M(3), 8/29/16: Back to Business

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Wow, does this feel weird.  It’s been weeks since I last logged on.  There’s been a hundred and one reasons for my absence, all of which I hope to be writing about as time goes on.  It’s been a turbulent summer, though I suppose turbulence is relative.  We’ve been dealing with stuff that is unusual for us, and I’m hoping to be able to hash it all out within the blog eventually.

In the meantime, I’m so sorry for my absence in reporting my Monday meeting updates!  We’ve been having a grand time, as usual.  In fact, last week was a record high in terms of attendance.

Today’s reading selection(s) dealt with the topic of resentment (for those who follow along with the actual literature, we read from the book As Bill Sees It).  If you are unfamiliar with 12-step philosophy, the language surrounding resentments is strong, and it is negative.  The main text, Alcoholics Anonymous (“The Big Book”) contains countless warnings regarding the dangers of cultivating and holding onto resentments.

On second thought, “countless” is inaccurate.  Of course I could go line by line and count the number of references, or I could Google it, but it’s the first day back to school, and I’d rather just enjoy the peace and quiet of this house.

In any event, we are warned from almost the first second we enter the doors of a 12-step meeting to let go of any and all resentments, or else (cue the ominous music).

Or else what?  In terms of recovery, or else you may drink again.

I remember thinking two things when I first heard this kind of dire prediction:

  1. That’s stupid
  2. It doesn’t matter, since I don’t have any resentments anyway

In the years since, I’ve learned that I did not have a broad enough understanding of what falls into the category of resentment.  I’ve also learned that I needed to learn a lot more about myself and my feelings.

As for my first judgment, that it sounds a bit melodramatic to say that by nursing a grudge I’ll soon be nursing a drink, I’ve learned enough to say that I have a lot more to learn.  But here’s what I do know about resentments:  they are a colossal waste of time, and they tend to pull me into a downward spiral.  The quicker and easier I can resolve my feelings of resentment, the more peaceful and joyful my life is.

As usual, many excellent shares in this morning’s meeting, all of which helped elevate me.  It is an amazing thing to sit and listen to someone’s story, and from it gain wisdom that I hadn’t realized I needed.

The main share from which most others followed came from a woman who struggles in setting boundaries with a family member.  Her story is an extreme one, but the question she must answer is familiar to many of us:  how do you distinguish between setting healthy boundaries and “being the bigger person?”

On the one hand, our 12-step program focuses on changing ourselves.  We look to see our part in any situation, and we seek to be of service, rather than asking people to serve us.  Very noble aspirations.

But in my friend’s case, she has a person in her life whom she defines as toxic.  Her question is:  how many times should she go back to the same well, knowing that the outcome will be a negative one?

Her share was met with a lot of empathy and support.  When I first heard her story, I listened with sympathy.  But when I listened to the wise responses and follow-up shares, I listened with empathy.  Because all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, have areas in our lives where we struggle with where to draw a line between what is good for us and what is good for the people we love.  I imagine in virtually every relationship such a question exists.

The best advice I heard given was this:  rather than focusing on “doing the next right thing,” a phrase which is tossed around a lot in the 12-step rooms, perhaps we should focus instead on doing the next healthy thing.  In defining “right,” we can get into some murky waters… who defines right?  But in deciding what is the healthiest thing to do, you are ultimately creating an environment to be your best possible self.

Of course, it is important to seek feedback.  In our program sponsors and trusted members of the fellowship are excellent sources of guidance, but at the end of the day we must make decisions for ourselves.  The back of sobriety coins handed out at anniversaries reads:

To thine own self be true

Apropos to this conversation, for sure.  And we did get to hand out one of those coins this morning for someone celebrating her nine month anniversary!

One last thought, and then I’ll stop rambling.  At the end of the meeting someone came up to me and shared a lesson she learned regarding resentments.  The first time you feel angry or resentful towards someone, the blame is on them for whatever they’ve done to cause your reaction.  But each and every time you revisit that feeling, or relive that experience, whether it’s in your own head or complaining about it to someone else… that’s on you.

That alone tells me I’ve got some work to do on handling resentments!

Today’s Miracle(s):

  1. I’m back writing
  2. Kids are back at school (see video below)

 

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Posted on August 29, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. It’s wonderful to have you back. Love, love, love your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I missed you!
    There is a saying
    When you point a finger at do one there are 3 more pointing back at you.
    (Do it, point you finger and see where the other fingers point).

    It’s so true. While others clearly can be in the wrong and hurt us, much of the fall out or continuing resentment results from our response.

    The big book has some pretty sage advice. Even if we don’t want to see it immediately.

    Anne

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Anne. I miss you too, but I think of you (and all your neighbors) every morning in my am prayers!

      Agreed on the finger pointing exercise. Though when I’ve tried that with people in the heat of the moment, they are less than pleased to do it 😉

      Hope all is well!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Welcome back ! I really needed this post today; I’ve had a trying summer myself!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. While I am fully happy for you, this post stands as a grim reminder that I am back to work, and therefore not writing like I want to! Haha. I’m a teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Every year I put something like this up, and every year I forget about the teachers. Which is ridiculous, because I have plenty of teacher friends and family! Mark, I mean this from the bottom of my heart…. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Sparkly as always. The ebb and flow of seasons. I can always count on you to ring in the school year with cheer.

    Resentments: 12+12 talks about the spiritual axiom of disturbance. Whenever I am disturbed there is something wrong (going on) within me. Not the other person—but me.

    I disliked that line when I first read it. I still dislike it, but at least now I understand it—Look within.

    Adore you always. Sending abundant blessings as you journey through your seasons.
    ♥♥♥

    ps. hiatus is good

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet if I got back to each year on this blog there is a similar post. I never thought about my regularity with this subject 🙂

      Yes, I love that part of the 12 and 12, and for me it’s been an evolution of acceptance. I remember first reading that and dismissing it out of hand… no way! If I’m disturbed it’s because YOU did something to ME. Now I am comfortably at this point: if I find myself disturbed at more than one person, place or thing, I am the common denominator. I have some work to to on the idea that if I am disturbed in any way at all, then I have to look within myself. Good thing I’m not looking to graduate from this program 😉

      Hope you are well, Lisa, and thanks for this thought-provoking comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Josie!
    I missed you too!
    I am glad the kids are back at school!
    Of course, I am sorry for the teachers!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so glad the kids are back in school. That first morning I just sat in the chair and felt the quiet. It was very nice to let someone else handle the responsibility of entertaining and feeding. I always feel renewed energy when all the burden is not on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Resentments and boundaries…ahhh what important subjects for all of us on a path to a more serene life! Thank you Josie for getting me thinking about it. Your blog is thought-provoking as usual…for me, I didn’t know it but in the last few years that I drank, my resentments fueled my continued drinking. Many of my resentments were justified…but what I didn’t “get” is that it JUST.DOESN’T.MATTER….”justified” resentments are destructive too. In early sobriety I had to set boundaries with the family members in question, and when I did that…the chaos subsided and I was left with ME and MY RESEMNTMENTS…over time it became apparent that all the time I spent in resentment was wasted and it kept me from looking within myself…wow I could talk about this for hours!
    Glad you are back 🙂
    Jenn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Justified resentments… thank you for adding this to the conversation. I could write a book on this subject! To this day, no matter how small the issue, if I feel justified, it’s like climbing Mount Everest for me to get over something. “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” is a question that’s been thrown at me on more than one occasion (and one to which I’ve developed a new resentment ;))

      Thanks so much for the comment, and the kind words Jen! Hope you are well!

      Like

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