Tag: Al-Anon

Expectations Are What Leads To Misery

Expectations Are What Leads To Misery

You can’t control others, so having a set of expectations on them can only end in disappointment, usually.

One Day at a Time – January 3, 2020

Responsibilities, obligations and expectations are at the heart of my emotional Gordian knot concerning recovery and mental health. In truth the readings help, but they often act as more of a touchstone that allows me to start thinking. Today’s reading is a good example of this. The reading is an example and a summary of Loving Detachment. However, in recreating this reading, the idea that comes to the fore is that my mental mess is all centered around my expectations about other’s actions. In short, my expectations are what leads to misery, not somebody else’s actions.

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

Quick and Simple Disclaimer: The readings in this post are literally taken wholesale out of the book entitled “One Day At a Time In Al-Anon” available from Amazon, if you can’t find it at a local meeting. If you’re an introvert then go buy the book, if you’re a broke introvert, the daily text from many good books can be found HERE, if you’re in dire straits however, go find an Al-Anon Meeting, it saved me.

Today’s Reading

Why do I waste my precious time and energy trying to figure out what makes an alcoholic drink – why he doesn’t ‘consider his family, his obligations, his reputation? All I need to know is that he sufferers from a disease – alcoholism, the compulsion to drink. Why shouldn’t I have compassion for him and his illness when I am so ready to feel sorry fro people who have other diseases? Do I blame THEM? Why do I blame HIM? Can I cure him by reproaching him? Can I look into his heart and realize the true nature of his sufferings?

Today’s Reminder

The fact that I am the spouse, child, parent, or friend of an alcoholic does not give me the right to try to control him. I can only make the situation worse by treating him like an irresponsible naughty child.


“On this day I promise God and myself that
I will let go of the problem which is
destroying my peace of mind. I pray for
detachment from the situation, but not
from the suffering drinker who many be
helped to find the way to sobriety through
the change in my attitude and the love and
compassion I am able to express.”

Alleged Insight

What I get from this is probably not the thing I was supposed to understand. On the surface, this reading is about not trying to fix others, to control their recovery and ultimately to let go and let God. The whole of the reading can be summarized by the concept of Loving Detachment .

However, in reading and thinking my way through this one today, all I am getting out of it is our roles and obligations and the expectations we have of other people and their actions is where the disconnect comes from. In truth I am having a rough day today, and part of it is related to this expectation mindset. The rest is quite simply an issue of stress and deadlines from work.

Closing Thoughts

The only one you can truly directly affect in this world is yourself. Your actions may indirectly (or directly in some cases of physical contact) impact another individual but at the root of the issue, they choose their responses (intentionally or subconsciously) to your actions and choices.

I wonder who is completely able to function at this level, aware of their every choice to respond each situation rather than operating at a reactive level.

Today is hard, but typing this has helped. It’s only a month late so I guess I’m not losing ground as fast as I thought I was. Until the next post, and take care of yourself out there.


What in God’s Name is Loving Detachment?

What in God’s Name is Loving Detachment?

Photo by Shaojie on Unsplash

Oh, there are so many definitions on the web of what loving detachment is. I first came across the idea when I really started to try to understand how to live in the same house as my father when I was older than young, but younger than old and he was still alive.

There were so many times that I just wanted to give up, to write off my father, and by extension my whole family, move back across the country and start over without all their drama and problems.

Guess what? I didn’t do that, although it came closer than I’d care to remember, more than a few times. Guess what else? I would have succeeded only in getting some personal space. His problems, their problems had become my problems. I didn’t know that at the time, but it was truer than true.

That is the doctrine of the alcoholic family. It was his drinking, but it was OUR problem by the end of it. The patterns we see as children, we tend to repeat as adults. In the alcoholic family, there is rage, temper, isolation, accusation, and all other manners of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

I learned them all, I was a good student.

Literal Definition:

Quite simply, and literally, Loving Detachment is the ability to care about someone, without being the one who cares for them. You are not responsible for the consequences of their actions. That’s it, as distilled as I can make it.


