Friday, February 22, 2008

On-line Al-Anon Meeting on: Focus on Ourselves

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Focus on Ourselves.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 2/22/08 and runs to Sunday 2/24/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is Ashley. Ashley has her own blog called "Back from Chaos." It describes her challenges and her steps to "recovery."

Ashley is a regular to our blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.

This is where we start. Ashley has posted the message below. These are Ashley's words which start our meeting on:

"Focus on Ourselves"


I had an incredible meeting on Tuesday night - topic was "Focus on Ourselves" and I thought this could be a great topic for the weekend meeting.

One of the readings from Courage to Change jumped out at me.

page 29

"Many of us learn the value of self-expression in Al-Anon. We discover how we feel and benefit from giving voice to those feelings when it seems appropriate. But there's a difference between expressing ourselves and using words to control others.

Sometimes the only way I can determine whether I'm trying to control someone else or whether I'm simply expressing my feelings is by noticing how many times I say the same thing. If I mention something that is on my mind and then let it go no matter what response I get, I am speaking sincerely. If I repeatedly make similar suggestions or ask prodding questions again and again, I am probably trying to control (emphasis mine). If I am satisfied only when the other person responds in a way I consider desirable -- agrees with what I've said or takes my advice -- then I know I've lost my focus."

Today's Reminder

"I am learning to be honest with myself. I will not use my recovery as an excuse to justify my efforst to change other people's thinking. Trying to control other people only gets me in trouble. Instead, I will promptly admit such mistakes and put my energy back where it belongs by focusing on myself."

I ended up posting this on my blog yesterday because I really wanted to remember it.

I do this all the time. When my husband and I are arguing or even discussing things, I always think maybe if I just state it a different way, it will make sense to him. I never consider that I might be wrong, or even if I'm right, he may not agree with me. There are times that I feel like I've failed if I can't get him to see things my way. I think that I just didn't figure out the right combination of words to convince him I'm right.

Obviously one of the many things I have to work on.

Hope you're having a great day!


Please comment on this topic/subject how it may be relevant to you. If you have a burning issue, you may jump in and provide your thoughts, vent or just plain ol'type away.

Thank you Ashley.


Joe said...

Wow. I read this 3 times when setting this up this afternoon. This describes me BIG TIME. I say it over and over and over. I think I learned it best from the counselor at my wife's rehab joint. He said, "Do you hear how you are getting hooked up?"

"No. If I did I would stop. Maybe." That's not what I said, but I wanted to.

I really didn't hear it. Then I paid attention. I would repeat the same thing over and over. And I would say it different ways.

But in truth, I cannot be totally to blame - could I? My wife ignores me. So, I didn't believe that. So, I thought if my qualifier (wife) didn't hear me the first time, I would say it differently. I would do it again. I would eventually get frustrated and pull some emotional words into the conversation perhaps. I would say certain words with more emphasis. "Knock knock, I was really saying. Respond to me."

I have learned that this behavior drifted into work. It showed up in con calls and in meetings. I eventually "owned the stage." I as one newscaster puts it - bloviated. But not for the reasons of self-grandure, but because of insecurity maybe?

Now I am relearning this thing of making a clear statement of what I want and need. That's Period on the end of that. Period.

Am I doing it again? Peroid. Ooops. Question mark.

Great topic hits home. Oouch

Ashley said...

Thanks Joe for the kind words! They're very much appreciated.

I realized in re-reading my post that the bolding didn't come over correctly. The line I was trying to emphasis was this.

If I repeatedly make similar suggestions or ask prodding questions again and again, I am probably trying to control.

I do this ALL the time. What's worse is I have a family member who does this to me and it drives me INSANE!! In stepping outside myself and looking at my behavior - I'm amazed my husband isn't bald from pulling his hair out over me.

Now I say that because I know this is an issue I have to deal with. It doesn't take anything away from the other real issues that we need to deal with (ie the drinking, ignoring, not responding, or responding too much).... this is one of my little parts in a much larger issue.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and am looking forward to how others "focus on themselves". I can use all the tips and tricks I can get! :)

Catherine said...

