Friday, November 09, 2007

Do unto others ...

From Hazelden's Promise for a New Day:
Is there any stab as deep as wondering where and how much you failed those you loved--Florida Scott Maxwell

Treating our loved ones as we hope to be treated is our assurance against failing them. And if we listen to our inner voice, we'll never falter in our actions toward others. There is always a right behavior, a thoughtful response, and a respectful posture.

Let us be mindful that we're sharing our experiences with others who need the talents we have to offer. It's not by coincidence but by design that we're given opportunities to treat those close at hand in some manner. We'd do well to let the choice be loving.

How we treat another invites like treatment. Actions from our heart will soften our own struggles. Also, spiteful, critical treatment of others will hamper our steps. We teach others how to treat us by our gestures and words.

The inner voice can be heard if I choose to listen. It will never guide me wrongly.


This reading speaks to me in so many ways. In my disease I have hurt so many people in so many different ways -- but all in ways that would devastate me if I had endured them directly. In working my 4th step, one of my resentments against my abusive stepfather was that he "expected to get away with all his despicable behavior." Recognizing this resentment, I uncovered one of my own character defects. As a selfish addict, I have acted in any manner I deemed enjoyable, pursued every whim, and never expected be held accountable for it. Maybe this too is the reason I continue to protect him by keeping silent within my family about the reasons I no longer associate with him -- if the truth of his transgessions are revealed, so mine may be too. I am ever surprised as I work this 4th step at the revelation of the many ways I have used "controlling the truth" to "empower" myself over the years. Even my chosen profession has been influenced by this need to control and manipulate information.

I read a great qualification from a fellow blogger and a member of COSA (co-sex addicts anonymous) yesterday. In it the writer talks about how she spent a year focused on great achievements her role as a member of Junior League, "all the while ignoring my own family." It reminded me of the consideration I have given my acting out partners (once I told them "yes" I could never think of telling them "no," I drove miles and miles to meet them, I worked around their schedules, spent money on them, lost myself in their presence), while I played my husband for a fool, ignoring the basic, not to mention moral, requirements of being a spouse, a friend and a partner in a wide variety of ways. (And these are just the ways I have hurt him. It doesn't take into consideration all the friends and co-workers I have ignored and cheated of my time, presence and talent.)

Over the years, I have resented my husband for choosing work over time with me, yet, as the reading says, we were both inviting a "non-presence" from one another. In recovery, I can let go of those resentments and invite him to be present for me, to have someone to be present with, and I can respect myself and invite him to do the same. Recovery -- working the steps -- allows me to see these truths, to be completely honest with myself, and with you -- and to recognize that life can be different. And as I change, the hopeless, futureless life I have been living can also begin to take shape, filled with truths I don't have to keep secret. And although it goes against everything an addict "wants," I can be accountable to myself, my family and my Higher Power.


bella said...

I too believe in that inner voice, that guide, that knowing, whatever you want to call it. It has never let me down or taken me down the wrong path.
And yet, so often, i don't turn to that voice. I'm afraid of its knowing, its seeing, and sometimes even its grace and love.
You have reminded me that it is where I must go, again and again, my only true home.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Looking at the from the codependent side of things, I think we can take this idea too far -- we give and give and sacrifice our own needs to our partners because we want our partners to do the same for us -- and then are hurt and resentful that we don't get the same unhealthy level of devotion in return.