I know that the quest for serenity sometimes seems unimaginineably difficult. This is most true when we are in the midst of the chaos of addiction. There are 2 keys that help us navigate these difficulties. They are 1: understanding that serenity, when we first discover it, is a small island in a huge raging sea. I f we work on making the island bigger and the raging sea smaller we will have more and more serenity. If we think that serenity is a final state and permanent in that form , then we are bound to be very disappointed and disillusioned.. The amount of time we are serene starts out ver y small. But it will grow if we understand the second key ; believing that we are the gatekeepers of our heads and its contents. Both of these two keys take time to find and embrace. If we believe we will find total serenity in an instant, or if we cannot accept that we are the gatekeepers of our heads,then the process will take that much longer.
The first key is the easier to understand understand. Keeping people and their problems out of our heads is much harder and takes a lot of work. We must believe however that we have that power and that we can control what impacts us and our emotions. The issue is very much the same as what I refer to as the front burner,back burner phenomenon. We all know how to move a pot from one burner to another, but we struggle to move problems in our heads from a big area to a small area. It does take practice and hard work. And I guarantee that it can be done if we want it enough..
So often what seems impossible is really the result of our unwillingness to make it happen. If we really love the chaos that the addict brings and love having the addict live with us so the chaos can be fulltime,then we will never find serenity. PERIOD. That is why we have to be WILLING and READY to make changes in our emotional needs and then in our behaviors. So often people complain that none of the beautiful changes we talk about are possible. But that is only because they are getting something from the chaos generated by the addiction . EVERY BEHAVIOR HAS A REASON;THERE IS NO RANDOM BEHAVIOR. I BELIEVE THIS 100%. When behavior is crazy,some one is deriving a benefi (or a an emotional reward)from it. Find the benefit,eliminate it ,and the behavior goes away. This has been demonstrated over and over in every clinical psych class and psych book. And this can be shown to be true in addiction and in our codependent behaviors. We enable because it give us a psychologic benefit . Enabling give us pleasure because it fills the emotional hole we created by believing we caused the problem,or we didn’t show enough love,and on and on……… If you take away the belief through behavioral modification ,the reward disappears and so does the behavior. I know it sounds simple,but because we are complicated people, nothing is simple.
It is very much the same with belief that you are the gatekeeper of your head. To get there you have to eliminate the benefit you receive from all the turmoil of letting the addict(and other problem people) control your head. Once you understand this ,it is a lot easier to do what you need to do. Where does behavior modification fit in? Behavior modification is what we get from going to meetings, listening to people with years of experience, and studying our literature. The addicts gets the tools for recovery(behavior modification) from rehab, from living with other recovering people,going to meetings and studying their literature.
So if you really want to find serenity , you will find it. So much of the difficulty, as I said earlier, is within us. It’s in eliminating all that nonsensical clutter and the erroneous belief systems which dominate our thinking and blind us from seeing the truth. When we are ready to change our lives and find serenity, we will gradually clean out the mess in our heads and move forward with our lives with the help of our Higher Power. And if we are lucky ,the addict will do the same.
Looking back on all of this 22 years from the start, I find it hard to believe how incapacitated I was and how much freer and better I am today. I struggled for years over these same issues-just like everyone else. But having arrived at a place where I understand what I went through and why I had so much trouble changing ,I hope to pass on some knowledge from the recovery side of the battleground to help others . By relating what I learned from my struggle ,perhaps I can l help you shorten yours. And I want to assure those who are mired in despair ;there is hope for all of us –and our addicts.