I can see clearly now

There was a lunar eclipse this cold Saturday morning and I got up at 6 a.m. to see it. I got out of my warm bed, went to the window, and opened the shade. I was disappointed in what I saw: a barely visible, blurry blob of white with a gray smudge and a little red tint on the bottom. Maybe it was just a streetlight in the fog, maybe it was too overcast, or maybe I had forgotten that I am nearly blind without my glasses.

I felt my way back to the bedside table, grabbed the glasses, and returned to the window. Wow, what a difference it made! I could see the moon and the shadow the earth cast on it. The red glow was eerie and unlike anything I’d seen before.

In the afternoon, I got a call from my ex-wife. As is my habit, I let it go to voicemail. I’ve recently realized that, while my son is an alcoholic and a drug addict, and the reason I go to Al-Anon, it’s hearing from my ex that sends me into a panicked state where I feel responsible for fixing my son’s problems.

Sure enough, she was calling because his girlfriend had taken him to the emergency room after exhibiting signs of an overdose. On the phone, I would not have had time to think and would have been reacting to the panic in my ex’s voice, rather than acting in a reasonable manner.

He is my son, so I felt the need to go to the hospital. That much I felt was true. After that, I had no clue what the appropriate thing to do was. What if he was dying? What if he was going to go to jail because he had been using heroin? What if he had to move back in with me? What if he was stealing? What if...?

It eventually occurred to me that I was seeing a blurry view, all smudgy and tinted. I needed to reach for my Al-Anon glasses to see clearly the situation that was in front of me. My son was in the hospital, so that meant he was getting the right care. I could evaluate the situation when I got there and decide the appropriate boundaries for myself then.

My little analogy of putting on my Al-Anon glasses came in handy. This way of looking at things helped me gather back some serenity in a stressful situation.

By Neil McK., Washington
The Forum, December 2012