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Old 08-12-2018, 10:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Kindness to them vs Kindness to ourselves


I have a family member who is abstinent but hasn't changed. She is still an arrogant, harsh, power-hungry, controlling, know-it-all, condescending, judgemental, entitled, narcissistic, bullying bitch who likes to embarrass me loudly in front of others on purpose to make herself feel superior. And yet at other times, she can be "nice" and sort of seem caring. She's a tough nut to crack. (And for the record, don't give me any of that "what you see in someone is a mirror to you" bull sh*t because that's not what's going on here. I am just describing a very toxic person in my life who I have to deal with).

Here's my confusion. I'm an AA/Alanon/ACOA. Step work in AA taught me to be kind, loving, patient, and tolerant of others. People like this family member, I'm taught, are "spiritually sick" and if I have a resentment toward them, I am to pray. If I want them to act differently (um yeah how about act like a f***ing human being for once), then I am told I am being "selfish" because I want her to act differently.

A while ago, she asked me in an email about how a certain event in my life went. I sent her a very factual email back about it. It was to the point. I guess she does not like it that I am getting healthy. She needs to keep me down, in the box and role she has for me, to make her feel better about herself. She accused me of my email being "in drama" and harshly reacted to something that a normal person would say something like "Oh wow hey I'm sorry that happened. Everything good now?" To which I'd say "Yeah it's all good" and we'd move on.

Recently she sent me an email about her husband's family issues. I could've thrown back the "drama" stuff but that's not who I am. I answered the email with class.

Then I get another email with her and her husband asking me professional advice. She does that from time to time. It's annoying. She has enough money that she could hire someone. Plus, she has absolutely no respect for me and has embarrassed me in public when we're having a conversation about something from my profession. Her husband has done this, too. Whatever.

So AA would teach me to answer the email with kindness, love, and tolerance. To be the better person.

What would Alanon or ACOA have to say about this? Where does PTF come into play here? I'm sick and tired of being treated like a doormat and being kicked when I'm down. I am proud of the woman I have become and the tremendous and grueling amount of growth, no thanks to her and her treatment of me, that it took to get here.

If it was 10 years ago, I would jump at the email and answer it without missing a beat, like a f***ing puppy dog, so she wouldn't get angry if I didn't answer right away.

If it was 5 years ago, I'd tap into my AA 12 step teachings, and I would invite God into the process, think of what His will is for me, and email back a kind, loving, and helpful email, putting to the side how she always treats me and continues to treat me.

Now I want to tap into my inner strength. That part that says "F**k her. Why should she continue to treat me the way that she's always treated me, and I just sit back, take it, and be there for her when she needs help? But I'm not sure that's exactly a spiritual thing to do. I'm supposed to be of service to others, think of others, be others centered instead of self centered.

Am I really supposed to be kind, loving, tolerant, and patient at the expense of my own SELF RESPECT?!?!?!?!?!

Where do you draw the line.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Am I really supposed to be kind, loving, tolerant, and patient at the expense of my own SELF RESPECT?!?!?!?!?!

Absolutely not!!

First of all, what a crappy dynamic with your family member. I hate that push/pull one day I'm nice and the next I'm embarrassing you in public. It is really tough to deal with and a hallmark of an abusive and toxic person.

It sounds like you have a lot of tools in your belt from your recovery work. I think the question isn't what AA or AlAnon or any program "tells" you to do. The question is what does your own gut tell you to do?

There is a wide open neutral filed between being harsh and cutting someone off, and being overly kind. You can just choose to be neutral, a "grey rock" I've heard it described as on here.

Any frequent fliers remember that post? About how to respond/not respond? I can't remember who started that thread.! I think it had to do with toxic people.

Also, doing nothing is OK! Maybe disengage as best you can. We are not meant to be others-centered at the expense of our own mental health, no way, that's codependency! And yes I understand that as a recovering A you also cannot afford to be self-centered in the way addicts are, but that's not what this is, putting your mental health first also doesn't allow for addiction, so your own mental health has to be A#1.

Do you still have a sponsor in AA or any double winner folks at a meeting you could share/run this by?

