutralize the problem or remove the problem from the public view. I would to try to get him to leave or stop some foolish behavior. Oblivious to his own bad behavior, he only dug in and refused any attempt on my part to stop things from getting worse. One of his favorite tricks was to challenge me loudly in front of other people to leave him alone. Before this program I did not have enough sense to walk away and I would try to coach him into leaving. Before I knew it we would become the center of attention in a negative way. I felt humiliated. But after a while I learned to never go anywhere with him without having my own exit strategy. I would go and stay as long as it was fun for me. If he did not want to leave when I did then I would leave without him.

There were many times he would leave when I wanted to leave, and then on the drive home he would go on and on in the car about what a party-pooper I was. I just remained quite. Sometimes he would kick the yapping up a notch and try to antagonize me by saying hurtful things. But in my head I would remind myself that it was drunk talk. Understand one thing here though – I did not always do the right thing. There were times when I would just loose it and we would have a very unpleasant conversation all the way home that continued even after we got home. Every time I did that I would berate myself for not working my program and for allowing myself to get sucked into his chaos again. My sponsor would remind me that I am human and then she would ask me if I learned anything from what had happened.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, for me, there was no easy 1 – 2 – 3 plan that made me always do the right thing. I believe that we all have good days and bad days. Times when we are more sensitive than others. Of course many times, even though I was trying not to get sucked into his insanity by remaining calm on the outside, the truth was I was seething on the inside.

The key to real recovery for me was learning to be at peace on the inside. That did not happen for me until I took the focus off of him and began to focus on me. The inventory steps helped me to understand why I did the things I did. All of these steps helped me to learn how to love and respect myself. They also helped me to see him as a child of God just like I was. They helped love the man and hate the disease. They helped me to be strong when I needed too and have compassion when I needed too. I am still a work in progress and grateful everyday that I have this program to help me be honest with myself about what is going on in my life.

My fourth step inventory was not a sentimental journey.

My fourth step inventory was not a sentimental journey. But it was a necessary journey to help free me from past hurts. It was like a road map of my life that revealed the experiences that I had faced along the way, that had molded me into the person I was at that time. Like dripping water over long periods of time can change the shape of a stone, I could see how the verbal abuse through the years that had stripped me of my self-esteem. I could see how the emotional abuse that crippled my ability to stand up for and take care of myself. I could see the scars from physical abuse that had left me afraid to believe that my life was actually my life and not just an extension of someone else’s.

I was blown away with how those two steps totally changed how I viewed my life. One of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp was that no other person on this planet defined my self worth. That was my responsibility. I also learned through my 4th step inventory, that through the years, I had slowly surrendered that right to other people in my life. As a child I did it to survive and avoid pain. As an adult I was just following a pattern that had worked for me as a child. The problem was that it was not working for me as an adult.

I truly believe that the 4th and 5th steps go hand in hand and are paramount in providing the insight we need to be able to turn our life around. The 5th Step requires us to trust God and another person (for me it was my sponsor) with what we have learned about our life. We involve God to help us have the self-honesty we need to grow from this process. Trusting God helps us to have that wisdom to know the difference in what is our responsible and what is not. We involve another person to guide us through the land mines of our past in such a way, that we will have victory when we come out on the other side.

There are many suggested ways to do a 4th Step inventory. My sponsor believed in keeping it simple and the following was pretty much the format that I used the first time.

This is what happen to me.
This was the cause.
This was the harm done to me.
This was the harm done to (another person or persons)
This was the long term impact on my life
This was my part in it.

My sponsor told me that the 4th Step was all about gathering the facts of my life so that I could understand how I had evolved into the person I was at that time. Once I understood the facts, then I would be more equipped to understand what I needed to do to become the person that I wanted to be. She reminded me that it would be an emotional process. Boy was she right. Even though I tried to be objective that was not always the case. In discussing my inventory with my sponsor I began to understand why I needed another person to help me understand my own life. At that time there is no way I could have been objective. Seeing it through her eyes helped me to calm down and take what I had learned through the 4th Step process and use it to help me to heal.

Now before I get tons of email telling me the proper way, or a better way, to do an inventory I want to reminded you that I am telling you how I did it way back then. If and when you do your on personal inventory find a format that helps to release you from the hurts of your past.

I can not change anyone else but I can change me

In the Serenity Prayer we ask God for the serenity to accept things we cannot change. I said the words to this prayer many times but in my heart I didn’t see how it was possible.  How could I have serenity?   The feelings of powerlessness left me feeling fearful and desperate.  My whole like was a hair line trigger waiting to respond. I don’t think I ever experience a moment when I felt relaxed. Even my sleep was affected by the chaos that when on when I was awake. I felt on call 24 hours a day – 7 days a week to provide damage control or to try to circumvent the next crisis.

I was afraid that if “I” didn’t do something to save my alcoholic he would die. But no matter what I did I could not save him. He died at the age of 43. He never saw his children grow up, help them buy their first car, see them go off to college, walk them down the isle, or hold his grandchildren. Alcoholism robbed him of all of that. And not one thing I did or did not do could save him because I really was powerless over his drinking after all.

I was also afraid that if “I” didn’t do something to save him we would financially loose everything. And guess what? We lived in financial chaos all the time. In the end the financial responsibility was all on my shoulders. I don’t know how we make it but we did. Many times we did not have things that we wanted but somehow someway we always managed to have the things we needed.

I did not want anyone else to know about his drinking. I made excuses like he had a really bad day at work today or he did not have a chance to eat lunch. I made sure we left parties early to avoid the scene that I knew was going to come. I told everyone how awesome out life and our marriage was and I laid awake at night wishing I had the courage leave him. But the funny thing was almost everyone knew anyway.

