Nov72013Crafts 014


Today I heard a friend remark he “prefers pictures” when he was explaining why he did not wish to follow our group discussion regarding twelve step principles that were read and commented upon around the table.  That one moment in time, that one unexpected comment—-has set me to wondering, pondering, and thinking. Sure, we’ve all heard “you may be the only Big Book any one ever encounters,” but my friend’s comment carried this concept a bit further in my mind.

What if all learning, growing, and self-awareness are, in fact, more accurately portrayed in images than in words? How would communicating with images rather than words change the way I live moment by moment? Would it cause me to stop and think about what I was portraying with my actions? Maybe actions do speak louder than words.

I can pray for serenity over and over again, but if my way of being, my affect, my stance, my tone of voice, my facial expression, the tenseness of my muscles all give a strong message that I am far from serene, does the image I portray communicate an intent to relax? Yes, my prayers may be sincere, but my intent to be serene also needs to be apparent in my actions.  If my actions are incongruent with my spoken words, then the message I give myself and others is one of confusion.

So, what messages do I give others with my actions? Do I wave as a friendly gesture when I see a friend? Do I make comments under my breath when someone is monopolizing conversation in a twelve step meeting? Do I volunteer to do dishes after a meeting? Do I offer to let someone behind me in the “post office line” go ahead of me because that person only needs to buy one stamp and I have two packages to process?  Do I accept invitations from friends to socialize after meetings?

I am somewhat embarrassed to answer these questions, but if I really want to know what image(s) my behavior is portraying, then I need to do so. Yes, I often wave at passing friends, but I often don’t—-not because I am snubbing them,  but because I am too near-sighted to see them or too preoccupied to even notice what is going on around me. When I don’t wave the image I give others is one of either being unfriendly or too self-absorbed to respond to their attempt to be friendly when they wave at me.

Do I take other’s inventories and make comments under my breath at meetings when someone is talking? I am ashamed to say I sometimes do. This behavior portrays a condescending elitist attitude that tells the world I think I’m better than some if not most people.

Yes, I volunteered to do dishes after the meeting, but I was more than happy to let someone else take over. The image I communicated in doing so may have been one of not being sincere about wanting to do menial task-oriented type service at meetings. Yes, I let someone ahead of me in line this morning at the post office….but there was only the three of us in line, so it wasn’t like I was making a big sacrifice.

And, yes, I often decline invitations  for coffee or tea after meetings. I always have a “reason”—-but if I am honest with myself, participating in an hour long meeting is all the socialization I am comfortable with at times. That particular image almost screams out to me I am in a self-isolating mode, a condition known to be conducive to drinking.

So, today, I portrayed an image to others of being civil, self-absorbed, judgmental, insincere  about carrying out clean-up tasks, and, perhaps worst of all, antisocial because I rejected a well-meant offer of friendship and camaraderie.  My words at the meeting were in stark contrast to these rather negative images. I talked about learning lessons throughout the years of my recovery and making related changes in my behavior. I felt pretty good about myself until I analyzed the “image message” I gave in conjunction with my spoken words. I obviously still have a lot of change and growth that needs to take place before my behavior and my words communicate the same message on a consistent basis. May God bless and keep you.