I’ve read two posts close together where both of them have a theme of speaking openly about being an alcoholic. When I read two or more posts about the same subject close together it normally means there is something going on here for me. I’m not sure what so I’ll post and see this process of writing it out makes it any clearer at all.
Whether somebody declares they are or are not an alcoholic is entirely up to them, is the first thing I’ll say. I know that in the rooms people use it as de-rigour. I know for newcomers or visitors that can be a bit disconcerting. My daughter visited a meeting with me earlier this year as she was interested both from a personal point of view (What is this thing Dad goes to so often?) and also as a student on a Psychology degree she had an interest from that angle. However she had thought the “Hi I’m Frank and I’m an alcoholic” – with everyone replying “Hi Frank” was a comedy set up. When it happened throughout the meeting she was intrigued.
We spoke about it afterwards. I said that for me it is important for me to regularly say it as it is a constant reminder. I’ll be honest I probably don’t listen enough at the points I say it. Really the most important person to hear that and feel what it means to them when I say “I’m Furtheron and I’m an Alcoholic” is actually me! I also said that in the “Hi Furtheron” response is a huge amount. It is saying many things to me.
It says to me that we accept you. We don’t judge, we don’t care about your history or your future we care for you now. We value you and respect you. We don’t care whether you have drunk today or not for 40 years you are Furtheron you are here and you acknowledge you have that bond with us of being an alcoholic. It is also about everyone there being able to say that themselves – no one quiz’s anyone as to whether they are one or not – you say you are you are and that is ok.
I’ve just re-read all that… I see now why I’m drawn to this. Two things – the point about me being the person who should most listen to that statement – not sure I have been doing that diligently enough lately. It trots off the tongue without me thinking about the years of pain and suffering I put myself and the others I loved through until I reached the point of really saying that, meaning it and accepting help. I need to recapture that awe inspiring moment when I say it to myself more regularly if I can. It is here in my heart now as I write this, I could do with a bit more of that.
The other bit is about that bond with the others I share saying this with. Many I know fleetingly. I meet them for an hour or two every week or so and that is it. I’ve never seen their house, I don’t know their surname, I may or may not know about their family. But I have a bond with them that is unique in my experience. I’ve been to more than one funeral where you see a devastated family in grief who you’ve never met before and they look at the bizarre collection of humanity at the back of the church who hold each other in tight hugs and pass tissues and smile and laugh too and you can see the bewilderment on their faces about how much you loved their Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter etc. They realise who you all are of course and they often clasp your hand and say “Thank you so much”. They don’t have to thank me – I’m there to thank that person they’ve sadly lost who has given me the only unconditional love I’ve seen outside of families. Well there is one condition – that I said to that person “I’m an alcoholic” and they accepted me as that and I accepted them in return.
On my course we’re deep into looking at Rogers’ core conditions. Unconditional Positive Regard is one we were looking at in depth last week. I believe I’m lucky I think many of those on the course can look only to family for an example of this kind of thing. For me I can look at it within AA. I was thinking on the “I love everyone in AA. I may not like everyone but I do love everyone” – which is a saying I’ve heard many times. I can agree with it there are people whose recovery and sobriety I have a lot of respect for and I hold what they say in high regard a lot of the time. However they have traits in their personality that I really struggle with at times – they rub against some core (non-AA) values of mine. So … I may not like them (all the time) but I do love them (all the time).