Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Knowing each other

I just got back from a meeting.  It was a sponsee's first Al-Anon birthday so I gave him a bronze medallion.  There were a couple of newcomers at the beginner meeting so he and I talked to them about what brought them to Al-Anon and how it might help.

Both of the newcomers had children who were having major issues.  One child is 14 years old and anorexic.  The parents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on getting her treated.  She has manipulated the mother into a near breakdown by telling her stuff like, "If you don't get me a new laptop, then I won't eat."  The other parent who was there has a daughter who is an alcoholic and a sex addict.  The daughter is now pregnant, has stopped drinking but is still a sex addict.

My sponsee and I shared about why we came to Al-Anon.  And as I was listening to what we were sharing, it occurred to me that garden variety alcoholism is getting rarer and rarer these days.  Most of the newcomers are dealing with relatives or friends with multiple addictions--tonight a food (or lack of) addiction and sex addiction.  Although I can't identify with these addictions, it is good that the message of the program is the same--to take care of yourself, to detach with love, to have compassion for those sick and suffering, and to realize that we can't control the behavior of another. 

The regular meeting was good with a speaker who shared her experience, strength, and hope.  Like so many who have come to be in recovery,  we have learned to open up and to share.  She said that this was the first time that she had shared her story.  And it was a rough week because she was fired from a job and had been obsessing about that.  A crisis had come into her life that was requiring her to take it one hour at a time. But focusing on sharing her story had helped her to get out of self-pity and focus on gratitude.  A coincidence?  I don't think so.  I think it was her Higher Power who brought the events together this week--a crisis that was helped by doing service.

Her story made me realize how fortunate I am to have met the people I have and to count them as friends.  We said good bye to a member tonight who is moving out of the state.  She has been a bright light in the program.  I would not have known her, come to count her as a friend, had it not been for Al-Anon.  And the same can be said for all those who I encounter in this program.  I went from someone who felt that I had no friends to a person who can pick up the phone and call any number of people who will be there for me.  And I will be there for them.  That is an awesome thing.

And there are the people who I have met through blogs.  I may not know you face to face, but you provide a way for me to feel included in your lives.  You share things in your writings that make me feel as if I know you.  And by doing so, I feel that I have come to care about you and what happens in your life.  We are all interconnected by what we share.  We dare to put ourselves out here, to lay ourselves bare and express our joys and sorrows.  Do you realize how special that is?  I think that it is really a rarety in society.  But for us in recovery, it is part of what makes us heal.

Now that I have shared my warm, fuzzy feelings for you, it's time to cozy up next to C. She has been reading and listening to me typing away on the laptop.  I think that I'll tell her just how warm and fuzzy she makes me feel too.


  1. I have no idea how a parent could detach with love from a 14 year old who won't eat. that is terrifying to me and I'm so glad I am not that parent.

    I had a friend who had an eating disorder, she never admitted it, and our friendship of 10+ years ended in a ball of flames. I have to say, I have not missed her brand of "friendship", and manipulation.

  2. My first thoughts while reading your blog were to realize how lucky I am to have my own problems. In comparison they don't seem all that big. (A new perspective.)

    Second thoughts had to do with how precious recovery is and the friends I have made along the way....on the blogs as well as face to face.


  3. Its true Syd, the identification and sense of belonging make this a special community. Thanks for all your part in it and I hope C enjoyed the cuddle.

  4. Yeah I identify with the complex multiples presenting in meetings. Lots !!! of eating disordered women, plus drugs. I prefer the plain vanilla alcoholics insofar as I identify with them more than the drug crowd. They are more familiar.

    Plus yes I love the connectedness that arises via fellowship both in meetings and online. Meaningful connections that do not require me to know the blow by blow account of their lives. I love that. Amazing how it works online too. I would never have guessed it worked the same way online. Has been a fascinating experiment in (trying to) carry the message the same way I do in meetings.
    Knowing that it can seem to work in this way makes me feel a greater sense of responsibility for what I say and do online. I had no ! idea it would communicate so effectively with people I had not met. Having met a visiting US blogger I am amazed at how ? 'transparent' blogs are. You really do (!!) see the person behind the words, exactly as they are. Weird. So this medium has a HUGE capacity to reach others in ways we are only just beginning to figure out. I am glad I decided to experiment with this medium. The power of words eh?
    Cool. How nice to be part of a new aspect of 12 step fellowship made possible through the Internet. Monks and Nuns are also increasingly available online too. On utube and mp3 downloads. The Internet has truly revolutionized the reach of spiritual practice. It’s very exciting really.

