Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let Go And Let God---Al-Anon Slogan

I chaired the meeting for my Al-Anon group last night. It has been over ten years since I chaired a meeting. I took a break from meetings and learned to live what I had learned. I only recently returned to Al-Anon meetings because a friend asked me to accompany her to them.

I couldn't decide what to do the meeting on so I called my friend and asked what she, as a new-comer to Al-Anon, needed the meeting to be about. She said, "Let Go and Let God." This is one of the many slogans that we learn and use in Al-Anon.

I started the meeting with the following reading from Hope for Today, AL-ANON FAMILY GROUPS, 2002, page 320:

"When I heard 'Let Go and Let God' for the first time, it didn't make sense to me. Let go of what? And let God do what? The little I did understand was the futility of my efforts to try to control other people, places, and things. Al-Anon told me I could turn my attention to monitoring myself and my reactions.

I let go of other people and I began to feel some relief. I let go of what others said or didn't say, and what they did or didn't do. I let go of my expectations. I no longer felt a need to be a people-pleaser. As I let go, I found I lived more harmoniously with myself and with others. I began to take more responsibility for myself. I figured if I could accept myself, I could accept other people too.

I let go of outcomes. It was okay if things didn't go the way I envisioned. Sometimes the results were better than I anticipated. It was no longer important that others read from the script that my expectations had written.

As I let go, I learned I could let God. 'Letting God' doesn't mean I abdicate my responsibilities. In fact, I become more accountable for myself. 'Letting God' indicates that I accept my imperfections and grow toward the person I dream I can be. 'Letting go and letting God' means I can enjoy being responsible for what is rightfully mine and leave the rest to God.

Thought for the Day
'Let go' comes before 'let God' for a reason. I can't expect God to do anything if I am still holding onto my problem.
'When we put this slogan to work, we get out of the way.'
How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p. 76"

I could not have found a better reading to explain this slogan, "Let Go and Let God". The above reading says it all.

"Let Go and Let God" is not about enabling yourself to continue in the victim mode. When I first heard the word surrender, which is used a lot with Let Go and Let God, I thought to myself, "I will not be a doormat like my mother was to my father. I will not let someone else tell me what to say, do and think like my dad did when I was a child." I was in open rebellion to this idea until I began to understand the concept as expressed in the reading above.

Growing up with incest and a father that was a dictator who controlled everything and everybody in my family, I learned from an expect on being controlling. I was in Al-Anon for a few years before I realized that I had become my dad in trying to control. Notice that I said "trying to control."

Control is an illusion. What I realized was that the more I tried to control everything, the more out of control I became. I could not have imagined the freedom that came when I Let Go and Let God and stopped trying to control my world.

You only see the person that I am today. I hope by giving you glimpses of who I was that maybe you will learn from my experiences and not have to do the same thing in your own life. I know that some of you will make the decision to face the same challenges and have the same lessons to learn from those challenges that I did. Some of you will travel down that very same road. I can't and shouldn't try to stop you from doing just that, no matter how painful I know it will be for you. This is especially hard to do if it is my child that I see traveling down this road.

Well, today, I can Let Go and Let God and Let You. I couldn't always do that. I wanted to fix you and your problems so that I wouldn't have to look at my own. Today, I know it isn't my responsibility to fix anyone else. I am doing an injustice to you if I try. Today, I can say, "Have a glorious day, unless you choose to do otherwise." and mean it. What you do with your life is your choice. Today, I choose to Let Go and Let God. How about you?

19 comments:

Debbie in NC said...

Patricia,

Learning how to do this is hard. As I look back over my life, I have had no control either and of course, still try to control things. I'm learning, but you're right...when it's your own child it's even more difficult.

I lost my Dad at 4 1/2 in a plane crash. Mom did well by us but later became an alcoholic. My brother and I spent years trying to get her to stop.

Life in the Air Force, also left me out of control of my life for 20 years. Eventually, my Mom stopped drinking about 10 years before she passed away. Even when she was sick and the doctor had misdiagnosed her, I fought and fought. On her last night on the way to her room, I kept saying "God's will be done". I meant it too. I gave up complete control. I can live with her death better because of it.

Now that my son is going to leave and join the Air Force, I find myself again trying to control because I know what lies ahead for him. I can't seem to let go! This decision is so wrong for him. If it was any other decision he was making, I could deal with him learning from his mistakes as I have in the past.

I have been praying for a divine intervention. Let Go and Let God is the only answer, but oh, how difficult!

Please pray for God to give me strength to endure what lies ahead.

Thank you for your wonderful post!

Patricia Singleton said...

Debbie, both of you are in my prayers. My son and daughter have both made decisions that I disagreed with at different times in their lives. As I let go, I always pray that whatever happens is for the highest good for all concerned. That prayer allows me to get out of the way. How they live their lives is not my decision or my choice to make.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this message. It is for me to read and be reinforced. I am aware of so much more now, and although I still may not recognize some choices I make automatically, I do see many of my choices.

I see my partner's niece making decisions as she leaves the safety and protection of the "home nest" to make her own way, and I am afraid for her. I want her to know how I felt at that time in my life and, how hard it was, and how much I was not aware of at that time. I would want her to reconsider her options and reframe her deepest feelings. It is hard to respect someone enough to allow them to make their own choices (and mistakes). I don't know if I would have learned the lessons if I was not allowed to be responsible for the consequences of my actions.

