Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Many Uses of 12-Step.

I'd forgotten what a bulldog arguer my brother can be. It slipped my mind, just how much he likes a rip-snorter of a debate.

Today in an email, I'd dodged one of his attempts to solicit an opinion from me, with a comment about not feeling comfortable making judgements about other people's beliefs. I'm sure it's very strange for him to be writing to me now, as I've said earlier in this blog, because when he knew me last, I was a very different, very opinionated woman.

He responded to my attempt to dodge the topic, with a strongly worded epistle about how if we don't judge and condemn other people when they are wrong, we are falling down on our job of protecting our fellow humans, upon whom they might prey.

I replied that I was only speaking for myself, about my discomfort with judging. I got another email in response describing the many ways in which I was wrong to not judge other people, because of this, and this, and that!
I read it and sighed heavily, wondering how I'd managed to elicit such a strong repsonse with my mild comments about my own discomfort with judging. I looked down at my little dog arranged in comfort upon my lap, and asked her, "How on earth did we get from me not being comfortable judging other people's beliefs, to whether or not it's ok to stone someone?" I know perfectly well how we got there - riding the tsunami of my brother's debating skill.

Sitting there, gazing at the screen, at a loss as to how I might reply,  I received the loveliest little nudge from my Higher Power. I wrote:

"You could be right."

and sent it off. I had been feeling slightly distressed by the force of his argument, (and his insistence upon having one) but after I sent that, I felt lighthearted, and free. I went to have a shower and go to a meeting. I don't have to argue just because he likes to. I don't have to step into the loop of rope lying on deck, and be swept over the rail into the ocean to wrestle with sharks. I can stop, detach, and avoid the "bite of the line."

I don't have to fall back into my old ways, not out of habit, nor to please my brother.

When I returned home from a wonderful Al-Anon meeting, his reply to my "You could be right" email was in my inbox; it read:

"Yes, but only partly."

That made me laugh, and wish that I could hug him. He's a dear man, my brother. I don't share his love of debate and argument anymore, but I do love him. I hope my love comes through clearly when I write.


  1. His reply made me laugh out loud. I use "you could be right" often with my Alzheimer's clients. I love it....even in their confused, yet adamant minds, "you could be right" touches something and calms the wild beast that is rearing up inside. Yes, our program works in all of our affairs.

  2. An Al-Anon friend, inspired by advice from his sponsor, used that very phrase in a road rage situation, and thereby completely disarmed the raging road warrior - instead of telling him his own better view of things. The fun was his comedic telling of the story. How we laughed. Indeed, how we laughed - in Al-Anon.

    I love your story. I especially love your brother's response. You disarmed him - I imagine - and, great debater that he is, he recognized defeat. Like I said, I can imagine this :) .

    Forgiveness and letting go work the same way Im thinking. They defuse and disarm both the offense and defense.

    I appreciate your post. Have a great day.

  3. I am so glad...so glad you posted this. I didn't know what to say, now I do. This answer solves a lot of my problems, lol.

  4. It does. I like a good discussion but don't like to be told what I "should" do or how I "should" feel. I think that having the benefit of a 12 step program helps a lot in seeing that we are all human and totally imperfect. Who am I to judge others?

  5. Boy my husband is the bulldog, and so is my father, and my sister...and me. I'll try and use this more often this year!