"...hurtful gossip is but a symptom of their remaining emotional illness."
My name is Anne, I'm an alcoholic.
. I feel that in the line above lies the answer. No different than Bill W., I have also done my own share of tongue-wagging, more so in the earlier days of coming in, and--I discovered...mostly so in order to "fit in"...a 'when in Rome' thing. My brain was still wildly messed up...I was wildly messed up. I can't specifically pin-point when, but there did seem to be a quiet "a-ha"
moment when I sort-a sat back and just listened, and I thought: wait a minute here; something about this isn't right. What I'm reading, and what I'm seeing/or rather hearing...
...is somehow contradictory...what's the scoop? I then began to "split the hairs" so-to-speak, and when the talk seemed to be more off the top of the head (remarks made about other people's sobriety
), my gut would churn a bit...this isn't right
; and then I noticed there would be a difference in those who would speak program
, it was shot from the hip, from the heart...with depth and sincerety and weight--I'd zone right in on that. Over time, and without judgment, I've simply come to the conclusion of: that's just where that person is, which fits beautifully with the quote from "As Bill Sees It".
If someone says something that raises my dander, I now know that they're hitting a bare nerve of some sort--and that
...is about me
/my inventory, not theirs. Sure, that person said what they did, but if it's getting under my skin...there's something under the surface that I need to address. I admit, it's much easier to hang on to it sometimes--hang on to that hurt or anger (or both), but I can't...gotta "let go and let God". As well, all the scuttle-butt that goes on can make us a little leary on what to say at meetings, thus causing us to shut down and isolate...or....not come back to the meetings. The more vigilant we are at working the program, the more likely the urge to join in or start any gossip is...well...removed
, also, the tendancy to let the words of others roll off our backs is stronger. All the white noise is a whole lotta words that are saying one thing: I'm hurting. I'm hurting so bad that saying such things makes it so that I don't gotta focus on how badly I'm hurting. A lady in the Mile 300 group put it this way: we concern ourselves only with our side of the street. Yes, others will comment. At first, that's going to get under our skin, making us want to retaliate. Remember that resentments for us is deadly, so...all we need to do is keep our side and portion of the street as 'up' as we possibly can.
Another example was a lady who claimed to have 17 years of sobriety, yet...she'd be the first to say she didn't like what you said (yes, at a meeting), she'd tell ya exactly what you should&shouldn't say, because "we don't want to scare any newcomers away".
Oooo-kaa-aay. And yes, who she was speaking to was me. This is where I became aware of just where I was at in my own program, as--I didn't take offense. Her tone indicated that I should have, and she was very blunt. I walked away from that meeting...baffled
quite frankly. After the meeting, oldtimers approached me and shook my hand, one person said to me "now that
-what you said-was AA." I wasn't ruffled by this lady at all, I felt a concern for this woman, because...??? I didn't know. I prayed about this--about her...curious. A week or so passes and the thought occured. I knew what to do. I went to that meeting that evening, and I'd read about such a thing in a Grapevine, so I put it to work. I walked in just prior to the meeting, greeted her with a smile, and as I sat, I asked her: So, how's your steps going? What step you on? How's it going for you today? Her reply? Well, it surprised me. She said: "Oh, I'm a believer in only doing your steps once. If you do them right the first time, you never have to do them again." Let me tell ya...I never had so much trouble keeping a "###" than at that moment. I thought to myself, "that explains it", and I found it all rather amusing, yet it saddened me, too. Had not a clue what to say to that. Since then though, I'd watch and listen to her, and I did get a lot out of her shares at meetings...and who am I to say? It'd been 17 years without a drink for her, so who's to say, right? I know for me
, I gotta keep on keeping on. For her, I would say by observation both in and outside of meetings, that other people tend to get under her skin relatively easy.
Enough said. The "scuttle-butt" is there. It's always been there (as put forth by Bill W.), and it's always going to be. It's what we do with it/how we handle it--that's the real sobriety test--or, at least...for me. Pray for them, and don't get caught up in the soap-opera side of AA...that's not part of the program.
Keep It Simple,