Sunday, September 12, 2010

Being Stuck.

A new member to Al-Anon, a woman who has embraced program heart and soul, and is making huge leaps and bounds, corralled me the other day after a meeting, and asked, "Have you ever been stuck? I'm finding I'm stuck on something the last couple of weeks, and I'm getting really angry and frustrated with myself about it."

I grinned at her. "A couple of weeks, hmm?"

She nodded, and seemed a bit embarassed, saying "I know it's a long time,  but ..."

I asked, "Have you got a minute? I'll tell you a story from my 4-5th year in Al-Anon."

"Oh, good, were you stuck, too?" she asked.

"I was; I was thoroughly stuck. Completely stuck. Welded in place, you might say."

She looked at me with hope in her eyes, and asked, "For how long? A few days? A week? As long as me - two weeks?"

I smiled at her, and told the unvarnished truth: "I was stuck for six months."

She looked at me, startled, then began to laugh, saying, "Two weeks seems quite reasonable, all of a sudden!"

I can recall that time very clearly, because it was the most frustrating period I've had so far, in Al-Anon. I had reached a point in my recovery, where I needed to let go of some past happenings in order to move forward, and I just couldn't seem to do it. I had discussed it with my sponsor until we both felt like screaming when I brought the topic up - we'd sat in her kitchen one day, trying to do as she suggested, and "approach it from another angle, to see if it looked more palatable from that viewpoint," and after a few more revolutions, we were both feeling hot, frustrated, and tired.

We decided to let it go for now, and I'd sleep on it, and see if things looked different the next day. Later that night, I was lying in bed, wondering - was I going to be unable to progress any further in Al-Anon, because I was stuck on this one point?

I decided to think of something else, or I'd never get to sleep, so I began thinking about my dog, and how grateful I was to have her in my life. I was drifting in that heavy dozing state just before sleep, then - all at once I was wide awake, and starting to laugh.

I'd been thinking about a walk my dog and I had taken, when I was visiting my sister. We'd gone to a little park near the house; I liked it for the small stream running through it, and a picturesque bridge spanning the stream, more for show than necessity, since the stream was only a few inches deep. There were two metal posts about two feet apart, sunk into the concrete at each end of the bridge, perhaps to block access to motor vehicles.

My dog was a mad retrieving fiend - sticks, balls, fetching anything at all made her sublimely happy. That day, she'd found a fairly small willow branch, which was probably 5-6 feet long, with a tuft of greenery at one end, and was happily trotting along, carrying it. When we reached the bridge, she couldn't get onto the bridge because the willow branch was wider than the two metal posts. She tried and tried, then backed up, splashed through the stream still holding the branch, and tried to get onto the bridge from the other end, with the same result.

It was so funny at the time because she'd been fixated about "getting onto the bridge" and had lost sight of the purpose of the bridge - to cross the stream.

When that memory floated into my mind that night, and I sat up in bed, wide awake and laughing, it was because I had realised that I was doing precisely the same thing in my program - becoming fixated upon the process, to the point of losing sight of the purpose.

I had become so stuck in my steely determination to get onto my particular bridge, and being unable to, that it had never occurred to me to try wading through the stream, or -  putting down the stick I was clutching.

Al-Anon shows me that I always have options. When it's getting dark, and I can't see my way forward, maybe I just need to brush the hair out of my eyes.

1 comment:

  1. I was stuck for a few weeks about a year and a half ago. It was more like a burn out. I had too many sponsees and too many meetings. I got through that period because of realizing just how grateful I was to the program and what the true meaning is. It helped me a lot.