Monday, October 25, 2010

Pouring outside and in

It is raining here today.  We certainly need the rain as it has been dry for several weeks.  I like these rainy days when the sky is overcast.  When I was working, I would wish that I were home reading a book.  Now that I am retired,  I am home and reading blogs and books.

I can't seem to catch up on the blogs or on the books.  I guess that I will have to get used to the idea that I will get what I can done.  There aren't any deadlines for me now---well, except for the self-imposed ones that I seem to make for myself.   I still feel a bit uneasy about having so much free time to do what I want.

I have gone back into my work place at least for several hours a week since I left.  I see a few people.  But mostly I slip into the building, unlock my old office, and go in to finish a few things that were left undone.  I have finally packed up all my things and moved them out.  There were just a few remaining files to go through.

I am glad to see the people there when someone says hello. But I don't feel as if I belong anymore.  It isn't a particularly good feeling because it reminds me of how I used to do my best to avoid people.  These are old issues with me.  And I will continue to address the feeling of not being wanted or appreciated.  As I have written here many times before, the fear of abandonment is something that I work on every day.

Another one of my character defects that has raised its head recently has been one involving lack of trust with some members in the program.  I go through these ebbs and flows when I feel really great about the people that I am around in meetings, only to be countered by a feeling of irritation and, yes, resentment towards them.

My most recent malcontent feelings were when a fellow chaired one of the Al-Anon meetings with the topic being Step One.  He "rewrote" the first step saying that "we admitted we were powerless over our addicts".  I realize that there are many people who come to Al-Anon because of drug addiction in a friend or relative.  But I like to keep in mind that our primary purpose is to help families and friends of alcoholics.  I do believe in our primary purpose and that trying to change it to focus on addicts isn't what I can relate to.  The more he talked about the addicts in our lives,  equating alcoholism with addiction, the less I could concentrate on the topic.  I sometimes feel as if the fellowship is being diverted from that which I can relate to.  But that is something that I need to reconcile within myself.

So once again there is a lot for me to work on in my recovery.  Acceptance and compassion are two things that I have to be mindful of each day.  This is a gentle program and not one where there are rules and regulations.

A much beloved friend in program shared with me that missing three meetings could result in dismissal from a group.  I don't know where this is written, and I am glad that I have not been told that I need not show up again if I miss three meetings.  That is what makes this fellowship so great.  There are no rules and regulations per se.  One can be gone for years and then show back up to be welcomed.  Something for me to keep in mind as I negotiate the twists and turns in my daily life as well!  And I already feel better for having written this.  The program itself is strong and for that I am grateful.


  1. i can absolutely relate to what you shared. I am a grateful member of alanon (most days) and i too can get hung up on the words used by other members.

    I could get resentful, but i remember we are all trying to recover for the same hurts and as "affected others" we need to keep a common shared focus.

    That being said, i can truly be distracted by the word alcoholic and can struggle to relate to the word alcohol. You see, my "stuff" is all from an doesn't matter what form the drug is...alcohol, or affects us all the same....I've learned to look for the similarities, not the diffrences. Alcohol is a drug and alcoholics are addictted to it.

    If i focused on the diffrences, my life would not have gone through this amazing transformation that ALANON has given me..

    Let it begin with me (and you) Let the hand of alanon be there for ALL who need it. I struggle with acceptance to, thats why i keep coming back....i'm a better wife, daughter, friend and employee.

    Alanon is for sharing, I need to share this gift with anyone that suffers....alcohol or other drugs leave the same shadow of fear, isolation, betrayal and distrust...i hope someday you can see that it doesn't matter what letters follow the letter "A"...alcoholic or addict....the pain that is inflicted on the loved one is the same.

  2. it is good you recognize these things...that awareness will allow you to grow from them...

  3. If I had been told that I would be kicked out of Al-anon for missing meetings I would never have come back. I would have a group conscience and take a vote on that, reminding everyone that while each group is autonomous EXCEPT IN MATTERS AFFECTING AL-ANON OR AA AS A WHOLE. I'll shut up now---that mindless, controlling and ego-based action is NOT a's a defect. Grrrr


  4. i see so many crazy aa versions of recovery I have to let go otherwise I would go mad :)
    But yes I have a role to play in trying to provide a model of recovery that I believe has integrity also. so a balancing act, as always :)

    opinionated, overbearing, heavy handed, domineering approaches are not attractive :)
    perhaps a group conscience? you can say the emphasis is on alcohol. whatever you like really, because each group is autonomous.

  5. I haven't gone to an Al-Anon meeting yet and was planning to until I read the comment that you have to attend!

    Yikes! I got side tracked by that comment. I will stick to my web research for now. Thanks.

    I really had just wanted to say that my alcoholic husband used to be a drug addict years ago. I did not grow up with an alcoholic, although as an adult, my brother is an alcoholic. How I managed to get myself into this relationship, I'm not entirely sure unless there is something to be said about the addict concept.

    I love my father dearly. When my mother left I was young--5 or 6. I'm not sure and don't want to ask. I'm the oldest of 4 children. Dad kept us legally. He turned to God like my husband does to alcohol.

    I was married for 30 years and was widowed for a year when I met my current husband. During that time I researched everything I could think of to help myself not choose the same kind of person again. I loved him but I married him when I was 17 and he was 27. I had been an unwed mother and he had three small children.

    Something you wrote made me wonder how much we are trying to make up for our dysfunctional childhood. You know, like trying to make it all better by reliving it with ourselves in control.

    I felt the surrender yesterday. I think I finally got it. As a recovering pack rat I could relate to letting go of something to make room for something better. When I let my heart surrender I felt myself let go of the desire to "help" my husband. I will draw my boundaries and love him on his side of the line.

  6. If I am asked to read the first step aloud in a meeting I would read it as it is written. However, in my mind, I often change it to, "powerless over people, places and things". And I think I heard that from someone in the program.

    Did you mean 3 Alanon meetings and you'd be out? Never heard that before, thankfully.

  7. Hmmm, so much here. I guess I have always viewed it as alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol so to me, in my opinion, its all about addiction. Maybe different substances, but addiction none the less. No matter what the substance the behaviors seem to have common threads that weave in and out for all.

    About being an AA words, not yours. :o) I found so much of that in my old religious world it really turns me off. The principals of the program are so valuable and so trustworthy, but again, in my opinion, if the little things become more important than live human beings, I think we have lost our way.

    For a speaker meeting one time, someone walked around after the meeting passing out fliers to hear a popular Alanon/AA speaker who also happens to be a priest. On the flier it said, Father So and So....I overheard a woman, an old timer, "This should not be allowed to be passed out here at the meeting since it has his title on it" as she handed it back to him. She was emphatic and rude. To her it was a huge issue.

    Technically she was right...but really how important was that? She isn't living with active addiction in her life anymore. I am. To me I just thought, "I have far larger concerns everyday then whether a flier is passed out that includes someone's title.

    Anyway...just my .02. Take it for what its worth. :o) lol

  8. Three missed meetings and you are "out"? Surely she must be joking. Yes. That's it.

    Now, as for rewording step one. Well, I would probably do that in my share, if I did it at all. Or I would do it in my blog, and clearly state that I do this to broaden its applicability, and then move on to what is really important--unity.

    On the other hand, I find that I have to be honest with group members. I tell them the alcoholism in my family is that of a grandfather I never met. And that maybe, just maybe, my mother's diagnosis (which I almost never mention by name) is in our family tree to show us that alcoholism is a family disease indeed.

    I am still recovering from the lifelong effect of my dry-drunk mother. Lord forgive her for me... Powerlessness is the best I can admit to right now...

    Smitty and Powerless over alcohol's effect on those who raised me.

  9. Syd, I had a simialr situation come up in my life recently. After doing a fourth step on it I realized that as long as I put the meeting in God's hands, everything will be OK. When I start to refering to MY meeting, I have to stop and remember that it is God's meeting. And if I pray about the issue or person that bothered me, a solution to the problem will be found and I will be able to carry it out in a kind and loving way. Trust God, Clean House, Work with others :)

  10. It sounds like another stage in transition, finding out how to structure time and interact with others now that the job is gone. Go gently Syd.

