January 17, 2011

Guilt and the Power of Sanity

These days I am letting go of the guilt of living across the continent from my parents for nearly 20 years.  At this point I am simply grateful.  As a result of living so far away I really should be an adult by now.

For I have had time to heal and gain perspective, by having almost no day-to-day exposure to  my dysfunctional family. I find more calmness in me, when I have occasional phone contact.  But were my mom and I to be in the same room together, the situation would be just as described by today's author in CTC: "[A]nyone who watched my interactions with my dysfunctional family member, could easily have considered me to be the crazy one!"

Even alone with my personality disordered family member on the phone, I'm the one who is depicted as over-reacting, even high strung; I get angry over slights that said aloud, lose my calm and make the drama worse. I'm the one who later agonizes over their behavior, but who ends up apologizing, and resenting that nothing I could can fix a thing. My interactions with my family member upset things in my own home for weeks afterwards. Was this sane?

My fellowship in Al-anon is where I've  "even thought to question my sanity."  I've finally found a safe place to question my own sanity. Here I found real tools to see who I am, separate from the treacle of my family dysfunction. I was at last able to accept that " I couldn't overcome the effects of this disease by force of will or reason."  It is really as they say in our programs, "My best thinking got me here." 

"But our Second Step suggests that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity."

To paraphrase  CTC's author for January 17th:  I've felt more rational in our meetings that I did at any other time, so that made it easier and easier to turn to help for the Higher Power that seemed to flow through our meetings. There are still times when I have irrational moments, but I no longer blame my reactions on anyone else. Even when I have been provoked by my problematic family member. I now know exactly where to turn, when I am ready to find sanity again.

I resolve today to "focus on my own behavior. If it can stand some improvement, I will ask a Power greater than myself for help."

Reason only controls individuals after emotion and impulse have lost their impetus.  Carlton Simon


  1. The quote at the end made me think. I need my program to get me to the reasoning.

  2. Thanks, Marcia, for affirming the quote. The quote expressed "reason" more passively. I appreciate your way of putting it! Getting on track with program practices helps us get beyond emotion and reaction...to use reason, or "choices."

  3. I am going through such a similar phase as what you experienced. Interactions with my father make me feel and seem insane. I am trying to find the courage to not be overwhelmed and overrun by guilt and just detach myself with love. Though my anxiety to stand up for my own happiness pulsates through my body, I know that only when I can be happy with myself, can I ever learn to have a loving relationship without resentment with my father. It really is comforting to know that I am not alone and that there can be serenity.


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~