I learn in my recovery program in Al-Anon to keep a grateful heart and to focus on what is good. Yet focusing on what is going wrong feels so much safer. There is a saying, ”Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the Habit. Talk about your blessings,” by Rita Schiano. Was I addicted to being focused on my troubles? Having lived with my five kids and an alcoholic husband there was no shortage of troubles to focus on for the past 30+ years. Was I afraid of being happy after so many years of being scared and scarred from the disease of alcoholism? The answer was yes. I was afraid to tell that person who asked that I was indeed content and happy.
Alcoholism for me was a constant state of upheaval. I grew used to the unknown and constant crises.
- Would my husband get a DUI this time?
- Would there be enough money to buy groceries?
- Would there be an argument Saturday night?
Having my nerves set on edge for so long had become my normal. Living in a serene state without a crisis has been new for me and strangely uncomfortable at times. I no longer live with active addiction I can still look for a crisis to worry about, like an old friend. Slowly over time and many, many meetings, I learned that I and everyone else are worthy of a good life.
My husband used to tell me he was afraid of being happy since he always feared “the other foot would drop.” I had to admit, I too, felt that way.
Why was I so afraid of my own happiness?
Was there a way to be happy without feeling I was in jeopardy? The truth revealed itself recently at a meeting when a member who had suffered terribly from the disease said as her gratitude one night, “I am grateful that I found serenity before I died.” Another member shared,” I have been afraid my entire life. I am finally able to face my fears and feel happy.” “Another member joined in, ”The joy I feel is safe and untouchable no matter whether the alcoholic drinks or not.” It was the missing nugget in my search for happiness.
When we base our happiness on circumstances we know circumstances aligned so we were happy for that moment, but the same fickle circumstances could shift again and take my happiness away just as easily as it had appeared. Sustainable joy was to be found only if I was willing to go deeper, underneath the surface of life, and find a source of happiness not based on my circumstances.
Like the still waters beneath the crashing waves my joy would be safe. It grows out of our knowing there is a God and we are not it.
Will life hand me more crises? Absolutely. I have heard it said, “You are either leaving a storm, in a storm, or about to enter a storm.” While it is true the phone call could usher in a disaster I know my joy safely abides beneath the troubled waters of life. So how am I? I am happy at last because of my Higher Power, my program, and the knowledge it is sustainable even during the hard times.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop