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Archive for the ‘Meetings’ Category

The Big Guy

One of the draws of Al-Anon, so I heard tonight, is the fact that in the Twelve Steps, it mentions “God as we understand him.”  There’s another line somewhere about a higher power, but the point is that these steps try to make it as open to all faiths as possible.  The main thing is that there IS some higher power, and we’re supposed to give our troubles up to it.

Something like that, anyway.

Problem is–and maybe it’s just this particular group of people–there really isn’t any “as we understand him” to it.  Everyone’s talking about the Christian God…and I suppose that’s probably because Christianity is the mainstream religion, but even in discussing it tonight, this one woman was like “I know a lot of newcomers have an issue with the ‘giving it up to God’ part … sometimes I hear people laugh because someone’s talking about their higher power being a tree or some weird shi–”

She cut herself off, but that’s a pretty perfect example of my thoughts toward this.  It really DOES lean more toward the Christian God than any other higher power one might believe in.

Here’s where I feel like I need to censor myself, because I have a lot of friends who are devout Christians, and the part of me that seeks approval from everyone is afraid of them looking down on me for considering that a negative thing–or worse, feeling some sort of condescending pity for the poor lost lamb.  I can’t tell you that I’m not Christian.  I would be more willing to say that I’m spiritual, but not religious.  I’ve warred with the whole idea of that one God for years, and right now I guess it’s understandable that I’d be wavering a bit in my faith (whatever that faith happened to be).

In that thread of thought, the idea of “giving ‘it’ up to God,” there was a woman tonight who spoke of powerlessness and at first I thought she was using it negatively.  After a few moments, however, I realized she was implying that we should be powerless, that that’s pretty much the goal because we’re supposed to be giving everything to God.

There is a sentiment I will never be able to agree with.  The idea that we’re all supposed to just go about, heads down and leave everything in our lives up to some greater power that may or may not exist…What kind of purpose does that give our lives?  It’s hard enough for me sometimes when I think about how our lives consist of nothing but workingworkingworking like little ants, then getting old and dying.  There’s no point to it, there’s no purpose to any of it, and that is really fucking depressing…especially given that none of us actually knows if there’s anything to come after we die.  But to just give up and accept powerlessness?

It could very well be that I’ve entirely missed the point, or at the least, it could be that the woman wasn’t any good at articulating her thoughts.  I just don’t like thinking of myself as some poor hapless Sim that God has queued up and ready to go.  I think there are some situations in which you finally need to step back and say “You know what?  I’ve done what I can, it’s up to [insert deity here] now,” but I wouldn’t say we should be like that in every aspect of our lives.  Hell, if that was the case I could just throw up my hands and say “Okay, God, I give up on this apartment-hunting thing.  It’s up to you to find me something.”

Anyway.  I’m sure I probably do have it all wrong, and it will be pointed out to me later!  Tonight was overall a good night, in that I didn’t feel the urge to cry even once, and one of the other women kind of befriended me and chatted with me a bit on the way into the church.  There was a girl there, whose first meeting had–like mine–been last week, and I so wanted to approach her after the meeting to talk.  She’s young, I think, somewhere in her 20s, and when she tried talking tonight she just started crying.  Her boyfriend, she said, had just signed himself out of rehab.  She just looked like such a kindred spirit, and I’d hoped to at least catch her gaze on my way out tonight so I’d have an excuse to come up and be like “Hey” (you know, being the articulate soul that I am).  Unfortunately, she didn’t look over as I passed and I’m too shy to just approach people out of the blue.

I feel so dumb just walking straight out after the meeting’s done.  Everyone else congregates in little groups, because they’ve known each other for awhile, and I’m the awkward shy kid who keeps her head down and trundles out of the building.  It was like that when I used to attend a class at the gym, too, and there’s such a feeling of frustration, of wishing that I was confident enough to walk up to people and know exactly how to do the smalltalk thing.  Instead, I wish that the other people take notice of me and stop me to chat, which is not the best way to go about things.

Instead, I just have to wait until I’ve gotten to know everyone enough to feel a bit braver.  I’m just not so good with patience!

