Part of the Serenity Prayer says, “courage to change the things I can.” My Sponsor changes it to “courage to change the things I should.” I have often interpreted this line to mean courage to change myself, as I am the only person I have control over. However, I have been confusing control of doing things my way with changing my way of doing things.
I have been practicing self-control. Don’t speak if it is none of my business. Don’t act on anger if I can let it go. Don’t obsess about others or I continue to tie myself to the problem. However this is only half the change I have been seeking.
Don’t get me wrong, it has been a great start but what I haven’t been doing is changing the things I can, the things I should. I am slowing gaining the wisdom to know the difference.
I am so used to living the old way, thinking the old way I didn’t even see my own contribution to the situation. I have been repeating my mistakes, repeating old thought patterns and repeating certain behaviors the same way an alcoholic repeats in relapse. You can’t fix a problem by saying it doesn’t exist. The same way an alcoholic can’t find sobriety in denial.
For starters, I want people to tell me I’m good at things I am not good at. Instead of putting in the time and effort to get good at the very thing I wish I was good at naturally or by some kind of magic.
I was told you can’t do that, you’ll never achieve that, you’re not smart enough to do that and I believed it.
Olympians are not born with a gold medal around their neck; they have to work every single day to become the best at their sport. I want someone to tell me I’m MVP (most valuable player) by letting another teammate win the game for me. You know what my sponsor would say to that? She’d say, “How’s that working for you?”
I’m tired of others getting MVP. That’s how it’s not working for me.
The last four decades, I wanted to believe I have no part in my own unhappiness because believing the lie seemed easier. I believed the lie that if he just stopped drinking I would be happier. If he just got a job I would be happier. If he would just do things my way I would be happier. If he would just see things my way I would be happier. If he would just put me first I would be happier. If he told me he loved me then I would be happier. Somehow “he” became me and I no longer existed.
I never thought of myself as lazy but over the span of my life others have thought so. Turns out I have been spending all my energy solving other people’s problems instead of my own. How exhausting! If I had just stopped _____, if I had just got a _____, if I would just do, if I could just see, if I would have put myself first, if I believed I could, if I believed I was smart enough and told myself I was lovable – I would have been happier!
If he would have just stopped blaming other people for his self induced problems, he would have been happier. My Dad believed his entire life that his problems were the fault of others and now I was saying my problems were the fault of others.
If truth sets us free, then “lies” hold us captive or in my case a lack of knowledge and awareness. I am admitting it to myself and to another human being [you the reader] the exact nature of my wrongs. I play the most critical role in my life. I have to make additional changes. I have to put in the time and effort to become the MVP of my own life. The truth is that I have not been my own MVP and now I must become so.
I can have freedom from my character defects in change. I make mistakes. I am not the mistake. I don’t have to place my identity in the action or lack of action. Al-Anon gives me the tools and the courage to admit I have a problem with repeating character defects. Now it is my turn to use those same tools to seek out and perform additional change. I have more work to do to match my intentions with my actions. There are no musts in Al-Anon, but I will get out what I put in.
“Wisdom is not only to be acquired, but also to be utilized.” – Marcus T. Cicero