I had to learn the hard way that standing between my alcoholic and his consequences would not guarantee me that the things I feared would not happen because many of them happened anyway. In the beginning I did not have to accept my powerlessness because it was rammed down my throat one painful lesson at a time. I finally got it. I gave up. But I did not have serenity. I had anger, resentment and fear. It was the deepest darkest time of my life because I had no hope.

It was in the second step – “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” that I had my first glimmer of hope. At this point I had no doubt in my mind that it was going to take more than mere human effort, because I had tried everything I knew to try and nothing had worked. Yep it was definitely going to require a greater power to restore me to any type of sanity whatsoever.

It was this program that helped me understand that alcoholism was a disease and it helped me not hate him by separating the man from his disease of alcoholism. This program gave me a voice and helped me draw the line between what was acceptable and unacceptable in my life. I learned to make decisions because it was the right thing to do and not because I was angry or afraid or because I was trying to control someone else’s actions. It was in this program that I learned I was competent and capable. I could write pages and pages of the things I have learned from this program.  The Serenity Prayer is amazing.  Serenity and the wisdom to know the difference all boils down to who I am powerless over and who I am not.  I can not change others but I can change me.

I had this dream of marrying my knight in shinning armor – well that didn’t happen

The Serenity Prayer talks about accepting things we cannot change. It totally makes sense, but it is so so hard to do sometimes. Especially when it goes against everything we think we need to be happy. I had this dream of marrying my knight in shinning armor and riding off into the sunset and living happy ever after. I thought if I could just hang in their long enough he would come to his senses and my dreams would come true.

In the mean time things kept deteriorating and my life was light years from my dreams. At first I was depressed and then I was angry and then I was resentful. I accepted what I could not change all right, but I was thoroughly ticked off about it. I was miserable and I was miserable to be around.

I had a lot to be grateful for but I did not feel grateful for anything. I had three beautiful daughters and I was not enjoying them because I was mad at him. I deprived myself of simple pleasures because I was so busy being a martyr. At first people sympathized with me but after a while they began to avoid me and then I felt more isolated and alone. I blamed him. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t very please to be around.

They say in the big book of AA that the only people who don’t get better are the people who cannot be honest with themselves. The 4th and 5th steps are all about self-honesty. When I began those steps I had a very difficult time writing it without justifying. My sponsor helped me to see just the facts. No justifying, no rationalizing it was just plain facts. This is what happened, this was my part in it and this is how it affected me.

My sponsor helped me to understand that those facts did not define me as a person and they did not dictate my future. They were simply the facts about my past. It was up to me how I wanted to write about me in my future. This is that part of the Serenity Prayer talks about the courage to change the things we can. Me. That’s what I could change. Me.

Through these 12 Steps my relationship with myself changed. This self evolution was not easy and sometimes painful. It definitely required perseverance because there was a lot of pressure and resistance not only from the people who hurt me but from myself to keep things the way that they were. Their fear was losing control over me and my biggest fear was that without them I was nothing. Sad isn’t it that we need affirmation from broken people to be okay?

For me to change, I had to have an open mind and I had to be willing to change. I love these 12 steps. They literately walked me through my problems and help me to stay focused on me. When I hold my problems up to the light of these steps and the Serenity Prayer I am able to see them objectively. Sometimes I’m stubborn. Sometimes I am not so willing. But I have learned that when the pain gets bad enough it was time to surrender. I have a choice. It’s up to me to choose; More misery or peace of mind. I am happy to report that I don’t choose misery too much any more.

I was so caught up into what he was doing I was not paying attention to what I should be doing

I was so caught up in what he was doing that I was not paying attention to what I should be doing. I was obsessed with trying to make him understand how he was hurting me and our family. For some crazy reason I thought that if he really understood how he was hurting us he would stop his obsession with alcohol. But I was the one that did not understand. His drinking was not about loving me or not loving me, it was not about the kids, it was not about his parents, it was not about his job, it was not etc……..

He was an alcoholic and he was did what alcoholics did – he drank. Once that fact finally sank into my head I was able to not take the hurtful things personal anymore. It is not that I liked the things he did or approved of them. It was just that acceptance that he drinking was not about me. He was fighting demons that I could not even began to understand.

Was alcoholism a disease or was it a moral choice. I honestly didn’t know. Up until I began to question the “disease or a conscious deliberate act” issue in my own mind, I had assumed that his behavior was somehow because of me. It all boiled down to whether or not I believed in the 3 “C’s” – I didn’t cause it, I could not control it and I could not cure it. If all of that was all true then it could not be my fault. It was the life line I needed to start my recovery journey.

Just accepting that it was not about loving me or not loving me helped me to buckle down and prioritize my life differently. My first responsibility was to myself. At one time in my life my self worth, my self-esteem and my value was predicated on being loved or accepted my someone else. The sad part is that I gave that power to define my value to broken people who weren’t capable of responding to me in a healthy loving way. It took a while for me to understand that I was worth more than that.

I was not strong enough to make these changes on my own. One small baby step at a time I began to realize that I was not an extension of someone else. I was a separate person. It was not necessary for me to sacrifice my hopes and my dreams to be accepted by someone who had no hopes or dreams or who wanted to tell me what my hopes and dreams should me. No, I was my own separate person.

For me to change, I had to have an open mind and I had to be willing to change. I love these 12 steps. They literately walk me through my problems and help me to stay focused on me. When I hold my problems up to the light of these steps and the Serenity Prayer I am able to see them objectively. Sometimes I’m stubborn. Sometimes I am not so willing. But I have learned that when the pain gets bad enough it was time to surrender. It’s up to me to choose; More misery or peace. I am happy to report that I don’t choose misery hardly ever any more.