Leading or walking beside a partner? In loving detachment, you are walking with your significant other or partner; you can either be walking with them, or you can be leading your partner. If you’re leading, choosing, directing and guiding a person, you are not detached and supportive, you are controlling (or at least trying to control them).

Supporting child or doing it for them? Oh, parenting, almost as challenging as marrying an alcoholic, but the rewards are different. So, where does the loving detachment come in here? Children are naturally risk takers, and as parents we tend to defray those costs to our children. We literally keep them from harm, and shelter them from the consequences. But where does the point come at which it’s time for them to carry their own burdens? If I am waking my sixteen year old up every day and making his lunch, packing his books and chivying him into his seat at class, that’s probably too far, but to do so for my grade three boy? At some point we as parents have to come to the decision that our child is ready and it’s time to detach, with love, and let them carry their own books and schedules.


If you’re in a place where somebody else’s activities are affecting your ability to live your life. Well, then it’s time to step back, mentally that is. I know you that you still care for them, in my case Love is the correct term, but trying to disentangle your emotions and responses from those actions of your loved one is the key here. “Boundaries” is a great read and it was so very eye-opening when I was in that place when I needed to put up my walls. Still caring about a person while not totally taking care of them including their consequences, it’s tricky, really really a delicate situation. To find that balance between supporting and taking over, I’m still struggling with that one, but that’s the point you’re aiming for. Basically you’re going to try to put an over-watch on your own mind, keep vigil over your own self. I guess that’s at the core of this whole muddle, you need to look to your own self first, and have a second level care to what and how you’re thinking of all things.

In Conclusion?

The concepts in Al-Anon are big; bigger than big; and they can apply across your whole spectrum of life, not just in the recovery from Alcoholism frame of mind. Loving detachment is one such concept. To be supportive of a person means to lift them up. While the mess I so often find myself in is that of trying not to support a person but to save them from the consequences of their own actions. That’s the difference; supporting someone rather than protecting and saving them from the consequences of their actions.

I guess that’s about it. I’ll leave off and get back to the other things I am supposed to be doing today.


Sharpen Your Saw Before Getting To Work

Sharpen Your Saw Before Getting To Work

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Courage To Change — November 12, 2019

When I had hit the absolute career bottom in my mid-20’s, I was broke, and pleading with Employment Insurance (government support program we have here in BC) for a path out of this mess. They enrolled me into a study and life skills program, and it was structured around Stephen Covey book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It’s a good book. Relevant to the reading today is that there is a chapter titled “Sharpen the saw”.

Literal translation, take care of the tools you use to get the work done. In our case, it’s a little more esoteric. We have the tools, but now we need to maintain them in order to keep us working at our best. So yeah, maybe it’s time to sharpen your saw

Quick and Simple Disclaimer: The readings in this post are literally taken wholesale out of the book entitled Courage to Change. You can find it at Amazon, Here. The portion entitled Alleged Insight, well that mess is all me.

If you’re an introvert, go buy the book, if you’re a broke introvert, the text from many good books can be found HERE , if you’re in dire straits however, go find an Al-Anon Meeting, it saved me.

So onward to Today’s Reading

I’m not particularly handy with tools.  Recently a friend demonstrated to me that oiling a saw before using it make sit work more smoothly, whether it’s cutting metal or wood.

Later it occurred to me that learning to oil a saw is a little like learning to apply the Al-Anon program.  Though skeptical, I considered learning a new way because I saw it demonstrated. I knew that the program worked when I saw how serenely Al-Anon members in circumstances similar to mine were coping with difficult situations.  So I tried their approach – I learned to apply the Steps, Al-Anon literature, slogans, meetings and sponsorship.

Using this oil doesn’t change the raw materials of my life, nor does it provide me with new equipment.  It does make what I already have more useful, and that removes many of my frustrations, giving me great satisfaction.

Today’s reminder

Building a  useful and fulfilling life is not an easy task. Al-Anon helps me learn more effective ways of living so that I can avoid needless difficulty. With proper tools, progress is just a matter of practice.