    You know out here, we don't have Al-Anon so there are many angry partners and family members in open AA meetings and we just listen and give support to their distress. Younger members of AA often have dual addiction problems and there is no NA. We have to be inclusive and we try to do it gracefully. The choices you have in the global north are a privilege and not a right. People walk up to five miles here to get to meetings in rural areas, meetings held at six-monthly intervals on lonely farms. I cannot imagine anyone, drug-addicted, the enraged wife of an alcoholic, long-absent, who would be turned away.

    You are so lucky, so fortunate to live where you do, to have a car to drive, meetings on your doorstep so that you can pick and choose, meetings your wife can attend as often she needs, meetings where your language is spoken, meetings reserved for Al-Anon or alcoholics. Fight the discontent with gratitude.

  11. Great post, Syd.
    As an alcoholic, I relate to the addiction thing. I can become addicted to just about anything that I like to eat, drink, do or collect. Alcohol was just a symptom, for me. So I don't let the "addict" term bother me as I adjust to its meaning.

    Hard to believe that someone would try to eliminate a person from recovery just for missing a meeting or two, or three. A good sponsor might help him/her.

  12. I just read the most honest, poignant blog I think you have put out - - full of many issues to be addressed - - - full of much growth - - - full of much more desire to grow - - - on and on ad in finitum!

    I took the liberty of copying the 2 paragraphs which reached out to me that I would like to address from my own experience, strength, and hope:

    "I have gone back into my work place at least for several hours a week since I left. I see a few people. But mostly I slip into the building, unlock my old office, and go in to finish a few things that were left undone. I have finally packed up all my things and moved them out. There were just a few remaining files to go through.

    I am glad to see the people there when someone says hello. But I don't feel as if I belong anymore. It isn't a particularly good feeling because it reminds me of how I used to do my best to avoid people. These are old issues with me. And I will continue to address the feeling of not being wanted or appreciated. As I have written here many times before, the fear of abandonment is something that I work on every day."

    Of course, my work experience was different from your level of expertise, but none-the-less, it had the same potential outcome. Perhaps the fact that the love of my life was in the last few weeks of life, prompted my need to withdraw from the professional world. At any rate, I was relieved, and immediately began doing things that I had already been doing, and found no need to return, except on a social level, where I was welcomed, loved, and accepted as though I had never left. But then, I think I am probably a bit more gregarious than you, and not really shy. The program has taught me to 'wait' and not to react as I once did - due to the effects of that alcoholism disease.

    I understand only you can resolve the feelings of 'not being part of' - - - and they will resolve themselves - - - but I feel that keeping the focus on your own wonderful being - as you have remolded it with use of the 12 steps and 12 traditions of this glorious fellowship Al-Anon - and discovered an entirely new being within yourself that you love and respect - - - that you may consider that you are outgrowing the need for a close relationship with professionals, and are now more open to a variety of personalities - which I find fascinating. Think about this; I know I sound like I'm preaching, but you did a beautiful job of dispelling the 'glooms' by writing about the situation that YOU chose to return to - if only for a short time. It's much easier to go forward than to look back. Others are still trying to prove themselves and strive for what you have attained; therefore, I feel it important for you to be a shining example and occupy YOUR OWN shadow of self-acceptance. There now, I think I'm done.

    With that all said, I just want you to know how very much I admire you, love you, respect you, and enjoy every word and moment we share. You are a special person - provided to me (selfish huh).

    As for the addict who has a different view of the Al-Anon program, the best we can do is to share from our own experience, and point out that you are a friend and a relative of an alcoholic/addict - - - but am not cursed with that disease, thank God. Sometimes things must be said in order to preserve the traditions and not dilute the program to the point that it becomes something other than what its original intent was.

    I love you.

    Love the rain, too.


