Ready for first steps!

Old 02-25-2012, 09:18 PM
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Ready for first steps!

I'm an ACoA, thankfully don't have an active alcoholic in my life right now, but have decided it's time to get back to work on me! I'm going to my first meeting in my new town this Tuesday, and thought I'd "warm up: by thinking about step 1 a bit! Thanks for being here

Do I accept that I cannot control another person’s drinking? Another person’s behavior?

I'm working on it! Right now, the second half of that is the bigger challenge for me--I spend way too much time and energy trying to control others' actions. When I think about how much effort I put into trying to keep friends, family, and colleague from being mad or upset with me (or each other!), I feel sick. I do get this intellectually, but there's a big part of me that really believes I could control others if I just tried harder/got it right this time. Ugh.

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

Definitely--aside from my folks, there've been a string of alcoholic bosses and friends in my life, and they've all been different from me and each other!

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

Yeah, this is a hard one for me. I really, really want to hold on to being able to blame my parents for their drinking and how much they hurt me (what good does that do me? I don't know!) and accepting that alcoholism is a disease--a disease they suffer from, too--makes that hard. If they're sick, how can they be held accountable? I understand that alcoholism is a disease, but I'm still working on the accepting part.

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

I don't usually actively try to change people--instead I try to manage their behavior and reactions. It's exhausting, usually ineffective, and often keeps me from relating to people because instead of talking/listening, I'm plotting how to get them to do what I want!

What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

I do a lot of hinting and hoping, which is almost never works! The rest of the time, I take everything on myself. I'm horrible at asking for help, stating my needs or even my desires. I think I should be able to take care of everything myself, I think others should anticipate my needs, I worry that people will think I'm selfish, or that they'll say I have no right to want/need those things. I'm worried that I am selfish, and that I don't deserve those things.

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond?

Betrayed, unloved, ashamed, unworthy, powerless, hopeless. I usually panic and hide.

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?

I'm not sure. I gave up on trying to change my parents a long time ago, but what would it look like if I stopped trying to change others? What would it look like if I focused on becoming the person [/I]I[/I] want to be in relationships instead of trying to make others love and value me? I hope I would learn to listen to and respect myself and my loved ones more. I think I might be able to get to know all of us a little better.

How can I let go of others’ problems instead of trying to solve them?

One thing I need to work on is knowing what is and isn't my problem! Any problem in a 10 mile radius feels like an emergency to me, while problems that are genuinely mine, just mine (like the pile of laundry over there!) just pushed to the bottom of my priority list. Maybe I'll make listing the "problems" on my mind and sorting them into "mine" and "others'" a part of my routine.

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?

I am looking for a journey. I am looking for growth, and I am looking for a way to build a life for myself that is conscious and loving.

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?

Well, social situations are a big one--I worry a lot about keeping others from "making a scene" or starting conflict. I feel overly responsible when people seem least competent, I always want to step in when someone is falling apart. Worst of all, I feel hyper-responsible for people who are mean or thoughtless, like I have to fix them or limit their impact on others.

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone else’s behavior?

Always drunk or high people--even strangers! Whenever people I'm with do something socially inappropriate, even little things, I get very embarrassed. Personally, I get really embarrassed when I'm praised or people are kind or affectionate toward me. I way overanalyze my own words and actions; I'm always feeling ashamed and guilty about something I said or did wrong! I'm very embarrassed to tell people about my parents, now or as they were when I was growing up.

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?

I went to my first Al-Anon meeting...2 years ago? 3? I was seeking a supportive community while I was in the process of setting boundaries with my parents. I haven't been in a long time, but now I'm hoping for a framework for personal growth, the opportunity to talk with others who can relate to my experiences and tendencies, and to feel less alone in my recovery.

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.

My partner, she's great about pointing out things like that I can't hear compliments, or that I often let my fear and anxiety control my life, or even am horrible at taking care of my house (we're long-distance for grad school). Friends have told me that it seems like I'm suffering a great deal. I led a committee with someone lately who told me my delegation was exactly backwards--very high expectations with very little direction!

How do I know when my life is unmanageable?

I'll do anything to avoid my problems. I stay away from friends because I feel ashamed. I don't reflect or act, just react and respond in crisis mode. I lie, often about things that don't matter. I am defensive and sometimes mean. More and more of my own stuff slips through the cracks while I obsess about others' problems, or just feel hopeless and victimized.

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?

I try so hard--too hard--to be "perfect" so others will have no choice but to like me.

Do I say “yes” when I want to say “no”? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?

All the time. I hardly ever say "no," and it becomes too much so fast! I've said no to a committee leadership position a couple of days ago, and and trying so hard to stick to it!

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?


How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

I was saying to someone the other day that I operate best in crisis mode--in finals period, or when there is a work emergency, or even in a physical emergency. While my ability to deal with crises is a strength, it's a big problem too--I'm not sure I know how to deal with challenges when they aren't emergencies! I never bring up issues with loved ones until it escalates to the level of a full-out fight, I don't clean my house until it's unbearable, and I have trouble working ahead on assignments.

How well do I take care of myself?

Not especially! I don't put any of my own needs and goals--physical, financial, spiritual, or professional--first. It just isn't a priority. Sometimes it's hard to convince myself, for example, that I really need to make time to shop and cook meals.

How do I feel when I am alone?

Quiet time alone is an opportunity to criticize and judge myself. There's more remembering, more shame and guilt when I am alone, and more fear about the future and what could be coming. Sometimes I catch myself sitting on edge and just listening for my mom's footsteps (even though she lives in another country) when I mean to be writing! Usually I end up filling the silence with movies or just reading the internet.

What is the difference between pity and love?

Pity is a response to one's present circumstances, love is a response to one's self/soul.

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?

Seems like it. I've never been in a romantic relationship with an alcoholic, but I just keep ending up with alcoholic bosses and mentors. I think that when someone I admire seems to need me, I decide to invest in that relationship/take that job/seek out that person.

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?

No, I feel lost under layers of secrets and lies and a lifetime of making myself into whatever person seems least likely to get me hit or hurt.
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