I've often heard in the rooms of Al Anon that you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family. It is a phrase that has rolled through my mind since I had an unpleasant conversation with my sister just over a week ago. Growing up in an alcoholic home lead me to assume a lot responsibility that wasn't mine. As the oldest sibling, I often took care of my brother and sister or at least looked out for them. I vividly remember thinking as a young girl that my parents didn't know what they were doing when it came to raising us. I've since made peace with the fact that they did the best they could during those drinking years, as I did.
My sister lives out west now and recently bought a house and had plans to get married to her long time boyfriend. I was very happy for her to finally seem to be happy. So when she called, I thought it was just a, “ How are you doing?” call. But, she proceeded to tell me that she actually had eloped with her boyfriend. Last May. Her original plan had been to get married at an exotic destination wedding location in May of 2017, and host a celebration for the family in June. I was shocked. Then disappointed. Then angry. Then sad. I wasn't able to tell her at the time how her news made feel, I will do that when I'm feeling more grounded. It took me several days, a couple meetings and conversations with my Al Anon friends to begin to make peace with her news.
I am feeling less sucker punched and more accepting of her choices. They are not choices I would make, especially keeping a wedding a secret for seven months, but she is on her own path. It is not up to me to judge her or scold her. My responsibility is to accept this “thing I cannot change,” take care of myself, process the pain and sadness I felt, and pray to my higher power for the “courage to change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference,” as it says in the Serenity Prayer.