From the BlogMeet Ron

Self-Disclosure /Loneliness – AA Has the Answer 

Self-Disclosure 
 
Learning to gently reveal who we are is how we open ourselves up to love and intimacy in our relationships. 
Many of us have hidden under a protective shell, a casing that prevents others from seeing or hurting us. We do not want to be that vulnerable. We do not want to expose our thoughts, feelings, fears, weaknesses, and sometimes our strengths, to others. 
We do not want others to see who we really are. 
We may be afraid they might judge us, go away, or not like us. We may be uncertain that who we are is okay or exactly how we should reveal ourselves to others. 
Being vulnerable can be frightening, especially if we have lived with people who abused, mistreated, manipulated, or did not appreciate us. 
Little by little, we learn to take the risk of revealing ourselves. We disclose the real person within to others. We pick safe people, and we begin to disclose bits and pieces about ourselves. 
Sometimes, out of fear, we may withhold, thinking that will help the relationship or will help others like us more. That is an illusion. Withholding who we are does not help us, the other person, or the relationship. Withholding is a behavior that backfires. For true intimacy and closeness to exist, for us to love ourselves and be content in a relationship, we need to disclose who we are. 
That does not mean we tell all to everyone at once. That can be a self-defeating behavior too. We can learn to trust ourselves, about who to tell, when to tell, where to tell, and how much to tell. 
To trust that people will love and like us if we are exactly who we are is frightening. But it is the only way we can achieve what we want in relationships. To let go of our need to control others—their opinions, their feelings about us, or the course of the relationship—is the key. 
Gently, like a flower, we can learn to open up. Like a flower, we will do that when the sun shines and there is warmth.
   Today, I will begin to take the risk of disclosing who I am to someone with whom I feel safe. I will let go of some of my protective devices and risk being vulnerable—even though I may have been taught differently, even though I may have taught myself differently. I will disclose who I am in a way that reflects self-responsibility, self-love, directness, and honesty. God, help me let go of my fears about disclosing who I am to people. Help me accept who I am, and help me let go of my need to be who people want me to be.
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Nothing worse could happen to one than to be completely understood. 
–Carl Jung
 
 
We so often long to be understood. We imagine it would cure our loneliness and empty feelings. We think of it as a kind of intimacy. Yet, we may be longing for a false goal. We are each a unique man on an incomplete journey. We don’t yet fully understand ourselves. There is still much mystery beneath the surface of our being. If our partners or friends completely understood us, where would we go from there? We would no longer belong to ourselves.
Perhaps we are completely understood by our Higher Power but not by another person. It is a fact of life that we continue to grow and to reveal deeper layers of ourselves. We have relationships in which we can share the mysteries as they unfold. We can talk and be understood. In communication we find our closeness and intimacy.
   Today, I will remember that at the deepest level no one can fully understand me.
I will communicate with others to deal with my loneliness.
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AA Grapevine 
July 1951 
 
Loneliness – AA Has the Answer 
 
 
ONE of the great problems of the alcoholic is loneliness. Alcoholics Anonymous has an answer to this basic problem for each and every alcoholic.
 
As a new man in AA I was desperately lonely. I had loneliness of that heart-achy type that wears a man down and down. Loneliness and friendlessness go hand in hand with chronic alcoholism. The friendliness of an AA meeting constitutes the first break in this horrible condition. For once the alcoholic meets people on a common ground, the ground of people like himself, afflicted with the same set of troubles, almost note by note.
 
At first I looked forward in desperation to the “next meeting.” I was unable to see that I now had the means of carrying the meeting right with me into the work a day world. But that is what successful members all accomplish. It is like this, the meeting is over but the facts of life go on. The truths of the AA Program go on. The parts of this Program that adhere to us, miraculously keep us sober from day to day. At each meeting something new is added; it cannot be seen, counted, weighed or assessed. These particles seek each other out, join with other particles and the sobriety again miraculously continues.
 
There comes a day when these particles have joined to form a pattern in our make-up. Something is now in us and of us that did not exist before. We begin to see beauty in surprising things. . .it can be a cloud, a flower, a child, a building, a sunset. A myriad of things change their relationship to us and us to them. We are in the company of all these new found things for the first time. None of these things can coexist with fear, so fear diminishes and finally leaves for parts unknown. .
 
A man cannot read and re-read the Second Step without soon feeling its stabilizing effect. A man can’t “turn his life and will over to the care of God as he understands him” time on end without feeling a sense of close companionship. At first it gives a feeling of distinct relief to turn his life and will over to some power that is so much better qualified to carry the load. The feeling of companionship in all things grows. It never diminishes once it starts. The alcoholic begins to live with himself, not just hate himself. Automatically he begins to live with other people.
 
How can loneliness endure in the presence of the 11th Step? This is where we tune in on the universe. This is where we start to roll with it. Here we join forces with unseen power operating over us, around us, through us, and under us. How can loneliness remain when we begin to know that we are an important part of the scheme of things with a job to do. What job?
 
“Having had a spiritual experience, as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics”–and this is the grand pay off in all AA. I never knew an AA who had time to be lonely, once he turned his mind and heart to some form of 12th Step work. And praise be, it can consist of so many things. Twelfth Step work has no boundaries, from simply making coffee clear down to sitting on the chest of a DT patient while the straps are being applied.
 
To you in AA who have a problem of loneliness and the number is large, for we all have it in one form or another–may I tell you of one of the most thorough remedies that ever came my way. It was from a man in AA, comparatively new to the Program. He said that he used his watch to help him operate the 24 Hour Program. If it was two o’clock when he looked at his watch he said to himself, “Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.” Whatever tendency to be “screwey” at the moment leveled off. It was ten o’clock, he “continued to take inventory” for an instant, and this served as a check point for whatever activity he was engaged in. Should the hour hand point near “Eleven,” what better time could there be to tune in with the power who made him in the first place. Particularly so if the time was evening.
 
Practice Step Eleven at bed time boys and soon you will know again what they mean when they say “slept like a baby.” In my case it turned out to be for the first time in over 30 years.
–Anonymous
Muskegon, Michigan
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