Friday, September 23, 2011

“Gossip Talk”

In the rooms, we talk about a whole lot of very personal stuff. I’ve heard shares ranging from stories of rape and childhood abuse, to events that lead to imprisonment and institutionalization. We talk about these things because we need to talk about them, because others who have gone through the same thing can relate to and understand what it feels like. We talk about them with our sponors and in meetings because those are supposed to be the people it is safe to share these stories with.

Yes, I said ‘supposed to’. Every meeting I’ve ever been to has said quite clearly, “what you hear here, when you leave here, please let it stay here.” But confidentiality isn’t always kept. Almost always, but not always.

Certainly it’s true that we shouldn’t gossip, that doing so is not Recovery-oriented behavior. After all, if we’ve ended up in the rooms of Recovery, we have no standing on which to judge others. We’re about as far from perfect as you can get. Anyone who thinks they have the right to gossip about another member’s life has clearly not taken a good look at their own, has not yet found the humility necessary to walk the spiritual path. But people do gossip. It may be rare, but it happens. So what can we do about it?

We can start with ourselves, being mindful about our own actions. We can choose not to gossip, to protect the anonymity of others in the meeting and lead by example. If someone else wants to gossip with us, we can choose to not participate; we can let them know that we’re not interested and that what they’re doing is hurtful.

We may even find ourselves the subject of gossip. That’s when we have to really work the program. We can’t allow the behavior of others to drag us down or keep us from getting the miracles the program has to offer. When others talk about us, either behind our backs or to our faces, we need to remember to keep our boundaries strong and to keep moving forward with our Recovery.

“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” We can’t live our lives in fear of what others think about us. We can’t control other people. The moment we allow someone else’s opinion to affect us, we give them power over us. What truly matters most is our honest opinion of our honest selves.

Jealousy is an ugly emotion. What others say about us can hurt, and it’s important that we find trustworthy people to talk to and to lean on when life throws us a curve. Part of the Recovery process is learning to open ourselves up, become willing to be vulnerable. When we do this with trustworthy people, that’s when we discover the amazing healing power that is such an important part of the process.

It takes time to learn who to trust. As time goes by, we may find ourselves revising our opinions about who is trustworthy and who isn’t. And that’s fine. When we first start our Recovery, we may be so used to others betraying our trust that we ourselves don’t trust the people who actually are trustworthy. And that’s fine, too. Because as time goes by, as we keep on going to meetings and keep on working the program, we learn.

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