Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Quitter Never Wins; A Winner Never Quits.

That little saying, (and a few more along that same line,) were part of the reason that I was such a blindly stubborn and mulish person, when I came into Al-Anon. I had been well indoctrinated in the adoptive home, to believe that once one decided upon a course of action, the only shameful thing, was to change one's mind partway through, to "quit." That reasoning kept me in an abusive marriage for ten long years. It kept me in jobs where I was treated poorly, apartments where the landlord was a maniac, friendships in which I'd come away from an encounter with the friend feeling unheard, dismissed, negated, or mocked.

Why did I stay in those situations when I knew they weren't good for me? Because I'd chosen that apartment, friend, job, husband, and now that I'd "made my bed" I had to "lie in it."

In Al-Anon, I have learned that I may make decisions based upon the limited information available to me at the time of my decision, and then once the decision has been made, and I get further in, realise that things are not as they seemed.

I want to stop here, and explain that I'm not suggesting that it's acceptable for me to make weighty decisions and then throw them over on a whim because my ego has taken a minor bruising, or I'm feeling too lazy to follow through on my committment.

I'm talking about those times when I begin to get an uneasy feeling, which will, at first, hover just out of reach -  an amorphous sense that things aren't right, that this doesn't match what I'd been led to believe, but I'm unable at the start to determine quite how that difference is manifested. This will progress to a realisation that I'm feeling more uncomfortable with each encounter: beginning to dread time spent in that person (or person's) company: shutting down, to protect myself.

After careful consideration, and discussion, we joined a social group when we were new to this city. I was delighted to find that their mission statement contained many "12-Step-ish" principles, and that tolerance and acceptance was presented as their touchstone. This, sadly, has proven to not be the case. On the contrary, most of the members are of one mind, and not at all open to alternate viewpoints. As the membership has become more comfortable with us, the social masks are coming off, and the real feelings and attitudes are being expressed - gossip is rife, criticism is rampant, and I've been feeling increasingly out-of-place and discomfited when we attend gatherings. Those with alternate viewpoints are dismissed as anything from foolishly misguided, to uneducated simpletons.

I've thought about it, prayed about it, and last night, sat down with my spouse and told him that I'd decided that it wasn't good for me to be a member of that social group, because I felt distressed and disturbed to see the way they treated one another. We had a good long talk about how each social organisation, (including 12-Step groups) has a "culture" - how we can only go on the cultural information offered to us at the start, and that as we get accepted into that culture, and receive more information, our attitudes can change from embracing the culture, to feeling that we need to detach, for our mental, emotional and spiritual health.

It was important for me to be honest with my spouse about my feelings of shame for wanting to step back, how it triggered those "quitters never win, when you start something, finish it, yada yada yada" tapes inside my head. It hasn't been easy for me to validate my attitudes or feelings in the area of social groups or gatherings, because I had such a wierd and twisted childhood that I was socially inept, antisocial, resentful, and myself the poster child for intolerance, when new to Al-Anon. It can still require a fair bit of "reasoning things out with someone else" for me to be able to validate my feelings and ideas, and then act upon them to keep myself in healthy company.

I have only one life. I don't want to waste my time with those who indulge in gossip and criticism  I want to spend my precious time with those who will uplift me, teach me, enrich me, help me to grow in tolerance and acceptance.


  1. I'm not finding a clever way to say this, so perhaps simple & direct is best: I LOVE THIS POST. Thank you.

  2. It is a freedom to recognize I have choices, and can even change my mind.
    Thank you for the post

  3. I think I've said this before (<---I think I've even said that before), but when I read you I hear me speaking. I think that God definitely had me find your blog for a very important reason, even if it ends up being nothing more than a good read and an outside perspective of what is inside me.

    Sticking with things. I am either all or nothing with that concept...I will either ride it until the wheels fall off or I will jump ship as soon as the waves come up (within the first few nanoseconds...not once a 'bond' has been created).

    This gives me a lot to think about. Thank you :)

  4. I have not been a quitter either. Obviously, I have a hard time moving on, especially from people in my life. That being said, once I see that I am being stressed and not uplifted in a relationship, it is time for me to employ detachment with love. Often, I take what I like and leave the rest. Sometimes I have to walk away totally.