I never fully understood that sentiment. Basically, don’t judge, or else you’ll be judged, and it’s not gonna feel good, right? I took that very selfishly. Ok, I won’t be judgemental, because otherwise I’ll be judged and it’s gonna hurt. See how that benefits me, and not the people I’m not judging? So yeah, it never worked. I wouldn’t say I’m incredibly judgemental, but I’ve definitely had my fair share of snap judgements, which I think is quite human.
But in talking to a friend this morning, I really realized something. I’m a full believer that pain is the cornerstone of spiritual growth. I only know this from my own experiences. I know it doesn’t hold true for everyone, but it sure is true for me. When I get sick of the pain, I finally become willing to turn to my higher power, whatever it is, and do the work to becoming whole again.
I therefor am so grateful for all the hard things I’ve experienced in my life. When I first got sober, life was pretty easy. I went to meetings all the time and hung out with people constantly. I worked to make a living, but my life was all about immersing myself in the program and doing the things I needed to do to stay sober. It worked for just over a year and was just a lot of fun. When I was diagnosed with MS at 13 months sober, I still did all those things. Basically it was all outside things. Going to meetings, being active in service. But I wasn’t working on what was inside me, and I was going to drink or die. Luckily I had enough of a foundation to pick my tools instead, and I went back to the steps, which helped.
Things continued on like that, through the adjustment of living with MS, not being able to work, etc. Life got really fun again, going to meetings, hanging out with people all the time. Going back to work and settling in like I had done previously. Getting to meetings was a little harder, because I worked on the other side of town, and it was exhausting me. Trying to work forty hours a week with the MS was a little too much, as I know now.
The theme here is tons of meetings and hanging out with people. That was what worked for me in the beginning, so that’s what I needed to keep doing. But man it was getting hard.
When I went blind, it was easy to continue doing that for awhile. As with any “tragedy”, people came out of the wood work to be there for me, to take me to meetings, to hang out. But eventually that started to fade. People got back to their lives and then it was just me and God. I had all my tools and I used them. I’d get to meetings here and there when someone offered or I felt that urge to do the outside thing, to keep up appearances, because God knows, I had done my fair share of judging people who didn’t do it the way I did.
Eventually it was taking so much effort that I was exhausted before I left the house. And I’d go to the meetings and just not be able to relate anymore. Sure, I could relate with not drinking, but everything else…quickly it became clear that the stuff I was struggling with needed professional attention and I started therapy. It was there that the healing really began. My therapist didn’t have judgements and if she did, she wasn’t allowed to voice them. She helped me work through things the steps had only scratched the surface on, things I didn’t even know where there. It was with her that my healing really took a new shape, a new intensity. She didn’t cloud her input with her own experiences and opinions.
Soon I found it had been a week, then two, then three, without a meeting. And I was happier! Ha! Imagine that! I was talking to my close women friends in the program though, constantly, and my relationship with my higher power had only gotten stronger.
Then the judgements started. Only from a few people, but people I respected at the time. So I started questioning if what I was doing was really working. They would ask when I had been to a meeting and when I’d say I couldn’t remember, I got the ooooooh.
After I got Jayden, life really changed. I was adjusting to having a dog to care for, feeding and relieving schedules, keeping up commands. Again, the judgements came. Remember your primary purpose, remember that sobriety has to come before anything else. I still agree with that, and my sobriety does come before anything else. But I’ve had to refine the way I live to suit all aspects of my life. After talking with the girls, I now know I’m doing perfectly fine.
But you know what I noticed the other day? I still judge. I was talking to a friend who has a friend who’s getting sober, and I found out they smoked pot. Instant judgement. I was about to retort when I thought wait, didn’t you just write a note on FB about how people coming from a place of love are often misguided? Didn’t you just say that until we all walk in each other’s shoes, we’ll never know what it’s like for the next guy? So I held my tongue and didn’t say anything because you know what? I choose not to smoke pot for my own sobriety. That doesn’t mean everyone does. Who am I to say that someone can’t be sober from alcohol and still smoke pot? It’s not my place to judge that.
I was talking to a friend this morning and she told me about a guy who drank after his eight year old son was struck in the chest by a baseball at little league, and died. And my first thought was, I know a man who didn’t drink when his son was murdered. Again, snap judgement. I will no longer say that hey, I stayed sober even through going blind, so anyone can stay sober through anything. Because you know what? How can I know that?
For a group of people who say we really practice not being judgemental, the judgements have added to my finding another way. I’m not saying I’ll never go to a meeting again, but I’m sure as hell not gonna beat myself up for not wanting to take paratransit to a scary part of town and arriving early and alone, or putting up with someone not wanting my dog in their car. I won’t beat myself up for it anymore.
I’m so glad this all has happened though, because it did force me to talk to God and make sure I’m ok. And it made me look at my own judgements a lot harder than bringing it up in a meeting or even putting it on paper (or computer in my case hehe). I’m discovering that life experiences are the absolute best way, for me, to take a look at myself and work my steps *daily* not once a week, or once a month, or for an hour in a meeting.
I’ve learned so much about myself over the last week or so and I didn’t step foot in a meeting. That’s what works for me. And I will stand up for that next time someone wants to judge it, because it’s not the way they do it.
I’m pretty proud of myself for owning my own truth and not doing what others think is best for me, just to save face. This growth is pretty damn cool! =D