Peace,
B.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:12 AM   #3 (permalink)
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boundaries.
it's just an email.
it's just a question.

you could just reply, i don't know, i suggest you seek a professional.
you don't have to reply at all.
live and let live. you don't like her? don't hang with her. don't give her your time.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Concept 4: Participation is the key to harmony.

Last month this concept came to the forefront for me.

As I embrace it in new ways, I'm no longer feeling isolated.

We can find peace and happiness, whether the alcoholic is drinking or not.
I posted this last spring.

Interpretation, in this, in the 12 steps, in life, is up to the individual. We are each individual and are allowed the freedom to see things differently. As we do so, we often also begin seeing the many ways we're alike.

I am embracing participation in many new ways. I often go to Al-anon meetings when I'm traveling. I communicate at work in new, direct and healthy ways. I reach out and become a part of healthy group activities in local communities.

None of this involves participating in toxic relationships, chaos or that which is unhealthy for me.

One of the most healing things I find about Al-anon is the phrase "One Day at a Time". I get to choose for this day. Tomorrow I can make whatever choices work for me within the perimeters of that new day. I get the freedom to change my mind, to try things out, to do new actions, to be imperfectly human.

As I change, grow and get more in touch with my Higher Power, my inner voice and my authentic self, my viewpoint of everything around me continually changes.

AA/Al-anon/12 step programs are based on suggestions from what has worked again and again for many people. I take these suggestions, one at a time, broken done into small pieces, and try them out for myself. I take what works and leave the rest. I become open to trying new actions and thought processes, one day at a time.

"A single act of kindness may seem like such a small thing, but so is an ember that starts a wildfire."

As I learn to be kind in news ways, I change. What I seek out, tolerate, choose to fill my life with changes.

I am learning to be kind to myself and my toxic FOO by not responding to texts, phone calls or emails. I'm now seeing kindness in actions I've been led to by my Higher Power. In having strength to walk away. Not engaging in sick/ill behaviours can be a type of kindness.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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invite God into the process

ask what His will is for me



Sounds like a great plan anytime.

I have agnostic and atheist friends who are double winners and they also do this. "God of our understanding" is the key point. This understanding can be of our choosing and continually changing as we change.
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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while we are free to interpret anything in our way, the 12 Concepts are aimed at the overall structure of AA as a world wide organization, assuring that any authority continues to come from the group level, not the General Service Group or at the district or regional levels. at the higher levels of the AA structure, there are trustees, directors, staff members and delegates, both members of AA and non-members, and in order to assure no one individual or "tribe" hold any sway over others, all all granted the Right of Participation. this assures that no certain "element" or faction can populate the voting membership with any agenda contrary to the greater good of AA as a whole.

The 12 Steps are principles for the individual.
The 12 Traditions are principles for the groups.
The 12 Concepts are principles for the structure of AA as a whole.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My life can be very compartmentalized: motherhood, friends, program, spirituality, inner child/family of origin, work, home, marriage, etc. After our Step Study, and the next year a Traditions study, I realized the Steps/Traditions had begun to help me daily –kind of on auto-pilot. I find that I can apply them to any situation/feeling and get some kind of divinely inspired guidance.

http://www.sanon.org/steps-and-tradi...ll-our-affairs
This is very similar to what my home group and my sponsor's group tend to discuss. As we study the steps, traditions and concepts, we also look at ways to apply them to all areas of our lives.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Bernadette View Post
Am I really supposed to be kind, loving, tolerant, and patient at the expense of my own SELF RESPECT?!?!?!?!?!

Absolutely not!!
Thank you!!! I don't know why I needed to hear that from someone else. I think my former AA group just messed with my head, that I need to be nice all the time even with toxic people.

Quote:
First of all, what a crappy dynamic with your family member. I hate that push/pull one day I'm nice and the next I'm embarrassing you in public. It is really tough to deal with and a hallmark of an abusive and toxic person.
Oh my gosh.
Light bulb moment.
I've never heard it explained this way before.
I see it clearly now.

