I've missed a lot of Al Anon meetings over the last two months. My brother was in the hospital in Nashville which is a lot closer to me than his family so I spent a lot of time there. Then I got a terrible head cold and by the time I got better second Polar vortex had arrived and I just didn't like leaving the house.
Last night I went back for the first time and was greeted with big warm hugs from folks that I really had missed seeing. We started out small and so we gathered around a round top table. It was still very cold (single digits) and so we didn't expect a big crowd. But, little by little people began to trickle in, until we had twice as many folks at our table as it would hold so we just scooted out a bit.
There were a lot of newcomers. After our meeting got underway, a lady in a wheel chair came rolling in and when we asked, "looking for Al Anon?" (we often get people looking for the AA meeting which is in another part of the building) she said "well yes since AA was not wheel chair accessible." She went on to mention that her father was an alcoholic so she felt this meeting would be good too.
We began going around the room talking about various slogans and how they were meaningful in our lives. The newcomers began sharing mainly about their qualifier, which I guess we have all done in the beginning. But when we got to the handicapped lady, things went out of control. She started fussing about steps one through three. She let us know in no uncertain terms that she didn't believe in what they said and wanted to make sure that this wasn't a Christian meeting. Our GR explained the spiritual nature of our meeting, explaining that it isn't religious.
When the meeting ended she left before we prayed so that she didn't have to be present for a prayer. Then she returned to get phone numbers. We offered her a bottle of water and she began to open it with her teeth. I asked her if she'd like help opening the water and she was furious. "Isn't it just like you codependent people to want to fix everything for everybody?" She didn't stop there. She went on and on and on about how she was perfectly independent and was capable of doing anything she wanted anytime. I told her that I was sorry and that yes it was just like a codependent person to want to fix it.
But, man she got under my skin. And I spent the better part of last night and today trying to figure out why. Now let me just throw the disclaimers out first. I know very deeply in my heart that she needed that meeting as much or more than I needed my first meeting. I know that she struggles ten times harder than I do in doing ordinary everyday tasks.
Why did this bother me so? I decided that part of the problem is that every time that I need to apply my Al Anon principles to a new situation, I have to rethink it. Secondly I didn't really want to fix her ( honestly I did want to fix so many other things she mentioned) but not her ability to open her water bottle, I just wanted to be polite. I can certainly see how she would be hypersensitive about her ability to take care of herself but what I don't know is where the boundary is with regard to offering help or fixing. I don't know how to be politically correct, at all. I tend to be more direct.
I questioned myself over and over....Was I trying to be controlling? When I listened to her bash the first three steps, I must admit that I was not thinking warm fuzzy thoughts. I would have loved to have said, "why are you here? If you don't like it, then there is the door." Was I allowing my negative thoughts influence the way that I treated her?
My usual sanctuary that is my Al Anon group was not there. I'm sure this is something in me that I need to look at and address....I'm just not sure what. Any ideas anyone? I'm gonna pray about it and I'm gonna keep praying for all of us and our addicted loved ones.