Saturday, February 24, 2007

What I Did For Myself

Since about September of last year, I have been going to Al Anon. For those that don't know what it is, it's like AA, but for friends and families of alcoholics. We are a 12-step group, like AA, but there are some differences. I have a history of "qualifiers," or people and relationships that qualify me to be part of the group, the foremost of which is being the daughter of an alcoholic.

When I went to my first meeting, I was determined to figure out how to help the alcoholic in my life. Very quickly, however, I realized that the program was about helping myself, changing my behaviors and creating some spirituality in my life to help sort out years of my own insanity.

It may come as no surprise to some of you, but I am a bit crazy. See, I have this thing where I truly believe that if people should just listen to me because I have all the answers. And when people don't listen to me, or I can't change them or their thinking, I go to the "crazy place" myself, forcing solutions to situations that I can't control. And while the first step is admitting we are powerless over alcohol and the alcoholic, I could really apply that to almost all aspects of my life. I want(ed) to know all, and be all. Ask my family - this is the Megan that drove them crazy all these years. I had the answers to all the problems, and sometimes, when it worked for them, they left me take control. But mostly, my attitude didn't work for anyone.

Ahh, control. The bane of my existence. I try to control EVERYTHING. I can't just let things go, and I will literally keep myself up at night, tossing and turning, ruminating about things or people that make me mad, creating fake conversations in my head that will never happen - it can be maddening.

So when I was presented with another relationship in which an alcoholic was present, I thought, "Well, I will just go to Al Anon and figure out how I can be there for him, how to make the situation better." Yeah, not so much. My shit got called out immediately. But what I began to notice was how impaired my behavior made me, but yet how hard it was to talk about things. See, one of the gifts of being raised in an alcoholic home is the sense that your feelings aren't worth anything, that your voice should not be heard, that your opinion doesn't really matter. So in response, we children develop interesting personality traits - for me, it was shame about my experiences and feelings, and feeling like I was never good enough. Crying was the most shameful of all, and even though I do it easily, it makes me feel so ashamed to show it.

So here I am, so many months later, going to my meetings twice weekly, sometimes willingly and sometimes begrudgingly. I may go for the rest of my life, and figure that it took me all these years to develop these flaws, so it will likely take me years to work them out. And from what I understand, it's an active recovery, so it is something you can't cure, but rather keep working on throughout your life.

So where's my point in all this. Oh yeah. So today, I finally got up the courage to approach this veteran woman and ask her to be my sponsor. I know, sounds little probably, but to me its huge. See, I also fear rejection, judgement and criticism (I know, who doesn't?). So if she were to say no, I would have literally beat myself over it, thought maybe I wasn't witty enough or said the right things in meetings. But she said yes. She said yes. So I have a sponsor.

Having read through what I wrote, I guess it's probably easy to see why sometimes I have a hard time working through these mental blocks, why I can get so down on myself about this, why I set my expectations and goals super high. So, in turn, I guess it's easy to see why the Ironman seemed like a logical choice I would make. I read another blogger who wrote something to the effect of, "I couldn't just run, I had to do marathons...I couldn't just do triathlons, I had to do Ironman." Amen, sister. Like a page in my diary of life.

And as sick as I just described myself, I am getting better. I really take an active role in this process, and some days, like training, are good, and some aren't. Sometimes I can step back and take pause before I jump in, and some days I just react, and react poorly. But I keep trying to be a better person, and I figure that, if done honestly, that counts for something. For nothing worth having is even come upon easily, and in this case, like training, the journey is what builds the character, not the breaking of the tape at the finish.


Duane said...

You're so open! I appreciate it. As we say, progress, not perfection~

Donald said...

Congrats on getting yourself a sponsor. I've heard a lot of people say the disciplines they learn from tri/running training help them work through more complex issues.

It doesn't sound like an accident that you went into psychology!