Quote:
It sounds like you have a lot of tools in your belt from your recovery work. I think the question isn't what AA or AlAnon or any program "tells" you to do. The question is what does your own gut tell you to do?
Ooh I like this. :-)
My gut says, "PTF, stop being this person's bitch. Stand up on your two feet and if you don't feel like answering the email, then don't. Let her bitch and whine or whatever she'll do about it. If she makes fun of you for flaking at not answering her email, so what. It doesn't matter. It's a reflection of HER and not you."

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There is a wide open neutral filed between being harsh and cutting someone off, and being overly kind. You can just choose to be neutral, a "grey rock" I've heard it described as on here.
A grey rock? I'm intrigued.
It was actually suggested many years ago by a psychologist to cut this person off. She has absolutely zero boundaries. She has never, ever respected my privacy/personal life. It's difficult to discuss here or explain the level of toxicity she has. She's a miserable human being. But AA teaches that I'm supposed to be kind. But my gut says, "be kind to YOURSELF for once."

Quote:
Any frequent fliers remember that post? About how to respond/not respond? I can't remember who started that thread.! I think it had to do with toxic people.

I would be grateful if someone remembers that thread. I'd love to read more.

Quote:
Also, doing nothing is OK! Maybe disengage as best you can. We are not meant to be others-centered at the expense of our own mental health, no way, that's codependency!
Again I really needed to read this. Some people I know in AA are so others-centered, that I think they've lost their sense of self.

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And yes I understand that as a recovering A you also cannot afford to be self-centered in the way addicts are, but that's not what this is, putting your mental health first also doesn't allow for addiction, so your own mental health has to be A#1.
Again, thank you!!

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Do you still have a sponsor in AA or any double winner folks at a meeting you could share/run this by?
I do have an AA sponsor, but I'm not sure she has experience with this. I don't know any double winner folks, but I wish I did! I was hoping a double winner on SR would respond.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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boundaries.
it's just an email.
it's just a question.

you could just reply, i don't know, i suggest you seek a professional.
you don't have to reply at all.
live and let live. you don't like her? don't hang with her. don't give her your time.
Point well taken. I know on the surface, it is just an email. Just a question. But with my family, it is never "just an email" or "just a question". There are way too many traps and manipulation beneath the surface. What appears as a sheep, is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I guess I could answer her quickly and be done with it. My therapist used to try to encourage me to wait a day before answering anyway.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi Pathway to free - what you see in someone is a mirror to you.

Kidding!

I don't think the intent of any of the Al-Anon wisdom you have shared is for you to be beaten up by anyone at any time.

Now I don't know if it's a relative and you therefore feel like you shouldn't just stop the relationship, but even if it is I would certainly cut down to one line answers, not sharing any details of your life and ideally, very very little contact at all.

If no contact isn't desirable you might want to google "gray rock method"
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Interpretation, in this, in the 12 steps, in life, is up to the individual. We are each individual and are allowed the freedom to see things differently. As we do so, we often also begin seeing the many ways we're alike.
I'm not sure I understand. Do you mean I should interpret "be kind, loving, and tolerant" in a way that will be helpful to ME and not necessarily in the way my AA home group/the big book taught me?

Quote:
I am embracing participation in many new ways. I often go to Al-anon meetings when I'm traveling. I communicate at work in new, direct and healthy ways. I reach out and become a part of healthy group activities in local communities.
That sounds really cool.

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None of this involves participating in toxic relationships, chaos or that which is unhealthy for me.
That is what my gut is telling me. Stay away from these toxic people as much as possible. Why do I need to be kind, loving, and tolerant to people who are toxic?

Quote:
One of the most healing things I find about Al-anon is the phrase "One Day at a Time". I get to choose for this day. Tomorrow I can make whatever choices work for me within the perimeters of that new day. I get the freedom to change my mind, to try things out, to do new actions, to be imperfectly human.
I never thought of that saying in that way before. There's such freedom and self-authentic-ness in these statements.

Quote:
As I change, grow and get more in touch with my Higher Power, my inner voice and my authentic self, my viewpoint of everything around me continually changes.
Maybe I need a new conception of my Higher Power. Perhaps the one I have now is what the problem is. I found that it's my God concept that's been keeping me from being strong, authentic, and taking care of myself. I think I need a God/Higher Power that says, "PTF, don't take any sh*t from anyone. Be kind to YOU!"