“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving.  Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master of the art.“

   Francis de Sales

Alleged Insight:

When you get up in the morning, the first few minutes are often on autopilot and it’s challenging to adapt to anything new. That is exactly the time when having the right tools to hand means the difference between responses and reactions.

In short, while the big projects of our recovery are the materials from which we rebuild ourselves into the people we choose to be, our acceptance, self-awareness, placing unmanageable tasks in our Higher Power’s care, there is a whole aspect that’s neglected.

Our toolbox is what helps us get from here to there; sponsors, slogans, prayer, meditation, self-care; all lead to the end results of becoming the better version of yourself. Taking care to maintain these tools in their best shape only makes senses when you think about it. Oil the steel and sharpen your saw before you get to work.

May God bless you, and DFTBA.

Sincerely, Duke.

In My Words, Serenity Prayer Redux

In My Words, Serenity Prayer Redux

Alright, we never really recovery from the influences of our childhoods. In fact, one could say that we have to re-write our own programming, using the Al-Anon (or some other) programming. The serenity prayer became one of my go-to mantra’s for so long that I can’t remember not using it to step out of the moment and back into my mindfulness. In saying the words, Serenity Prayer recital became my own mantra.

Serenity Prayer as I learned it in Al-Anon

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

God grant me the courage to change the things I can change,

God grant me the wisdom to know the difference.


The full version is a little more wordy. You can find the original source link here, written by Reinhold Niebuhr.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


In the moment as opposed to in control of the moment

I mentioned that recital of the words of the serenity prayer allowed me to step out of the moment, but why would I not want to be in the moment? Isn’t living in the moment because time is fleeting and life is uncertain all the focus lately? But is it really the best option? To be in the moment at all points is exhausting, and for some of us, it’s toxic as hell. See, when you’re running a bad program (automatic reactive behaviours, things you’ve learned as coping mechanisms in growing up), living in the moment is tricky. You’re constantly operating on three or four levels, not just the -now- but also constantly monitoring the filters and patterns to try to keep it from all going off the rails.

Sometimes, needing to step back, mentally, and take a second to process before replying, before responding to the situation, is required for some of us who aren’t fully versed in how good people are supposed to react or behave.

Sometimes the best option, not for everyone, but for those of us who question our every feeling some days, is to step back out of the moment, and be more mindful. Being in control of one’s own self allows us to control our moment, to fully appreciate what’s happening, and not destroy what’s going on around us.

Being serene, seeking serenity is a self-preservation tactic. When you’re not buffeted and blasted around winds in the moment, but are able to disengage from those forces for a moment to properly understand and respond to the moment, then that is Serenity.

Serenity is so many things, here’s a list*pixabay via Wealthy Affiliate Search


Serenity – in the ability to tolerate an injustice without wanting to get even

Serenity – is patience, it is the willingness to postpone immediate gratification in favour of the long-term gain.

Serenity – is perseverance, sweating out a project in the face of heavy opposition and discouraging setbacks.

Serenity – in the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat without complaint, collapse or attempting to find someone to blame.

Serenity – is humility, it is being big enough to say “I was wrong” and when right the serene person is able to forego the satisfaction of saying “I told you so”.

Serenity- is the ability to evaluate a situation, make a decision and stick with it. The immature spend their lives exploring possibilities, changing their minds and in the end they do nothing.

Serenity – means dependability, keeping one’s word, coming through in a crisis. The less serene are masters of the alibi. They are confused and disorganized. Their lives are a maze of broken promises, former friends, unfinished business and good intentions that never materialized.

Serenity – is the art of living in peace with that which we cannot change, the courage to change the that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Author's Image, this was from my Dad's files.*photo credit – Author- from my father’s old files in recovery…



In essence, Serenity, is being in the moment, while not of the moment and ultimately choosing how we wish to respond to a moment, rather than being driven to react.

Have a Blessed Day. I pray your higher power gives you all you can handle today.