The Power of Letting Go

I started attending Al-Anon meetings about one year ago. I found out that my brother whom was also one of my best friends and the sibling I was closest to is an addict and an alcoholic. He had effectively hid this from friends and family for years. This revelation devastated me. My heart was breaking for him.

I am the first born in a family of four children. The role of caretaker has always come naturally to me. It is probably why I pursued a career in the healthcare field. Prior to discovering Al-Anon my life was in chaos. I found myself worrying constantly about my addicted brother. I was constantly trying to manage the affairs of others. I wasn't sleeping and was exhausted during the day. Thus the quality of my performance at work and the quality of my parenting suffered. I started grinding my teeth at night so badly that a serious TMJ resulted in me being unable to open my mouth to eat solid food. I experienced jaw pain for about a month. This is what sent me to Al-Anon. I just couldn't live like this anymore. I was in such emotional and now physical pain. Co Dependency was taking a toll on me.

Al-Anon has given me the tools to change my life. The way I look at things the way I think is now different. The steps that were crucial to me were those relating to power and where it should lie. The following steps were especially helpful.

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I admit I did not cause, can't control or cure the addict or the disease of addiction. I am powerless over changing the behavior of an addict. As a first born responsible elder sister I found myself always trying to control the behaviors of others and take responsibility for the consequences of their choices. That belief system is totally crazy. I am NOT responsible for the choices my brother has made ( or anyone else for that matter).

Through this step I also have a greater compassion for my brother, as an addict he can't control his drug use. He has a disease. It will be his choice not mine to be clean and sober. I can only love him through this and work on my own recovery.

Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

I have a strong faith that has gotten me through many hard times. The Serenity Prayer is always running through my mind. Reciting it helps to reinforce and remind me (again) where the power should lie (not with me). I try to let go and let God!

(“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.")

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

This was the most challenging step for me. I had no trouble listing all my character flaws but struggled with my positive character traits. Once I had a list down on paper I was able to take a good look inside myself and recognize my behavior patterns. Both positive and negative. Again the issue of me needing to control things that I have no power over ranked strong on that list. Curiously "responsible" can be both a positive and negative for me. I am working on reigning in that character flaw.

Funny how these 3 steps are so tightly tied to each other with the theme of power and control. Letting go of people, places and things has set me free to enjoy the life and beauty around me. None of us know how much time we are given so I plan to work hard on getting all the happiness in this life that I can.

Things turned around for me when I really got it. I AM POWERLESS (when it comes to the actions, thoughts, feelings, and choices of others). Instead of "care taking" and trying to solve and offer solutions to everyone else's problems I have chosen to do what is best for myself and that is to live a joyous life. Living with fear and constantly obsessing over an addicts behavior was robbing me of the happy life I should be living. I am no longer losing sleep worrying about my addicted brother. The constant anxiety thinking about the possible future outcomes for my addict brother is gone. I am in control of only one thing - myself - my thoughts, feelings, and actions. Once I truly understood and accepted that the anxiety and despair were replaced with joy and hope

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