Quote:
AA/Al-anon/12 step programs are based on suggestions from what has worked again and again for many people. I take these suggestions, one at a time, broken done into small pieces, and try them out for myself. I take what works and leave the rest. I become open to trying new actions and thought processes, one day at a time.
Ok. Do you have suggestions as to how to change my conception of God/Higher Power to get one that wants me to be strong and not take any sh*t from anyone, instead of being all kind, tolerant, loving, forgiving, and patient when that harms me?

Quote:
"A single act of kindness may seem like such a small thing, but so is an ember that starts a wildfire."
WOW this is profound! I want to walk away from those embers.

Quote:
As I learn to be kind in news ways, I change. What I seek out, tolerate, choose to fill my life with changes.
I'm not sure I understand this. Can you expand on it?

Quote:
I am learning to be kind to myself and my toxic FOO by not responding to texts, phone calls or emails. I'm now seeing kindness in actions I've been led to by my Higher Power. In having strength to walk away. Not engaging in sick/ill behaviours can be a type of kindness.
THIS is what I need to continue to do.
But how is this being kind to your toxic FOO? My FOO goes ape sh*t if I don't respond to texts, phone calls, or emails, or if I don't give them information that they want.

I never realized that not engaging in their sick behavior was a kindness to THEM as well? Isn't that they're drug of choice and we're cutting them off, which pisses them off?

I want your Higher Power. :-)
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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but with my family, it is never "just an email" or "just a question". There are way too many traps and manipulation beneath the surface. What appears as a sheep, is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

only if you play their game and give them power. how they choose to act and respond is not your problem. if you are always acting in a way to appease them, they are your higher power.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Hi Pathway to free - what you see in someone is a mirror to you.

Kidding!
Hey now!

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I don't think the intent of any of the Al-Anon wisdom you have shared is for you to be beaten up by anyone at any time.
My former AA sponsor taught me to sort of let them beat up on me, let them treat me the way they want to treat me, and I am supposed to just let it not effect me. Just sort of take it without making it about me. I don't think that's a healthy way to be. She did not want me to stick up for myself, or to call them out on abusive behavior. I was just not supposed to respond.

It was my former therapist who taught me to have more self-respect and walk away. (Hmm some days I wonder if I made a mistake leaving him, but well it's tricky... he brought up something that I didn't want to talk about, and I couldn't communicate that to him. It was my fault. He was just trying to help me heal.) But even though he was also in AA, he did not want me to stand for toxic FOO behavior. He even gave me permission to leave restaurants if I wanted to. My AA sponsor would never have been happy with that.

Quote:
Now I don't know if it's a relative and you therefore feel like you shouldn't just stop the relationship, but even if it is I would certainly cut down to one line answers, not sharing any details of your life and ideally, very very little contact at all.
Yes, it's a relative.
Your suggestions is exactly what my former therapist would have said!! :-)
Yay!! Thank you for that permission.
My AA sponsor sort of saw some of her toxic behavior from my 4th step. She actually validated that yes, she was a bully toward me my entire life. However, she did not seem to want me to ever stand my ground. Now that I have much more time away from my former AA group and am looking at stuff in hindsight, I see more clearly how much what my former therapist said was healthier for me, than what my former AA sponsor and group members had said to me.

Quote:
If no contact isn't desirable you might want to google "gray rock method"
No contact isn't desirable, although it was when I was working on recovery. I sort of view it this way: Going no contact got me out of, and away from, the tornado of my FOO. Now that I've healed from that storm, I can advance back toward it a little bit, with caution.

AA folks seem to have no concept of toxic FOO. That's why I was hoping to get an AA/Alanon or Alanon perspective.

I will definitely google "gray rock method". :-)

Thanks everyone!!
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Lol! The only way I know to change my concept is to pray and follow!

My HP often leads me to speak uo when I'd rather be quiet. To be kind when I want to be cruel. To face my fears and walk through them.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:57 PM   #15 (permalink)
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invite God into the process

ask what His will is for me



Sounds like a great plan anytime.
Yes and no. I think I need a new conception of God.

