“You either walk inside your story & own it or your stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” – Dr. Brene Brown
I walked into my first Al-Anon meeting about five years ago. During this time, I had attempted to micromanage my partner’s sobriety and he mentioned that maybe I could use a meeting of my own. They say in Al-Anon we walk into these meetings because of “the Alcoholic,” but we come to realize we are there due to our own crazy-making behavior.
The people in these rooms talked about serenity – the ability to ride the waves of life.
They never promised that you would not have struggles and hardships, but they did promise that you would handle them differently. This program became crucial in my ability to let go time and time again – especially in my attempts to control. To ask me to let go of control was like asking me to speak another language. I had no idea where I began, and where my partner ended. His success was my success. He was my project. The more I focused on him, the less I needed to focus on myself.
Minding my own business has become clearer and clearer. If it is outside the bubble of my own body, it has nothing to do with me. It’s also none of my business what other people think of me. I have had to let go of that too.
To know that I have zero control over anything but myself has been a process – and the most beautiful reckoning.
I chose to write about this program because it is a huge part of my life. Many of us go through life believing we actually have some semblance of control. We use tactics like manipulation with a deliberate agenda in mind. We say things to shame and guilt people so that our own needs are met. This keeps us in toxic relationships that are not based on mutual love and respect but are stockpiled with resentments.
There is no destination in this program, only a journey.
It is easy to look at the elders in Al-Anon and place them on a pedestal. That’s another trick. The mind wants us to think that if we do everything “right” and “perfect” maybe one day we will end up like them. The hard truth is that they are stumbling along too – having to work the steps, reach out, and come to meetings to practice humility, surrendering and vulnerability over and over again.
I used to analyze this program, trying to intellectually understand how this this whole thing works. We come in, grab a coffee, sit down, and share. It’s incredibly simple yet completely magical. It makes me think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs except this would be your Spiritual Hierarchy of Needs. The foundation begins with surrendering, the next tier is about vulnerability, after this you need community, ultimately moving towards serenity. This perfect storm of spiritual health can fade if not carefully tended to.
It’s funny, you would think that I wouldn’t want a reason for Al-Anon. Instead, I feel like I am a member of the coolest club in town.