“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
-Step 2 from the Al-Anon Family Groups
I didn’t need to be restored to sanity. I was the sane person in our household. I was the sober one. I was making all the decisions. I was taking on all of the responsibility. I was juggling all of the balls in the air. I was cleaning up all of the messes. You need to be sane to pull all of that off, don’t you?!
A wise person in my family recovery group could see my confusion – as well as my pain. She said that perhaps I was right. Perhaps I didn’t need to be restored to sanity. But, I didn’t seem to be all that serene, so maybe we could see if that might be restored. It was a start.
I’m grateful for the gentleness of her words, and for her willingness to meet me where I was at. Once I started to take action to be more serene (pause, breath, practice self-care, not attend every argument I was invited to), I realized that some of my behaviors may not have been considered “sane” by someone who had been looking in from the outside of my situation. Getting into a car with an inebriated driver, for example, would probably not have been considered sane. Neither would chasing someone around the house trying to get my point across when they had been drinking and probably weren’t comprehending me. Nor, maintaining multiple checking accounts to float money back and forth to cover up the financial fiasco we were in. Or, pouring liquor downs drains and then replenishing it when my loved one would threaten to drive to get more himself when he was in no condition to drive. The more I was able to look at my life realistically, the more I saw that I had been showing up in ways that would not be considered the most well thought-out actions for being helpful to my loved one – or myself.
I wasn’t quite certain how a “Higher Power” was going to help me with that.
As a child, I grew up with a concept of a Higher Power. I went to church on Sunday. My Mom was a Sunday school teacher. I also had a love of nature that I had received from my grandfather. But, as life progressed (as did the disease of alcoholism), I started to question everything. Where was God in the midst of my difficulties? Why wasn’t He saving me from these painful experiences? Why was He abandoning me? Had I done something wrong? Did I deserve this? I decided in my teen years that the only person I could really trust was me – and I had all sorts of evidence to prove that was true.
The people in family recovery talked about trusting something other than just themselves. Was that even a possibility?
In the midst of my struggle, I was assigned a homework assignment. I was asked to make a list of the good things that were in my life that I had nothing to do with. I didn’t do any footwork. I didn’t make any plans. I was asked to simply look for the positive in my life that was there without my influence. With the active disease of alcoholism in the middle of my world, this was no easy task. I felt surrounded by darkness.
After some thought, I was able to create a small list, which started with my grandparents. From the time I was two until I was eleven, I lived with them. I know that there are some children who are living with the impact of addiction who wonder if anyone loves them. I always knew that I was loved. My grandparents demonstrated that clearly.
When I discussed my homework, I was asked if I had done anything to make sure I was born into the family which had these two particular grandparents who would be a part of my life. I responded “not that I’m aware of” (because sometimes I’m kind of a smart aleck). I was asked that if I didn’t do anything to manifest them, could I believe that something else did? Was I open to that consideration? I had no proof to the contrary, so I responded with “maybe”. Maybe there was something out there that put two of the most loving people I have ever known in my life. And, if maybe there was something like that – maybe I could trust it.
“Maybe” doesn’t feel like the most confident response, but sometimes it is all that is necessary. It’s an admission that perhaps things can be different. “Maybe” was my pathway to hope.