Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I recently attended a meeting of a social group to which I belong. There were two new members at this meeting, both of whom could be said to be well-educated in loosely related fields, and both possessed of strong personalities. They appeared to take an instant dislike to one another, and the meeting quickly deteriorated into a "battle of the experts!" with much one-upmanship and verbal trouncing, while the rest of the group sat in uncomfortable silence.

It was the very first time that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed myself after getting together with this social group. These two individuals seemed unable to realise, (or perhaps care,) what kind of atmosphere they were creating with their mutual animosity - they were locked in a verbal struggle to win - that was all that mattered.
It was ego run rampant in a small setting, and it was unpleasant to witness.

I think the rest of us were at first rather stunned, and then hoping, perhaps, that they would self-regulate. But anyone capable of behaving this way at a social group, is perhaps, not as self-aware as could be wished.

It was a good reminder to me, once again, of how loving and supportive 12-Step meetings are. We don't interrrupt, talk over, crosstalk, ignore, demean, criticise....we are respectful of each other, we give each other the space to have our own views and beliefs, and we care for the health and comfort of the group as a whole.

I sometimes forget just how unusual and amazing this atmosphere of loving acceptance is, when one considers human character and habits. I was reminded of this at the recent social club meeting, as I watched these two fight to be "right," with innuendoes and undercurrents of hostility - and I was also reminded of who I was when new to Al-Anon.

I guarded my battered ego with walls topped off with barbed wire and mad dogs roaming my perimeter, ready to attack at the slightest sign of anything I considered trespass. I was schooled in the "shoot first, ask questions later" mode of conduct as a child, and I carried that into adulthood. I was more interested in how I was feeling, than how my behavior might be affecting anyone else. I was determined to be "right," and I would say almost anything in service to this determination, no matter how unkind or hurtful. I would feel great satisfaction when I scored verbal hits. I was not a very nice person.

I had a lot of amends to make, when I did my first Step 9.

Letting go of the need to be "right" has given me much pleasure in life, because it has allowed me to dispose of what a program friend calls "fight gear." I don't walk around with all those layers of protection, ready to engage in verbal battle at any moment, with anyone. I can step back, and disengage completely. I can walk away. I can refuse to be goaded, I can allow anyone to think anything, with calm acceptance, and no need to "convince."

I don't have to make you wrong, in order to be right. We can both be wrong, we can both be right - it no longer matters to me the way it once did. I can shrug my shoulders, and let it all go.

1 comment:

  1. It's great to not have to be right. And to understand that each person has an opinion. I don't need to out shout them, out argue them, or try to change their minds. What a refreshing way to live.