A while back, Carrie Rubin blogged about being an introvert and the fear of talking to a group of people. I commented to her, that about twenty years ago, I used to attend al-anon. I brought it up, because I related to her fear of talking to a group when I used to attend those meetings. Since my blog theme and most of my writing (memoirs and fiction) is about personal growth, my al-anon experience is something fitting to share.
At al-anon meetings, we sat at a table, almost like a coffee clutch. No one needed to step up to a podium like you see portrayed in fictional stories. Usually, they’d go around the table and ask who needed to talk about something. No one was expected to speak.
I attended those meetings because I had some loved ones in my life who were alcoholics. I didn’t understand why those people’s lives seemed perfectly fine, and mine was screwed up. I was very angry.
As a young newlywed in my early twenties, I was the most responsible person I knew. I took care of my home and my husband. I followed rules. I didn’t smoke or do drugs. I had a job, worked hard and paid my bills on time. I always tried to do the right thing … the virtuous thing. The alcoholics in my life were irresponsible and far from virtuous, so why was I the one with so many troubles?
I didn’t get along with anyone, from my parents, to my husband and even feuding with friends. I had no one I trusted or felt that truly loved me. I was always on the defense, ready to pounce anyone (verbally) who looked at me cock-eyed.
I’m cutting a very long and complicated story to around 500 words. I soul-searched and God-searched, listened to advice, and faced hard truths about myself. I learned that I had been blaming everyone else for the relationship problems, when I was the one with the attitude. I’m not saying that those people in my life didn’t have difficult flaws for me to handle, but I needed to change my attitude about them.
One elderly, wise lady in al-anon used to say, “my husband never changed anything about him in his entire life, except for his underwear.” I got the message that I had to either find a way to deal with naturally flawed people (like myself) or cut them out of my life altogether.
It took lots of time, and honestly, I’m still a work in progress. But, most of my relationships got better. Those few that didn’t, fizzled out of my life.
Relationships aren’t always easy, but if we stop and pay attention, those people in our lives can be a mirror. They either reflect things in us that we aren’t willing to face or an issue that we need to learn from.
Not only that, but human interactions make great writing material for me.
And, there you go, a personal part of my life told in 508 words.
The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day that we truly grow up. ~ John C. Maxwell
Have you ever had to face a hard truth about yourself? Is it something you’d be willing to share?