M(3), August 3: Family Affair
The image says it all!
Last week I was “down the shore” with a large group of extended family members on my husband’s side, the week before I was entertaining out-of-town family on my side. For those not local, down the shore is a Philadelphia expression that refers to the beaches of southern New Jersey, a popular family vacation destination in my part of the world. The house we rented had no internet connection, leaving me to wonder if we had fallen into a time warp of some kind, and also leaving me absent of the ability to get caught up with my fellow bloggers. I did have my phone, but alas, I am woefully inept at typing on small devices, so I figured I have the rest of my life to get caught up, right?
That long introduction eventually winds around to my main point, which is that it is so interesting that the main topic of discussion at this morning’s meeting centered around family, and the stress interactions with family can cause. Today’s reading was from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and was written by one of the founding fathers of the 12-step fellowship, Jim B. Jim has been credited with the expression “God as we understood Him,” because of his staunch agnosticism, and he is also the reason we have our third tradition, which states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
While reading Jim’s story this morning, I had a feeling that I often have when reading stories from the Big Book: the feeling that while none of my life events parallel the author’s, the feelings behind those events are remarkably similar. Jim describes his all or nothing approach to life that I write so frequently about on this blog. He talks about his pattern of being passionate about solving a problem, but then needing an immediate reward for the effort expended… usually an alcoholic reward. And he writes of the importance of remembering clearly the events that led him to recovery; I too believe that remembering my last days of active addiction is critical to the maintenance of my sobriety.
From my sharing on my take-away of this morning’s story, we veered sharply away from the reading to focus on more personal matters. One person had attended an alcohol-saturated family event that left her feeling like she had gone nine rounds with a prize-fighter. Another woman shared of a recent visit with family that left her feeling badly about herself: she should feel happy to visit with her relatives, and instead she feels guilt that the relatives irritated her. Finally another attendee shared that he had an overall positive experience with family over the weekend, but for one sister whose very voice sends his stress level to the roof.
It would take a person much wiser than me to answer the question: why does family make us so crazy? Therefore, I will not even try. What’s interesting to me about this morning is that this meeting could have been well-timed; after two weeks with such intimate family interactions I would, in the past, have been batshit crazy. But I’m really not. Both with my side of the family two weeks ago, and with my husband’s last week, I would say that they were both the best vacations of their kind in recent memory. Maybe this morning’s discussion was a reminder for me to be grateful to be in such a good space. Or maybe it gave me the perspective and calm I needed to help the people suffering with some objective advice.
In any event, as nice as vacation was, I’m so happy to be back!
Getting to give and receive life lessons with people, finding out that we are never, EVER alone with our fears and self-doubt, there are simply no words to describe that miracle of kinship.
Posted on August 4, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step, 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcohol, Alcoholic Anonymous, Big Book, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, self-development, Sobriety, Support Groups, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.