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My Path (7) Counselling, Al-Anon


When i was little i belived in the "stain" of "original sin." and that everone deserved to go to hell and that except for the grace of God (which we each had to accept personally) we would all go there.  So whenever i did anything unacceptable to my perents or others, it was easy for me to conclude that i was a bad person.  Much later in life (in old age really if 65 counts as old) i concluded that the universe doesrnt work that way, tha the burdens we impose on ourselves and each other are born of our own fears and hatreds.
That the divine is truly compassaionate and benevolent despitre apperances to the contrary.   The universe is a welcoming place that nurtures us all; and we will all come to see that eventually.

In between those extremes i wavered between two theories: that i had a mental problem (borderline personality, sociopathy, or depression) that needed to be fixed; or i was just (to quote my father) "bone lazy" and that i needed to hitch up my gitalong and face the real  world.  Both theories seemed true; the latter required persperation and the former required help.

Dianne says that she had me in  counselling every place we lived.  That would include Coeur d' Alene, Seattle and Boise.  Dianne was unhappy from the beginning and sought help from the Catholic priest in St. Maries.  He told her to get out of the situation.  I do not remember any therapy in Coeur d' Alene.  I certainly didn't think i needed any*

In Seattle our therapist was a Freud oriented psychiatric social worker who worked with me for many sessions with no clear effect or direction that i could see.  In Boise, we tried Marriage Encounter-- i thought it helped, Dianne thought it was a joke, which in retrospect is a conclusion i agreed with.  We were in group therapy based on Transactional Analysis, we saw several other counsellors, separately, together, and  with our son.  None of it seemed to have any effect on me.  Could any one have suspected autism?  It never came up.  One psychologist did diagnose depression but could  not prescribe an antidepressant..  I refused to hand over $300 for a psychiatric evaluation.  Much later my primary physician did prescribe zoloft which has been a big help over the last twenty years.

In 1977 our 19 year old son went for the first of two (or was it three) residential treatments for alcoholism and Dianne and i were directed to Al-Anon.  The first meeting we went to was so distressing and depressing that we did not return.  In 1985, oue younger daughter (now 16) asked to go to an alcohol treatment center.  We returned to Al-Anon** and stayed.  This time it was very helpful. Describing itself as "not religious but spiritual" it supplemented Dianne's Roman Catholic practice, but it became my "spiritual home."  It was my second aid out of the materialist/capitalist coldness that surrounded me.  The first aid had come nine years earlier in the form of a short book: the Tao te Ching.



* Sociologist Jessie Bernard had shown that the mental health  of men improved as a result of marriage while the mental health
of women deteriorated.  Not only is marriage a better deal for men, it actually makes women sick.

* Al-Anon is not intended to help a person help an alcoholic child, spouse, parent, or friend.  It provides, through irts twelve steps the tools with which one can help oneself weather alcoholism and many otherwise distressing situations.  It helps sort out what we
can't do from what we can so we can focus more completely and serenely on the possible.  Twelve step programs latch  on to what is universal about the Christian religion and packages it for a bunch of secular, cynical drunks (Alcoholics Anonymous).  Al-Anon
presents the same program to the family and friends of alcoholics.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
heliopausa
Sep. 18th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
You were all great to keep slogging on.
bobby1933
Sep. 18th, 2015 03:08 am (UTC)
Thank you.
amaebi
Sep. 18th, 2015 01:31 am (UTC)
Like heliopausa, I admire your persistence.

It is great to see Jessie Bernard cited!

I think that married men in general are extremely resistant to changing. They are socially empowered to demand that their families, and often larger portions of their worlds, should adjust to them. They get trained in not-pying-ttention and not-noticing as defenses against doing any reasonable portion of the household production, physical, social and emotional. They are also trained to use a wide variety of diversionary and time-from-the-minions-demanding techniques-- and in sincerely believing that using these shows that they're trying to be Menschen, which of course shows what terrific Menschen they are.

I not-infrequently read of men becoming better partners as they reach sixty or so-- I wonder whether finding themselves often less privileged induces empathy?
bobby1933
Sep. 18th, 2015 03:16 am (UTC)
I loved The Future of Marriage and admired her.

