Here I am working full-time, taking care of the kids, making dinner, doing laundry, grocery shopping, having family home evening and family prayers, planning the vacations, cleaning the house, etc. As I make dinner yet again after a long day at work I silently complain about my loved one who doesn’t help out around the house.
Then I remember the tools I am learning in support groups. Where is my attitude of gratitude that I have been cultivating? I am thankful for my energy and ability to work hard. I am thankful for my legs and arms that support me as I make this dinner. I am thankful for my eyes that see my adorable children.
As my gratitude list grows my mood lightens and my mind is more at ease. I have more energy and feel more in control of my life. I notice that I am enjoying this task of making a delicious dinner for my family. I call them in with a smile to help me finish up and set the table. Gratitude helps me to be happy, feel peace and to see things as they really are.
I have finally reached a bottom – I am so miserable, hurting and unhappy. I was talking to my best friend, Ann, and after listening to my sob tale, she said to me: “Sounds like your life is unmanageable, out of control and chaotic.” I replied “It sure is!” Ann suggested that I come with her to an AL Anon meeting. Now, Ann had suggested this quite a few times in the past, but I had always politely told her no up to now. I think I am finally ready to try anything.
When I went to my first meeting, I was wondering what in the world I was doing there. There was nothing wrong with me! Why did I have to go to meetings?! I didn’t live with an alcoholic, I didn’t belong here! (I conveniently forgot about my adult alcoholic children.) I went in anyway hoping I would learn something that would “fix” my husband and my marriage – something that would make him loving and kind and not distant. I listened in amazement as person after person talked about themselves and described… me. I had lived so long in isolation and shame and thought that I was the only one who had ever felt this way or had been through these things. I heard “Keep coming back”. I learned that “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it”. I learned the serenity prayer and that the only person I can control and change is me.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”.
I was amazed as I heard people laughing and talking about these things and about themselves. I did not know that I could go through hard things and still be happy. Even from the first meeting, I wanted what these people had. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be able to laugh at myself. I wanted to be healthy and able to learn and grow.