Mountains or Mole Hills; Vengefulness or Forgiveness
If the mountain in our life is a loved one who suffers from the disease of alcoholism, all of life’s daily trials and tribulations which should be mole hills seem more like mountains. The mountains in my life were (gratefully past tense) un-scalable peaks and any and all hope was lost under an avalanche of heart-break.
Due to growing up with an alcoholic, I had developed a nasty habit of trying to prevent anything bad from ever happening. This doesn’t work by the way. When something did go wrong I thought it was my job to punish the person who I perceived had wronged me or teach that person a lesson. This also never goes well. I kept repeating the same unhealthy communication pattern over and over. This pattern included blame, anger, criticism and control. The real insanity of it all is that it took me 40 some years to figure this out.
For a while I focused on the reading for January 20th in One Day at a Time. The quote of the day read, “Men must not turn into bees that kill themselves in stinging others.” By Jonathan Swift
This quote helped me immensely in the beginning. It taught me that each time I judged, blamed or punished someone I had the potential to hurt myself, but I still struggled to fully understand. I still felt the need to right the wrongs in my life (and yours). Unfortunately, I saw the wrongs as belonging to others and did not realize my own part in my unhappiness.
Recently, I read a book called Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s a World War II story about an American soldier who was captured and tortured by the Japanese and survives. For years after his release the American dreamed of revenge of the one Japanese soldier who made his life a living hell (and I can see why).
I can’t count the number of times, since joining Al-Anon, where I have seen or heard exactly what I need to hear and at the exact time I needed to hear it. There is a sentence in this book that reads, “The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer.”
And that is when the light bulb went on for me. By obsessing about what another person has done or not done I am prolonging my own suffering. I am tying myself to that person or event all over again. If I choose to forgive or forget, I am releasing the heart break and pain. Al-Anon has also taught me about forgiveness. There is no need to prolong my own suffering. I forgive because I deserve it.
Only then will I “Bee Unbroken”.