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Al Anon meetings and my own self awareness

Old 09-25-2013, 08:01 AM
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Al Anon meetings and my own self awareness

Hi guys, it's been a while. NOT posting about the A today, thank goodness, LOL! My problem most recently has stemmed from emotions that have come about due to a meeting I attend. This meeting has about 50 people, give or take 10 or 20 on any given week. So, it's a BIG meeting compared to most of the others that I attend. There is a group of folks in there, a mix of men and women, who are basically a wonderful group but also a click who spend time together outside of meetings.

I found myself longing to be a part of this 'group'. Talk about going back to high school with my emotions. These folks go out dancing, go to yoga classes, travel together, go to concerts, have dinner parties together, etc. There was a huge part of me that felt a humongous hole in my heart and I think I turned to these folks looking to them to fill that emptiness I was feeling. I wanted what they had. I wanted the depth of friendship they all had. In that core of people, there are 2 dating couples (both are recovering Al Anoners and both couples met each other in that meeting), a few recently divorced 30 something singles, and a few other folks in various stages of recovery.

Honestly, most of them are much further along in recovery than I am and I found that I was so drawn to their spiritual maturity as well as to their program work, etc. I wanted what they had.

So, in the past few weeks I have been feeling extremely uncomfortable in those meetings. Feeling like I couldn't wait for them to end, feeling ashamed for not being further along in my recovery, feeling ready to just give up my program. I had to take a step back and look at myself at this point. I left last week's meeting and cried in my car. What I finally realized was that my own jealousy and envy were getting the better of me. I neglected to point out to myself that these folks have been in program for years longer than I have. I didn't give myself any credit for how far I've come. I had a pity party because I felt that I didn't have close friendships like these people, etc.

I really had to look at how I have been at making friends, how I don't really have anyone in my life that I can call my 'best friend'. What I found was that: I do have friends and some of them are quite loyal. Some are more acquaintances, some are new friends whom I'm hoping to develop better relationships with, while some are old friends whom I'm trying to reconnect with. Some are program friends, while most are not. I've been taking a deeper look at my own character defects and my inability to develop long term friendships and the Al Anon program has given me the tools to do that with grace.

I realized that friendships have seasons. Sometimes an acquaintance can become a great new friend, a place of comfort and support, while an older friend is going through some major transitions and just doesn't have the time for 'us' right now. I have learned that whatever situation comes up regarding friendships, it's all OK. I don't have to work so hard to get people to like me, but I do have to reach out and send an email, send a text, make a phone call, etc and those things keep me connected to others(whether they are program folks or not).

So, a gal I met in program(she doesn't attend meetings much, though) is a Christian woman whom I admire very much. I don't know why she's even in Al Anon, quite frankly, but her spiritual maturity is catching, if you know what I mean. She invited a bunch of her Al Anon friends to her church's women's retreat. I hesitated and almost said no. Most everyone else said no anyway, and I realized that this woman would be the only one I'd know. I finally agreed to go and I'm so nervous but I know that I am doing this for my own spiritual growth and I assume I'll meet some nice ladies there, too. I'm trying to expand my horizons a bit, trying to get out of my comfort zone, and I'm hopefully using my program tools to do so.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:09 AM
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lizatola, I find that I'm decidedly low on friends at this stage of my life too and can relate to that part of your post. I give you a big pat on the back for doing what you ARE doing to remedy that situation.

I've recently started doing some activities to meet people and hopefully make some friends too, and it is uncomfortable at times...but it has to be done for growth, right?

Your post seems pretty insightful to me, and again, good job on moving ahead, even though inertia and the damn "comfort zone" want to suck you back in w/their tractor beam!
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:40 AM
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I've always had trouble making friends, but I realised I've also shied away from opportunities to have friends, saying no to things because I was anxious about them. So I think you've done a great things accepting that lady's offer, really what is the worst that could happen? Things really improved for me friend wise (with my grand total of 4 friends now!) when I started saying yes to people, even to things I wasn't too keen on, just to have shared experiences with people, and you know what none of them have gone wrong like I was anxious about and I've had some great fun!

My AlAnon group is very small in comparison to yours, but there is the same thing of the longer time members being friends outside the meeting and I felt the same as you at first, but over time I've become one of the regular members and those friendships outside the meetings have started to grow. It takes time. And like you've I'm learning that it doesn't take lots of work to keep a friendship up, but I do need to keep in touch with a text or email or coffee to keep it going

Its great you have been able to have such insights into why you were feeling that way and then do something positive about it Hope your retreat is very enjoyable for you!
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:47 AM
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Oh, it is so, SO HARD to break out of the self-isolation, so hard to take risks and put yourself out there when you have been hurt and damaged so many times.

I think you are doing wonderfully! In all aspects of our recovery...progress, not perfection. Teeny tiny baby steps are still progress forward. You're doing great on this never-ending marathon we call recovery.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:50 AM
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Ask one of them to be your sponsor....a sponsor will help you work your steps. Al Anon isn't really meant to be a social club but it has been my experience that in groups I attend that I am more apt to be drawn into the social setting of the group through the shared experience of working the steps w/ a sponsor. Al Anon probably has info on one of their tables that talks about finding a sponsor. Check it out.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:05 AM
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Hey there. I so relate to your post. I have that longing to want to connect with other people on a deeper level but can at times feel like there is some huge gap between me and them.

Like you I can go through a phase of comparing other people's outsides with how I feel on the inside which in times like these situations is pretty crap. I think my god they seem so cool and I am a terrible.

I think I especially started to feel it and be aware of it when I started attending al anon and stopped focusing on the alcoholic so much.

Another thing I have a tendency to do is run off as soon as meetings/social gatherings end rather than stand around and talk to people and feel that longing. I am certainly better than I was but still have phases of it. The defect hasn't been removed so to speak and sometimes I accept it and other times I don't and feel bad etc..

Over the years I have spent a bit of time trying to correct or amend this behaviour even therapy but I have never had any permanent success. These days I just accept it (or try to) that's how I am in the day and tomorrow maybe better. One thing I do know is if I am tired it is really bad.

Thanks for your post
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:06 AM
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isnt it funny what FEAR can do for us and to us...

we all work our program at our OWN PACE, love, there is no time line..
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