I read something today (below) in a book I love that blew me away with its truth. The kind of truth that sets you free. I sat down to read... in my glider rocker... and had a resolve to learn and to soak in something good...
I opened my book and indeed soaked it in....
Possibly we all have situations in our lives that we have tried to control when it's involved other people and their choices. We just wanted to fix things and make everything okay. We've seen someone's life derail and the choices they make seem to make them miserable. We want to tell them to "do it this way instead" or "stop doing that" or any number of other responses that try to stop the chaos or unhealthy lifestyle we are witnessing. But it doesn't work. We don't have that power.
I did it in my first marriage. Tried to make an emotionally unavailable man ... available.
I did it with my daughter. Tried to argue and reason my way through her insane lifestyle and addiction to change her mind. I tried to make someone not willing to do what it takes to change ... change....
I did it because I cared. Because I desperately wanted things to change for the better, but it only brought stress and hopelessness and despair to my own life... and the feeling of failure.
Oh, there is an answer.... and it's to let go... Love... and let go.... Surrender.....
My daughter made this bookmark for me recently in rehab (she's 32!) It touched me because she has little to give but chose to give me what she had.... she made it with the children of the moms in the rehab facility when they went on a nature walk. She said, "It's not much, but I made two and wanted to give one to you."
She is learning and wanting to change... Will it last? Will she keep moving forward in recovery and maintain health, sobriety, and sanity? ... I hope so, but that is up to her. I've moved on from thinking if I just say the right thing in the right way I can control or change a situation.
And peace dwells in my heart because of that....
I don't know how other people's lives are going to turn out. I pray for them and I love them. I cheer them on.... but it's up to them...
... as my life is up to me as to how I will live it.
Powerlessness and Unmanageability
Willpower is not the key to the way of life we are seeking. Surrender is.
"I have spent much of my life trying to make people be, do, or feel something they aren't, don't want to do, and choose not to feel. I have made them, and myself, crazy in that process," said one recovering woman.
I spent my childhood trying to make an alcoholic father who didn't love himself be a normal person who loved me. I then married an alcoholic and spent a decade trying to make him stop drinking.
I have spent years trying to make emotionally unavailable people be emotionally present for me. I have spent even more years trying to make family members, who are content feeling miserable, happy.
What I'm saying is this: I've spent much of my life desperately and vainly trying to do the impossible and feeling like a failure when I couldn't. It's been like planting corn and trying to make the seeds grow peas. Won't work!
By surrendering to powerlessness, I gain the presence of mind to stop wasting my time and energy trying to change and control that which I cannot change and control. It gives me permission to stop trying to do the impossible and focus on what is possible: being who I am, loving myself, feeling what I feel, and doing what I want to do with my life.
In recovery, we learn to stop fighting lions, simply because we cannot win. We also learn that the more we are focused on controlling and changing others, the more unmanageable our life becomes. The more we focus on living our own life, the more we have a life to live, and the more manageable our life will become.
Today, I will accept powerlessness where I have no power to change things, and I'll allow my life to become manageable.
From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.