09 July 2011

Where The Serenity Prayer Falls Short

By now, most people--including those who have neither set foot in a twelve-step meeting nor know anyone who has--know some version of the Serenity Prayer:

"God, grant me the serenity to acccept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

What most people don't realize is that Bill W didn't write it.  Instead, it is a somewhat revised form of Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer.  And more than a few people claim that he got the idea for the prayer, if not the prayer itself, from other theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas.

But I digress.  I do indeed try to change what I can.  And I am not trying as much to change what I can't, at least when it comes to relationships with people.  For example, I haven't quite given up hope that some people who no longer want to be part of my life will change their minds, but I have accepted that they may not.  And there are some whom I simply don't care to include in my life again. That's where the complications begin.

Of course, if neither they nor I want to be part of each other's lives, there's no problem.   But it's not so easy when you don't want someone in your life, but that person does (or will) not accept that.  What, exactly, does one do--legally, and without physical violence--to rid one's self of someone who, to put it bluntly, will not go away.

It's not as cute and charming as it seems.  The reason I don't want that person in my life is that including that person would mean succumbing to the coercion and threats I've experienced for saying "no."  Plus, this person has caused me harm, not to mention such inconveniences as having to find another job and place to live.  The police have told me, in essence, there's nothing they can do (translation: they don't want to be bothered) unless that person kills or maims me.

So...Am I supposed to be serene and accept this person into my life?