Sunday, October 20, 2013

Step1, Part 1

As of a week ago, I moved through the First Step of Al- Anon:
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Admitting I had no control was painful, heartrending, and required no small amount of swallowing false pride.  Letting go of control seemed tantamount to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.  It took a harsh look at my job issues and what they all had in common (me) to make me realize that the airplane was not perfectly good.  Matter of fact, it was on fire and and screaming towards the earth.  I would have a better chance to survive and thrive if I were to jump than if I were to keep trying to fly a plane I have no control over.
The traditional view of Al Anon on the First Step is the replace "alcohol" with "alcoholic" in the wording.  Pfft.  That's easy.  I don't have any control over my father or my now deceased grandfather.  I don't have any control over my mother or now deceased grandmother (children and spouses of alcoholics.)  Except when I really thought about it, I was still trying to control them from a distance, just not in any effectual way.  I was still dropping hints to Dad that maybe he shouldn't drink as much.  I was still kowtowing to my mother's (and grandmother's) martyring suicidal ways, trying not to provoke her.  I was still trying to bail out a sinking boat that I wasn't even on.
I needed to realize that Dad and Grandpa wanted/ needed the drink, both to tolerate the world and to love my mother/ grandmother during her martyrdom.  He didn't necessarily love the drink more than us kids, but he needed the drink because it filled a hole we kids (and Mom) didn't.  He doesn't see the monster it turns him into on occasion.  I need to accept that I have no power over his life, that all the hints and tactics I've used mean nothing until he is willing to change his life.  Does it hurt, knowing that I can't make him drop the bottle through sheer willpower?  Yeah, kinda, but it's more of a weight off my shoulders knowing that he is not my burden.
My mother fell into a typical role of an Adult Child: she unwittingly married her father and became her mother.  My father and grandfather look nothing alike; however, they both drink/ drank in a way that, while it didn't impact their jobs, was still heavily out of control.  My mother fell into my grandmother's role: blaming herself, playing the martyr, and guilt tripping everyone as a way of coping. She was/ is heavily depressed and has been suicidal in the past.  My parents rarely fought, to my knowledge. I think that was mostly from Dad trying not to aggravate Mom's suicidal tendencies and Mom trying to not push Dad further into the bottle.  It fell to me, most times, to figuratively and literally talk my mother off the bridge.
I cannot control my mother.  I cannot control her depression or her suicide attempts.  I cannot control her martyrdom or her thoughts.  It is not to me to be her therapist. I may have tried to in the past, but I cannot control another human being, no matter how bad the path they're on is.
She texted me last night, asking me what of her effects I wanted.  Knowing this to be a sign of planning suicide, I flipped into damage control mode. Didn't even think about it, didn't try and find a better method, just fell into my childhood patterns.  She told me a text or two later that she was being told to draw up her will.  Oh. By this time, I was trying to pull myself out of damage control mode and back to my center, my peace.
I needed to admit that my sisters were/ are not my responsibility. Their lives are their own. What mistakes they do or don't make do not reflect on me.  I admit that my middle sister's incarceration was nothing I could control, that it was not a failure of me bringing her up.  Those were her choices. While I helped raise my sisters, by virtue of being the eldest in an alcoholic house, their mistakes are not mine.  I cannot control them, much as I could wish otherwise.  I cannot place hints and subpsychic brainwaves in their heads and expect them to follow them.  My sisters are not my burdens, nor should they ever have been my burdens.
I needed to admit that my life had been impacted by the alcohol I didn't drink.  I needed to admit that my defense mechanisms and certain aspects of learned behaviors were hindering me more than helping me.  I had to admit that I had no control over the impetus behind those behaviors.  I could; however, control my outward reaction to those impetuses. I could admit that what I had wasn't working, and I needed a new tack. I could admit that my defenses were/ are, in effect, self sabotage.
I needed to admit that, for all my self control, I can not control some of my actions.  Those actions are so deeply ingrained, they will always be there.  I can reroute the impetus and brain patterns that causes them though.  I can heal.
I can heal.
One day, one moment, one instant at a time.

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