Al-Anon Meeting Topic: Acceptance

The Key to Serenity

Man Comforting Crying Woman
Acceptance Is the Key to Serenity. © Getty Images

The first line of the Serenity Prayer says, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..." which indicates to me, that serenity is not something that comes from within, but something that has to be given to me.

For me, serenity began when I finally began to learn to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me.

I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference or assistance. The key to serenity is acceptance. But "acceptance" does not mean that I have to like it, or condone it or even ignore it. What it does mean is I am powerless to do anything about it, and I have to accept that. I must accept it!

Arguing With a Disease

I spent years trying to change the alcoholics in my life. I threatened, scolded, manipulated, coerced, pleaded, begged, bribed and generally tried all I could to make the situation better only watch as the situation grew progressively worse. I continued to hang on while the abuse progressed and the pain increased.

For me, acceptance came when I finally realized that I was dealing with a disease. Somebody told me, "You can't argue with a disease." That helped me change my attitude about the problem. It freed me up from the "responsibility" of trying to do the impossible, and from trying to control the uncontrollable.

Chemical Changes in the Brain

I have learned that alcoholism makes actual chemical and physical changes in the brain of alcoholics that completely rewires their reward system. They get to a point where they are actually addicted to alcohol and they are powerless over their cravings for it.

If the alcoholic is powerless over alcohol, how much more so am I powerless to try to control the alcoholic's alcoholism?

I finally realized that it was not my job to change someone else. That acceptance alone has brought me a great deal of serenity that was never there before, but was granted to me by the help and friendship I have been privileged to enjoy in Al-Anon Family Groups... and a power greater than myself.

If you think that Al-Anon Family Groups might be of help to you, find a meeting in your area, or join an online Al-Anon meeting to see if you think it will be a benefit to you. You have nothing to lose by trying and you could find that it can change your life as it has for so many others dealing with an alcoholic loved one.

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