Recently I have become heavily involved in 12 step groups. I’m outing myself a little there. I’m a friend/family member so there is Al-Anon. I’m also a boarderline addict myself with family traits for addictive behavior. In the big book, apparently these stories are called “They quit in time,” or something similar. I did 12-step when I was in college with a group. We just went through the steps to find out what they were. Now I’m in another group that is doing something similar and I’m talking with others who are addicts and have gone through the steps or are going through them and it’s quite interesting. Everyone should do them. Really. I know I’m advising the world there but it’s the kind of study of ones self that can be done over and over and never get old.
However, in the context of a small town, the idea of an anonymous group is, well… difficult. Never is it truly anonymous. Maybe that’s a good thing because we aren’t all worried about what we are going to say or who we are going to out but also, it can be hard because if you are talking about issues and someone in the group is intimately acquainted with someone you have a grievance with, is that going to affect their relationship? Is my issue with a person and my discussion of that issue in my 12-step group going to be a reason someone else sees that person so differently they can’t get back their relationship?
One of the things I have been told is that there will never be a time when you are able to confront and accuse those who have hurt you. The 12 steps aren’t about that. They are about cleaning your side of the street and leaving their side alone. You can’t change other’s. You can only change yourself. Therefore, confrontation and the attempt to make someone understand their part in your break down is futile. It is something to be let go. THAT IS HARD! Especially in a small town setting where you are bound to see and interact with your issue people on a regular basis. But that makes it no less true.
How then can we rebuild relationships after issues or fights? Discussion for another blog I suppose.