"Keep the Focus On Yourself" is one of the earliest lessons that I learned in AlAnon and seriously, all my interactions go better when I put it in play.

Small example: My sister often calls me to vent about her job. She hates it there, they treat her badly, the money's not enough, this happened, that happened, gossip, dysfunction, etc.

My old, non-recovered reaction was to ~insist~ that she send me her resume ("I'll edit it and fix it up!") and then I would start sending links and articles to her. Next, she'd get annoyed with me for no apparent reason. Hello?! She didn't want my help. I was focused on who?

Medium example: My alcoholic called this afternoon from work and in the midst of chat asked if I'd be going to my Friday meeting. (We have kids, so someone has to be home at all times.) "No," I say, "the weather is too bad." So he called again a bit later to let me know he was going out with the guys, since he knew I didn't have plans. I got mad. He bamboozled me! One of the reasons I go to meetings on Fridays is so he'll be forced to come home and..... Oh-ho, wait a minute. Listen to that! There's me trying to control him. The focus is on who? Not me.

Why am I angry? I still get what I wanted: to avoid the bad weather and spend the night in with a big bowl of pasta. But I also tried to control him and the minute I did, things turned sour.

Syd said...

For me, it goes back to step one. I am powerless over people, places and things. I can only change what I do. And that means that I need to focus on what I do, inventory it, and acknowledge my part in it. If I don't focus on me, then I too easily lose myself in others. I make them my HP. I also will not address what bothers me or my character defects if I put the focus on someone else.

Joe said...

Catherine - great catch! I like the way you come back to you. You did get what you wanted. He didn't get what you wanted! I see myself right there! Thanks

Syd - thanks for making it simple. This is Step 1.


work in progress said...

shoot. i really need to work on this. i am a talker that doesn't think before i speak and i am notorious for repeating myself. 3 times seems to be the magic number.

i was convinced the reason i do this is that i am trying to communicate for understanding, and that if i am not sure the person i am talking to "understands" the message i am conveying, then i need to restate it until i am convinced "understanding" has taken place.

wow. wow. wow. i get it know. i don't want understanding. i want agreement. align your thoughts with mine. respond to me in the way i want. a way that tells me you agree with what i have said. i NEVER saw how i communicated was manipulative.

i really need to bring the focus back to me. say what i mean, once, clearly, then let it go. this is huge. i love it. thanks so much ashley for the topic. step 1. ugh! am i ever gonna get past this step? :) progress, not perfection, right?

love and gratitude

work in progress said...

okay, i have been having one of those days where the thoughts just keep coming. i love it.

but i have been thinking and meditating and working on this idea of "focus on ourselves" and how important boundaries are and learning to own our own emotions. and i came up with this whole train of thought on my blog and i wanted to share.

love and gratitude

Anonymous said...

Focus on yourself. Huh! I am so or was so focused on my spouse, I allowed me to take second place to everyone else's desires and needs. I have not taken time out for me - I don't think ever.

I will make a list of things I want to do this week. I am going to do one of these things.

And, I will make my statement of what I want, succinctly, in one solitary sentence. A statement too. Not a question like "Do you mind if I .......?"

I'll be bAAAk

Joe said...

There is synchronicity in this world.

This morning I went to the men's Al-Anon meeting and guess what the topic was?

It was: Focus on Us.

How about that?! No joke. Weird. The speaker read from the newest Al-Anon book - which of course I cannot remember the title of it. But what he read was excellent. (I do remember page 81. Big help that is.)

There was a lot of talk around what we do for ourselves for fun.

Frankly, few men could actually say what they did for fun. When my turn came, I spoke about the Focus on Myself part by telling them the time my wife and I were at odds (now we are really at odds), and I asked her this question. It's a hoot:

"Tell me, just tell me, how do you want me to be?"

How is that for the epitomy of codependency? Everyone in the room laughed their heads off. For the serious part, I went on to explain, that in management meetings at offsites, we have to fill out a form about ourselves and the question I alway hate was "What do you do for fun (or enjoy doing)?"

All I can ever think about is....hmmm, running? Yes and No. Reading. Yes and no. Work. Yep.

