So I'm having a bad week. Full moon, pending dreary elections, moody weather, and ending a relationship which feels like a final farewell to anything vaguely impulsive and the last of my serial midlife crises. While virtually everyone in my life disapproved of the guy, now that I've broken it off, they've chosen this moment to rub my nose in the degradation of it and punish me when I'm down and solitary.
Tonight, reluctant to call a therapist and hitting a new bottom, I decided to go to an Alanon meeting. After all, the guy was apparently a drug addict-- or at least an alcoholic, and I'm a lifetime enabler. Not knowing the protocol, I entered slightly late, missed the 'reading' which was the catalyst for the sharing... and I'm listening to person after person trying to be thankful for some kind of abundance but hating themselves, their life, confessing to weakness, sounding totally self-involved and 'stuck'. Still, it is all I can do to keep from crying because I am feeling not just fragile but exhausted from 2 weeks of sleep deprivation and emotional abuse. I relate to everyone... but actually to no one. I pass when it is my turn to share, until there is a request for newcomers to speak....
A young attractive girl begins to cry, she has been engaged to marry a very successful and handsome young executive and has found instead that he is an addict, has witnessed her life falling apart, and she needs to know, wants to know... is there any 'tip' or suggestion as to how to simply get through these nights... it has been a month and she is inconsolable, angry, devastated....doesn't anyone have anything to offer?
And of course, I-- the dysfunctional meddling classic enabler, do the absolutely verboten taboo thing and answer her. I tell her--- I was in exactly her position, 22 years ago... the perfect husband, the perfect marriage, the envy of all my friends... but I was pregnant, and in another country... and it all unravelled. It will be okay, I tell her... you will find something to hold onto, you will find a way to get through and you will be okay.
So the guy who spoke endlessly about putting his left foot in front of his right until the timer-person had to stop him...interrupts me, and tells me there is absolutely no 'crosstalk' permitted at an Alanon meeting. Meaning this is not group therapy, but each person just 'shares' and the rest listen politely, pass a 'hat', hold hands and recite the 'serenity prayer' even though their boyfriend at home has just been threatening them with a switchblade, their mother is dying of some oozing horror and it is on their shirt, or their kids have just locked themselves in the bathroom and are smoking up many grams of crack.
Meaning also that in my current state of utter failure as a romantic partner, as a friend, as a musician because my emotional state is affecting my performance... I have now not only Failed at Alanon, but sabotaged the whole program. Of course, one kind woman sheepishly offered the pathetic defense that my transgression was heartfelt, and it was... but this did little to dispel the aura that there was a traitor in their midst and that the poor young girl whose boyfriend was in rehab was now damaged beyond repair by my maternal instinct and my obviously shitty advice.
I was once warned by an 'ex' not to ever enter these 'rooms'... that this is not the sort of thing I could find credible, that I would absorb the deep unhappiness of each of the participants and I inevitably would question the appropriateness of my candidacy for the program as a whole, as did he...
Of course since no one of my friends is speaking to me, I may now seek refuge with the pitbull himself, or I may have to find a 12-step program for people who fail at 12-step programs.... or I may have to weigh my cross and my star and my horoscope and see which of those might lead me to find my higher power. I seem to gravitate to the lower power, you see... and there doesn't seem to be a B-side to Alanon, or AA, or to any of my issues tonight. I seem to have learned very little from my relationships, except that love still seems to be the thing that all of these people cannot master, despite the steps, the meetings, the higher power thing... that whether or not we love ourselves, we seek some kind of company... and sitting in a circle in uncomfortable chairs, like a pro-tem anti-depressant, is not going to heal me or that poor beautiful girl who was trying desperately to assert that her boyfriend didn't 'deserve' her. Someone will, I wanted to say. Someone will... at least we hope so.
Truth is, we deserve nothing. We get what we get, we give what we give. Some of us give too much and it feels good... or it hurts. People hurt us, things hurt us, we hurt ourselves. This is how I know I am alive. Love hurts, birth hurts, death undoubtedly will hurt too. I read a great Bob Marley quote this morning... he seemed to know something about love...'Truth is, he said, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.' Healthy, addictive, generous, selfish... we all come back for more in some form or other.
So pick up your pen or your guitar and get over it.