Saturday, June 27, 2009

Direct Is Best.

Ever have one of those conversations where you feel, the entire time, that there's some kind of subtext running, of which you are unaware?

I've had one of these recently, and had a vague sense that I was being played, but couldn't determine just how. That emerged with time. When further events made it possible for me to understand just what exactly was going on, I had to laugh. Had she asked me outright, for the favour for which she was angling, I'd have most likely have said yes. Instead, because I had the feeling that she was trying to manipulate me, I politely refused.

She achieved the opposite result from the one she sought, and only because she couldn't be honest about what it was she wanted from me.

I have a little saying I use with sponsees: "Direct is best." I was a skilled manipulator when I came to Al-Anon. If I had two choices, and one was to ask outright, and the other was to approach stealthily, with my wants obscured behind a thick screening of camoflage, I chose the latter. This was the way I'd learned to deal with my alcoholic ex, and I took a perverse satisfaction in manipulating him. When I was full of resentment and anger towards him, it was as though my manipulation was compensation for the wounds he inflicted upon my ego, with his verbal abuse.

I thought of our relationship in terms of battle - winning, or losing. And I was a sore loser.

I recall sitting in an Al-Anon meeting one night when I was a relative newcomer, and hearing a member talk about acceptance. She said, "I don't get to pick and choose what I'll accept and what I won't - it's a package deal, I have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes when I ask my Higher Power for something I want, the answer is "No." Part of maturity, is learning to accept that with good grace."

I've learned that if I want to respect myself, and feel comfortable in my own skin, I can't use tools such as manipulation or coercion to get my own way. I have to detach from the outcome or reply or result, ask for what I'm wanting or needing, and then accept a possible refusal with good grace.

I can't see into the future, and I can't see how something I may want with all my heart at this moment, doesn't fit into God's plan for me. I have plenty of past examples of this very truth, however, with which I can console myself, if the answer happens to be "No."

Direct is best - it frees my mind to think of other, more positive concerns, instead of wasting my time plotting to satisfy my will.


  1. Direct is definately best. When I put the manipulation aside everything became so much clearer and easier!

  2. I can be very direct at times and have had to temper that a bit. I now have a kinder more accepting approach to dealing with people. But I also know to ask for what I need and not try to manipulate my way to get it. Good post.