Another thing I learned when I first crawled into Al-Anon decades (yes decades) ago.
Keep the focus on myself. The only way to not get caught up in needing to control what others say, think, feel, and do is to keep the focus on myself.
Like much of what I heard in program, it confounded me. And like much of what I heard in program, it saved my life. It taught me to detach from my then fiancé, whose drinking bothered me. A lot. Well, not just his drinking, but his drinking and our fights that ensued.
I crawled into Al-anon, thinking only one thing. “Tell me if he’s an alcoholic. There’s no way I would ever be with an alcoholic!” As I’ve written here before, there are, actually, a myriad of reasons why I would have ended up engaged to an alcoholic, and they never told me whether or not he was.
They only said, “Keep the focus on yourself.”
I did, or at least I tried. By the grace of god, I left that relationship before we were married, dove deep into recovery (once I realized I had at least a few things to recover from), and created a life of much joy. If you’d asked me, I would have told you that I had this “keep the focus on myself” thing down and licked.
Then I was in therapy (yes therapy. I highly recommend it) last week, and my therapist commented on how tense my body and spirit were when I was talking about someone else (whose words, thoughts, feelings, and actions I was caught up in and apparently trying to control) and how relaxed and calm my body and spirit were when I was talking about myself.
“Maybe you can – and should – just keep the focus on yourself,” she suggested.
“Damn,” I thought. “Here we go again…”
It is true. It is freeing. And it is the antithesis of what I learned to survive when I was young. Back then I “read the room” so that I could figure out how I had to be to be the perfect Moonie (child of god, warrior for our True Parents, someone somewhat worthy of being friends with the Messiah’s children…the list goes on). I knew my wants and needs were sinful and selfish. I knew my thoughts were controlled by Satan and my feelings didn’t matter. All that mattered was god’s will and serving others….
But that is “the cult talking,” and that is lies that were put into my brain to control me and survival mechanisms that served me then and hurt me now.
Now, I need to remember to just keep the focus on myself.
It is true. It is freeing.
The only things I have any hope of controlling are sometimes my thoughts, based on that maybe my feelings, and pretty definitely my actions. And when I keep turning my thoughts (and feelings and actions) back to myself, I ease. I relax. I find joy. I stop striving and trying. I let go of at least some of my hardwired perfectionism.
I laugh. I love. I play.
Today I will keep the focus on myself. Over and over and over again if necessary.
How about you????
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!