    Hehe. Better get back to study! Procrastination!
    Hope you and C have a great day :)

  5. It seems like most of us (alcoholics) are multi-addicted. It's the addictive personality.
    Now that I've admitted to that and accepted it, I can deal with those addictions and compulsions.
    Thanks for understanding.

  6. I was just reflecting this morning how I now have friends that "get it" when I share about my Al-Anon attitude. That has been a great gift of the rooms, not feeling so alone and isolated. I am thankful for you and all the other bloggers who share your hearts.

  7. I begin to wonder about singleness of purpose in these circumstances. We have a program that has the capacity to help so many, but without being able to identify with the person on an experiential level, it's very difficult to be effective. I can identify on an emotional level and still not have the power to assist specifically with their addiction if I cannot share an experience of identification. I'm really glad that there are other programs who share the same 12 step process with their own specific purpose and experiences to become a close knit community.

    I'm also glad that whenever anyone anywhere reaches out... there is someone who is there to help.

  8. great post syd...the people around us and the connections we make add such rich texture to our lives...things like the aprent of the anorexic kid hurt my heart because of this...

  9. I know exactly what you mean and I am beyond grateful for the sharing.
    Thanks for saying it out loud.

  10. what an amazing post. you are truly blessed and gifted to be able to express yourself so well. i feel like i can open up anywhere about myself. people are afraid of the internet, but my blog is my blog and i can get to it and it is like an old friend. i miss it when i am gone it is important for my recovery to reach members. i prefer this over facebook or any other social media. and i did try them all for a minute blogging stuck for me.

  11. The warm and fuzzy feelings are mutual, Syd. I feel blessed to have met you.



  12. It is amazing how 12 steps in general, can apply to everyone's life.The difference being degrees of desperation. If you are not sick and tired of the pain, you won't be as willing to do the work.
    I have learned quite a bit about detachment from Al-Anon. I have learned a slightly different perspective of it, from AA.
    I have met people who had nameless
    cycles of behavior, who did not know there was help to be had from ACOA. HP puts people in our lives who may benefit from any one of our 12 step approaches- we often need to be centered enough in the present to see it. The concept of identify don't compare, has helped me with threads; the wanting to 'pass the message ' has prompted me
    to share. Sheer gratitude.

  13. Hubby and I have talked about the subject of multiple addictions for a few years. We saw so much of that in the CoDA meetings. And lots of the people in those meetings were in other programs and attended those meetings as well. My grandson battled anorexia and it became a serious medical emergency.

  14. Syd,
    You gave the smile I so needed today. The "fellowship" is an amazing thing......I am glad each day to have found your blog....

  15. wow. nicely written. sounds like you have many people in your life that appreciate you and your writing syd.

  16. Wonderful post Syd. I am so grateful for the people in my life too...through real life meetings and my blogger friends. You brought up something I love about Alanon....it is a universal message of hope for whatever ails you. I am SO thankful that I found my way into those rooms.

  17. Thank you for sharing those warm fuzzy feelings :) it's just what I needed! and yes, I agree it is very special - this blog community and also the friends we meet thanks to our respective 12 step programs.

  18. What a sweet post! I feel the same about the people I have met in the program and through the blogs (like YOU!).
    I have found it interesting too about the "no longer garden variety of addictions". I have seen the same thing at meetings on this coast, and have been so thankful that the people have come to share their experience, strength and hope - what a great community!
    God bless.

  19. I believe that while technology claims to be connecting people, I think the opposite can be true, people become so reliant upon technology that they lose the art of personal connection and communication.

    Having said all that, I beleive that many of us blogging about recovery have found a way to really connect with one another through technology. I know that my recovery is richer for knowing folks like you Syd!

  20. I so agree about the blogging community. And I agree too that fewer and fewer younger people identify as primarily or solely alcoholic. It is a challenge for us in AA.

  21. I have found that today I can pick up the phone and call people, who share the solution of working the 12 Steps, who are there for me and I can be there for them, too. I didn't have friends like this before I came to AA and Al-Anon. I do think it is important to abide by the 12 Traditions in these programs. No one person, group, program, etc. can be everything to everyone except God. But, on the other hand, who knows what can happen as "more is revealed."


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