Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Coupon Folder

The other day I found myself cleaning out my coupon file, and I thought how it was like my experience in Al-Anon, because cleaning out my file is really about reminding myself what I have and getting rid of things I don’t need. Out go the coupons for things I no longer want. On the other hand, I find coupons that feel like gifts—a forgotten movie pass or a gift card. Of course, there are disappointments, too, coupons I wished I had used but find they have expired. Those coupons are the reason I like to clean out my file. So I can take advantage of them before it’s too late. That's also why I keep coming back to Al-Anon.

I started thinking about what would be in my Al-Anon folder. My discard pile would include my obsession with my alcoholic, the conviction that I am always right, and my need to control other people—though that one sometimes feels like a coupon that arrives every week in the mail. A Value pack.

Among the things I rediscovered were my relationship with my higher power and the gift of living my own life. Fortunately, those didn’t have expiration dates. They were like manufacturers coupons, just waiting for me to use them.

Along the way I added a few things:

An awareness of the nature of my alcoholic’s illness, and of my own.

The ability to detach with love.

With step four, I reviewed my life, saw it differently, and let go of old grudges that, on inspection, I wondered why I’d collected at all.

With the guidance of my sponsor, in step five, I’m examining things about myself that were too close to see on my own.

For me, this program has been a little like getting a pair of 3-D glasses. When I strap them on, things that seemed unremarkable pop out in surprising ways. I wondered what I couldn’t see yet, and what else I might be ready to let go of. I could hardly wait to find out.

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