  13. Raining and under a wind warning here! This was a great post. Thanks for the reminder that we are a gentle program. It's easy to get your back up, but those resentments and impatience benefit no one. I have seen people walk back into the program after being gone for years, and how they are welcomed and how good they feel. It is so important to know you have a place to go where you are accepted, faults and all. That feeling can go a long way in someone's recovery. Stay dry and warm.....

  14. It's interesting, when I first read what you said about the missing meeting and being dismissed idea I got all ruffled up...

    Then I considered a larger perspective of that idea, and my feelings of not belonging and inadiquacy.

    When I remove myself from situations whether intensional or unintensional, I can expect that others who have considered me a "regular" member or who just don't consider me because I'm not regular or active, may not (continue to) appreciate my views or participation as I join or rejoin. Rather, they may view me as seperate from, not a part of or may dismiss my insight or experience because they distrust (doubt) my sincerity, especially if I've placed myself in a position as a dedicated and caring member of a group and then am absent for extended periods.

    Three weeks is a long time out of sight (out of mind). In fact, I become somehow, by default, removed from the membership as I do that, of my own choice, not because someone dismisses me.

    Interesting thought, that's a new one for me, I wonder how much of my past experience is built upon my idea of how I should be able to or invited to belong but my behavior to the contrary.

    (((shaking head)))

    Still so much to learn and still so much more to grow in spiritual understanding and experience! :)

    I can see the right in your friends statement, as well as some somewhat misguided idea of legalistic stance on traditions and concepts too.

    We may be members if we say we are, but if we don't feel it in our gut and soul, well we may want to move to become a more active and integral part of in service. :)

    I'm glad you wrote about all of this today!

  15. I find that quite often I am working my program with the one's in my meeting.
    We are not alone.

  16. Your post brought on some strong reactions and my thoughts went right to the reason I came to the program, control. I thought I had everything under control until the drinking became more powerful than me. I couldn't control my husband any more or really anything. Until then I thought I had the power to make people do what I thought was best for them. I was exhausted running the lives of others and they didn't really appreciate my efforts either. So what you have written reminds me that I only get crazy when someone is not doing or being what I want them to be. The need for control brought me to Al-Anon and I like that everything is suggested not mandatory, it is my experience that when I want to control something it is because I want to feel safe and know what is going to happen or what is expected of me.

  17. Hey Syd,

    Thanks for this blog. It helped me because I've been in al-anon for 9 months and I have to say that I still don't feel the connection with others. I've had to just let that be ok for now because what else can I do? So I do my best to talk to people but it's pulling teeth for me. It just always feels like I'm on the outside looking in (though that is often how it is for me in any group; I am a supreme isolater).

    Re. the wording, I think we should just let the words alone as they were written and re-phrase them (silently) to ourselves if that helps. There are women I know who feel that the language of the steps is very "male" and so they just re-state things in their own minds. Whatever works! But I think that the problem with doing it out loud in a meeting is it ignores the fact that this is a shared experience; we have to think about the needs of others at the meeting, not just our own situation.

    Thanks again,


  18. We had a tornado warning here in Ohio today, Syd. I don't know whether one touched down anywhere or not. All is fine here. Now, we also have rain.

    Best to you,


  19. When someone whom I have helped,
    Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
    Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
    May I regard him still as my precious teacher. Dalai Lama

    I had to read this quote over and over again, it just fits so well for me. Taking a new approach means I am not resting in my old place it is difficult looking in a new way..
    There are lessons all around me if I can take the time to look. It is such a pleasure to read you post.
    Thanks for your share

  20. Isn't it also about taking from it what you will? The door is never closed nor shall we close the door on it? Your strength is courageous and your patience is admirable. Well done and thanks for reminding me that I can go back someday, one day.

  21. Well, I usually tend to go with the spirit of something, rather than the letter... Just breathes a bit more.

    I love AlAnon. It saved my life. In 12 years I've never heard anyone, ever, say if you "missed meetings" that you'd be kicked out. You CAN'T be kicked out. At least, not according to my understanding of the traditions, which say the ONLY requirement for membership is a problem of alcohol in a relative or friend. --G


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.