"You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of the world's happiness now." ~ Dale CarnegieAl-Anon meetings are all about anonymity, confidentiality, privacy. Like other 12-Step meetings only first names are used and what is shared, emoted and often cried does not leave the rooms in which the words of pain, sadness, defeat, victory, experience, strength and hope are spoken.
When my wife asks how a meeting went, I simply respond by saying, "Good," and leave it there.
I want to break protocol now and share words I believe to be pivotal in beginning and continuing recovery journeys as parents of children who have succumbed to addiction:
"I have a right to be happy."I do not share this lightly. These meetings are meant to be private and safe, but I do not feel the person who said these words would be offended by seeing them put "out there."
I share these words because as parents of addicts we often hear these phrases and others like them as if they were crazy talk.
"A RIGHT to be happy. Are you NUTS! I can't be happy with all the insanity whirling around me."
"When was the last time I said the words, 'I have a right to be happy?'" I pondered.
When was the last time any of us said those words?
Almost 250 years ago our founding fathers knew this and I am certain, none of them had been to a 12-Step meeting:
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."Imagine the hellish conditions born of British rule that would inspire a group of men hoping to be taken seriously to insert "… Pursuit of Happiness" in their list of grievances.
The citizens represented by the Continental Congress were under the thumb of a tyrannical occupying army they thought they knew, but one that would soon become foreign to them. There seemed to be no justification for the behavior of these former countrymen. There was no respect. The colonists were walking on eggshells in their own land.
At some point in our recovery journeys we will need to submit to ourselves, to our addicted children and to the Universe our personal Declaration of Independence:
"I have a right to be happy."We can shout this from our own private mountaintops, whisper it in private, or insert the written declaration in our wallets or purses to occasionally find as a Universal reminder when we really need it.
This is our happiness we're talking about. And our happiness let loose can spread like a revolution. There will be setbacks, skirmishes, even wars, and wars after wars when we think everything is "fine" (remember 1812?).
Hold on to that inalienable right. It is a powerful invention - Happiness. By slowly replacing our fears with this Happiness thing we can find a peace we've not experienced in a long time.
We can carve out our own great nation of possibilities!
Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
Happy Independence Day fellow travelers!