Setting Boundaries

“Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland

Every so often I run into a person or group who run strictly by the book and can only see things from the angle they view from. A case in point is Alcoholics Anonymous  I know that some will take exception to what I’ve written here but bear me out. I’m sure AA has helped a lot of people out over the years but I’ve seen the “I’m better than you” mindset firmly in their some of their group settings.

Back in 1977 I moved out of my parents home into my very first place of my own. I could come and go at my own pace without worrying about curfew or about my parents staying up. Plus I lived just 4 blocks from where I worked.

I had one of the three housekeeping rooms upstairs. In the next room was a fellow who turned out to be quite the AA evangelist. I used to like to head out every so often for beer at a nearby pub. At one point he must have seen me going in and thought “one of us.” Not long afterwards he had me going to AA meetings, after I expressed interest in attending them as a way of exploring different forms of spirituality. I regretted doing this when I look back as I felt I didn’t have the space to breathe. At my first meeting I was hauled up to the book table to buy the AA Big Book and the 12 X 12 one. Like other newcomers I was to go to 90 meetings in 90 days suggested by a number of the “old timers”. I flat out told them I have a life and had other things to do. Doing the same thing every night for 3 months is a case of too much of the same information in too short of a time span. It burns a person out. I wonder how many people have left AA as a result.

I know AA’ers will deny this but I’ve been told by others and now believe most sober up without the help of AA. I took my blinders off, expanded my horizons and started to take a look at things in the cold white light of dawn on my own attitude on dealings with others. Give them a hand up in life and not tell them how they should or could behave.

I did find the AA way of doing things rather simplistic. Their 12 steps and slogans are good to be used as guidelines to help on their life journey. Unfortunately from what I’ve noticed a good number of them have just quit drinking and haven’t moved on from there. When I lived on the prairies, I went periodically to AA meeting just to see what was happening. It seemed some were stuck in a rut and/or they were scared of anything outside of AA world. I couldn’t believe the unresolved issues I had seen so I decided to work on my own life.

Even though I have had extended periods of not drinking, I do like a couple of beers every so often and do enjoy them. I really don’t need the guilt, shaming or self righteousness from others. Whether a person drinks or not doesn’t make them any better than anyone else. I ask if people use 12 step meetings as an escape from not dealing with aspects of their lives they keep hidden from themselves and others. I do keep my drinking to a minimum as I want to keep my mind clear enough to deal with life as it is.

I wonder if when one says they’re an addict they’re being or wanting to part of a latest trend. It looks like if these “addicts” are just trying to be “somebody” in front of others or be something they’re not. There are things in everyone’s life that needs dealing with but lets not get overboard with it.

I used to be a people pleaser who would drop anything to help out for the so called common good. It was a matter of setting boundaries to claim my life back. Chronic complainers and those who would waste my time are shown the door very quickly quite literally and told strongly to leave me alone. Some people aren’t happy unless they are dragging others down to their level of awareness. Perhaps it is a case of them being too lonely or wanting power over others. They need to be classified as emotional vampires. I don’t need to be a victim of any kind nor run between the extremes of being in isolation one minute or hard-ass the next. Maintaining balance in my life is in order.I can state my opinions without worrying about what others think though I can appreciate honest feedback when called for.  

Ron Murdock
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