Monday, March 24, 2008


Through Al-Anon we have learned that we cannot control it, did not cause it, nor can we cure it. The "it" of course is alcoholism. It is a "cunning, baffling and powerful disease." This is from psychologists and therapists who have actual experience in dealing with it.

So today I want to talk about "control."

Control. We need it in order for our lives to function. We need order. There is order in the universe. Nature is order. You have the four seasons. Day follows night. Time ticks away, one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year - always. This is "order."

So when we have chaos, our natural tendency is to bring it back to order. We have to "fix" it. Whatever "it" is. With alcoholism fixing does not work. It makes more chaos. This is why it is a "baffling" disease. Fixing it through control from us - actually brings more disorder. It brings dysfunction to our lives and the lives of our children.

I read this in a passage somewhere, and thought "Wow. This is Zen-like." It really fits our predicament. It is thought proking and powerful. I have used this to remind myself of how I need to adject. Please ponder this for a moment:

"Whenever we try to control, we are actually being controlled."

We may be controlled by the chaos. Or the person who is causing the chaos. And we respond or are "controlled" by fixing it. This is okay in some cases. But with children, if we do this all the time, we provide the child a sense of "helplessness." We may be programming their minds that maybe they cannot do it themselves. And later in life, they may not function in society very well.

The same is true with the alcoholic. Except the alcoholic may "allow" us to do some things for him or her. Then we fall into co-dependence.

As we try to fix or control the alcoholic, and it does not work, we try harder. When we try harder and it still does not work, we can become angry and frustrated. This frustration maybe taken out on the wrong people. These people are people at work, our children, our neighbors, people in the car next to us, people in the grocery line - you get the picture. In addition, we beat ourselves up. We turn our anger inward.

After awhile we can begin to feel powerless. And perhaps this leads us to look for things outside ourselves to fill our void. Perhaps, we do nothing. We may slip into depression, isolation, or we, ourselves, get this "learned helplessness."

When we focus on controlling things outside our orbit (stand-up, hold your arms out - and spin once - that's your orbit), we actually lose power. We are trying to control things we cannot control. We cannot change things outside our orbit.

My message for today: Focus on controlling the things we can control. As in the serenity prayer,

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.


Anonymous said...

I found that at times I contributed to the "chaos" by wanting, and looking forward to "fixing" things. Crazy but true.

It became my sole mission to keep the storm "under control", and not let it hit, or affect my outside world. I tried in vain to keep it contained within the walls of my residence, and away from my work, my finances, and the outside world. Needless to say, the storm was more powerful than I.

Thus I had to let go. When I did, and broke free of that power, my life regained purpose that was not completely centered around the alcoholic. My senses cleared day by day, and continue down that path through my recovery.

I couldn't fix her, but I can do the work in regards to fixing me.

Peace this Mon.


Syd said...

My expectations are what causes me the most problem. I strive to have no expectations. I just need to let others be and keep the focus on myself.

Anonymous said...

I recently made the analogy to someone that learning to live with the alcoholic's disease is like learning you are supposed to drive AROUND potholes and not STOP TO FIX each and every one of them.

That would be madness. One would never arrive at one's intended destination because there is an unending supply of potholes (at least there are in the northeast USA where I am). We are each on our own journey to further ourselves and become someone better. But that will never happen if we forget where we are headed because we are constantly distracted by the need to stop and "fix" someone else.

I now understand I need to stop shovelling and get back in the car and drive.


A.J. said...

Wow Suzanne, that's good! I will never look at a pothole the same again. haha, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

...the wisdom to know the difference....that's where I struggle. I will continue to ask my HP for the wisdom to know the difference.

Kevin B--our senses sharpen each and every day as the clouds clear from our mind. I like that too.