[Extracted from the monthly ECO NEWS - December 2018]
Curb Your Enthusiasm….. to Gossip
“Gossip barbed with our anger, a polite form of murder by character assassination, has its satisfactions for us, too. Here we are not trying to help those we criticize; we are trying to proclaim our own righteousness.” This is from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 67.
This subject of gossip comes up in meetings over and over again. I’ve heard some pretty devastating stories. One person gossips to their friends over a particularly juicy step 4 from a sponsee, only for the sponsee to be in the next booth in the restaurant, hearing her privacy being violated by someone in whom she believed she could confide. That destroys trust and eliminates hope for recovery. It could make someone stop coming to meetings and go back out.
As children, many of us grew up hearing adults gossip. It can become second nature to imitate behaviour. The payoff was obvious, even as a child: I immediately felt superior to the person who was the target of my words. Beyond that, I often felt better than the people with whom I shared my gossip – as if I had an inside track.
This is an honest program. I admit to gossiping in sobriety, albeit much less today than in those first years. Today I know that the cause of my gossip was, and still is, all about me. It may seem to come from envy, or fear, or not recognizing that same trait in me. The bottom line of my need to gossip always comes from my feelings of worthlessness. Curbing it is an inside job.
As members of this amazing fellowship, we have access to many tools. We can learn to be better people and create healthy relationships, instead of tearing others down through gossip.
It all begins with honesty…checking in with my feelings before I open my mouth. How I am feeling sometimes comes from a current event that triggers old feelings from my past. I learned this when I did Step 4. My tendency is to stuff feelings. Today I am aware of this and can work on it.
When the inclination to share inappropriately manifests itself, it’s now much easier to recognize. I know the drill. In passing on negative tidbits to others, there is a very short high followed by an immediate knot in my gut. And then the tortured realization that this must be made right: doing Steps 4 through 9 one more time.
Oddly enough, I believe my Higher Power has been intervening on my behalf with this. Several times lately, when I contemplate saying something about someone else, I get interrupted. Either a phone rings, or someone walks into the room….some other event occurs and saves me from myself. This doesn’t feel like a coincidence and makes me very grateful. It’s a wonderful program that can save us from gossiping which may have been automatic earlier, and can now be curbed.
Thanks for allowing me to share these thoughts and thank you always, for my sobriety.
Becky P, Panel 68 Delegate, Area 78