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Will it Matter in 20 Years?

In the early stages of my recovery, I heard phrases like "defect of character" but could not grasp exactly what that meant as it related to me. After all, I was not the one that had the problem, it was my wife. Right?

As I started to learn more about the Al-Anon recovery program, the 12 steps and the slogans, I began to realize that it was me, as much as my wife, that needed help.

I had slipped into a pattern of unhealthy behavior, which was less noticeable prior to my wife's drinking becoming the driving issue in our lives. My wife's alcoholism only made my character defects more noticeable – more extreme.

I found my life had become unmaneagable. I had fallen into an illusion that I could control my wife's drinking, control my children's behavior, control all of the personalities at work. The more I tried to control, the more unmanageable my life became – the more miserable I became.

Today, I slip back into these behaviors from time to time. The difference, is through my recovery program, I can identify these behaviors and move to get back on the right track. I challenge myself to apply what I've learned in Al-Anon to all of my affairs.

Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not. Lucky for me, this is a program of progress and not perfection.

I remind myself of sayings like "Letting Go and Letting God". This concept does not come naturally to me. It forces me to let go of my "control" – as if I really had control to begin with.

I struggle with concepts like this – when should I let go and when should I take action? This question is especially difficult for someone who is wired to take action. I remind myself that if I am choosing between the two – I'm really not giving it up to God. I have not slowed down enough to listen, to ask God to guide me.

Sometimes gaining perspective is as easy as asking yourself a question. Will it matter in 20 years? When I find myself becoming irritable with my wife or my children, I try to ask myself this question. Most of the time the answer is no. Whatever it is will not matter in 20 years. It helps me, maybe even tricks me, into being comfortable with Letting Go and Letting God.

This question allows me to gain perspective and even more importantly, allows my family the dignity to make decisions on their own without my intervention. It allows them to succeed and fail on their own.

When my wife was actively drinking I could not determine what really mattered and what did not – I simply had an obsessive drive to control every situation. This way of thinking wore me down and made me more and more unhealthy.

If I had tools like I have today – ways to gain perspective, the ability to ask myself questions like will it matter in 20 years, I may have been able to unburden myself of all of the situations that really did not matter and focus on the ones that did.

"… human beings by changing their inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." – William James

Source by Eric Murphy

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