My recovery—a gift and a choice

I once read, “Nothing is either good or bad. It is our thinking that makes it so.” Often as I look back over my life and ponder the instances and events I’ve lived through, I am filled with gratitude for the things I’ve seen, felt, experienced, or accomplished.

I wasn’t always grateful. I was not grateful for the violent outbursts, the stealing, and the lack of money for necessities. I was definitely not grateful for the dissolution of my marriage, which I saw as the death of all my dreams for the future, and the realization of the harm I had caused my children by staying in that marriage for as long as I did.

Thank God for the Al‑Anon program. As I attended meetings, my choices expanded. I realized that I didn’t have to rely on someone who was proving to be unreliable. When the moment came when I had to choose between the wellbeing of my children and my husband’s disease, I was able to do so.

Today, I am immensely grateful. The horror and pain of the disease were the only things that could kick me out of fantasyland and into reality. It took a whole year after the divorce before I began to see the other side of the coin.

I was driving home from work with my three young children in the back seat. Suddenly, the two-year-old began to cry. The almost-four-year-old was drawing on her head. I smiled to myself, calmly pulled to the side of the road, and took the pen away. There was no shouting, slapping, or condemnation. Just a simple, “Please don’t draw on your sister. She doesn’t like it.”

That’s when it hit me. God’s plan for my children and me was much better than mine. My ex-husband turned out to be one of the ones who didn’t have the capacity for the honesty needed to get better. He died a few years later of the effects of his drug and alcoholic lifestyle. But my children and I were free to get better. We were not trapped. We had choices. I coined my first slogan then, “God has something better in mind.”

This was just one incident of many that has helped me to see that I am the one who chooses pain.  I fight hard for my fantasies, in doing so I set myself up for more pain. Today, I pray to see the world through my Higher Power’s eyes, and ask for guidance and clarity to make good choices based on God’s will for me instead of my will for myself.

Today, I can see how those horrible experiences strengthened us; how we grew to see that we were worthy of love; and that our lives could be so much more than a string of horrific experiences. I was never a perfect parent, but with Al‑Anon’s help, I did a good job. With Alateen’s help, my children learned that their father’s behavior was not their fault.

By Viki M., Washington
The Forum, August 2012