Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sharing Ourselves.

Time and again in meetings, whether Al-Anon, or AA, members speak of feeling cut off from the rest of the world; lonely, with the kind of loneliness that permeates all we do, from shopping to social events, work, church, and play. We can maintain our facade so well that others are astonished when we begin to open up at last and admit our truths.

When I was new to program, I was unable to reveal myself in meetings. My self-image was such a pitiful little weed, yellowed, and kind of wrinkly and drooping (minds out of the gutter, people) - a plant I spent a fair bit of time bashing about, so no wonder it was in such a poor state. I regularly pulled it out of the soil, examined the roots, predicted a dire outcome, and stuffed it back into the ground.  I recall hearing someone at a meeting talk about "nourishing oneself" - I was so far removed from the idea of kindness to oneself, that I thought she was talking about eating.

Today I was out walking the dogs with a friend, and driving home afterwards, thought about how membership in Al-Anon has changed me - my self-image may have a few tattered leaves from normal wear and tear, but it's a positive Sequoia of a thing compared to the bean sprout it once was.

This is the first step Four I've done, where this has become so clear to me, as I work through the book and the process. I like myself. I feel comfortable within my own skin, most days. I have faults and character defects with which I struggle, and with which I often lose the round, requiring the making of amends.

But I'm quickly discovering that being honest in ways I've avoided up until now, (in the name of people-pleasing) really isn't all that hard. I can do it, it merely requires a determined effort and a goal on which to fix my focus. The more I do it, and succeed, the more empowered and serene I become.

A large part of this process, is speaking the truth to other people - friends in and out of program, and my spouse. I had another chance to practise this just today. I had asked my partner to build me a table at which to paint. I explained just what I wanted, he nodded, took notes, then constructed an item which bore no resemblance to what I'd asked for. In days gone by, I'd have swallowed my disappointment, lied and said I was delighted.

I've promised myself that I am not going to tell these kinds of "white" lies any more. I paused to gather my words, then asked if he remembered what I'd asked for. Yes, he did. Then why had be built this? Because he thought it was better. But it wasn't what I'd asked for or wanted, so why go to all that trouble to make something which didn't meet a single one of the reqirements for the space, or the use to which it was going to be put?

Long pause, then he carried it back out, lots of power tool noise, and half an hour later, he came back in with the perfect table. He could see the delight in my face, it was quickly mirrored in his own.

Had I told a "white" lie about the original table, he'd have felt I wasn't thrilled with it, but never have known why, or how to fix it.
Being honest in this way, allowed him to try again, and the second time, make something which I loved.

My telling the truth, made it possible for him to give me the gift of exactly what I wanted. My spouse enjoys doing this, it makes his whole face light up and his eyes shine, when he can build for me, just what I've been wanting for a while. If I'm not honest, I'm depriving him of this pleasure. This was brought home to me today, when I was happily playing with my perfect painting table, as he stood smiling at me, covered in sawdust, but with an expression of deep satisfaction on his face.


  1. what a nice story and an excellent example. I'm glad you got the table you wanted :)

  2. Great lesson there and I so glad you got what you wanted.

  3. I really enjoyed this post about sharing ourselves. Sometimes in meetings and even online groups people hesitate to share their truths, feeling that they must present a positive front. How much more intimate and really helpful it is when we share what's going on, and how we are dealing with it. What works and what doesn't work. You do this continually in your blog, and I am grateful for it. ~ Thank you!


  4. Nice. I'm glad that you got what you wanted and were honest about it as well.

  5. I appreciated your example. So many blog writers make broad statements, and do not give specific lessons I can use to relate to my own life. I am new to Al-Anon, and I need examples from others, so that I can transfer the principles to my own relationship. I have been a co-dependant all my life - first mother, now husband, and I find the lack of being honest with myself and others among my primary list of faults.