Thursday, October 11, 2012

Healthy recovery

It is a windy, chilly morning here. I am loving the change from the hot and humid days of the past week. Maybe cooler weather will be here to stay. The cats, Rachael and Esther, enjoy snuggling together when it's chilly (This photo is for Lou).

I've had a busy week thus far, filled with meetings, sponsee calls, and kitchen remodeling. The latter is moving along at what seems like a slow pace but in reality, is good progress. At times, I have felt frustrated and sad. We are both tired of having contractors and the mess in the house. But I remind myself that all will be done soon. For the inconvenience now, it will be so beautiful when completed.

I went back to the first meeting I attended in Al-Anon. I walked into that meeting and got phone numbers to call and received a lot of instructions from the leader. One of the instructions was to leave my wife. I learned after over a year of attending the meeting that it was not healthy. It was dominated in such a way that does not follow the traditions. In fact, not much of the meeting followed the traditions.

Not all meetings are healthy. What I learned was to find the ones that are and go to those. Eventually, I stopped going to the unhealthy meeting. I found people who were good, trustworthy, and caring. I went to meetings where there was recovery, study of the steps and traditions, not gossip and dominance.

I had heard that the unhealthy meeting had changed because the dominating personality there had retired. So I went back and found a much smaller group and people who seem to be much more free and open than before. About four from the old group remained. It felt like a group that was healing itself.

My thoughts are that not every Al-Anon meeting is healthy. Look for ones that not only study the steps and traditions but that understand the three obstacles of religion, gossip and dominance.

Perhaps you can be the change that is needed in an unhealthy meeting. Have a group inventory and don't be afraid to voice an opinion on what could make the meeting better. Your recovery and that of others depends on having a safe place to share and to heal.

26 comments:

  1. love that last pic man...and having that safe place...tht welcome place is def important...and sometimes we have to make the hard decisions to leave some places for the better...

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    1. That's the road to our place, Brian. It does welcome me and sustains me.

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  2. Good morning Syd. A good post. In our "Bible belt" area all the AA meetings end with everyone holding hands and reciting the Lord's prayer. There are so many of us that find that offensive and finally one of the groups now opens and ends their meetings with the Serenity Prayer. It has been a life saver for some and in my Home Group at least we say "we will close with the Lord's prayer, prayer of your choice or silence" and that came about from a Group Conscience.

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    1. We say the Al-Anon declaration at some of the meetings now. Thinking that everyone is a Christian and saying the Lord's prayer really goes against the idea that Al-Anon is not a religious organization. I never understood the contradiction with that.

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  3. love the pic of the kitties. Lil is going to miss snuggling with Henry this winter and now that he's gone I wonder if she'll follow quickly behind him.

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    1. I hope not. I hope that Lil will snuggle with you.

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  4. Poor newcomers who walk into an unhealthy meeting. I didn't even know that was a possibility in the beginning. lol Of course now it makes perfect sense.....all of these ailing people coming together to find their way. Thank God Bill and Lois set up a strong system of principles and steps. When they are followed the continuity and stability is a beautiful thing. It makes Alanon a safe place to be.
    I can't wait to see the "finished" kitchen pictures! I'm assuming you will share them of course. lol

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    1. Yes, it does make it a safe place. But I also like to say that people need to attend multiple meetings so that they can find the right "fit" for them. I'm glad that I attend several different meetings in which I feel at home.

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  5. As always, Syd, your message may be about recovery in Al-Anon but it translates so well to life in general.
    Seek the healthy. Amen, amen.
    We, too, are loving this cooler weather. It is perfect at the beach. No bugs and the water is still warm enough for swimming but it is lovely and cool enough so that no one is melting on the beach.
    Could not ask for a more beautiful week.

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    1. Yes, it was a beautiful week. I am glad to seek out the healthy in my life. I can recognize the dysfunctional readily.

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  6. Wow, Syd, I was just formulating a post about this. I thought I was the only one that found the "advice" that was pressed on me sometimes was actually quite harmful.
    Working the steps (twice, with two different sponsors) was good for me. Listening to some of those dominant personalities..not so much.

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    1. There are many sick people in the rooms. Hopefully, some are trying to get well. I like the analogy of it being a bit like the crazy people running the asylum. It doesn't always work.

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  7. I tried going to a meeting that was closer, more convenient, but it felt wrong so I went back to the one that felt right. I probably would not have been strong enough to handle the unhealthy meeting. I hate it when I hear of people that had a bad first experience with Alanon. I doubt I would have continued to go.

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    1. I knew that I needed what the program had to offer, Marcia. So I found a healthy meeting and went. It helped me a great deal to find the meetings where there was good recovery.

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  8. It is worrying to think about the number of vulnerable people who may think wrong ways are normal, and not have the courage to seek help somewhere else. Good advice once again, Syd.

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    1. I had to find some where else. And eventually I quit the unhealthy meeting. Now I can go back and see that it is trying to get "well".

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  9. you're right, you have to find the place where you fit in and are comfortable with what is going on. i tend to take a little bit of a lot of things that work for me, and voila! i have my little magic formula. and so should each person do for themselves too.

    enjoy the cooler weather. we're heading into summer, and i'm just not into it yet. too many disruptions (building at home) and upsets (i lost my african grey parrot) this early summer season... quite frankly i feel like going somewhere to hibernate for a while...

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    1. I love the fall here. It is really a lovely time of year. Summer--not so much because of the heat and humidity.

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  10. I have learned the hard way to be very discerning about
    advice I am given. What you wrote here can apply to many
    situations where advice is freely handed out (not just AA and
    Alanon). Whether it be advice from a relative, a workman, a
    doctor, or a counselor, I think that we each need to weigh its
    merits. What's hard is that often, we are in vulnerable situations
    that cause us to not think clearly or don't have the necessary
    knowledge to make an informed decision.

    Take Care,
    Holly

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    1. Holly, so very true. I think that many people grasp onto what they hear as if it were a lifeline. But it can also have a huge anchor attached too. I think that following the idea in Al-Anon that there are no musts, just suggestions is a good one.

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  11. That's one of the things I love about my regular Al-Anon meeting: My first step meeting including the suggestion that I try 6 meetings, different ones throughout the area. A gentleman with decades of recovery often says to newcomers, "I love this meeting and it's my home. But, this may not be the right one for you. Keep going until you find one that fits."

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  12. Very good post. I have a few friends who built up the nerve to go to NA/AA and went to an "unhealthy" meeting. They were unsure about going at first and meetings such as these terminated their desire to go back. Lovely photos. I really like the one with the trees. Fall is upon us in PA and I am loving it. Be well!

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    1. Thanks, Lori. It's a shame that people are chased away from the very place that is supposed to be safe. Who needs to go to a meeting where there is some one who is a controller? Didn't those of us who live with active alcoholism have enough controlling in our lives?

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  13. P.S. love the cats and love their names!

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    1. All our cats have biblical names!

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