Recovery is all about developing new attitudes. I didn’t come to recovery until I had reached a point where I was forced to admit that my old attitudes weren’t working. Although this was extremely painful, it ended up being my first gift of the program.
Keeping the focus on myself.
This was a new concept; one that seemed to fly in the face of all that I had been raised to believe. Didn’t “good” people spend all their time focusing on others? Wasn’t I supposed to lose myself in the service of my fellow men?
One of the stories from page 45 of our Green book speaks to this issue:
“I wonder if I’m really a sexaholic,” said my husband one day after about a year in recovery. “Maybe I really don’t need those meetings and the program.” Panic overwhelmed me, and in my mind’s eye I could see nothing but a black future. I imagined my husband going back “out there” to have another affair (or two or three), leaving our marriage in shambles. My first instinct was to try to convince him that he really was a sexaholic. I began to mentally list all the hurtful things he had done in the past which proved (to me!) that he was powerless over his sexual behavior, and I was about to remind him of each and every event, in case he had forgotten.
But I, too, had been in recovery for a year, and I remembered all the times we had talked in meetings about “letting go and letting God.” A little inner voice told me this was a time to let go. So I said nothing, just nodded to let him know I had been listening. I hoped he wouldn’t notice how afraid and upset I was. A little while later my husband said, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I guess I am a sexaholic. I think I’ll go to a meeting tonight.” As I reflected on how things worked out, I became aware that my husband must have resented my past efforts to control his thinking, and felt even more need to defend himself and his ideas. Instead, because I kept quiet, this time we were both able to think things through in a calm atmosphere.”
This story rings so true for me and for the stories of many of the women I know and love in recovery. What a huge shift in mindset to shifting my focus from trying to fix someone else’s problems to becoming aware of my own.
This concept has made me realize that I can often use other people’s problems to distract me from my own. Recovery has taught me that if I allow myself to start becoming preoccupied with how to fix or help someone else, I will lose touch with my real responsibility: “Instead, it is our job to manage our own lives, whether or not the sexaholic chooses sobriety.” -S-Anon Twelve Steps, p.2
For me, this principle in action means that when my husband’s behavior triggers me, I put my focus on “Am I responding in a way that is Humble, Honest, Accountable?” instead of “How do I convince my husband how wrong he is?” I focus on, “What do I need to do to feel serenity right now?” instead of “What do I need to do to get this person to do what I think they should be doing?”
This approach is helping me to create healthier relationships with all people, whether it be my husband, my children, my siblings, my parents, my in-laws, or my friends.
I have realized that the most loving thing I can ever do is try to keep myself in a space where I can be filled with His love, and the right action will come from there.
Like Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I try to mind my own business. I strive to Let Go and Let God.
This is easier said than done. Especially when I have to watch people I love really struggling. That’s when the pedal hits the medal and I have to decide, “Do I really trust God to hold this person I love so much in His hands?” or do I decide to take matters into my own hands and play God through criticizing or advice-giving instead?
I have finally had enough rock bottom to say that I want His way, whatever that looks like.
I can’t change the truth that “Pain is the pathway to progress” for everybody else just like it has been for me. But I can focus on myself and my connection to my Higher Power, and believe that He will show up for the people I love in my life, just like He has for me.
What are your struggles, triumphs, and insights about the principle of keeping your focus on yourself?