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I have agnostic and atheist friends who are double winners and they also do this. "God of our understanding" is the key point. This understanding can be of our choosing and continually changing as we change.
Would you mind explaining what "God of your understanding" is for your agnostic and atheist friends?

And how our understanding of that God can change as we change?
Because I think I am at this point of my recovery, but am STUCK. I could use a push in understanding this.
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Old 08-12-2018, 03:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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but with my family, it is never "just an email" or "just a question". There are way too many traps and manipulation beneath the surface. What appears as a sheep, is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

only if you play their game and give them power. how they choose to act and respond is not your problem. if you are always acting in a way to appease them, they are your higher power.
WOAH.
That is profound.
They don't have power over me anymore like they used to, thanks to my past two therapists and indirectly to my step work. But I'm still needing to do some more work on this.

I saw a lot of people-pleasing in my 4th step. I hate to have it viewed as "manipulative", (AA sponsor's words) but I guess my walking on egg shells, trying to do what they wanted me to do so they wouldn't rage, etc., WAS in a way my trying to "manipulate" their behavior. However, I wasn't "being manipulative." I was just trying to do what would calm the storm and get them to stop treating me like sh*t. I didn't deserve it!!!! Ugh this is still confusing me.

They are no longer my higher power, although I didn't see it like that before. I see them so much clearer now. I see myself and my past behaviors more clearly now. I know now that how they treated me was not my fault. And that all the people pleasing, perfectionism, jumping through hoops for them would never have been good enough for them.

And I do not think my conception of God wanted me to do that, anyway. Perhaps that's what is going on here. I need to let go of a "childish" viewpoint of God that I used to have. One that said every second in my ear to "be good, so your mother/father/sister, etc would stay calm", etc. But again, it was my previous therapist who said to me, when I told him what I was like as a child/teen and that my sponsor wanted me to make amends to my FOO for, "So PTF, you were being a normal kid?"

I think I need a new conception of God who wants me tap into my voice, my self-respect, my self-worth, my self-care, and most of all my inner strength and f*** you button. One who says, "No, PTF. That's not being selfish and self-centered."
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Old 08-12-2018, 03:10 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Some acronyms I've heard in meetings:

G.O.D.

Great OutDoors

Good Orderly Direction

Good Open Doors (opportunities)

My concept of God is different, yet I find Him through all those things, too.
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Old 08-12-2018, 03:15 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I haven't read through the other replies but to me (I went to AA, ACOA, Alanon) it means that first of all I will be kind to myself but not selfish. Means I will not put myself first but also not last. I will put myself on an equal level to all others. And if there is no compromise that can be found when both parties are put on equal levels and if I have draw boundaries or even break contact with someone, then it is my responsibility to do this in a nice and considerate way. It doesn't mean I am not allowed to speak my mind but that I have a responsibility for the way I do it, with respect.

I just had a relationship ending (it was my partner who ended it) and this was a common problem. He is sober but not in recovery and he kept treating me very unkind and inconsiderate. Whenever I mentioned how this made me feel, he used it against me, telling me that I am the alcoholic who is not looking at my part in this, using the AA way against me, to silent me and to brush off pretty much ANY criticism as unjustified. He even went so far to say that 100 % of our problems were my responsibility and my fault. Now I suffered a miscarriage and that again is 100% my responsibility. Of course... I tried so many times, with kindness and patience to be accepting about his behaviour, but it just doesn't work. Some people's minds are so twisted or they are so manipulative that they will use our approach of kindness against us. So I think it is very important to draw boundaries, especially with those people. Just doing that in a respectful way. And just because they will take it as an offence doesn't mean that it was offensive.
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Old 08-12-2018, 03:24 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Old 08-12-2018, 03:35 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I like what everyone is saying on this thread, but Anvill’s posts really resonate.
The saying that we don’t have to go to every fight to which we are invited comes to mind.
Does this mean passivity and acceptance of ill treatment?
It does not.
Speak your truth if you would like to, PTF, as it sounds like it’s time and you are in a healthy place to do so.
Should you do this, you can probably expect pushback in the form of outrage, anger and doubling down of nasty behavior.
I think, ultimately you will want to remove this toxic person from your life, as best as you can.
I also think it will be messy as only family things can be.
Good luck and good thoughts.
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