Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Confession, 12 step notes, politics

Weight loss posts here: [latest SLD post]

It would seem that grief and twelve step programs part ways at step five, where one makes a complete disclosure to both God and another person.

In many ways, however, this is where they come together. One of the most important part of Compassionate Friends is the chance to share, to talk and to vent in private -- at least in a place without anyone present who has not lost a child. All sorts of unthinkable thoughts, feelings and fears are communicated and shared and exorcised.

By talking about things, they are laid to rest, and a great reality check occurs. Once I talk about my fear that my child will quit breathing and the way I need to listen to my baby's noises in order to sleep at night, and hear other parents express the same things, I feel more normal, more valid and less afraid.

In a twelve-step program, following inventories, people share the "faults" part of the inventory with at least one other person, who provides an audience and feedback -- a reality check.

The big difference, as far as I can see, is that in a grief group people tend to tell themselves lies where they take blame they do not deserve, when I read about people in twelve step programs who have shared on the topic of their faults it tends to be about not taking blame they should have.

But involving other people, or groups of other people, seems to help us see where we are blind. Inventories are a start (which is why I blogged on seeing where we are blind), but feedback from others is essential and often does more for us than a thousand lonely inventories would.

Consider Seth Roberts and his post on "the wisdom of strangers" -- where he writes about an editorial he wrote with the take-away line "It made me wish I had solicited comments before I posted my reply."

A quorum, a family, a spouse, a friend, a group of friends, all of these can help us see where we are blind and take us beyond a typical confession to true reality.

On politics.

I have an interest in conflict resolution and negotiation. My political sense in general is not the best (when I was a kid I predicted Yugoslavia would be there forever and Spain would be overwhelmed by civil war, and regretted going to Yugoslavia instead of Spain). But I've found the following interesting:
I can't tell you who is right, or if any of them are right. I wish I knew, all I feel is sadness.


Anonymous said...

With the 12 step stuff, I think it can depend. There is a tendency for addicts to blame others for their faults, but most inventory instructions expressly forbid that sort of thing. I have known a lot of addicts who blame themselves for decisions that are ultimately out of their control. I get the feeling that with grief and with addiction, a lot of the process has to do with giving up a feeling of control.

Stephen said...


I think we agree, I was talking pre-inventory, pre-recovery for both groups -- though in following the Shangri-la Diet I'm amazed at the number of people who were blaming themselves for things out of their control. I think the problem is endemic and sad.

Thanks for an excellent comment.