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August 26, 2009

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Dave

Good lord! (no pun intended)

My answer to the reader's email would have been ...

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Girl About Beantown

SO helpful. I have been struggling with this with someone I'm dating and, as you say, "using the language of the Program to rationalize it" (although "it", thankfully, is not abuse). Really important to be reminded of the fact that acceptance is not agreement, and I don't have to tolerate what feels wrong to me.

unreliable narrator

Mr. SponsorPants, your blog is wise. I have been reading all over in it and I am so grateful I feel dizzy. Thank you for your well-written and affectionate curmudgeonly experience strength and hope.

I agree with everything you said to M; and I think I distinguish an additional element in M's overwrought mentation: the word "behavior." I'm alert to this word because it's become something of a specialty for me, myself.

Very recently (since May, when the dry but not sober alcoholic with whom I live began acting, well, dry but not sober) I've cultivated an involuntary expertise in the difference between accepting a PERSON and accepting that person's unacceptable BEHAVIOR. This distinction came about for me, slowly, when the alcoholic began to challenge my objections to his behavior with accusations that I was "taking his inventory," or in general not accepting him as the beautiful child of God he is, etc.

After four months of Al-Anon, a pretty amazing long-distance sponsor, and a renewed relationship with my sometimes exasperated Higher Power, I'm now clear on the differences: I accept my alcoholic completely, just as he is. He doesn't need to change a hair for me to love and accept him completely. And, I choose not to accept his unacceptable behavior. Which is why he's been living in motels the last two weeks, and why, when he comes back on Saturday, I'll be staying elsewhere.

Funny thing about that whole turning-it-over business: I've been tolerating his behavior for many months, but only finally two weeks ago hit my knees and said, Dear HP, this one's all yours, because I can't figure out if I should keep putting up with all of this or not. So, you're going to have to help out here, and give me clarity.

It wasn't two hours later that I found a piece of paper so hair-raising that it was then completely clear to me what I should do: I had to ask my partner to leave. Which I did, calmly and with a firmness which isn't like me at all.

So M, if you're still reading, ask your HP for help with whatever behavior it is, and turn it over--and then be prepared, because you're probably going to get the clarity you asked for. Like, really quickly.

And Mr. SponsorPants--thank you again. It's a wonderful blog and I've already laughed aloud many times (the meeting in a BAR, e.g.) and an equal number of times have gently moaned in rueful comprehension. May God keep you exactly where S/He wants you to be, like a goldfish in water.

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