Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And Acceptance is the Answer to All my Problems....

I seem to lose an average of one follower a day (and then gain another), let's see if I can come up with a net loss of several with this post....not that I want to, because I don't....

I was once married to man in our fellowship. I dearly loved him. With all of my heart I wanted our marriage to succeed. He was charming, intelligent, handsome, seemingly well-to-do, and sober! We were married when I was sober for six years and he was sober eight years. Shortly after our wedding, he started hitting me. He stopped paying any bills, leaving them all to me. He moved his kids from Australia to our home and allowed them to disrespect me in a way I could not even believe. I could go on with what he did, but I think you get the idea.

He also caused all kinds of problems in meetings and outside of meetings within the fellowship. He had opinions on every single thing. He had a very convincing (and angry) way of expressing his truth - it was never his "opinion" - it was the "truth!" He was an expert on the steps and traditions and concepts and history and was very convincing. He was usually "right" if you look only at the letter of the "law" and not the spirit. He was cruel to people if they even suggested that anything might be wrong with his behavior.

And do you know what works best with people who are trying to take their own inventories and learn to live in peace with their fellows? What works well is to suggest that there is something wrong with THEM. To suggest that they "have a look in the mirror." I'm telling you, it works every time.

When he broke my wrist (and inflicted other injuries), took all my life savings, moved his kids into my home and made it a hostile environment to me, I had no idea what to do.... my sponsor told me that "love wasn't about finding the right person, it was about being the right person." So, I wrote inventory. I wrote inventory over and over again trying to figure out what MY ROLE was in this. I was praying to find my role.

If I could find my role, I could change it. I would have done anything to change it. I made amends to him. I worked all the harder not to get angry. Not to cry. Not to despair. To be the best wife I could possibly be. It was never enough. And so I would redouble my efforts, and it got crazier and crazier.

One day he left the house and I had no idea where he was going or when he would be home (he once went to the Philippines for 3 weeks without telling me and when I asked him why he hadn't told me he said "you didn't ask.") I was so angry I knew I absolutely had to get out of there or something horrible (or more horrible) would happen.

I went to visit my sponsor to tell her I was leaving. She whispered to me... "I know I shouldn't say this, but B. is a f***ing a**hole, and you need to get the hell out of here and go back to Denver." Well, I did appreciate her telling me that. But I would have appreciated her being honest with me earlier instead of telling me to write inventory and to try to "be" the right person so that our marriage would be OK.

That whole community was tolerating his unacceptable behavior... and I don't mean just with me. I mean his behavior with the whole community.

I know there is a lot to be said for "matching calamity with serenity," and that it is nice to smile while under threat. It is nice to have faith that God will always take care of us, even though there seem to be threats on every side.

But, I really think we have a responsibility. I think we shouldn't put up with behavior that is unacceptable or even criminal. I think we should do everything we can to make sure our meetings and our fellowship is as safe as we can have it be.... (which will never be 100% safe). But serenely accepting someone who is clearly a threat to others? I think that is a bad idea. We have too many vulnerable people who need us. We may not be able to stop anything, but I think if we are aware of bad stuff going on we ought to at least not think it is "working the program" to accept it.

And on that note, I will say I think I am going to start posting in the morning again. I have a more pleasant disposition in the morning. I am starting training for a marathon - I started today, and I have a lot of happy stuff going on... but by nighttime, I write about stuff like this. :X


12 comments:

dAAve said...

I'm still one of your followers. Because that's what we do.

Syd said...

I think that the slogan Live and Let Live can be taken much too loosely by some and used as an excuse for bad behavior. It isn't about accepting the unacceptable. That photo is a scary thing to me. Just sayin'.

Ed G. said...

Agreed. I have on good authority that acceptance and tolerance or often misunderstood principles in our midst.

I'm still here.

Blessings and aloha...

Scott W said...

Is someone threatening your meetings? There is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in meetings. They must be as safe as possible for all of us. Hope it works out.

Pam said...

1. I loved Daves comment.
2. I know you are worried about "my meeting dick."
3. I think we have the same "ex".
4. I'm happy that you are running and you know how I hate running.
5. Let's "run" down to Cozumel for a week in the sun K?

pat said...

Great post.

Lou said...

Very good post. I think a misconception of AlAnon is this detached nirvana no matter what is going on. Somethings are just plain wrong or dangerous. For me, the program is the wisdom to know the difference and to trust myself to do something about it!

Willa said...

I'm glad you got away from that terrible man and I am still one of your followers!

AnyEdge said...

Accepting and submitting are not the same thing. I agree with you Mary. We can accept a crazy or violent person for how they are, because we can't change them. But we don't have to submit to their violence or their insanity.

Carverlane said...

Well, you are one of my top three must-read blogs regardless! We don't seem to hear enough about how sometimes our part in an inventory is "continuing to be the victim".

Kim from sAn Antonio

Bill said...

I find nothing to argue with here. I believe in being wary of those who are usually "right" if you look only at the letter of the "law" and not the spirit.
We're not supposed to become doormats just because we've worked the 12 steps.
I have to be careful not to slip into self-righteous behavior with folks like that.

Peggy G said...

Our meeting tonight was on "Honesty". You are being honest with yourself and others. I personally get a lot from your experience strength and hope and will keep coming back. Thank you for sharing even when it is painful.