Some members of Alcoholics Anonymous refer (usually with derision) to members of Al-Anon as "black belts," presumably because we seem to learn lightning-fast, devastatingly targeted responses to all of life's little dramas--including bad behavior by those who are or have been way too under the influence.
Some Al-Anons have appropriated the term as a compliment for those members who really work the program and who dance with life in a whirl of kisses and karate chops. Imagine my surprise, then, when my sponsor said the other day that I was "officially a black belt." I know it sounds goofy, but this shivered me. I was telling him about the Nazi encounter and some dealings with Teresa in the throes of her drinking and its consequences, and he was so pleased with the choices I'd made. In fact, that was how I began the phone call: "Hey, dude--I have choices."
Forgetting that I always have choices, no matter what's happening, is what made me a codependent nutcase to begin with. To quote Leary and Wilson's "Eight Basic Winner Scripts," "I make my own coincidences, synchronicities, luck, and Destiny." If I choose to.
Of course, we make choices based on instincts, and instincts grow from conditioned responses to stimuli. The beauty of a metaprogramming regimen like Al-Anon is that it allows one to re-make one's instincts, so that the same alcoholic or idiot-coworker behavior that formerly drove one to despair now provokes humor or pity or--nothing. All those little neurons, with all their little interconnections--just begging to be repatterned, re-woven, in however a web our True Will wills...is the secret of the Pagoda of the Twelve Steps.