Notice how all three are things I do ALONE.

Holy Cow. Another discovery. How long have I been trying to escape?

I need to get a life. Oh yeah, one more thing, speaking of life. At the same meeting today, someone said, "Live and Let Live" We focus on the "Let Live" part. We need to focus on the "Live" part. That's true isn't it? When you hear or say "Live and Let Live" doesn't our attention go right to the "Let Live" part? I do. I am so codependent & enabling.

Best wishes this Saturday evening


Anonymous said...

This is good. I keep on saying over and over what I want. It seems the more I say it, the less people pay attention to me.

Anonymous said...

This is good. I keep on saying over and over what I want. It seems the more I say it, the less people pay attention to me.

Anonymous said...

I believe I do the whole repeating thing too.
I used to think that my husband had just killed off too many brain cells and so could not follow what I was talking about.
Reading this today makes me realise, I do this to more people than just my husband, and perhaps I need to look at this.


Kim said...


I too thought my husband's brain cells were too dead to understand me:). I have been know to say things over and in different ways.

You all have given me things to think about. I am often so busy just trying to hold things together for the family that I don't focus enough on myself and my own actions, which is really all I can control:). Thanks for making me think! And thanks to Ashley and Joe for a great topic!


work in progress said...

when i was reading from my "courage to change" this morning i found a slip of paper i tucked in my book from a past meeting. we had slips with slogans and statements that we drew from a hat and talked about.

mine was "put down the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror."

i love this. focus on ourselves means so many things. i am focusing on me when i take time to have my coffee and do my morning readings before my day starts. and when i take time during the day to relax or do something for myself, like call a friend or write in my journal.

and it means to stop looking out side of myself, with magnifying glass in hand, to solve problems or effect change around me. i need to pick up the mirror, take time to LOOK at myself, and REFLECT.

synchronicity. i found this again just when i needed the reminder.

love and gratitude

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

For me it has went like this:

1. All of my time & energy was exhausted over her, and her addiction, and the frustrations of talking in essence to a "wall".

2. I went numb. It all rolled over my shoulder like water. Really no focus, or plan for my life, let alon a life with her. Just a ship sitting in a harbour that was initally designed to sail in beautiful waters.

3. Made the hard decisions to free myself, and her. I stripped away the shackles and made a decision to move forward. It is both such a refreshing experience, yet challenging as well, because I am building a new life through my higer power and my program. I can't see the future, so I can only do in the now, my today, and maximize it all to the best of my ability.

Great topic Ashley, and I am grateful for all of you, and this blog, as it has become a daily stop in my journey of recovery.

Peace this Sunday.


One Think Away said...

Thank you for this blog and this forum to share and learn. I'm focusing on myself today by googling for an online meeting and finding you all. My spouse is not in a good place right now and I am finally getting to a good place after about a year of meetings here and there. The more I get self assured, the more he seems to doubt himself. Today's he is in the bed--- and he knows that I had plans for a meeting today and a brief errand after that. What I chose to do was find this meeting online so that I got what I needed and I don't have that feeling of 'having to' be mad at him. For all purposes, he is doing the best he can. I do better when I remember that, too. We're not on separate teams, but we are individuals. I can choose to be happy in the midst of his unhappiness or self doubt. I just have to remember to step out of the box of "what should be" or "how things are supposed to be" and see what options I have. I always have options. Sometimes I just have to be more creative to find them... and be willing to look for them. If in doubt, the best way I have found to focus of and take care of me is to:
1- stay in meetings
2- keep in touch with those in Alanon recovery---who are traveling a similar path in recovery
3- stay positive--- and DETACH (however I have to) from negativity. I know my limits and I know when I have heard enough negative or when I just can't be around it at all.
4- EXERCISE--- When I get some blood flowing I always feel better.
5- Know that having a sitter while I do these things is WELL worth the cost. I make a valid effort to remind myself of that and not feel guilty for the time I spend on me. The feeling still comes, but I choose to move beyond it when I can. Practice makes... well, it makes me much better at loving me than I used to be! :)