Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Should I Do?

I hate that question. I don't have an answer for anyone but myself, and many times not even then. I had one of these conversations recently, in which the questioner kept asking that, and I kept refusing to give advice, until both of us were rather frustrated.

This wasn't the kind of conversation in which another member of Al-Anon is asking that rhetorically, as a way to get the ball rolling in a discussion of options and choices, and what exactly do they they want, or what do they hope to achieve; this was a "tell me what to do" conversation.

I couldn't tell him what to do, it's not up to me. I've been in program long enough to feel a distinct shiver of unease when another person tries to pass off the responsibility for their choices into my hands. I do not want to be the person who said "Do This." when it all goes to hell in a handbasket, and this person comes out loaded for bear, looking for the idiiot who told him what to do when, as it turns out, it was the exact opposite of a wise choice.

This precise situation would have, pre-program, satisfied my controlling instincts to no end; I'd have been delighted to give my opinion in great detail. It would have been a good ego buzz.

Working my program has taught me that when someone else begins to try to get me to make their choices for them, I need to re-examine whether or not this is a healthy friendship. I'm not talking about the odd question asked here or there, I'm talking about that feeling one gets: it's almost as if they show up at your house with a moving van, and start carrying stuff indoors with just a cheerful smile and nod as they go by.

I'm more than happy to have conversations in which I try to offer any help I'm able to allow you to examine your choices in detail, but I don't want to adopt anyone, and I don't want to be anyone's guru. I'm too fallible. And let's be honest, lazy.


  1. I am also wary of people who keep asking the same question about the same problem over and over and over. I do finally realize that they don't want my opinion or advice, they want an audience of one. Boundaries and compassion..that is what I can do. Good post.


  2. I can't solve others' problems for them. I have to be careful with sponsees who often want me to give them advice which I don't do. It is good to accept responsibility for our own feelings and to not shove what makes me uncomfortable off on someone else.