“Don’t make me stop this car!” The bold quote on the travel mug sitting on the shop shelf caught my eye. I laughed out loud. How many times had I said that to my daughter? I bought the mug.
That was six years ago. Today, I grimace when I think how I blamed my youngest for my crazy behavior. No one can make me act a certain way; only I can control my emotions and conduct.
Today, I don’t even like the travel mug that once made me giggle. But I keep it to remind me how far I’ve come. When I feel my anger surging, I no longer blame others, but look within to find my part in it.
Recently, I bought another mug that makes me smile. It says, “Do more of what makes you happy.” It took some reflection and investigation to rediscover what makes me happy. I was so busy working on my career and being a wife and mother that I felt I had no time to make myself happy. I thought back to high school and remembered I enjoyed arts and crafts. I searched for classes and studios I could join. Each day, I try to do something nourishing. Sometimes, it’s something small, like picking up a new library book.
My transformation began when I heard at a meeting how the flight attendant always instructs passengers to place the oxygen mask on them first, before turning to help anyone else. I had flown and heard this before, but this was the first time I accepted it as my responsibility for my self-care. It’s not selfish. It’s logical. How can I help the person or child next to me if I can’t breathe?
When I’m happy, it’s easier to think calmly. Through Conference Approved Literature, listening at meetings, and sharing honestly with trusted friends, I’ve learned that I have choices and what my choices are. I can change. I can learn to take care of and control myself. I’ve altered my attitude and it’s transformed my life. “Keep Coming Back.”
By Shelley H., Pennsylvania
The Forum, December 2016
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.