Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Room for Justification

A couple of nights ago my husband and daughter had a blow-out over something she did. In the course he completely lost his temper and said something inexcusable to her. I was so angry all I could do was hiss at him not to EVER speak to our children that way again and take my sobbing daughter to her room to cry it out. As I comforted her I told her again and again, "you are not what ANYONE says you are, not even your parents." I remember all too well growing up in a household where cruel words were never far behind a mistake or accident. Those words spoken in haste or judgment cut to the bone, and it's a cut that never really heals.

The next day as I spoke to my husband about what he had said, I emphasized my belief that there is no place for justification in an apology. "I'm sorry I did X, it was because you did Y" is NOT an apology. By justifying actions with "you made me do it" the apology rings false. It implies that the actions or words, however reprehensible were on some level acceptable. It pushes the fault from the one who did the wronging to the one who was wronged. And in some ways that to me seems worse than the actions in the first place.

Which brings me to alcoholics. I have yet to work my ninth step "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others" but I know I have many apologies ahead of me. When I make those amends, my words need to reflect my sincere regret for my actions and my apology to the person wronged. I cannot say, "I'm sorry I did X, it was because I was drunk", because that would negate the apology. I cannot justify my past actions, I can only try to live my life better now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


As with spirituality, I find gratitude in the small things. This week my eldest was suffering due to a fight with a friend. As I lay in bed with her talking until nearly 10pm about relationships, friendships, forgiveness and communication I felt the most intense gratitude settle over me. 7 months ago I would not have been able to have this conversation with her. I would have either already been too drunk to communicate well, or I would have been too consumed with the thoughts of the drinks I was missing out on to take the time to talk to her. Even if I was sober, she wouldn't have wanted to talk to me about it. In the last year or so of my drinking, she had become distant, angry and waspish. I blamed it on her age (a ripe 7 years old) or my husband or anything else I could think of besides my drinking. I never thought she was even aware of my drunkenness. How would a 7 year old know what alcoholism is? Yet after I quit, the most amazing thing began to happen. She began to warm up to me. She started to hug me again, to say she loved me. To talk to me, to trust me. I began to learn to let God guide my words with her and we began to have deeper, more meaningful conversations on a regular basis. That we are now at a point where she trusts me with her pain, her issues, and her fears is an amazing thing. I have only my sobriety and my Higher Power to thank for that. I am so grateful.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spirituality is in the little things

At my favorite Saturday morning meeting yesterday the table topic for discussion was spirituality. Of course, once it got to be my turn every insightful, witty and poignant remark I was saving up flew out of my head so all I did was talk a bit about religion (not the same thing) and pass. As I drove away after the meeting what I really wanted to say came back to me, and it was this:

Spirituality is in the little things. Those moments when my heart overflows with joy gazing at my sleeping daughters' faces. Brushing my eldest's cheek to wake her in the morning, seeing her smile when she sees me gazing at her. Having my youngest jump in my lap for a brief hug. Looking up at a clear blue sky in the beginnings of spring. Dancing and singing to a favorite song. Stroking one of my many cats' fur as they purr, contentedly beside me.

I know God exists, even if I can't define him/her/it. I know it every time I see or think of my children. I don't how to connect to God, I don't know how to pray or meditate or worship but I know that God is out there. That's my spirituality.