Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Note To All About Al-Anon

Based on the last comments in the previous blog post, I want to address some things that may be confusing. As they were confusing to me at first, as well. Now they make a ton of sense.

About Al-Anon holding hands at the end. Yep. I feel weird holding hands. Still do. But getting over it. I think it represents unity and group support.

Yep. Girl crying - coming to meeting. Begging for help. Seen that too. She blabbers and rambles about her problem. The remark of the group is, "Keep on coming back!" Now swap out word "Girl" with "Joe." Yep. That was me. The "Keep on coming back!," pissed me off hearing that. HELP ME my tears screamed. But fortunately a couple of women came up and talked to me after the meeting. They didn't tell me what to do. They just shared their examples and listened for about an hour of me still blabbering. I could not stand going back. I was pissed off every Saturday morning racing to get there. And taking the time out of my precious weekend. Man, I was resentful. And I thought, "These people are crazy. Why don't they just stop?" That was at first. Time period - I am not exactly sure, for I still have some of these feelings. Here I am, . . . 7 month or 8 months later, I have found working the program has been pretty interesting - for I am UNLEARNING old habits that don't work and get ME into bad/negative/destructive thinking and then actions.

I avoided getting a sponsor for 6 months. I basically said, "I don't need a stinking sponsor." Then I got woke up and got one. Then I avoided talking to him for 2 months. Now I am slowly opening up. SLOWLY, opening up. I am working Step 1. I HATE working any type of structured "program" - not sure why. But, I said, "What the heck? What have I got to lose?" So I am reading everything I can about Step 1; Step 1 by the way is about two words; Unmanageable and Powerless. These are two words I have faced head on in getting well when I was going through my 20's and into my 30's. Facing these words, made me a success in work. HOWEVER, these words are about ALCOHOL. Not the alcoholic. Not about me. The word "alcohol" can be substituted with "situation" too. It means, to me at least, "quit forcing something" and "don't fight something you cannot change" and "don't try to change someone or something else that won't or can't change." I am still learning this one. As my old habit of taking over and fixing things is what got me here - and made me a success at work. In some ways, has held me back too. For I applied "power" and "managing" to almost everything. It's like the adage; "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

OK - that was a long paragraph. I will tighten them up - or get to the point quicker.

About the first 3 meetings - that didn't like any one of the first three. Sometimes, you have to attend the same one a couple of times. A person in the room or a person NOT in the room can cause the meeting to be a bust or a direct hit. The literature says, "Try 6 meetings." I think that is a good number. I remember going to the Saturday Mens Meeting. Hated it. Too much testosterone. Too much rigidity. Went back to Saturday Mens and Womans meeting. Now I really like the Mens Meeting. It sort of meets you when you are ready.

About Al-Anon and whether it's just about you and the alcoholic or alcohol that created havoc in our lives. I found that with Al-anon, if you work the principles, you can actually grow, even if there was no alcoholic in your life.

In fact, this little program/meeting (Al-Anon thing)- whatever it is called - is really about how to live. OK . . . now what makes me an expert? I am going to toot my horn here, somewhat . . . or should I? OK - sorry to all. Here was my "little self-help" program that I ran for myself;

  • I started this "little self-help" program in 1990. I went to the library and read all the books I could on psychology, leadership, management, back to psychology. I wore out my library cards. I have a library in my house of close to 4,000 books - (and I think that is a conservative number). I filled up hundreds of notebooks (the notebooks/writing forces you to think! and not have your mind wander).
  • I read the best books, the best authors and researchers. I took notes, every morning, two hours a day - 7 days a week. That's 18 years x (times) 365 days in a year x (times) 2 hours a day (sometimes more) = 13,140 hours of study minimum.
  • Then when I drove, I listened to tape/cds in my car. I drove an average of an hour a day during this period. But don't even add that amount on to this 13,140.
  • So, 13,140 divided by a 40 hour week (which is the number of hours in most work weeks)
  • This equals = 328.5, forty-hour work weeks . . .
  • Now, take 328.5 and divide by 52 (the number of weeks in a year)
  • This equals = 6.3 years of study. (that's 6.3 years of 52, forty-hour weeks)
  • And I do mean study. Shows you what 2 hours a day equates to doesn't it?

My initial impression is this; "Joe you are insane. YOU really studied that much?" My response would be, "Yes, but you should have seen me way back then."

Why am I telling you this? Not because I think I am better or smarter than anyone.

I am telling you this because; "I thought I couldn't learn anything new. And that I knew most of it all already."

So, Al-Anon is now teaching me things from a different perspective. Jeez, I hate that I do not know it all (this is said with some truth and some jest).

So, I do have this love/hate for Al-Anon. I do not want to be going for 10 years. But maybe, just maybe, if I "reframe" the problem of having to go because my spouse is an alcoholic, to "I am going to use this to improve my spirituality (because it is not about a God, although the HP thing is about something out there bigger than all of us), maybe I can learn something new.

OK. ODAT. Not Latin. Or even Pig Latin. ODAT is the "One Day At A Time" book and slogan. ODAT I believe refers to the book. There are some people who can clarify this on a comment.

In the next couple of hours I want to post a couple of things:

  1. What I learned reading "Hope for Today" prior to going to Al-Anon Men's Meeting last night.
  2. I want to create a post about "Getting Unstuck." I read this in the book by Robert Anthony regarding decisions. (Robert Anthony is not affiliated with Al-Anon, but that's ok, because he/his books have helped me BIG TIME. And maybe they can help you.)
  3. This one is something that I owe, that I said I would post about 2 weeks ago. It sticks in my mind every day, because I do not like to make a commitment, and not fulfill it. It the commitment that I made to post the childhood roles in an alcoholic family. I hesitated to post this because it is somewhat troubling for me, and it may be for you as well. But I owe it and I will post it

See you later.


Syd said...

Good post. Yes, Al-Anon is about how to live and practicing the principles in our life. I went to Al-Alon because I was in deep trouble in my life and my marriage. I still suffer set backs but am learning that I don't need to get stuck. I just need to talk things out and move forward.

Laurie said...

Joe - Great information. I know your original intention for this blog was to help you, but your comments are a huge help for me! And then you mention a post coming about decisions and getting "unstuck". That's where I am right now. Stuck. I feel like I've worked myself into this position and I don't know how to get out. Looking forward to your comments on this.

Thanks for sharing with us!

Joe said...

Thank Laurie. It's good to hear I am able to help. It does me more joy to help others than myself. I think that's called codependency !!

Thanks Syd. Syd is absolutely correct. Some times we know the answer and when we speak it freely at a meeting - we hear it differently than what we intended or what was swirling around in our heads. Also, I heard from an older woman that when you talk, the meeting starts to shift toward what you spoke about. So this interesting little dynamic allows you to get input from others. Interesting. And, I thought I knew it all.