Tuesday, September 30, 2008
It's a selfish program
"I can see why you are disturbed to hear some A.A. speakers say, "A.A. is a selfish program." The word 'selfish' ordinarily implies that one is acquisitive, demanding, and thoughtless of the welfare of others.
Of course, the A.A. way of life does not at all imply such undesirable traits.
What do these speakers mean? Well, any theologian will tell you that the salvation of his own soul is the highest vocation that a man can have......"
From As Bill Sees It
Before my wife left for her trip, we had a discussion about being selfish. She thought that I was being selfish for leaving her alone as much as I do. I shared about this in the home group meeting last night.
My wife is retired now and is home much of the day. She goes to meetings and has friends over. She also enjoys cooking and gardening. I work during the week and go to 3 meetings a week, two of which occur in the evening. I also row one night a week which means that for at least 3 days a week I don't get home until after 9 PM. And on the weekends I am on the sailboat.
So when looking at the time that I spend away from home, I can see her point. Yet, when I'm at home, she often is busy doing the things that she likes to do but my physical presence seems to be important.
I don't think that my wife is selfish at all now. She has come such a long way since joining AA. And I think that she has a valid point. I have come to enjoy the things that I do. During her drinking years, I felt invisible and in need of attention. I no longer feel that I have to be "around" all the time. And my attitude has improved dramatically. I used to feel angry and found fault easily with others and myself. Now, I feel happy most of the time and have learned to not be so serious or critical of myself or others.
So I am selfish with my time. But that selfishness has helped me to become a better person who is able to deal better with the stresses of living with an alcoholic. I don't pay as much attention to those things that I "should" be doing anymore. The trick for me is to find balance in this state of recovery. I started off on one side of the pendulum swing, doing all this stuff for others and letting my mental well-being and spontaneity slide. And it appears I may have swung all the way over to the other side and started doing things for me.
Her remarks made me see that there is the mid-way mark, that I can still enjoy the things that I like to do but spend more quality time with her. I still seem to be afraid to give up those things that I enjoy (and that she doesn't want to do with me). So I'm not quite there yet but I'm beginning to ask her out for dinner more and take off time from work to be at home. I'm willing to do what I have to do to keep our relationship in balance.
My Higher Power continues to hold me accountable for my emotions and actions. I used to blame my alcoholic for all of my problems, but my growing awareness won't let me. Instead I have to take responsibility for my part.
Maybe we both are grieving the old way of life where I was always available to her at the expense of things that I wanted to do. I used to long for the time that she would realize how valuable I am and treat me accordingly. Now I've realized through the program that I'm much happier with myself and know my value as a person. And my guilt at keeping the focus on myself has diminished considerably. I'm going to continue to work towards balance as we meet on middle ground where we can both be comfortable.