Everything changes when we realize that we do not need to tough it out alone with our family problems. Everything changes again, when our dysfunctional family member also admits there is a problem and begins to work on it.
Once we learn that there are ways to deal with our emotional problems, that presents a whole new set of challenges. When I begin to build emotional "sobriety," it may be disconcerting to find out that becoming more emotionally healthy does not make my life into a "happily-ever-after" scenario.
There was a time of stasis with my personality disordered family member, where I knew how to handle her, using humor, acting as if I were not hurt, etc. At this time, my old coping mechanisms are no longer acceptable to me. I've changed , and yet, problems I now see as being the result of her mental illness continue. This understandably kicks up strong feelings in me: frustration, resentment, anger, disappointment, grief.
As a longtime program member I found it essential to go back to the basics of the program. In Al-anon, I had to let go of my expectations of myself and get real about my limited ability to change anything in this relationship. Today I see that I have learned to live with a whole new level of "unsolved problems."
I know now that I cannot be stoic in times of great change. I have learned that I may feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, excited or confused about my changing circumstances. Each time I start afresh, and admit my powerlessness, I can better accept the situation. Talking things over with other program members, helps me to be accountable for taking better care of myself.
"I will allow myself the dignity to discover exactly how I feel about the changes that are happening today, and I will share those feelings with a program friend."
It brings me great peace that, just like in EA, Al-anon helps me to learn that what I feel does matter.
Grateful for April 5th's reading in Courage to Change for inspiring this post..