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!

Today’s Miracle:

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.

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Posted on August 4, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Love what you point out about being passionate for a solution and then expecting immediate reward. I am just now starting to notice this about myself. Slow learner.

    I too have had some really lovely times with family this spring and summer. My family is lovely, so I’m not surprised, only pleased that I was able to check some of my own issues at the door. Don’t know if it will hold into a more long-term overall pattern, but sure hope so.

    I’m so glad you had a lovely trip. It sounds like good medicine, even (especially?) the part about no internet.

    Like

  2. And likewise I am glad that you are enjoying your family!

    I have been thinking more about it, and it astounds me the number of ways I want immediate rewards. That lesson really has me thinking, that’s for sure!

    Thanks, as always, for stopping by 🙂

    Like

  3. Great post, Josie.

    I guess gratitude and as Kristen said, checking our stuff at the door, allows us to be more with our families in a more authentic way. I am still struggling with it, in terms of not trying to play my old role of passer by. Even at my folks place yesterday, I was in the basement (I am fond of basements) on my phone with my son as he watched tv. My folks and wife were upstairs interacting. Hey, my folks took the kids for a sleepover AND they made us a wonderful dinner and there I was just hiding out. So I took my sorry butt upstairs and mingled. I would have never done that before. So connecting to even my close family can be not an easy task. But you see – that’s MY stuff 🙂

    anyway, glad that you all shared and found common ground. That’s the point of it all, isn’t it?

    Blessings to you and your family, my friend 🙂

    Like

    • Well, if I may, I think “basement time” is a critical component in any good family relationship, but I guess we’ve already proven to ourselves enough times that we think alike! And good for you, for a few things: taking the action, of course, but also realizing that it even needed to be taken, and for recognizing your own growth. It’s these small-ish actions that add up to huge difference in our lives, at least that’s what I’ve come to believe.

      Thanks for giving this little peek into your life, Paul, it brightened my day 🙂

      Like

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