Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Please Listen to What I am Not Saying

At one of the meetings I attend, there is a Beginner's Meeting. Almost every week, there are 2-3 beginners that show up. I often lead the Beginner's Meeting. I think that it's important for them to get a chance to talk about why they are coming to Al-Anon and provide them with some basics about the program.

I think that it's important to share some of my experience, strength and hope with them. And to let them know that they are not alone in their feelings. So I found the following particularly profound. It reminded me of what it was like for me just before I understood surrender.

"Don't be fooled by me. Don't be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a mask; I wear a thousand masks I am afraid to take off, and none of them are me.

I give you the impression that I am secure, that confidence is my name and coolness my game, that the waters are calm and I'm in command, and that I need no one. But don't believe me please.

My surface may seem smooth-- underneath I dwell in confusion, in fear, in fear of being found out. That's why I frantically create a mood to hide behind, a calm, sophisticated front to shield me from the glance that knows. But such a glance is my salvation and I know it. It's the only thing that can assure me of acceptance and love. I'm afraid you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh. Laughter would kill me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game, with a front of "having it together," but a trembling child hides within. And so my life becomes a front. I chatter to you in a cool tone; I tell you everything that's nothing and nothing of what's everything and what's crying within me. So when I go into my routine do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen to what I am not saying.

I dislike the phony game I'm playing. I'd like to be real and spontaneous, and show you who I really am. You've got to hold out your hand even when it may seem to be the last thing I want, and need. Only you can awaken the aliveness within. Each time you're kind and gentle, and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care, my heart begins to grow wings-- small wings, very feeble wings.

I want you to know how important you are to me, how you can be a creator of the person that is me if you choose to. But it will not be easy for you. A long time of feeling inferior builds strong walls.

The nearer you appraoch me, the harder I may strike back. It is irrational, but I am irrational. I fight against the very things I cry out for. But I am told that love is stronger than walls, and therein lies my hope. Please try and beat down those walls with firm but gentle hands-- for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I? You may wonder? I am someone you know very well, I am every new comer you meet."

From the book called "Stepping Stones To Recovery from Codependency" by Katie C and Deb M


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Syd. This passage really touched me and I related to it on so many levels.

  2. This is beautiful. I wish it was CAL...I would print it up and pass it out. I love the newcomers. I feel their fear and pain and my heart really goes out to them. Trying so hard to find their way while not completely falling apart.

  3. The quote that really speaks to me the most is "I'm afraid you'll think less of me."

    Alanon and AA have that in common, that thinking dis-ease...

    The funny thing is, most people are so focused on their own hurts, imperfections and inadequacies (their own dis-ease) they don't think much of me at all.

    Once I realize how unimportant my masks are, how much I can help someone else by just being honest and being available without having to keep people in bondage to me and my staged world of smoke and mirrors, out of the maze of my ideas and fears, life becomes easier. I can breath. I don't have the overwhelming sickness pervading every step and I begin to find Joy in living. In fact, I absolutely insist upon enjoying life!

  4. "please listen to what I am not saying"..that one is being tatooed on my brain. Thanks for sharing and how grateful I am that you are the hand and face of Alanon that those newcomers get to see....they are blessed.


  5. What Jess has to say strikes a chord with me too. We who are recovering from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body are blessed when we discover that everyone is so busy thinking about their own dis-ease that they aren't thinking about mine--unless I'm honest enough to say out loud when I am troubled. If I do say it out loud to others in the program, they are loving, and will drop their troubles to reassure me in mine. What a relief and a joy it is to know I'm not alone!

  6. may you always have this open heart to teach those who walk in the doors. what a gift you have. i wish more members were really there for the newcomers in my area.

  7. Thank you for sharing this... I could totally relate.

  8. I seem to be in a delicate state of mind right now - - - I found the quote you made today quite poignant, quite beautiful, and very chilling. It took me back to my early days, and yes - - - a bit of the same emotions have been arising in this time of my life - - - and my masks are becoming stronger - just as they were described. And then, my heart melted when I received a surprise e-mail note from my daughter (the runaway) - - - that brought tears of tenderness. She and I share a great penchant for beautiful music. She sent me 'My Prayer' sung in duet by Celine Dion and Andre what's-his-name, and their voices were perfect together. I could go on and on - - - but this message of yours today is telling me to 'go inside my heart - - - there I will find the peace I need.' Thank you, Syd.
    Anonymous #1

  9. The first time I read that passage was a couple of weeks ago and it opened my eyes that there were other people out there who need my acceptance as I need theirs. Maybe acceptance is the wrong word, more like compassion. I have been so wrapped up and absorbed in my own problems for years now that it hit me like a brick that there could be other people who felt the same. I am always surprised by that - that I'm not the only one in the world who may feel or think a certain thing. It's such a relief.

  10. My current mask, the clear one, is finally feeling a little more comfortable.

  11. This has to be one of favorite newcomer quotes! Thank you
    so much Syd it makes me feel so full of hope and understanding. When I walked into Alanon it was such a relief to hear my share in others getting real in their lives.
    I like this quote from Buddhism may you be free of suffering, and the root of suffering.

  12. this is outstanding. so so many bells rang with this one. i'm glad i've left some of that me behind...

  13. I can relate to a good bit of that, thanks for sharing it!

  14. That is great, an amazing quote that is so true for so many of us...thank you for posting this, thank you.


  15. Truly profound. I can very well remember feeling this way and if I'm honest I still have my days of masks and fear. Time removes each face of hidden scrutiny, love and compassion help the wearer to shed the layers. Just like an onion to the heart of who they are. (Hugs)Indigo


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