Serenity: my resting place between joy and sadness

When I first came into Al‑Anon, I did not have much emotion at all. Life felt flat, and I felt empty—even in the most difficult situations.

I went to a ton of meetings and heard many stories that reflected my own story. About five months into the program, I remember standing in a museum and seeing a family having a good time together. I remember breaking down and crying for what seemed like the first time in forever.

Following that incident, I still felt emotionally numb, but also started to cry, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, at the grocery store or on the bus. I also started to experience little tiny pockets of joy, again while at the grocery store or in random places.

As time went by, I felt safe enough to acknowledge the deeper pain in my life, stemming from the past. As I recalled profound feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and fear, the tears became more intense. On the other end of the spectrum, the times of joy and celebration also became as frequent and intense.

I know, however, that intense joy and intense sadness are not the ideal resting spots. Both emotions eventually pass which leads me to— and leaves me in—one of my new favorite places: serenity. It really isn’t anything earth shattering. I neither feel that I am going to topple over in pain nor am I going to be able to take on the world. Instead, serenity typically happens when I am perfectly content with the situation that I am in, that I have perspective on the many blessings around me, and that I am not looking for an escape.

Serenity seems to come lately when I am walking my dog around the block at night. We aren’t doing anything fancy, just simply walking. She’s being a dog and sniffing stuff, and I usually look at the plants, the stars, or the buildings around me. I acknowledge that I am simply a living and breathing woman, whom God decided to rescue and lead into Al‑Anon and into a life that is no longer filled with chaos, loneliness, and an endless search to get her cup filled.

I think the place of serenity is the perfect balance of emotion and logic for me. There is not a ton of emotion associated with serenity, but it is definitely not like feeling emotionally numb in the past. Instead, it is a feeling of calmness and gratitude—a peaceful spirit. It is also a place I’m in when I am thinking logically; perhaps I just made a gratitude list, or affirmed who I am as a child of God.

I still look forward to the extremes of emotions, as it is a wonderful reminder that I am, in fact, alive, and now a member of the human race. In addition, the more tears I cry, the greater capacity for joy I experience, which is such a gift for someone who has felt depression for the majority
of her life.

The leveling of emotions leading to peace, to serenity, seems to be one of the greatest gifts of this program, and for that, I am forever grateful.

“Al‑Anon and my Higher Power were helping to transform me into a much happier, well-adjusted person right before everyone’s eyes. This was not the kind of spiritual awakening that I had imagined. There was no sudden flash of light, no deep insight into the mysteries of the universe or the depths of the human soul. Instead, there was a quiet change. I had been granted serenity.” How Al‑Anon Works (B-22), p. 280.

By Laura S.
The Forum, November 2013