Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Honesty in relationships

My program is a HUGE part of my life, and therefore my best friends, known associates, BF and xBFs are in the program too. These are the people who "get" me.

So this BF and xBF issue rears its ugly head sometimes, which is why I adore today's Language of Letting Go selection at Hazelden online, which includes this passage:

"But relationships equal two people who have equal rights. The other person needs to be able to define the relationship too. We have a right to know, and ask. So do they. Honesty is the best policy.We can set boundaries. If someone wants a more intense relationship than we do, we can be clear and honest about what we want, about our intended level of participation. We can tell the person what to reasonably expect from us, because that is what we want to give. How the person deals with that is his or her issue. Whether or not we tell the person is ours."

Relationships within the program are sticky, oftentimes because the parties often know each other, and on a more intense level than we "know" the so-called-normal people out in the world. In case you haven't noticed, meetings aren't always a hotbed of mental health.

To further complicate this, our little subculture has traditions and rituals meant to include all people, regardless of how our individual behavior rates on the Bullshit Meter. This is not the way the Outside World works, which is how we end up with folks who don't do so well out there (I work for the court system, and our Twelve Concepts include arrest, arraignment, extradition, plea deal, conviction, corrections, probation, parole ... you get the point).

Because of all this, it's easy for me to start thinking that I have to be equally "nice" to everyone in that room, regardless of the dynamics, because I want everyone to approve of me. I want everyone to hold hands and sing "Coom Bye Yah" (I'm pretty sure that's not how that's spelled).

But if I'm going to stay sober, I need to live in reality and honesty. You may not like hearing that what I can give in my relationship with you has changed, but it's true. I am responsible for being honest with you, and I'm powerless over your reaction to it.

Do I fear the disapproval your reaction might bring? Come on now, I'm a upper-middle-class girl from a southern gated community who was raised to be sweet and polite and popular - of course I do! But as I learned in my 4th step, my emotional security can't come from others, not if I'm going to stay sober.