Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Listen up

In early sobriety (round 1, 2 and 3), I was very ready to be the best sober person around. I learned so much in treatment, and there was no way I was going to fail. I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about AA and it's founders. I wanted to read ever addiction/recovery memoir that was ever written.

Well, I read a lot, but I wasn't the very best recovering person out there. And lets face it, no one is or should aspire to be. I had missed a big step in recovery. Listening.

I would go to my one, sometimes two meetings a week.   I would listen to the topic or the step we were on.   But in the smaller groups, I wouldn't be able to really listen to what each person shared, because I was too busy thinking about what brilliant and profound thing I was going to share.  I never really thought about what I could get from other people's shares.  I was only worried about what I could give, and how good it would be.  Like I had all of the answers.  Silly me.

And if any of those ladies tried to help me with ideas on how to handle my home life, my thinking, my program, well, they were wrong and couldn't possibly understand what I was going through.  If they talked to me about how to handle Bob, or the kids, I wouldn't even hear what they were saying because I was too busy thinking up a response to explain why I had to keep doing things my own way. I respected them enough, but my issues were different. I wouldn't call them much, because I didn't want to hear them "tell me what to do." Or, i didn't want to do things any other way, but my own.  No one (well, not many) ever told me what to do.  They just shared their similar and sometimes not so similar experiences with me, as examples of what worked for them. I often missed those examples.

I also didn't start figuring out how to stay sober until I just listened to them and followed direction. I always say now, do what you are told (well...for recovery stuff), especially when you don't want to As they say, I listened to the ones who had what I wanted.

I was told more than once, with love, to "shut up and listen." At the beginning, I was mortified by this. Now, I get it. It saved me.

I am a talker.  And I will often intrurrpt you, to talk about me.  Old habits die hard.  My favorite subject is me.  Even when I am sick of me.  Lately, I've been pretty sick of me.  I think if you asked most people who write a blog about themselves what their favorite topic is, it will hands down be themselves.  Makes sense right?

I am about to enter into a career where my job is to listen.  Listen with every inch of myself.  Listen for and to everything thing that is being said.  Not to think about what I'm going to say, what experiences I have had like theirs, what I'm going to make for dinner or why are they wearing that shirt.  I am supposed to listen to all of it, in the present moment. Openly and actively listen.  For someone like me, this takes such hard work.

The greatest thing about my path is that I get to practice listening all of the time at meetings.  I can't cross-talk and respond, or use my share to talk about what someone else was saying. I'm not there to give advice or to tell them what I think. Unless of course, someone asks me. Then I stick to what works for me.

Listening is a skill. I have whole classes on it. Thank goodness for that. Because I learn a lot more when I shut my mouth, and focus my brain. I still stink at it. But I'm learning

This photo has nothing to do with listening. It just is nice.  This is my family when we were at Project Sanctuary in Colorado, having some family fun.


  1. Love this, Betsey. Pretty sure the world would be a much better place if EVERYONE listened a bit more closely to everyone else. Happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for you sharing your story!

    1. Thanks Keely! You have a great Thanksgiving too! I started Weight Watchers on Monday. That seems like a really dumb idea. But so far so good!!

  2. "I listened to the ones who had what I wanted." I love this idea! I'm a perfectionist, and I tend to disregard people's thoughts/opinions if I know they aren't able to do or say things to the standard that I want. It's a really bad habit. I need to try to listen more.

    And I love the picture!

    1. Someone once told me to listen to the ones who had what I wanted. I started doing that, and it worked. Funny. Listening is hard.

  3. Listening is truly a skill that everyone needs to work at. Well done!

  4. I think you're an awesome listener, you listen to my crap (virtually) and you always have a lovely, funny response, so I assume you're paying close attention. It sounds like you're on the right path. Now enough about you, let's talk about me ...