For well over a decade, I chose to dwell in a 12-step community, as it evolved from its early inceptions in internet recovery.
It is my primary program: the place where I feel most "qualified" for participation.
For years I chose to struggle, to learn, and then to address the gaps in its literature by writing on topics bridged by Alanon.
Instead of asking questions that no one in our program could answer, I found my own answers and wrote on them.
I stuck around to address all the criticisms others had made of our program, hoping to give it structure.
Then came the day when someone shared that they had a sponsor "fire" them. And there was some beginnings of discussion about this, with several people sharing personal experience. Then I shared a more neutral bit inspired by Alanon literature and material discussed in a meeting. Along came a long-timer who said it was against the rules to discuss private relationships in a public setting. WTF?
This person's fear, was that talking negatively (the discussion to me was actually pretty compassionate and balanced) about sponsorship, might dissuade folks from being sponsors. I felt instead it was a teachable moment.
So I wrote this person privately, a quiet plea for them to realize that when a person is fired during a crisis, this is a painful experience and to please consider that this ("kicking someone to the curb") might not be a good practice to condone.
But I was told I was enabling victimhood.. keeping people from dealing with their inventories...They were having none of my attempt to appeal to reason. Nope. They told me that they did not care what I thought! They did not want to hear from me again, period. (I missed that last paragraph in their email, in my eagerness.)
Wow. It stunned me. A long-timer who refused openness to dialogue? A long timer who maybe, just maybe, did not really understand that ours is a program where we can reason things out... This just shouldn't BE, in my humble opinion.
Oh but it was. Reality.
I'd hoped to appeal to their better nature not to shut down a discussion on a topic (the sponsorship relationship) that might help folks understand the complexity of such a commitment. Well, I see in hindsight this to this recipient of my email, my plea for a second look was criticism...
Whew... what a huge difference in perceptions. And what a place that forum had become, when someone with several years recovery under their belt, doing service was not open to having their open anger on a public post.. gently questioned. I would argue their anger asked for a response, and it was in danger of shutting down a discussion and frightening the folks who avoid conflict.
But no. Back to my part: Today, three weeks later, I can see that what I shared may have struck this person wrongly, because it came unsolicited. In my mind, I was appealing to reason. But, in speaking up, I was criticizing.
When I got this person's reply, curt and dismissive, in black and white: that they did not care what I thought. It said do not write me again. I did not read that final paragraph. and so I responded with a second appeal and an apology.
I was told, never email again. This is something I know I would not have done to anyone ever, on this forum. I have never blocked a person's emails, but once, in fourteen years.
In a meeting that would have gotten worked out... we would have had a topic on Sponsorship and heard a range of viewpoints, and no one person would have shut us down.
Guess what? Smitty doesn't give up easily. Alas.