Thursday, June 3, 2010


Working the steps of AA yields many new tools that we can use in life. This was the topic of discussion at last nights women's meeting. One woman talked about how she's using the steps to help her achieve some goals like loosing weight and getting off her high blood pressure medication. Another lady said she was able to apply the tools to deal with her troubled grandaughter, another said it saved her marriage and she uses the skills she has learned to help other people at work. And the list goes on and on. For me one of the tools I am most grateful for is the gift of listening. When you are drinking and in the world of "self" you rarely listen, you can appear to be listening but you're not and you are busy planning what you are going to say next to turn the attention back to you. Since I've sat at a lot of meetings, I've learned to listen. I always get much more out of meetings when I don't speak than when I do. Treasures abound when you keep your ears open. The skills of listening came in handy this morning when I stopped by my coworker's office to get an update on her son. When I spoke with her last Thursday she was so happy, he hadn't been drinking, was sticking close to home, and she was full of hope. Tuesday and Wednesday had been busy so I wasn't able to see her until today. One look into her face and I knew what was coming. The eyes filled with tears, the voice choked as she relayed what I suspected. Her son had been drinking, had drank all weekend long with his buddies, was drunk, drove again, and as the disappointment and heartache flowed from her, I just sat and nodded once in a while and listened. She knows there is nothing she can do to convince him, he has to come on his own accord. And of course when he's sober he knows he has a problem, he says he's so sorry, and the line we've all heard or used "it won't happen again". What do you say? I stuck with my gut feeling and said the truth, "He will drink again, and again, until he decides to do something about his disease". This won't disapper, this may get worse." I now know what people mean when they say "it's like standing and watching a train wreck happen". I wish I had all the magic answers, the ability to get her son to see what was happening to him and those who loved him. But I no longer disallusion myself with the hope that I can save other people. I can plant the seed but I can't make that seed grow and blossom unless they are willing. I listened to her for a while more, offered her the advice once more about going to Al-Anon and taking care of herself, and as I walked out her office door I reminded her that I was only a few doors away. I didn't have all the answers but I could give her someone to talk to, someone who knows a little about the disease, and someone who knows that sometimes the greatest advice is given just by listening.......


  1. Awesome blog!! I love your writing! Please come and visit me at:

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Lauren L

  2. Yep, I never learned a single idea or thought, by TALKING. (Don't learn much more by "listening"--grin!)

  3. listening is a wonderful skill, so rarely used. too busy thinking about what to say next you know...but once cultivated it does open up worlds....

  4. It's good that you could be there to listen and make a suggestion on how she can get some help. Most people who need a 12 step program are in a lot of pain and just need an ear.