I got blasted

I just re-read my last post and realize it continues to be relevant.  Furthermore, it is vividly clear that so much gravity still pulls me to want to control outside circumstances rather than my internal processing.

Blogging had been one of my ways of processing internally and I suppose I have got away from it in past several months.  Hmmmm…. maybe time to make time for it again 🙂

I have posted in past about my ongoing distaste for certain aspects of AA culture.  Well the sum of many fears came together last night… at my “Cake Meeting” of all times.

I shared from the podium at my home group of about 40 people after my sponsor had given me my cake.  Later, and old-timer got up and specifically picked some of what I said and essentially dis’d it.  He was specific, singled me out, and made very pointed and judgemental remarks against specifically what I said from the podium.

I was rattled.  Still am.

This is an aspect of AA culture that I find difficult.  Old timers who basically brush past tradition and say what they want just because they have been there for 40 years.  No manners, no compassion, no discretion.  I have never heard this fellow reference a sponsor in the 5 years I have known him.  Nor sponsees.  Never seen him at a step group.  Does he work a program or just bark about one at meetings?

An AA podium as I understood it was for “sharing”.  I have never known it to be intended for “directing”, “correcting”, “debating”, or “confronting”.

So here I am at the same cross road.  This guy’s bothersome behaviour is an external force.  My processing it is an internal thing.  Which do I deal with?  Well, if my last post meant anything, I should deal with what is going on with me.

So so far this morning, and it is still early on a Saturday morning, so I prayed, emailed my sponsor and my good friend who chaired the meeting, and now I am blogging about it to help process the thoughts and feelings through.  Why? Because that is where the part of the problem is that I am responsible for.  And also the only part of the problem that I can reliably deal with.

Maybe the blow-hard will change, maybe he won’t.  Frankly, I shouldn’t care.  I barely do.  I am being honest, I wish he would but that is not my thing to deal with.

So right now, my heart is a little sore and my head is a little busy.  That is enough responsibility for now.  Not unlike the ocean swells I mentioned in my last post, the blow-hards and AA big-mouths aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.

So I’m best to just sit where the breeze is blowing, sip on some gingerale, and deal with what’s going on in me.

Thanks for helping me do that.

Ciao.

Chaz

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About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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21 Responses to I got blasted

  1. mainstreetcateringmd says:

    Hi Chaz thanks for the post. Your thoughts and feelings have been a help to me. I am a wife mom grandmother daughter sister friend and over the past year furthered my journey via Alanon, therapy, a sponsor, psych eval, reading, faith and more. It’s a job and it is multi faceted as you have said. I don’t know you but I do and look forward to reading more of your posts. Hope you get back to sharing – its been a help. Thanks, Lee D

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Lee….

      Thank you for popping in and for commenting.

      Yes, I hear the indicators telling me to continue blogging. I am not always best at fresh posts but I love the dialogues that grow among the comments. Which is why I will sometimes back away from posting on my own and spend more time commenting on others blogs.

      I am glad to hear you are finding helpful things on your journey. That sounds like quite a strong grouping of components. I am all for doing whatever it takes and have included most of what you mention on my own journey. They have all had their value.

      See you (more often 🙂 )

      Chaz

  2. cyndi says:

    hi chaz,

    well, it’s one of the reasons i don’t attend anymore, among other things, so often the steps are not even mentioned, God curiously missing, new agey ideas (i live in the san francisco bay area, so quite a bit different than most AA meetings I’m sure)–it’s amazing how often the old timers ‘preach’ or down right attack what someone else has shared as in your case and forget about the ‘experience, strength and hope’ guide to sharing. also, cross talk in the guise of just that, when it’s so obviously not that–they don’t directly address you by name and then think it’s okay. funny though that your friend who chaired didn’t nip it in the bud. And I see nothing wrong with discussing it with the man, but it may be a situation where he wouldn’t listen, like Herod.

    however, i do know you’re a Christian and several verses came to mind. all about dying to self. when we get ruffled by people like that, it shows our ego is still alive and well (and you acknowledged that by saying you needed to examine yourself as well). believe me, i’m not judging, i would have felt exactly the same way. i have a lot more dying to do. ):

    here you go:

    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.–Matthew 5:11

    He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. –Isaiah 53:3

    Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad­­ because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:12-­13

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith­­ of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire­­may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. James 1:2-7

    Blessings,

    Cyndi

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Cyndi….