I am still learning to see What Is and living within that and surrendering Control. Accept, allow and influence what is mine, rather than dictating my way.

Thank you for this post. You have brought a stronger light into the depths of my tunnel, and I am not alone on my journey. Bless you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anonymous, I am glad that my words could provide some light for you. I appreciate your courage in leaving this comment. Thank you.

Deb Estep said...

Patricia,

WOW... how difficult was it for you to get up and do this presentation?

I'm certain your message was well received and touched the hearts of those who heard it.

It did MINE. ;)

Thank you !!
Deb

Patricia Singleton said...

Deb, I am glad that I touched your heart with my words. Being the chair person at an Al-Anon meeting just means I was responsible for picking the topic of discussion for the night and opening and closing the meeting. I directed the flow of the meeting. I didn't have to stand up and do a presentation. That is more difficult.

In Al-Anon, we sit in a circle of chairs. I started that meeting with everyone repeating the Serenity Prayer. I asked a friend to read the Al-Anon welcome. We went around the room and introduced ourselves. Then I talked and told them that I had picked Let Go and Let God as the topic. I read the page above and then we went around the room giving everybody else the opportunity to read another page on Let Go and Let God or to just talk about their own experiences with Let Go and Let God. Some people choose to not talk and pass. At the end of the meeting which lasts for one hour, I asked my friend to read the closing. Then we ended the meeting with The Lord's Prayer. For that everyone stands in a circle and holds hands. After The Lord's Prayer, we say the words, "Keep coming back, because it works if you work it." Then the talk for a few minutes and then go home. We have a different person to chair the meeting each week.

During my first 8 years in Al-Anon, I chaired the meeting quite frequently since we were a small group. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they are usually told to go to 30 meetings in 30 days to help them stay sober in the beginning. I was blessed that Hot Springs had a lot of Al-Anon meetings that I could pick and attend back then. I went to at least 3 meetings a week back then. After awhile, I even attended an occasion open AA meeting in an effort to understand the alcoholic and why he drank. What I found was parts of myself. If I drank, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have become an alcoholic.

I have the addictive personality. I don't drink for that reason. I never liked my dad's choice of alcohol---beer and whiskey. I like some mixed drinks. Daniel and I both will have an social drink at a party or at someone's house about every 5-10 years. It isn't how either of us choose to have fun.

Well, I didn't mean to turn this into another article.

Ellie Walsh said...

Hi Patricia...

"Let Go and Let God" - I heard those words over 24 years ago when I first walked into AA.

I had absolutely no idea what it meant!!

I tried for years to control situations and people - and I didn't even know I was doing that!

Ahhh - finally the realization - the only thing I can control - is Me - my actions, my perspective.

As I have changed my perspective from being a fear-driven person - to a power-filled creator - my need to control others has disappeared.

Today my life is happy and full - Yes - "Let Go and Let God - whoever or whatever your God may be"

Thanks for a great article!

Patricia Singleton said...

Ellie, thanks for sharing your experiences and for visiting my blog.

Cari Nightingale said...

Hi Patricia,
This is the month that my abuser, my father died,and I have been struggling... I have been doing my healing work and I am getting better at letting go of the outcomes... for example, my birth family continues to ostracize me for telling my truths and I have let go of their dysfunction (most of the time!). And I am staying home from work today to care for myself before I get more physically ill from my PTSD reactions this week. Something I would never have done in the past because I believed I was so (over) responsible for my work - and the outcomes! So here's to letting go, so new life can come in.
Your spiritual sister,
Cari Nightingale

Patricia Singleton said...

Cari, I am sending blessings and prayers your way to help you get though this week. As for being over-responsible---been there, done that. Hooray for taking care of yourself. That is a big step for some of us. Al-Anon taught me that if I didn't take care of myself first, I couldn't do anything for anybody else. Loving yourself enough to get your needs met is very important for all of us. Cari, thanks for reaching out with your words.

Aparna said...

"Let go and let God." That's wonderful. I learn something new every time I visit your blog.

Patricia Singleton said...

Aparna, thanks, haven't heard from you in awhile. You might want to consider subscribing if you haven't already then you won't miss anything. Al-Anon taught me a lot of valuable slogans like this one.

Aparna said...

I visit your blog frequently. Sometimes I leave comments and sometimes I don't. Anyway, I've subscribed to your blog. Do visit my blog also whenever you get the time. :)

Patricia Singleton said...

Aparna, I am glad that you like what I write. Thanks for the subscription. I will visit your blog.

Patricia Singleton said...

Below you will find a link to Pat Ruppel's blog, "Plain Talk Ordinary Wisdom. Pat, as I said in my emails to you, I love the wisdom that comes from your blog. Thanks for the link love.

Loving An Alcoholic said...

Well said. I've just started reading How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics and immediately felt connected. It amazes me how you see your story so clearly over and over in Al-Anon literature.

Patricia Singleton said...

Loving An Alcoholic, seeing yourself in the stories of Al-Anon is what seems to keep so many of us going to Al-Anon meetings. Knowing that others know what you feel is very important in the first stages of healing.

Shen said...

Patricia, thank you for submitting this article to the Steppers Wisdom Blog Carnival! This is exactly what we need to make the carnival great. Feel free to submit more twelve step related articles - and if you come across one at another website, please let the author know about steppers wisdom.

Patricia Singleton said...

Shen, you are very welcome. 12-Step programs were such a vital part of my healing from incest that I have written quite a few articles about the programs.