Acceptance is Difficult and Painstaking but Provides a Freedom I Must Have to Live Today.
The topic of acceptance is definitely a popular one. I have struggled with acceptance and realizing that I can not control the outcome of situations long before I ever took my first drink. Control was always a big deal for me from a very young age. I did not like being told what to do and if you really wanted me to do something, you simply had to tell me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t. It am so thankful for the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and truly grateful the chairs around the tables of the AA halls are there because through this program I have learned acceptance. I have been able to solve problems that had nothing to do with my alcoholism by simply learning how to accept the things and situations in my life.
In a conversation a few weeks ago an AA friend of mine was sharing some thoughts on acceptance and peace with me and he said, “I can be an asshole, even with 5 years of sobriety, but it makes my day miserable. When I’m at not at peace, don’t have peace of mind, I feel miserable. After all the years in Catholic school and all the years in Catholic church, the Serenity Prayer has been the most helpful to me and it was something I never heard in either of those places. The Serenity Prayer made the most sense to me and it was something shared with my mother in Alanon and she shared with us when my father was dealing with his alcoholism.”
I use the Serenity Prayer quite often when I find something in my life unacceptable and at times there are several things I find unacceptable, and it is perfectly okay for me to find some things unacceptable. I can change my reaction to the thing. I can change my response to the thing. I can change my connection to the thing, but I can not change the thing.
However, there are actions I can take. I can choose to go sit in the corner and do nothing or take steps to see that I do not place myself in that uncomfortable and unwanted situation again. I can take steps to make sure the pattern does not continue where I am finding myself dealing with unnerving things.
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” – Pg. 417 BB Alcoholics Anonymous
When I drank I didn’t have any set of standards or boundaries and I found myself in places that were unwanted. It still amazes me to this day, I survived certain experiences. I do not live like that today and have no desire to ever go back to anything remotely close. I have standards and boundaries because of the things I have learned living in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I know I have choices.
Other people, if they wish, can do that as long as they don’t have their hand on my leg dragging me down. These are gifts, of knowledge, I have received from the AA halls and other alcoholics like me. I share my experiences and the lessons I have learned with the hope they will not fall on deaf ears and truly be the tipping point for someone else who might be in the same horrible place I once was.
“Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.” – Pg. 418 BB Alcoholics Anonymous
On my own, I could fuck things up so bad, there wasn’t anything left do but drink. I wasn’t practicing any program. My loved ones are packing their “bags” and getting ready to leave. My kids don’t want to be around me. The story went on and on because I created my own problems until I finally put my foot down and gained some acceptance. It was helpful for me to then realize that sometimes by not doing anything, things come out a lot better. Keeping my mouth shut was a difficult task for me to learn how to do. I put it in to practice daily now, and it amazes me how calming, peaceful, and better I feel when unwanted or uncomfortable situations are hard for me to accept at first.
I had to chill my attitude out a little bit at a time until my head was cleared of all the shady characters that used to live there. It was a bad neighborhood I didn’t even want to walk around in. Acceptance has been the key for me in clearing out those nasty characters and sweeping out the clutter and trash. AA meetings and hanging out with other alcoholics has been a key to unlocking these lessons for me. I have been really reading and studying the Big Book and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions material over the last several months and they too are a necessary part of my recovery from alcoholism and maintaining my sobriety.
“It helped me a great deal to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time.” . . . “At last, acceptance proved to be the key the my drinking problem.” – Pg. 416 BB Alcoholics Anonymous