In the beginning I confused powerlessness with hopelessness. It took a while for me to realize that my personal battle trying to control other people was sucking the life out of me, and it perpetuated a desperate hopelessness that never went a way. Nothing I tried to do to “save” or control someone else ever made those feelings of insecurity go away. Trust had been destroyed and I always felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to fall.
In my desperate attempt to control my alcoholic, often times I was critical and mean. I justified my own nastiness by telling myself that I was only telling the truth. Or I would justify it by telling myself that it was his fault because he pushed me over the edge. The problem with either of those justifications is that it never helped the situation and it always made me feel bad later. I hated that I had lost control. I hated that I sunk down to his level.
One of the most amazing choices I realized from this program was that I did not have to react just because someone else was out of control. I did not have to let what someone else said or did define or influence how I behaved and how I thought about myself. I did not have to defend, justify or explain, and neither did I have to retaliate.
In one of my daily readings there is a page that says normal, happy, well adjusted people do not hurt other people. I memorized that phased and said it to myself when I was faced with unacceptable behavior from someone else. I reminded myself that I was in the process of healing and therefore it was not necessary for me to engage in the same behavior with them. It did not always worked for me because there were times that I just wanted to get my two cents in no matter the consequences………..until I faced the consequences later and then I would be disappointed in myself.
I also used one of the slogans, “How Important Is It” to help me maintain my composure when all around me was going to heck in a hand basket. I was determined to not get into that basket with him. Over time and with practice it became easier and easier for me to do this. Regardless of what someone said to or about me I was the one in controlled of my reaction.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I allowed other people to walk over me. I am saying that I learned how to be in control of my response to someone else’s bad behavior. Sometimes it was to be quite and walk away, other times it meant that I did defend or explain myself. But when I did, I was not out of control, screaming and crying and over the edge. Maintaining my composure when provoked was a sign that I was learning that I defined my own well-being.