I wanted to share my experience going to the Al-Anon conference today because I got a lot out of it. I'd forgotten the beauty of twelve-step programs, or any support group, which is that you never know what's going to come out of someone's mouth and where that thing you need to hear in that moment is going to come from – and it always comes.
If you think you need the support of a twelve-step program and can't find an ACoA meeting in your area (and you don't want to start your own), then Al-Anon won't hurt.
(But, if you do want to start your own local ACA meeting, this post explains how to get one going.)
One person said today that she gets more out of $1 Al-Anon meetings than her $150 therapist sessions!
I went because my stepmother invited me to go. I didn't have a good excuse to say no. I also agreed because I've been getting the feeling lately that I need to start going to ACoA meetings again, and it struck me as an appropriate gateway to that return. I've gone to twelve-step meetings in the past, years ago (codependents anonymous and ACoA), but I used them as quick fixes and never kept going for more than a few months; this time I want to commit and keep going even after the immediate pain has eased – that's my challenge to myself.
Index cards were passed out during the first workshop, and the following (in bold) are notes I wrote down over the course of the day, during two meetings and two additional workshops. (I went to an "open" AA meeting (open meaning that anyone could go, even non-alcoholics), which helped me learn about that side of the fence and grow some compassion.)
If you feel resentment, don't do the thing. Learn to recognize what resentment feels like in your body. Say "no" with kindness, don't ignite a fire.
Our bodies tell us everything we need to know. We hold our breath, we get a cramp in our gut, we hear the word, "No" in our mind. But there's a disconnect because we weren't supported in saying "no" as children. When I feel resentment, I know what's up: I agreed when I really didn't want to. And I think it'll be fine, that I won't really mind, but then there's that ache in my gut and the burn in my lungs. Resentment is an undeniable sensation.
But, wait! There's almost always room to go back and say your, "no." Or at least it's never to late to be sure to say your "no" at the next opportunity.
"When you make a good decision, you get a good result. When you make a compromised decision based on someone else's stuff, you will always get crappy results. Figure out what you're wanting to achieve, and do that."
That sounded so wonderfully simple to me. When I have a decision to make, I want to remember to learn to shift my focus from my worry about the results (usually negative) to the positive, and to think about the decision-making between two things in terms of which thing has more "good" aspects. It's much more simple that I make it out to be. I know the answer. I just get in my way.
How would I behave today, right now, if I trusted the Universe completely?
I want to lean into life. If I'm anxious and worried or controlling things, then there's no way that spontaneity or magic or Love will trip into my life and make it groovy and vital.
Understand the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.
It's not selfish or mean to get your needs met. Not in a million years.
Have appreciation for and gratitude for your progress, shift your focus away from your continual, inevitable failures.
Allow for grace and even the smallest progression in healing.
One workshop focused on "trigger" events and how we react to them (a trigger event could be any conflict where you feel unnerved). The workshop facilitator said that detachment in these situations is key, and this is the list of qualities of detachment:
Go prune the roses
Take a walk
Get off the phone
Call the person back later
Ask yourself "How important is this?"
Go get coffee
Go to a support meeting
Stop & Think
Check your expectations
Call a sponsor/friend
Think of a mantra or slogan
When something happens, stop. Stop, and ask what's going on right there, in you. "What am I feeling?" It's simple, the feeling (hurt, angry, embarrassed, shame, uncomfortable, etc.) Let go. Now. "What do I want to happen here?" Let that pure need, pure desire make itself apparent in you.
He did this, She did that, They said this…Re-focus on the craziness of my own behavior, and work on that only. Let other people fix themselves.
One woman said that she loves troubled people, the more troubled the more she liked them, because she liked to distract herself from her own needs and focus on fixing others, others who never asked her to fix them. She talked about how she suffocated her son. Now she works at focusing on her own problems, which keeps her busy.
"Don't do for them what they can do for themselves."
A woman told the story of cleaning out her grown daughter's truck for her, then having a fight about it…she realized that she was doing something "for" her daughter as a "favor," which she hadn't been asked to do and which her daughter should have done for herself.
Empower your children. Empower your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, and yourself.
Walk the same path with a different mind, heart, and eye.
Your situation is only as miserable as you say it is. Listen to how you talk about your life.
"Rationalization keeps the disease alive."
This quote came from the AA meeting. I think it's pretty straightforward. Basically, the idea is that as long as you can rationalize a behavior, then you can continue the insanity. Is there anything you're not truly happy about that you're rationalizing to yourself so that you don't have to make a change?
Hope there's something here that resonates with you.