Monday 20 October 2014

Dear Sis: to a family member new to recovery

I made this. Download and save it somewhere on your computer if you wish to. Use it on the Internet if you wish to. Credit and link backs totally unnecessary. Screw the DMCA, copyright trolls, copyright monopolists and others of that ilk.

Dear Sis,

     We've hardly talked in the past decade or two. It seems that you deal with me only when you have to. I don't know why that is. Any guesses would be mental masturbation. Maybe someday you will tell me what I did. Maybe you never will. 

     Yes, I've found your identities on the Internet. Yes, I've looked up anything you've made public in order to have a bit of a feeling for where your passions have led you. I am thrilled by your recent successes.

     I was disheartened to find that in your college years you were drinking and shoplifting. By your own account, you were buying from several liquor stores so that way "they wouldn't think [you were] an alcoholic." You organized shoplifting parties among your friends on weekends. I held my breath, hoping for some indication that you grew out of these things.

     By your recent report, you are feeling much better than you used to. You've quit drinking and smoking. [Was it cigarettes? Or weed? Or?]. You've shaped up and started taking better care of yourself. I feel both happy and sad at this news.

     Pictures of wedding dressings and nurseries. A sense that I have been disposed of along with your ex and your bad habits. It's alright I guess. 

     Dad is getting closer to the end. You've already moved on in ways that I cannot understand. I too had a stepfather that I loved. [He died awhile back]. We are so different-- you and I-- yet something in you and something in me we both got from Dad. Please don't forget him as you continue on your orbit to the sun.

     Even if we never connect, I wish you the very best in your life. I hope that you will find more of what you are seeking. Most of all, I wish you peace.

               ~ the forgotten one ~


Sunday 19 October 2014

Follow Program Etiquette

      I walk into the room. The floor is already a mess even though the linoleum is less than two months old. The new paint is peeling where someone had ripped a taped sign off the wall. Dead mouse smell hits my nostrils. On the wax board in front of the room [a thirty two dollar wax board, conscience] someone had scrawled the words Follow Program Edecate. I put my stuff down on the couch. I approach the wax board. The eraser has long ago disappeared. I wipe off the offensive words with a sleeve.

     Several years ago, some of the bleeding deacons decided that the new people who were now infiltrating the rooms in droves needed to be taught about what they referred to as "program etiquette." I thought that was a lousy idea. We already had chair people announcing things like don't cuss and turn off the cell phones [group conscience] at the beginning of each meeting. How many rules did we need here?

     Not to be denied, some of the folks from the district got together and began going around to different places and holding "workshops" on "etiquette." Yes, I went to one. One was enough. There was a slew of things that were offensive to the bleeding deacons:
          New people got up and down too much.

          They went to the bathrooms too much.

          They dared to leave the meeting to take smoke breaks.

          New people talked too much to each other during the meetings.

          They talked about day treatment, drug court, and other addictions when it was their turn to share.

          Some of them even left the meeting before the final prayer at the end.

          New people didn't understand anonymity.

          They talked about the meeting in the parking lot.

          They ratted on people to their counselors or to drug court.

     If these workshops had been renamed "Traditions Workshops" and the trads were presented as ideals to follow, I would not have had a problem. But the etiquette workshops were simply bitchfests with lecturers. Nothing good came out of them far as I could tell.

     I have a lot of time in. I've been abstinent for more than half my life. When I get up during a meeting to use the bathroom, I don't get the stares from the bleeding deacons. Kids have to ask to be excused from the room or from the dinner table. Adults at a recovery meeting do at times have to use the bathroom during the meeting. This should not be a big deal people.

     Yes, some of us are easily distracted. It ain't just the newcomers, folks. Yes, sometimes the room is too bright or too noisy or too smelly. Yeah, sometimes we need to stand up or stretch our legs a bit. If an adult wishes to leave a room for any reason, why is that anyone's business? Sometimes, a topic is hitting close to home and someone may need a break for that reason. Tobacco is an addiction, we are now told. If you don't smoke or if your smoking allows you to sit still for an hour without a cigarette, count yourself lucky.

