What Good Are Those Slogans, Anyway? (Part 3)

If you’ve spent any time around Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, or other recovery-oriented groups, you’ve heard at least a few slogans and acronyms. Most of them seem to fall into one of three categories, and they include our relationship with:

  • Our addicted loved one.
  • Ourselves.
  • Our Higher Power.

This month, we’ll look at a few of my favorites that can help us accept events as they occur and allow natural consequences to take their course.

Trust the process.

Trusting the process can be particularly difficult when your addicted loved one enters a rehabilitation facility. Fear of the future can feel overwhelming. What if he leaves rehab before he’s ready? What if she refuses to go to sober living after rehab? What if he relapses? However, while these fears and worries are legitimate, dwelling on them will not ensure a positive outcome. As concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Rehabilitation facilities design their process to address the needs of recovering addicts, and they know their clientele’s needs. The best thing you can do to support your loved one is follow the counselor’s instructions and the facility’s rules. Allow yourself to relax and trust the process and the people who are working with your loved one. As time goes on, you’ll often find that…

Everything happens for a reason.

This came as a surprise to me. Before my son entered rehab at BRC for alcohol addiction, I never stopped to consider how intertwined the events of my life and the people around me were. While this slogan may seem like a cop out, I find comfort in it, because it encompasses the circular nature of life and how sequences of events often seem to have a domino effect. It also helps me relax and do my best, and then let go of trying to manipulate the outcome. As a recovering codependent, allowing events to occur naturally is critical to my wellbeing. But if I find myself wondering what I should do about a situation, the next slogan is helpful.

Don’t just do something, sit there.

When I first learned about codependency (and that I was afflicted with it), I was shocked to learn that I could stop running other people’s lives. The idea that my adult children could actually figure things out for themselves and make good decisions was foreign to me. I thought that without my advice and help, they might be doomed to a lifetime of bad decisions. Every time they faced a crisis, or even a small problem, I jumped in with advice, help, and money. But I found that rather than making me feel more at ease, helping them left me watching warily for the next time they would need help. As I began working on my own recovery program, I started stepping back and letting my grown children figure out how to handle their own situations. Two immediate benefits of this were that they gained more confidence in themselves, and I gained more peace and time for myself. I was amazed at how much more serenity I felt, simply by allowing other people to take control of their own lives.

Over time I’ve learned the value of these slogans as I understand them and find ways to apply them. They are now an integral part of my own recovery. I encourage you to find slogans that are meaningful to you and work them into your daily life.

Diana Urban

Resources

When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You, David Hawkins

The Control Freak, Les Parrott III, Ph.D.

Codependent No More, Melody Beattie

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brené Brown