      Yes, I agree. Blessing those who curse you is the higher and better way. Which is where I want to go. And also to get better at making this my default.

      I have grown to the point of not being bitter, but I suppose it is clear that can still hurt. Who of us don’t? Even Jesus asked the Father in the remaining hours that ‘if this cup could be passed’…. so clearly he felt pain. And even as he prayed for the forgiveness of those who were murdering him, he would have been in agony. So pain and forgiveness can coexist.

      And of course I am not drawing a parallel of magnitudes of pain between Jesus and mine, but rather, just the principle of it.

      One thing I should hasten to add…. is that my sponsor who was there did something to remind me of why we were there and bring some balance to it all. Some recovery house guys got up early to leave as they often do due to their curfew. He ducked out after them just to make sure he introduced himself and welcomed them back any time.

      This is fulfilling the primary purpose of carrying the message of sobriety to the alcoholic who still suffers. And such examples speak to me that we can still work a meaningful program amongst the dysfunction, egos, and pains of the imperfect parts of our programs.

      Thanks for your encouragement and comments!

      Chaz

  3. I’ve never seen an old timer (here) that would dare do what you wrote above. Seems like an ego wanting to be heard. We are powerless over people, places and things. If you spoke from your heart and know what it is you said, don’t rent this guy space in your brain for free !!! Asshole !!!

    Congrats on your cake.

    At least you have a program, as an old timer here would say to me or you in this case .

    Jeremy

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Jer…. I suspected this post would rattle you a bit too 🙂

      Thanks for the encouragement and helping me bring to balance. I have dialed down in the past few hours and actually had also spoken to the chair person who saw it quite differently than I did…. which I am both glad to hear and a little disappointed.

      I am glad because perhaps it wasn’t with as much ill-intent as it felt like…. and disappointed because I am concerned that a friend my age with similar years in may be drifting to become like one of these legalistic know it alls.

      I think I will share the details of the issue of contention in a forthcoming post… perhaps later today … and would welcome your thoughts.

      Thanks as always Jeremy!

      Chaz

  4. Tommy Simpson says:

    I was not there so I cannot give a statement on what happened. I can only talk from my own experiences. I am what you call an old-timer. I came out of Synanon the first successful drug abuse treatment system. The basic system was one of attacking the symptoms of addiction, rather than reinforcment. For example you would be given a job of cleaning the bathroom, and then at the meeting you would be attacked for being slow or whatever. AA and the other self-help organizations soon started using these techniques. Through the last 50 years it has gradually changed around to where the main approach is to reinforce and build on the good characteristics. Many of the old-timers including myself have a tendency to still attack the characteristics of addiction.
    I do not know if the old guy was using this approach or not. Then again there are those who just want to shoot somebody down because it makes them feel better than others.

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Tommy….. not sure what was up with this guy. Maybe he was attacking my symptoms. Who knows. All I know is it felt bad. And if I were a newcomer, I might be inclined to leave and not come back. Which is completely not what the program is about.

      I suspect this fellow may have fallen into the trap of ungrace, as Philip Yancey puts it. Meaning many of us as we mature in an endeavor begin to create laws around our and others’ involvement. We seem to seek to control by rules more than embrace by grace and dispense tolerance. Who knows.

      My main reason for posting was the awful feelings bouncing around my head and heart. I spoke to my sponsor an hour ago and feel much better. He in fact did not feel it came across as critical as I felt, although he did flinch a bit too and agreed that the podium is a place for sharing, not directing or criticizing.

