Sunday, January 2, 2011

Distorted Ideas And Attitudes.

From Courage to Change, page 2:

"In Al-Anon I discover in myself the power to throw new light on a seemingly hopeless situation. I learn I must use this power, not to change the alcoholic, over whom I am powerless, but to overcome my own distorted ideas and attitudes."

This is a fundamental acceptance we must reach in Al-Anon. Our ideas can be several degrees off true, our attitudes can be completely askew, yet we will cling to those same ideas and attitudes with the grasp of an iron willfulness, refusing to admit or accept that we could be mistaken.

I didn't like being mistaken when I was new to program, and I could argue my point with a tenacity capable of reducing perfectly kind people to first irritation, then frustration, and finally, an overwhelming desire to make me stop talking, please. Please!

I saw it as having the courage of my convictions. Other people recognised the obstinacy of martyrdom. I saw it as strength of character. Others identified the rigidity of fear. I thought of myself as persevering. Others considered me  relentless.

I had distorted ideas and attitudes: viewed my world through a refractive lens of bitterness and victimhood.

It wasn't until I had spent many meetings sitting quietly listening while others shared, that I began to have any inkling of this; until then, I was so well-defended that the perpetuation of my distorted ideas and attitudes was efficiently self-driven. I didn't take in alternate viewpoints, so why would I question my own?

I'd had enough pain in my formative years, (dealt to me by people assuring me of their undying concern for my well-being,) to make of me, a world-weary cynic about other people's motives, by the time I was six years of age. I trusted no-one but myself and my dog.

That was a supremely distorted idea/attitude, but just try to convince me of that, when I was new to program. You'd have more success were you to go quietly into a corner, and attempt demolition of the wall, through repeated applications of your forehead against it. (Less frustrating.)

I had to be given the "loving in a very special way" (That phrase gave me a wierd feeling. See? Paranoia. Rather than focus on the love, I focused on the way) for a long time before it became real to me, so real that I could no longer staunchly proclaim my own distorted attitudes and ideas denying it.

I'm going on a bit here, (what a surprise) but my point is this: we may not be able to understand to what extent we are barking mad, until we've regained some small crumbs of sanity. It can then feel distressing, frustrating, and hopelessly, hugely, impossible to deal with all of our insanity, when we get those hints of just how far it might extend. And that is why we take it one day at a time. I don't have to change each facet of my character simultaneously and have it all fixed by Friday - we each come to our recovery at our own pace, and if our way has more in common with the rambling course of a small rodent exploring the garden, than an arrow shot straight and true to its destination, well, that's as it should be. That's how people work - in fits and starts, with much doubling back, forgetting, confusion, and stuck times.

It's all acceptable, as long as I am willing to keep plugging along, to pause when I'm offered an alternate attitude to peruse, rather than pushing rudely past, secure in my own closed rigidity of thought and habit. That moment, when I gently move my ego off to the side, so it no longer blocks my vision, that is recovery.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it is a few steps forward and then a few backwards. But regrouping and inching forward is better than retreating to the pain that I came from.