29 March 2011

I can change the past

Step One of the 12 Steps of Self-Parenting is, “Admitted our powerlessness to change our past - that our lives had become unmanageable and became willing to surrender our love and not to our fear.”

For years I kept my past alive. It became my badge of honor. I wanted and enjoyed the role of victim. It made women feel sorry for me, which I used to my full advantage. With guys, it was the perfect excuse for the way I behaved and the constant fights I got into. It was the perfect excuse for everything that happened in my life.

When I admitted to being an alcoholic I began to see my life through a different set of eyes. AA taught me that I wasn't the center of the universe and it prepared me for my work with the 12 Steps of CODA and ACOA.

And it showed me exactly how powerless I was. The fact is the past is the past. I had no control over what happened to me or others when I was a child. This realization shattered my whole persona. No longer could I use the excuse that I was broke because I was a child of an alcoholic. Or the million other excuses that I dumped on my parents.

If I was going to self-parent myself then the first thing I needed to do was take responsibility for my actions - just as any good parent would do with their child. My parents never made me drink a beer or force me to have a shot of booze, I did that of my own free will. I could use the excuse that I treated women the way I did because that's the way my dad did it. It was still my choice, to abuse women or not too.

My power came from blaming my parents for every act or deed that I did in my life and taking no responsibility for anything. My powerlessness came from the realization that they weren't responsible for those actions. They may have been a cause for those actions, but they weren't the reason I did the things I did. If they were the reason, then I never had the freedom of choice.

My choice was to live in the dysfunction, long after the dysfunction was dead and buried. Though I had no idea what a healthy relationship meant, I knew what was unhealthy and I chose to live unhealthy.

The choice of healthy arrived when I got to the second part of this step, "that our lives had become unmanageable," My life was unmanageable because I still held my parents accountable for all my actions. For years, I lived in hatred for my parents and all it did was make me hate myself and others. I lived for conflict, keeping that anger and rage alive, so in a way keeping my parents alive.

The final part of this step is where my own miracle began to take shape, "became willing to surrender our love and not to our fear." Love! That was the answer for me. Love is the absence of fear. Love, to me, is God. Unconditional Love. To have that unconditional Love, I had to let go of my fear, which was my parents.

As long as they were in my life, I couldn't accept responsibility for my actions. With fear, they would remain in my life as my Higher Power. And this is where for me, it became tricky. For me, to find that Love and let go of the fear, I needed to find forgiveness.

I needed to realize that my parents were just human beings, who did some horrible things, but when they weren't drunk, or fighting, or raging, or whatever, they were OK. They never once apologized to me for their actions, but for me to grow, I needed to find the Love in my heart and forgive them.

Only then, in the absence of fear, would I truly find Love. Love in myself, Love in others, and just having a Love for life. I was powerless of my past and I was tired of it controlling my present and deciding my future.

The Self-Parenting Steps were written by Patricia O'Gorman, Ph.D. and Philip Diaz, M.S.W., authors of the book with the same name...

1 comment:

Dave Harm said...

This is the one comment from Authors Den...

m j hollingshead 10/19/2009 well said