Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Downer Al-Anon Meeting? YOU Must Read This!!

I went to an Al-Anon meeting last night. It was led by a very articulate person, a person who asked me to lunch several times and we talked about our "situations." He too, has/had the same situation I have. One child, and a wife drinks/drank - the divorce.

Anyway . . .

He read from "How Al-Anon Works" a section in the back about a man whose sons were drinking - teenagers - and how the man, the father, became better and "took back over" as head of the family and gave the two boys the ultimatum; "Stop drinking/smoking pot, or get out."

It reminded me that this month is the month that I started this blog. And where I was in my recovery a year ago.

A lot of people shared. It was rather emotional for some. There was crying because of certain family situations. And the reading prompted the words "detachment, letting go, and choices."

At the end of the meeting, the discussion leader, who is very strong and what I would consider serene and well into recovery, came up to me and another person at the end of the meeting, and apologized, saying he didn't mean for it to be a "downer of a meeting." I replied, "I thought it was a good meeting. There was a lot of sharing."

I was over talking to someone else, and again, this person who is strong in recovery, came over and said, "I am sorry about the meeting topic being a downer." I replied, again, "It was a good meeting. I didn't see it as a downer."

When I got home last night - I was thinking; "Why did he think it was a bad meeting? Was it because people were crying and expressing their hurts and pain and fear?"

Many times now, as I look back, I see this pattern of men, expressing how the meeting turned into a "bitch session" or how the person expressing pain was "whining." I am not sure if the women do this, but I have not heard them say anything like this.


Interesting how some feel that expressing pain or sorrow or hurt or fear or anger or some negative emotion may be bad.

My initial analysis is: I do the same thing as my friend does or did. I want to the meeting to be happy, joyous, serene.

And, I want people to think "Man, he is ze most brillllliannnt of all the people in zee vorld." (use the accent of some mad German scientist).

Yep. That's my disease kicking in.

I suspect, that his disease is similar.

My analysis (and this is my disease too - the analysis thing) is this; he was attached to the outcome. He was emotionally attached to a result. And not achieving the desired result he was hoping for, his ego got hold of him and perhaps, made him feel, well, "less than" what he desired.

You can almost hear the ego's voice saying, "See. You are not that brilliant. You were not uplifting. You are but still 'less than' others. You'll never make it." And on and on the ego goes, pulling you/him, forever downward.

As the ego grabs hold of this person's brain and spirals downward, I liken it to an alligator grabbing it's victim in a death roll, until the victim drowns.

What makes the meeting bad?

Answer: Our labeling of it as so. There ain't the Al-Anon Meeting Olympic Committee. No Olympic Judges reviewing us. Their ain't no judges from Russia screwing with the point system. It is only our labeling it as "bad" that makes it bad. Does this make sense?

Ponder this for a second. "It is only our labeling of something of 'bad' that makes it bad."

Oh - I can hear the arguments going off in the heads of the readers of this right now.

The argument is you ego trying to take control of you. It is trying to make you "right." Don't let it. Observe it though.

But back to the point about labeling it as bad. Next thing we do; we gather the facts or our interpretation of the facts to support our labeling of it as bad. We look for all the reasons to protect our label and make the label the correct label. In other words, we look for the reasons or facts that make it "bad" and support the label. Why? Because we want to be right. And the ego wants you to feel like shit.

However, what if . . .

What if crying at the meeting was a sign that it was a good meeting? What it bitching actually helped someone release pent up energy and negativity he or she could not otherwise express? Especially express somewhere else? Expression of bad shit happening in one's life is why Al-Anon is such as GREAT place - because - it's here that it is safe to do so.

And my friend . . .

Well, he gave everyone the key to unlock the door that behind the door was a bunch of crap to be let go and explored as it was thrown out into the middle of the circle to view for the first time out loud.

This is power. This is the power of these rooms. A safe place to feel. A safe place to express. A safe place to screw-up (if you label it as such). And "screwing up" is just a label. Who actually judges whether it is a screw-up or not? And if we all judge it as a screw-up - it does not make us "right."


To my friend I would say; You may want to explore your feeling about it being a "downer" of a meeting last night. Why do you think it was? And why does it make any difference if it really was?

And, me - I should explore why I feel compelled to point this out to him? I know the answer. I will admit I would like to print this post off and hand him this post for him to read.

My answer as to why:
1. I want to help him see his illness. In other words, I want to fix him. (Control)
2. I want him to see my brilllll-ant writing and have him recognize that; I am ze best in ze vorld. Supersmart.

My answer is my disease.

I have control over my disease. I will not print this off and show him.


Syd said...

I haven't been to a bad Al-Anon meeting. And that's because I always learn something. I've been to meetings where I've felt uncomfortable because of control issues by the chair. But it wasn't a bad meeting because I learned how I didn't want to be. I've been to many meetings where people were in pain and cried. Sharing pain is a common thread that brings us together. We wouldn't be at an Al-Anon meeting at all if everything in our lives was wonderful. We're there because we are working on recovery from our disease.

Catherine said...

Well said, Syd.

I've found that every meeting is different, and the ones with more graphic stories or sadder testimonials are more intense.

I have also noticed a few people in one of my regular meetings who are uncomfortable when the shares are very personal, i.e. stories about childhood and situations with qualifier.

These people are also the ones who rarely share their own emotions or what they're going through but instead say "The reading reminds me of this slogan," or "let me read from another book..."

And thank god. Because sometimes I feel very emotionally wrung out when the shares are intense and kind of welcome hearing it.

Anyway, none of us sitting in the room really has the power or authority to mold or steer the shares.