August 23, 2010

August 23: We Learn by Trial....Today's Step Ten

I received some criticism here yesterday about my daily practice of adapting of readings from Al-anon's Courage to Change to help me better handle a "dry drunk" in my family of origin, a person who has never been an alcoholic.

It seems important to be fully transparent today, not tomorrow or the next day.

I don't know about you, but most times, when I read the reading for each day, I find that it speaks exactly to a problem I am struggling with in my "real" life or discussion groups online.

In that vein, the following is quoted (rather than using the ambiguous word, adapted) from August 23rd's reading in Courage to Change. My changes are bracketed for complete transparency.

"Sometimes [I may be apprehensive] but I know that when I tell the truth, am free of the lies that held me back. As Mark Twain put it, 'If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.'"

So here goes: Al-anon literature often feels like advanced text to me in my home group, which is Emotions Anonymous. The readings are practical, accessible and clear, and often cannot be written any better than the anonymous Al-anon members who authored them. I find reading alone is definitely not enough for me to inculcate the words into practice. They call out to be applied, but I cannot use them in my "other" program, even though their teachings are often UNIVERSAL.

Typing the words each day has made me meditate on them, honoring their intent and making them more a part of my life. Often, all I need to do is remove the word alcoholism and replace it with the words "emotional illness", "personality disorder" or "BPD" when it seems appropriate and honest for my own personal path. On rare occasion, I am able to improve on the language, or make the story apply to my situation, by inserting my personal experience. Someone without a text in front of them, might think it is all my personal experience.

I am genuinely sorry that this last sentence needs to be written.

As I said when I first began this practice (not publication), this is material adapted for my personal use.

Again to quote:

"In [our program], I learned to.... honestly admit mistakes [and not misrepresent anything I do ]. This opened me for real growth. Step Ten, in which I continued taking my inventory and promptly admit when I am wrong, has been liberating because it challenges me daily to be honest.

What I learned from Today's Reminder was this, in exactly my words, to fit the situation at hand.

I will probably find that someone somewhere will criticize what I do each day, viewing my painstaking efforts as a mistake, or even a character failing. I chose to see this as an opportunity to open myself to Step Ten today. When I stop trying to be perfect in anyone else's eyes, and speak my truth with consideration, guilt and shame are not necessary.

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes." Oscar Wilde


  1. What you may not understand, is that any time you are putting your writing out into a public forum, in legal terms, you are "publishing" it. So you are "publishing" on this blog, by virtue of the fact that you allow anyone to read it - putting it out onto the web each day, it's not just for your personal use, and that is where the problem lies.

    If you like the readings, and they speak to you, why not do what other bloggers do? Quote the text, (and be clear that you are quoting, as you did in the above post)and then go on to elaborate upon the original writer's thoughts, with some of your own words?

    Publishing a blog every day, with someone else's writing, not attributed to them, but with a few words changed, or inserted into the main body of the text, and then using the label "adapted," is neither considerate, nor honest. It's fraudulent, and it's illegal.

    Many folks don't understand this area of law, nor how much trouble it can cause them, until they are sued in a civil action by the publishing house.
    You might find the following interesting reading:

  2. Got it.

    In future, I can keep the original material private, and share my take on each topic instead. (I tend to get slavish to those I interview in person for published articles too, often thinking I can not say it better or differently than they did, agonizing on the paraphrasing process, rather than just putting the material in my own words.)

    Of course, there is always a fresh way to take on any topic, no matter how well written. That is a good writing practice.

    Another part of this is that by having the material in a searchable form, I can find relevant material indexed by topics not listed in the index. That was a personal dream of mine, to be able to do a quick look up when I had a particular challenge with a specific emotion or situation that might not have an index entry. An index is only as good as the indexer. Indexing is an art....

  3. I can definitely see the point. I think discussing your E, S,and H for a day's reading might help every one who reads here. Just something to consider.

  4. I agree with Syd. I've got the book, I can read it anytime; when you share from your heart, that's a gift to the rest of us.


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~