     Is there a list of acceptable topics floating around that I haven't been told about? If I am worried or angry or think I will relapse over some person, place, thing, situation, organization, or other entity, isn't that fair game for bringing up at a meeting? "Hardly any recovery in this room," you say. I was told that if I thought something was going to cause me to mess up, that I could talk about it in the rooms. Whatever.

     There are a few more non-theists in the rooms than there used to be. The growing trend of young people who are un-churched is also reflected in the composition of people in recovery. Some of us choose to sit or stand during the final prayer. We don't want to be fake and say words that do not hold any meaning to us. Folks leaving before the final "amen" disconcerts me too at times. Bottom line: We don't have (all that much, if any) control over the behavior of others. I don't have to die on that particular mountain. Neither do you. A few people will leave before the end of meetings. Suck it up and deal with it. 

     Breaching of anonymity is a problem but it is not only the newcomers who do it. Some people who should know better call up drug court personnel and rat out the mandated people. This one goes to the bathroom too much. That one comes a few minutes late. The other one is sleeping. These two are seeing each other secretly on the side. And so on. The professional staff at drug court are at fault for listening. So maybe new folks in treatment are in the parking lot talking about what happened at the meetings. Is that any worse than those of us who know better going home and telling our spouses who was there or what was said? Different from a gang of recovering people in a restaurant talking about other recovering people? More terrible than the rumors going around concerning who picked up again, who slept with who, or who is getting a divorce? Awful-er than snitching to drug court? We who have been there have a responsibility to follow the spirit of tradition twelve as well as the letter.

     This is not an us versus them thing. This is not a newcomers against bleeding deacons recovery. We have a responsibility at meetings. We are the ones who can gently take people aside and explain some aspect of a tradition. We are the ones who can help a chairperson out by asking for quiet. We are the ones who can practice celebrating the new people instead of verbally attacking them for not "following program etiquette."

     Cell phones are an annoyance everywhere. The abrupt ringing is a problem in movie theaters and classrooms as well as in meetings. Cursing is something that may offend some of the older folks. As for the rest of your shitty rules, stuff them.

     We have no business directing when someone may take care of their bodily functions, take a cigarette break, or leave a room. We are not prison guards. We are not the be all and end all. When we fail to be polite and respectful of newcomers, we add another notch to the belt of problem behaviors in the rooms. One of these days, most of us will wake up and find ourselves dead. Those newcomers that you deplore will be left to carry on the message. What legacy are you leaving them?

sapphoq itching for a coffee and more



Saturday 11 October 2014


Things recovering people have said:

"And there is this meeting, called the ___________ meeting..." [eyes roll].  ~ heard at a district meeting ~

"Once they get over their individual problem..." [about a glbtiq meeting].  ~ heard at a regional meeting ~

"_____________ is d a n g e r o u s."

"You won't recover if you don't believe in [a god]."

"They're always talking about ____________ . That's not recovery."

"___________ will never make it."

Things professional helpers have said:

"You've been over-emo at meetings, yelling about people breaking anonymity because you think they tell us-- your drug court overseers-- what you are talking about at meetings."  [drug court staff do not attend any meetings that the drug court participants attend]   ~ paraphrased ~

"Don't use __________ as a sponsor."  ~ verbatim ~

"If you sleep with me, then _______ will stop."  [to a patient]

Thursday 2 October 2014

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You attend a 12 step meeting. There are many folks there who are involved in the legal system. The group conscience is that problems they face dealing with legal personnel is okay to discuss there.
     After the meeting, you comment that there isn't much recovery going on at the meeting.

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You tell atheists at meetings things like "god believes in you even if you don't believe in him" and "without god, you will not recover."

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You no longer bring up problems or issues that you are having. Nor do you bring up topics that you wish to hear about. You only bring up topics that you think someone you are "concerned about" needs to" hear.

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You study various people at the meeting and you decide who will and who will not return to active addiction.

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

      You write snarky things on your blog about the bad behaviors of people at recovery meetings. Because you know what works and what doesn't. For the entire fricking universe.
Who Are YOU to Decide That?