Monday, July 8, 2013

Walking It Off - The Teen Version

I'm an Alateen Adult Sponsor.  This means that kids whose lives have been adversely affected by the alcohol use of a loved one or friend come to weekly meetings to discuss their issues, using the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon.  The kids are supposed to be teens (hence the name AlaTEEN), but we have a couple kids who are younger (11 and 12).  These kids are smart and in pain.  They love the alcoholics in their lives (typically a parent or sibling) but do not feel safe around them.  They often have no other safe haven, no place they feel free to discuss what's going on in their homes or heads or hearts.  As an Adult Sponsor, it is my job to be sure the environment of the meetings remains safe for them, that their confidences are kept, that they can tell the truth about their loved ones and themselves.

I write this so that you will understand the background of this small story - which made me feel really good.  This past week, we were discussing character defects.  The first obstacle the kids face is that the reason they first come to the meetings is not the reason they return.  They are not coming for the alcoholic, rather they come to meetings to gain tools so they can be happier, feel safer, no matter what the alcoholics around them might be doing.  So, the character defects we discussed were those of the people in the room rather than the alcoholics at home.

The kids identified some of their character defects - the usual - anger, gossiping, trying to control others, fear, etc.  Having identified some character defects, we discussed ways to deal with them using the tools of the program.  One kid who identified that anger was one of his worst defects came out with his method of dealing with it - 'I walk it off.'  He no longer gets in fights in school.  He walks it off.

I told him I have a blog about 'walking it off' and that one of the things I have walked off is my anger.  Have I told you about my anger?  I have come to learn that anger is a DRUG!  It was my drug of choice.  I controlled my environment with anger.  I got my way at home or at the grocery store using anger.  It is a powerful drug, a powerful emotion, an addictive substance because I felt so self righteous, knowing I was RIGHT DAMMIT and would have my way.

Once I identified - learned from a teenager years ago - that anger was my drug and that I might not want to continue to live that way - that I didn't much like the person I was or became during my 'red outs' (rages), I had to get tools to deal with it.  I had to learn how to not have anger control my life or define me.  One of my first tools was to 'walk it off'.  My walker's rambles began as a way to take my sail out of my children's wind (their anger which they had learned well from me).  They would fuss and I would put on my walking shoes and hit the street rather than get angry back at them.

Such freedom!  Walking - the physical act of moving my body and releasing endorphins rather than screams - became my first defense against the chaos in my home.  As the power of my walks grew, as the comfort I obtained from them grew and became predictable and welcomed, I became a much less angry person.  I pretty much walked it entirely off.

In those days, my walks were my dog, my God, and me (with my anger blowing against my back).  The more I walked, the better I felt.  I happened to lose a lot of weight during that first year of walking.  That was a happy side effect of my new found 'anti-anger' tools.

So, I told this young man about walking.  He has discovered this on his own and he's ELEVEN YEARS OLD!  He is light years ahead of me.  He has craziness at home and he has learned a really good way to cope, to not get sucked in, to stay out of trouble at school.

Alateen Adult Sponsors are volunteers.  But, I can assure you we get a great paycheck for our efforts.  My paycheck this week was humungous.  I hope this kid finds his way to my blog.  Right now, he's not particularly interested.  That's okay.  He's making great progress on his own.  But, if he finds his way here, I think he might share some great insights with us that would benefit all of us.  I've already been paid, thank you!

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

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