Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Very Firmly Closed Mind.

I have, many times, had the experience of watching a newcomer arrive in the group, stay long enough to get comfortable with coming to the meetings, and perhaps beginning to work the program, then one day they miss a meeting, and one doesn't see them again. I'll never forget one such woman, from many years ago, when I lived in the city. No matter what one suggested to her, as options for dealing with the alcoholic (try to detach, focus on herself, turn it over) her invariable reply was:
"It's a very good idea, but it wouldn't work for me."
If one pressed the issue by asking why it wouldn't work, she replied "It just wouldn't, I know it."

It's a strange reality in 12-Step, that we may learn a great deal from those who do not practise the program, as well as those that do - we can watch the former remain stuck in their quicksand of stress and despondency.

This woman modelled my own stubborn insularity. Had she not been a member of my home group for six months or so, I'd not have had the unsettling experience of realising how much we had in common in that area. I heard that phrase from her so often, I became hyper-aware of my own closed mind, and worked to pry it open, by whatever means possible. I would hear myself using my own version of "That wouldn't work for me."

From the ODAT, page 49:

"I must cling to this one thought: Al-Anon can change my life - if I give it a chance. If I take to myself each day even one small new idea, heard at a meeting or read in Al-Anon literature, I will make progress. Things may not work out as I want them to, but as my point of view changes, what I thought I wanted changes, too. My ultimate contentment does not depend on having things work out my way."

What I thought I wanted at the time, now seems limited and constrained. I have gained more that I ever would have thought possible for someone with my history, upbringing, background. All because I've worked to keep the door to my mind open far enough for new ideas to slip inside. Some arrive with much fanfare, and turn out to be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Others turn sideways and sidle quietly in, to stand relatively unnoticed at first, but proving, over the long run, to be life-altering.

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