Rule #62

“Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”  – Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 149

This has been one of the most important pieces of advice I have ever received in AA.  I have a tendency to do too much self-examination, take things too seriously, and create drama out of thin air.

In therapy last year, my little social work intern therapist suggested I repeat this mantra to myself during the day:  “It’s only a f—ing job.” Seriously.  And I seriously did it, and it seriously helped me.

I met with a friend at work yesterday.  He thanked me for something I said to him last week.  I knew I had crossed a line to say something this frank to him, but I did it anyway.  He was complaining about how tired he was and how he had missed a school event for his daughter because he was working.  I just looked him dead in the eye and said “You know what I regret as a mother?  I regret that I thought my job was so important that I was willing to miss my kids’ childhoods.  I can never get those years back, they are gone, and a lot of the time, I just wasn’t there.”  I didn’t get “ahead” doing that, I don’t even work at the same place.  I bet those fools I was trying so hard to please do not even remember me.  But there is a grown man in Montana who remembers when his mother didn’t show up.  Now, that is some kind of messed up!  There are no do-overs with this stuff.

Here’s another thing I regret.  Heresy alert!  I regret all the time spent in AA meetings and doing “service work,” while I should have been at home tucking my kids into bed and reading them a story.   Maybe we should tell the new women that “going to any lengths” might mean staying at home with the children instead of running out to drive every drunk in town to meetings.  Ok, I said it was heresy.

I don’t get to do-over.  But I do get to behave differently with the relationships in my life today.  And I get to be a “present” grandmother to my grandchildren.  That’s awesome.  Thank you God.

Today I get to go into my office and hopefully help to create an environment that is productive as well as not soul-destroying.  I still haven’t had that conversation with the employee.  She had some life-stuff going on yesterday and I thought it would be a really bad idea to pile on.  Hopefully I can get it done today because it needs to be done and over with.

Tonight I get to go to Eucharistic Adoration as a substitute for someone who can’t be there.  I have my stack of books to read during that wonderful silent hour.  Sometimes I bring books, but get so busy with prayer, I never open a book.  In any event, it will be the highlight of my day.

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8 Responses to Rule #62

  1. Annette says:

    See…what is Eucharist Adoration? I really want to know what all this means! And you are my ticket! Lol
    I love the advice you gave to your co-worker. And your heresy is spot on too. In Alanon there is woman who is a “big shot old timer” who never had kids, whose “qualifier” has passed away several years ago. She would want me to skip my kids soccer games on Saturdays to share “the message” at some local residential facilities. I said no and this was an issue. Again it came down to being the enmeshed, co-dependent, mother. I worked hard at not being angry and just doing what my gut was telling me with this woman. My kids had already been sharing my attention with some major crisis…..the least I could do was be present for them individually while they each did their thing. Love you Mary….have I said how happy I am that you are back? Lol

  2. Kathy says:

    Your post really resonated with me today Mary Christine. I have been reading your blog for years and have commented a few times. I am not a blogger so I do not know exactly where you are coming from in that respect – wanting to hear from your readers…. maybe would have commented more often if I had understood that it is important for you to have feedback. In any case – I am glad that you have decided to continue and I want you to know that you often speak to me – sometimes because of the alcoholism part but more because we are both Catholics of the same age who have weathered some storms in our lifetimes. Thank you for being out there and reminding me about things that are really important… today it was the “we don’t get a do-over” things that really struck a chord….. so true… and so brave of you to tell your friend… hopefully he is listening.

  3. Kelly says:

    I hope you have a peaceful, prayerful adoration.

  4. atomic momma says:

    Mary Christine…so happy to have you back. I haven’t posted in a long time but I still read you.

    Thanks for what you wrote about moms and spending time with their kids. I wish more people would say that out loud. At least you own that you missed the time but trust me on this:

    As a parent to your adult kids and being present now and being a present and wonderful grandmother to your grandchildren is incredibly healing and a wonderful gift to your kids. So many parents – like mine – didn’t spend the time with me as a kid nor do they spend time with me now or their grandkids. It hurts. You are giving your kids and grandkids so much now and that heals.

  5. Cricket says:

    Me too. Right there with you on the heretical thoughts about meetings vs kids. It’s a very tricky balance. Value one too much, and I lose track of the other. And thanks so much for sharing your therapist-intern’s mantra: “it’s just a f—ing job”. Where in their young mind did that little gem of wisdom come from?
    I plan to mutter it to myself today!
    In fact, I don’t know how many readers you have, but I like to think we’ll all be walking around our workplaces saying ‘it’s just a f—ing job’ under our breath, at some point today. Tee hee. And then we’ll think of each other, dotted around the world, all doing the same thing — and we’ll feel good. 🙂

  6. Connie says:

    I am using that mantra from the social worker intern. Your comments about work and meetings/service work are so true.

  7. Mary says:

    Hi Mary –

    I’ve only commented a few times before but read every time you post. I commented once, maybe a year ago, that I was going back to the Catholic Church as a result of reading your posts. And, I have to tell you how much I appreciate your comment about ‘heresy’ and wishing you hadn’t done so much service work. My ex-husband is sober 25 years now and I can’t tell you how much I resented AA because that was his priority. We had two children that he pretty much neglected even though he was sober. We’re divorced now. I’m at the point where I feel I need AA myself and this bias of mine has prevented me from seeking the help I need. I realize now that I shouldn’t hate AA and that’s what I need at this point in my life. Thank you once again! I very seldom comment but want you to know I look forward to reading your posts. I know you sometimes feel like you’re posting for no reason … I’m happy to comment every day just so you know I’m here and value your posts. Never did it before because I felt my comments wouldn’t be valuable but I do want you to know that I’m here and glad you are also

  8. Syd says:

    It seems to me that most people take themselves way too seriously. I know that I did for years. And then I realized that most of the stuff being done in life is not that serious. It just seems to so, as if the world will die if something isn’t done immediately. I realize that what matters most is love, family, respect, integrity, trust. The rest isn’t as important as we think.

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