      So…. as my fluster subsides, I can put it in a healthier perspective and begin to return negative with positive and give grace to the guy.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Chaz

  5. I can only be responsible for my program, not someone else’s. Sounds like you’re doing something right having got a cake! Congratulations! I suspect that Tommy’s last comment is probably about right (to shoot somebody down because it makes them feel better ). I always need to remember that I don’t ever really know what is going on with someone else. Perhaps he’s got pain and suffering in his life that’s too much to bear? Maybe he resents the fact that you are doing well and he still suffers? Whatever the reason, he deserves prayers, love and compassion. Easier said then done, I know. One day at a time my brother.

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Rich…. I agree, he deserves prayer, love and compassion.

      The longer I live the more I see the distinction between the feelings of pain and love/ forgiveness of a person I feel caused my pain.

      I find it entirely natural and healthy to express the pain I am feeling. Unedited if necessary.

      While in pain, forgiveness is difficult. Weaker parts of my processing want to fire a laser beam of blame at the other person. But do they really deserve this? My rational mind say, “No”. So expressing the pain for the purpose of processing it through is a wise thing to do. After it has past, I feel I can move on and address what is really going on and summon the grace to give the other person who may merely have passed along his own woundedness in ways he has no clue he is doing.

      Or even if his wounding was of a malicious intent… so what? Do I too need to join him in being one of the walking wounded? Or can I let the pain pass and give grace to even those who maliciously do me harm.

      God as I understand him favours the latter. I ought to do the same.

      Thanks for adding to the dialogue Rich. Nice to hear from you.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  6. Caddo Veil says:

    Oh my dear Nephew!! I dare say, if I’d been there I’d have given him what for!! (Complete with hands on hips–the whole “Auntie Picture”!) I’m with you on all points–it should be about sharing and respectful listening. He’s evidently got his own issues–and you’re right, he may not change. I wish he would–but that’s me. Well, obviously I’m on your side, so there’s nothing to be gained by belaboring the point. I understand that frustration with “externals”–I’m frequently asking “why can’t so and so, or something or other, be the way I see/do it?” I’m learning (slowly) to just answer myself with, “Because”–and shake it off, move on. I’m SO glad to see you–sending you a great Big Hug!! God bless you Bigger–love from your Auntie Caddo

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Auntie Caddo. Gladly, the bothersome part of this situation has significantly passed. I have processed it through with my sponsor, a friend, and a number of my blog buddies. Sharing in these ways really is an effective way of processing.

      In the moment I would have taken you up on the “what for”. Thanks for having my back.

      Now that the anger/pain has passed, I see a wounded and weak person standing at the podium flailing for significance by criticizing others and trying to sound like a know-it-all. My heart now goes out to him and I pray that one day, I can return grace to him for the harm he gave. As God as we both understand him has taught us and exemplified…. ‘forgive them Father for they know not what they do’.

      Or as Cyndi pointed out above…. bless those who curse you.

      So all is on a good path now that the uncomfortable part has passed.

      Thanks again.

      Chaz

      • Caddo Veil says:

        I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better–you have such a good heart, and head! My WP Reader said there was a follow up post to this–but when I clicked to read it, it has an error message, something about “not found”. So, is it gone now? I’ll check back later. God bless you BIG–love always, Auntie Caddo

  7. Debbie says:

    I’m so thankful for you Chaz, and for you posting about this. Your last post hit me so squarely, and then this one to go with it, to show the working out of it. I just know He is in this, as uncomfortable as it is, and He will be glorified and others helped. God bless you as you stay true to Him and you!

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Debbie…. it is amazing how the enlightenments that we are blessed with can stack up and build on one another. God is amazing. And I find the only thing I can truly give him is my obedience. In doing so, my life is blessed and I have strength to get through the lumps and bumps. Not only strength to endure the journey, but then strength to extend the hand of grace and forgiveness even to those of ill-intent. Which is exactly what Jesus did. If he wasn’t about grace, what was he about?