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Expectations

Despite all my fears about making it to tonight’s Al-Anon meeting, I did make it…and I can’t say right now what my feelings are toward the meeting in general (it’s too soon to really know), but in listening to everyone I definitely heard some things that resonated, and things that I realized were happening but I’d never noticed.

The latter came about when one woman began speaking of her recent experiences.  “I didn’t realize I’d been in fight-or-flight mode constantly,” she said, and I realized that’s been my permanent state…god, more often than not during this time I’ve lived with my mother.  The constant flinching every time there’s any sort of noise in the house?  I just freeze, like some poor animal waiting to see if that noise turns out to be something that’s going to tear it apart.  I shouldn’t be stressed out and nervous all the time in my own home, but that’s what I am.

Before the meeting today, I walked out of my room to find Mom slumped over on the couch again.  Most of the time she’s just laying in bed with the TV on, but there was no TV on in the living room.  Nothing was going on, she was just…there.  She said something to the dog, then she tried talking to me and I couldn’t understand her.  When I asked her to repeat herself, it was like she didn’t hear me.  “I have a meeting at 7:30,” I told her, and went back to my room to get something.

Coming out a minute later, I found her half-sitting now and trying to pull the glass door open more.  We have the AC running, and of course I’m the one paying all the bills, so seeing that the door had just been hanging open filled me with all sorts of anger.  …Except I know it wasn’t the door being open, my anger is due to HER, to seeing that damn blank look on her face, like she’s a robot just going through the motions of life.

“What are you doing here?” she asked in delayed surprise.

“What do you mean, what am I doing here?” I snapped.  I wanted to continue, “I was just out here two fucking minutes ago, and if you weren’t so drunk all the time, you’d realize that!”  But I didn’t say anything more.  It’s not like it would have mattered; she was too drunk to have realized anything.  Instead I took the dog out, then grabbed my things and left.

Aaaaand of course the very second tonight’s meeting started, I burst into tears.  I slammed my chin down to my chest, hoping that with everyone else’s heads bowed they wouldn’t see me crying like some kind of childish idiot, and after a couple minutes I overcame it and was able to look up again.  The night’s leader of this meeting said that at first, she’d planned for the discussion topic to revolve around resentment, but then there was a passage read that basically said to let go of expectations, and to…I guess basically be thankful for the moment, the gifts of the day, that sort of thing.  And so she said she’d rather have everyone talk about something good tonight.

It was kind of odd the way things worked out, us talking about letting go of expectations, because earlier in the day I’d received an email from one of my best friends, telling me about a concept she’d been reading.  To paraphrase, it’s basically that much of our suffering in life comes from that constant wishing that things were different.  You’re driving, and you KNOW there are a lot of idiot drivers out there–that’s just the way things go–but when you get cut off or stuck behind a slow-moving car, instead of just accepting things, you spend time getting angry and wishing maybe you’d left a little earlier or that a meteor would drop out of the sky and hit the offending motorists.

Okay, maybe I’m the only one who wishes for meteors.  Point is, I think this concept she told me about, and the passage we read tonight at the meeting, are really kind of the same thing.  And right now I can sound all logical and enlightened, but I already know this is going to be one of the toughest concepts to truly absorb.  My logical mind says yes, if I merely accept the fact that my mother is an alcoholic, accept that I neither caused it nor can cure it, and make no expectations about her behavior, then I’ll be okay.

But it’s not that easy, is it.  I was already making expectations before she’d even left the hospital this last time.  “Now that she’s been in there for almost 2 weeks,” I thought, “she’s sobered up and realizes this is not the way to be.”  And then mere days later, I discovered more vodka under her bathroom sink and I think I felt worse than if I’d realized she was going to return to the same behavior.

I suppose all this has made me realize what a long, long process I have ahead of me.  It’s not so much about getting her to change as it is about changing myself, and in that way I’ll be better able to deal with things.

I got a little packet of information at tonight’s meeting, and it came with a bookmark that has some pretty good things on it.  There’ll be a link to it under the “Pages” header.

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