Knowing When to Talk and When to Shut Up

For almost 6 months now I have been focusing, more or less, on one thing… staying sober.  I have lived by the motto if I do the 4 things that have kept me sober one day at a time for the past 172 days (pray, not pick up, go to a meeting, and talk to another alcoholic), if I complete these things each day, then my day is a success.  Period.  Of course, other things do get done in the day, I have a home, husband and children, so it would be difficult NOT to do other things in a day, but if the house is messier than I would like, or if I did not exercise as I planned, forgot to pick up something at the store… these things used to haunt me in the past, but now I simply remember… did I do my 4 things?  Okay then, the day is a success.

Now the only blip in this otherwise perfect horizon is that it does leave few things personally out there hanging.  I have a few relationships, damaged more or less as the direct result of my addiction, that are unresolved in one way or another.  For the past 6 months I have made the conscious decision to put these relationships on the back burner, because sobriety comes first, and these relationships did not fit into my daily to-do list.

I am now finding that these issues are starting to simmer on the back burner, which tells me that God is gently letting me know I am ready to handle them.  The biggest struggle I have in cleaning up these messes is knowing what is truly important to say, and what makes more sense to leave be.  I have heard two different pieces of advice in the program.  The first is the importance of “cleaning up my side of the street,” which to me means talking everything through in order to clear out the past.  The other thing I have learned is “restraint of pen and tongue,” which to me means if you are not sure whether you should say it, then shut up!  So, to me, that is confounding… which do I do, clean up or shut up?

I guess I will figure it out, one way or the other…


Posted on July 19, 2012, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. soberinoctober

    It’s hard to say without knowing the specifics. However, your insight into the ‘simmering’ is spot on. As it is stated in the Promises: We will intuitively know how to handle things that use to baffle us.


  2. My personal experience in dealing with cleaning up my side of the street and being accountable for my portion of the dysfunction in my relationships has been challenging and spotty. The two most significant ones being with my “adult” children. It was important for me to be able to write out and talk out EVERYTHING that happened ~ but not with the ones it happened with or too. They weren’t ready for that and the more I pushed to be heard and have them let me explain, the more damage I did. That’s when you do your inventory and then share it with a trusted person. Both steps that are taking a non-traditional route with me.

    My suggestion is that if God is gently nudging you to begin the process of dealing with these damaged relationship issues, then do so slowly, carefully, and be as gentle and forgiving of yourself as God has been in bringing you through your sobriety.

    One of the most difficult things for me to do right now is accept the one-sided relationship I have with my son, because he still has a lot of healing and growth to do before he can trust me enough to allow it to be two way. He’s still that hurting and wounded boy that I emotionally and psychologically abandoned and he has all these thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions about who I am and how I should be doing by now that he’s going to have to let go of, in his timing one day.

    All I can do is what I’ve done. Admit my piece, acknowledge the pain and suffering my choices caused him, apologize and let him know I understand and regret that pain and suffering, and work to show him that I will be here and available whenever he is ready to move on. In the meantime, I get to keep working on my stuff and figure out how to establish and maintain the healthy boundaries that will keep me safe and sane while he works his stuff out.



    • I can’t believe I am just reading this, I am still relatively new to wordpress (and blogging), and I am getting used to hearing from people. Kina, you described my situation perfectly, and your advice was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it… it is amazing how it all works out, isn’t it? I never get tired of marvelling. Thank you so very much for taking the time to share this!


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