Monday, January 9, 2012
Oysters, puppies, and a few other things
One of the highlights was seeing and holding some 8 week old puppies whose mother was the daughter of my old girl who recently died. These were her grandbabies, and they were precious. Nothing like nuzzling some babies that have that wonderful puppy breath. Their sturdy little bodies and thick coats were awesome. It did my heart good to see these descendants that go back several generations from my line of English Labradors.
I generally read blogs in the morning and evening. I have found that my meditation time is not complete without opening blogs and checking in on what you are doing. My blog roll has grown enormously since I started blogging several years ago. I find that I get so much out of what is posted. In many ways, what you write has been as much an integral part of my recovery as meetings have.
Many times I will read a blog entry that makes me think about what it was like when I first started going to meetings. One of the bloggers was writing about her experience with going to an Al-Anon meeting and not feeling comfortable because the meeting was closed.
Al-Anon meetings are closed because they are limited to members and prospective members who will feel free to share and listen to the experience, strength, and hope of one another on a confidential and anonymous basis. This means that therapists, health professionals and people who don't have a problem with alcoholism won't be attending just to observe. Having a closed meeting keeps it safe for all who attend.
An Al-Anon meeting may choose to be "open" by the consent of its participants. An "open" Al-Anon meeting allows attendance by people who are not families and friends of alcoholics but who are interested in learning about Al-Anon. People who may come to open Al-Anon meetings occasionally include students and professionals who work with alcoholics and their families. I've been in these open meetings in which students attend. And invariably, one of them will share that there is someone in the family who is affected by the disease.
Tradition 3 states that the only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend. That's pretty broad. Most of us have relatives or friends who have a problem with alcoholism. I know many people who come to Al-Anon who have relatives who are drug addicts. And that is largely because there are so few Nar-Anon meetings and Families Anonymous meetings around. But the focus is not on the alcoholic (or addict) but on the crazy behavior of those who live with them. The anger, resentment, worry, enabling, sadness are common emotions that occur when someone you love is making a mess of their lives.
I do believe in singleness of purpose. But I have not seen anyone turned away because their loved one was a drug addict rather than solely an alcoholic. Now days, there are so many that have both problems. Or perhaps one morphs into the other. I was told to attend six meetings before making up my mind about whether Al-Anon was for me. I picked my sponsor at my third meeting. He showed me compassion and from that I learned to be compassionate. I learned to shift my focus from talking about the destructive behavior of my loved one to the destructive behavior that I had. And that is what meetings are about. We come in hopeless and learn to have hope, learn to have a life that isn't filled with anxiety and obsessing about others, learn to live for ourselves again. Powerful stuff.