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I did not want to come here. Why? One of the reasons is that you are all too fricking nice.  And I said that out loud a number of times. I can be quite rude and I don't mind.

The Universe/God (take your pick) often arranges to flout me (teach me) in very funny ways. The very first diary I saw and read here is Cassandra Carolinas's excellent series on how to set boundaries while being polite, etc. I just shook my damn head. And I read a good deal of the diary. And I will read the others too.

I have a Shrink. Doesn't everyone? In the 20 years we have been working together, she has given me a direct order twice. Those directions were: "Don't fuck him." and "Stay away from your family." She trusts me and she never pushes my defiance/anger button.

Since I come from an alcoholic Catholic family with sexual and mental health issues, and I am one of the bipolar members who spent ten years drinking and drugging, I have no idea how normal folks behave. We spend a lot of time establishing boundaries and rehearsing boundary setting. We talk things over.

My Mother used to do sexual checking. Once she made me remove my underpants so she could check if I had sex, after she dragged me into the house by my hair. I was twelve and a virgin. Consequently, I do not respond to the feelings of humiliation and/or embarassment well at all. Not at all.

I have been attending AA meetings since 1980. I do not go often anymore since my sponsor died, but I still drop in occasionally to get a therapeutic dose of humility whether I need it or not. Humility is not the same as humiliation. Folks are friendly and often come to say Hello if they do not know you.

So this woman asks me "How much time do you have?" People are proud of their time sober. I reply with an AA bromide "I have today. How are you?" The woman launches into a tale of her 30 years of spotless sobriety, never a slip, etc. etc. Then she starts telling me basic shit you teach to Newbies. And I had been coming to the rooms since 1980. And no one sane would lecture a Newbie like that.

I do not know why, but she pushed my humiliation button. I want credit for those fricking years. I know something about how to get and stay sober. I just stood there and listened, furious, humiliated and smiling. Smiling. I know now, since coming here, that she triggered me.

I looked at her closely while smiling. We have a lot of crazy people in AA who never had a drinking problem in their lives. They come for the fellowship and the coffee. They talk the talk but have never walked the walk. And this lady is one of them. I had no creative response. I just left. And I fumed. For days. By the time I got to talk to Shrink, I was still upset.

When you first start setting boundaries, there is no way to be elegant about it. If you tried to set a boundary in my family, you got beat up. Or you had to beat somebody else up. So you do the best you can. For a long time, I ran away. That was an awesome defense I learned from the Surrender Group. It worked for most situations but not all. I needed a simple to get out of my mouth, reasonably polite and nonviolent way to say NO! To make it stop. Something I could get out even when triggered. Something that would not include endless explaining.

And Lady Shrink gave me the simplest and the sweetest boundary setter of all. Mary, she said "Say NO THANK YOU." And the light dawned. This is an all purpose defense.

Saying NO THANK YOU and smiling (and leaving if necessary) works. The abuser has no comeback. What can they say? They just stand there looking poleaxed. It is so easy to say: polite, nonviolent and thorough. And I can usually get it out of my mouth even when I am furious, scared, humiliated, etc. And it works well with overly intellectualized trolls who just want to argue and take offense at trifles. No thank you. I'm a Barbie girl, in my Barbie world. No thank you. Drives them up a tree. So you get good defense and offense in the same simple phrase.


Originally posted to House of LIGHTS on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 11:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Courtesy Kos.

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