I would concur.
But still pondering the last sentence,
elainegrey
Sep. 18th, 2015 02:28 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this reflection on your life. I appreciate the chance to read this and put the bits you've shared over the years into context.

bobby1933
Sep. 18th, 2015 03:16 am (UTC)
Thank you, Judith.
abendstille
Sep. 18th, 2015 05:01 pm (UTC)
I´m still getting so much out of your writing about your life, Bob! It seems you are able to bring a lot of the atmosphere alive through your writing.
How does it make you feel? I mean ... an autistic person isn´t exactly happy about talking about feelings and personal stuff, right?
Or is it in some way a healing process as well?

bobby1933
Sep. 18th, 2015 09:34 pm (UTC)
An autistic mathematician was asked by his wife: "What would you do if i said was leaving you>" He thought for a moment and replied: "I would probably say something like, 'Goodbye, Dear.'" I can relate to that. But i can also relate to being totally crushed and unreconcilably unhappy,

Writing is bringing forth memories i didn't know i had..

Its not a painful process, though parts of my life embarrass me.

Yes, i think it is healing. I recommend it, though it might be best to keep it to oneself.
o_laila
Sep. 19th, 2015 12:56 am (UTC)
In the beginning of my conversion to Islam, I thought I was blessed to find a Compassionate God, but there is a lot of condemnation of non-muslims in Quran and all but the perfect Muslims going to "hellfire". There are a couple verses and sayings of the prophet that say the opposite...that God forgives almost everything. The only thing God supposedly doesn't forgive is having "partners with God". But there are so many ways of looking at that and I think it can still be used in a way that judgmental ppl send good ppl to hell. As if they have that power.

The Old Testament God scares me and always did. I've got a lot to figure out.

Finding Restored Zoroastrianism and Universal Sufism is a great blessing to me. I remember you writing on the Tao te Ching in your LJ. It actually inspiried me to read it. It is more Sufi than Islam is Sufi in some ways.

I have been in and out of 12 step programs since I was a kid. I never really got it, but wish I did. I'm reading some Karen Casey. My t. highly recommends her. Between her and my t., I'm finally after decades getting step 2 and 3. Go figure! A Muslim who struggled so much with Step 2 and 3. I have been as scared of God as the abusive alcholic who got me involved with the 12 step programs.

Life can be so complicated in so many ways. I'm glad that you are making sense of things.


Edited at 2015-09-19 12:58 am (UTC)
bobby1933
Sep. 19th, 2015 02:29 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Because Zen Buddhism is so much like Taoism and vice versa and i know there people who refer to themselves as "zen Taoists." i wonder why i have never been very attracted to Buddhism. I think it is because i have a much better chance of running into "real" Buddhists who can tell me that i am wrong in this or that belief or incorrect in this or that practice. I don't believe there is a Taoist sage within 400 miles in any direction. I am a person who needs his own path and almost prefers that others don't share it, So my mistakes are mine and not God's or those of any other person. This way the unwise acts of wise people cannot throw me or disappoint me. So i find that the Buddha did not think much of women, well, poor Buddha, too bad he got that wrong. So Christians have turned the gentle Jesus into some kind of apocalyptic warrior, i feel sorry for them, but they neither disappoint me nor convince me. Al-Anon allowed me to "take what i needed and leave the rest for others who need it."

Edited at 2015-09-19 03:25 am (UTC)
autumnalmonk
Sep. 19th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
"I am a person who needs his own path and almost prefers that others don't share it, So my mistakes are mine and not God's or those of any other person. This way the unwise acts of wise people cannot throw me or disappoint me."

This strikes me as beautiful and profoundly relevant to myself as well, though I have not thought of it quite like that before. Thank you again for sharing your words and perspectives.
bobby1933
Sep. 19th, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC)
After i wrote that i thought it sounded smug and superior. I am so glad you are able to put it to use.
bardcat
Sep. 19th, 2015 10:36 am (UTC)
Very insightful. May I use your first paragraph in something I write and give you credit?
bobby1933
Sep. 19th, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
Anything i write is yours to use, Jeff. It probably wasn't "mine" in the first place.
bardcat
Sep. 19th, 2015 05:45 pm (UTC)
It is the story of a lot of us! Thanks!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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