The Role of the Serenity Prayer When You Love An Addict
This is a shared story from contributing writer B.H. She writes for us to discuss her son’s addiction and her journey during his recovery.
To help myself understand addiction and how to deal with addiction and recovery, I attend Nar-Anon (focusing on drug addiction) each week. If I cannot attend a Nar-Anon meeting, I attend an Al-Anon meeting (focusing on alcohol addiction, but the key word here is addiction, and it is basically the same thing).
I make time for these meetings, and even when I am worn out from work, I still go. Luckily the meeting place is at a good time for me and is only about two miles away. For this, I feel very blessed.
Each organization follows a 12-step program to help loved ones of addicts, whether in active addiction or in recovery, cope with the emotional toll various circumstances can bring. I was very codependent on my son, and have stepped back quite a bit from this negative behavior thanks to the meetings I regularly attend.
One way I have remarkably decreased my codependent behavior is through the understanding and acknowledgment of the Serenity Prayer. It is a prayer to a Higher Power, whatever that Higher Power may be. It doesn’t matter what religious belief anyone has, or what Higher Power means to each person, but it is there to lean on in times of turmoil or anxiousness.
The Power of Prayer
It really is unbelievable how a simple prayer, repeated over and over again in my mind, has worked so much to improve my inner-being.
Am I still trying to find full inner-peace?
Absolutely. But this prayer is getting me there. It doesn’t only help me in times of anxiety over my son but in every aspect of my life. It helps me with uneasiness at work, with financial stress, and any type of anxiety I may have just in everyday living. Life isn’t always joyous and satisfying, and that is where the Serenity Prayer comes into play for me.
The Serenity Prayer
Many people recite the first verse of the prayer, but the prayer’s full version also is used by many. It says:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Written by Reinhold Niebuhr
How I Benefit From the Serenity Prayer
When something happens, and I begin to feel anxiety coming over me, I recite the first verse of the prayer. Afterward, I ask myself (sometimes out loud) if I can control whatever is happening. I think about it, and if I realize I can control it, I think about all of the ways I can “fix” it.
If I cannot control it, I tell myself that there is not one thing I can do and that it is time to move on and think about something else. If I cannot control it, I take a deep breath and surrender myself to what is happening, and let my Higher Power take control of it all. There is some sort of peace in doing this, as it lets me turn my worries and struggles over to Him.
People have many ways of dealing with anxiety. Some people do not get anxious at all (lucky them!). It seems I inherited the worry and anxiety gene from someone, and I have always been a so-called “worrywart”. When my son was in active addiction, I just could not stop thinking about him. It left me a nervous wreck, unable to focus on anything and affected my overall health.
I knew I needed help, and I needed something that would work. Going to counseling, Nar-Anon, and Al-Anon meetings, and reading self-help books gave me the strength to keep moving forward with my life. The Serenity Prayer was something I attached myself to in meetings, and I have relied on it ever since. Even now, with my son in recovery and doing well, I still use it in all aspects of my life.
If you find yourself struggling from time to time, try it out and see how it can work for you.