      Thanks for adding your thoughts and observations.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  8. cyndiw says:

    here’s a couple of more cents, Chaz. i don’t always believe we have to to turn the other cheek. recall when Paul was slapped by the high priest he retorted with “God will slap you, you whitewashed sepulchre!” . Also, when Jesus asked the Pharisees when they were plotting to take his life, which of his good deeds did they want to kill him for. It seems the Pharisees were always directly confronted. Of course, I’m not saying the thing needs to come to fisticuffs, but there is a time to speak (and yes a time to keep silent) . There is the well known quote attributed to Edmund Burke ( that has been disputed), “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” He also said, “There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.” I think meetings would do well to take people aside (that should know better, like old timers) and let them know they aren’t following the guidelines that were put in place to keep the peace as well as keep them focused on their primary purpose which is to, “to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Cyndi…. yes… at some point comes to confronting. Which, I believe can be done in love. Putting our foot down does not mean we forego love.

      For this guy and me, I am content to surrender it at this time and await further direction if any. I suspect my sponsor will have a word with him. My sponsor is a kind and sensitive man with a heart for the newcomer. In fact, in the middle of the meeting in question, a few guys got up to leave… I knew they were newcomers and I knew they were from a local recovery house that had a curfew that resulted in people leaving a little early to stay compliant. My sponsor ran after them to make sure they had at least shook hands with one person, were offered help if they needed, and saw a smiling face.

      Quite a contrast from blasting them over the 7th tradition… which is what the issue the old-timer ranted about… saying it was REQUIRED versus me having pointed out, as it is worded in our literature, “we ought to”….. I won’t discect the issue here but that was the crux of it. (I will address this in a sperate post).

      A wise person in my early recovery… a pastor in fact… reformed violent offender with a heinous background and amazing turn-around… once told me that if you really want to exercise your faith, and you are at odds with someone, be brave enough to pray, “God, if I am wrong, show me. If he is wrong, show him”.

      Where a situation does not require immediate intervention to prevent harm or deep wrong, I think this is a pretty bold prayer to pray. It surrenders control that we so often seek to gain, especially when we are hurt or offended.

      So I see completely your point. There most certainly is a line where we should intervene and put our foot down. I am going to call this one of the situations that doesn’t require it. Not from me anyway. Not now at least.

      Thank you again for the encouragement.

      Chaz

  9. Still Loving Him says:

    Hey, Thanks for the follow. I’ve scanned your page a bit and this post really caught my attention. My husband left AA on the advice of his therapist for the greener pastures of NA and found what he needed. He was is a recovering alcoholic, drug addict and sex addict. He has the trifecta, as I like to call it.

    He also had issues with “old times” and in the area he was in they only wanted to focus on alcohol and shunned anyone who brought up anything else. In NA he’s gotten a great sponsor and their step working guide has been an amazing tool for him.

    I know people who love AA and swear by it. Thank God there are several programs out there for addicts of every variety.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Still…. thanks for the reply and follow. Saw your blog on someone else’s and found fascinating that you are standing on what you believe and working through rather than parting ways with your husband. It certainly is the exception and I respect it a great deal.

      Yah… a lot of AA meetings do keep it to alcohol only. Which is worthy of respect as well as it is what the core of AA is about. I too qualify for NA but AA resonates more with me. I think I am an alcoholic at heart who drifted into other substances for a short period. So for some reason, I connect more with AA so that is where I stay. And out of respect to the “Singleness of purpose” (alcohol recovery), I keep my drug issues out of the meetings as do most in my home meeting.

      It is not an adversarial stance, but one of respect to the traditions of AA that made it what it is. If NA is more relevant, then that is where a person probably should be. I still attend occasionally as I do qualify.

      And yes, both fellowships re imperfect in their own ways. Militant, narrow-minded old-timers can be overbearing. There is a distinction between loving guidance and ruling with an iron fist. But we are all imperfect and will make mistakes. The mistake I am trying to avoid is bitterness and resentment…. both of which helped me on my way to active alcoholism and drug addiction…. so why would I ever want to embrace the again?

      Anyway… glad you popped in and said hello. Will do he same and see you on the blogs.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

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