Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., New York, NY, 1992, page 85, March 25:
"I came to Al-Anon confused about what was and was not my responsibility. Today, after lots of Step work, I believe I am responsible for the following: to be loyal to my values; to please myself first; to keep an open mind; to detach with love; to rid myself of anger and resentment; to express my ideas and feelings instead of stuffing them; to attend Al-Anon meetings and keep in touch with friends in the fellowship; to be realistic in my expectations; to make healthy choices; and to be grateful for my blessings.
. . . . . . . . . .
I am not responsible for my alcoholic loved one's drinking, sobriety, job, cleanliness, diet, dental hygiene, or other choices. It is my responsibility to treat this person with courtesy, gentleness, and love. In this way we both can grow.
Today, if I am tempted to interfere with something that is none of my business, I can turn my attention instead to some way in which I can take care of myself.
'I have a primary responsibility to myself: to make myself into the best person I can possibly be. Then, and only then, will I have something worthwhile to share.'
Living With Sobriety"
Last night's Al-Anon meeting was on Guilt and Taking Care of Ourselves. I was one of the last people given a chance to talk and I passed because everything had already been said and I didn't have anything new to add to the conversation. I was thumbing through one of my Al-Anon books and found the above reading that I am sharing with you today. Here are some of my thoughts on my own experiences with blaming, responsibility and taking care of myself.
As an incest survivor and an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, I learned blaming at an early age. Both parents taught it to me. When I came into Al-Anon back in April 1989, I blamed myself for just about everything that could go wrong in my life and in yours. I read somewhere that an abused child accepts blame for their own abuse because it makes them feel that there is something in their world that they can control. That feels right to me. I felt so helpless in my childhood that I needed to feel in control of something, even if it was just blaming myself for the abuse. A young child needs their parents to survive. You don't want to admit that the person who is in control of your very survival is abusing you. You need that person in order for you to survive. You need to be able to trust that person so you blame yourself. You tell yourself that the abuse is your fault. You must be at fault therefore, you learn to blame yourself for being molested or for being beaten or for being tortured. You need the parent that you love so much to be faultless, after all, they are God in your small world. They can't be wrong. They have all the power. Your survival depends upon them.
When I came into Al-Anon, I learned that I wasn't to blame for the incest. He was the adult. I was just a child doing what my parent said. I wasn't to blame. I was not in control. This was not my responsibility. I learned to forgive myself for carrying that blame around for so long. I learned to take care of myself.
In learning to let go of what was not my responsibility, I started to heal. I learned that I had needs and wants that were okay to have. I learned to meet my own needs instead of expecting or hoping that others would do it for me. I learned that I was responsible for my own happiness, not my husband or my children. I learned to feel rather than stuff my emotions. I learned that it was okay to be angry, hurt, sad, lonely, disgusted. I learned that my rage wouldn't hurt anyone else and it wouldn't hurt me once I quit stuffing it. I learned that some of my headaches were my own resistance to what is. I learned that I couldn't change my past but I could change my reaction to that past. I learned that what I am not responsible for isn't my business. I learned that I wasn't responsible for fixing you or the world. I learned that what you do or don't do isn't a reflection of me, it is a reflection of you. I learned that what you think about me is none of my business. I learned to respect you and your journey as well as to respect myself and my journey. I learned that my expectations offer set me up for holding resentments against you. You are not my judge and I am not yours. I learned that I often judge myself more harshly than anyone else ever could. I don't have to be perfect and neither do you.
Now, do you see why I still go to Al-Anon meetings. I continue to learn more about myself in each meeting that I go to. I realize just how crazy I once was and how far I have come from being that person. Thank you, God and thank you, Al-Anon.
Blame Keeps You Stuck---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 7
Blame And Resentment Are Toxic Emotions
Growing Up With Alcoholism In The Family
What Does Forgiveness Mean To Me?