Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Warning: serious post ahead.

I know, I know- 2 posts in one day...this is an actual serious post about something that I've thought a lot about over the years, and would like to get off my chest.

When you take Psychology in University, you tend to diagnose yourself with everything, most of it completely untrue.

One thing that I did learn about myself was that I was a high self-monitorer (sp?)- i.e. I am constantly analyzing my self-presentation and adjust it to others' ideals and to fit the situation. This might be a good thing- but not necessarily when you're so preoccupied with adjusting your own behaviour that you're doing everything for the perception of others' and not for yourself. One can never be completely comfortable living this way.

However, the benefit to this behaviour is that you are generally acting the way people want you to. You rarely offend people, and are generally well thought of. It's a pretty fast journey to popularity, even though it's frequently at your own expense.

This sort of behaviour also rarely leads to vices and addictions. Those are socially unacceptable.

So, since I generally get along with people, and am constantly analyzing what I "should" be doing and how I "should" be acting, I am frequently taken aback when I see people so blatantly the opposite.

This leads me to the point of this post: 12-step programs and how they affect the non-members.

I'm sure most of us have known someone in our lives who have suffered from some sort of addiction. The person that I'm thinking of was schizophrenic and this led to drugs and alcohol and eventually jail.

I was friendly with this person while they were in the Remand Centre - but it eventually led me to developing "relationships" with other members at the Centre, and then all sorts of other problems followed. Up until that point I had been the perfect child, friend and student. I had to do a lot of damage control, had to tell my father what I had gotten involved in, and apologise to a lot of people as a result of this one "friendship."

After it was over I just wanted to forget about it. Even now, 14 years later it is a part of my history that I wish I could erase.

However, the original "friend" (we were never even that close to begin with) joined AA. And as you may or may not know- one of the "steps" is to call up EVERYone that you've ever wronged and apologise to them. I don't quite know if the purpose is to gain absolution, or if it is a way of punishing themselves for what they've done wrong. Maybe both.

So, I got my call. I tried to be as gracious as I could- but really all I wanted to do was get off the phone as quickly as possible. I'm certain that the members of the program must be warned by their mentors that not everyone will necessarily be forgiving or want to hear from them. In retrospect I think it might have been more kind to give my caller a more honest response. However I am not rude by nature, and I felt that I had to take responsibility for my own actions.

I had wanted to forget all about it, and getting that call just brought up all those feelings of guilt and shame again. And then my "caller" went to the same University that I did. I didn't want to see him. I couldn't handle being gracious and interested in his life on an on-going basis.

So he eventually stopped trying to talk to me (to my shame and relief) and told my dear Anon what a bitch I was. Anon and I ran into him at the movies not too long ago and he wouldn't even look at me. He just spoke with her and walked away.

So, my question is- what do these 12 steps accomplish? Maybe they give some sort of peace to the addict, but at what cost to those who have suffered with or because of them? One could argue that it's better to apologise than to not apologise, but is it?

Is it right to force someone to have that conversation with you when maybe all they want to do is forget? The natural thing to do is say "it's OK" when someone apologises to you, but often it really isn't.

Anon and I were talking about this person the other day, and just the mention of his name makes me feel badly. I don't have one good memory associated with him. And I do rather blame the AA. If he hadn't been forced to call me to make "amends" and I hadn't felt compelled to be kind, then he would probably have never felt that we should have ever been on a friendly basis again.

Has anyone else ever gotten that call? How did you feel? Did the apology give YOU any kind of resolution?


Nance said...

I know exactly how you feel. I had a friend who was self-destructive; it eventually led me to have to end the friendship, an event that was messy and unpleasant. I never expected to hear from her again and hoped that would be the case. About six years later, she contacted me and was very candid about the purpose: it was to make amends for AA. I reluctantly agreed to meet with her because I knew it was important for her recovery. She saw when we met that I was pregnant with my first child, and she made comments indicating that she would be around to see him grow up. I had to make it very clear that the meeting was for her to make her amends and that was it--I had no real desire to rekindle the lost friendship at this point. She got very brisk and cold, and I ended the meeting with saying that I sincerely hoped her recovery was successful and that I hoped nothing but the best for her. But to hear her tell it--and believe me, it got back to me plenty--I had been cruel and nasty and demeaning to her. According to her version, I had practically thrown her amends back in her face. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
I completely sympathize with you in this situtation. It's almost like an invasion of your space or privacy. Kind of like an adopted child coming back to a natural parent who doesn't want to be found.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I have been on both sides..and the step also maintains that you should only do this if the *clean up* won't casue the other person harm it's important for your friend to understand that cleaning up his mistake may not have been in your best interest even though it was in his..I am sorry it turned ugly for you..

Glamourpuss said...

I don't know a lot about the 12 Steps but I think those calls are about taking responsibility for your actions.

Sounds like he still has some work to do. But is also sounds like you have some to do as well - lay the past to rest - you did your best at the time so forgive yourself.


Friendly Manitoban said...

aaahhhh a topic close to my heart. I could say SO much but in the end what it all boils down to is you have to be true to your self. Conquer your own problems (we all have enough of our own) and let our self-destructive counter parts handle theirs.

Anonymous said...

I think the amends call is to make the addict take responsibility for there actions. To make them aware how much they hurt the people in there life. It is unfortunate that they think everything will go back to the way it was. I dont recall if I got the call, Im sure I did, but his addiction didnt faze me much. Im still surprised that something that happened that long ago is something that you still carry with you. I dont think I ever grasped how much this hurt you.
I will say I am an addict! I love my tobacco and Im sorry for smoking around you. LOL. Im sorry I make you stink, and Im sorry for the second hand smoke. LOL. I hope you accept my amends

ScHmOe said...

Sounds to me like he went through the steps in the program because they expected it and not because he wanted to...his reaction would not of been what it was and you would not be feeling this way otherwise


I wouldn't give him or the issue another thought

P.S. Followed a link of Dented's blog and couldn't help but comment :)

phishez_rule said...

Thats quite alot to think about. I haven't been in that situation. But I know that there are some people who have seriously wronged me. I can forgive. But I can't forget. So if they asked for my forgiveness, and genuinely meant it, I would grant it. But if they asked to be a part of my life again, I would deny them that. Even if they did genuinely want it.

In the end its up to you. There are times when its wrong to put your needs second.

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