The beauty of gray

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: I have a gray problem — and not with my hair.

I am surrounded by black-and-white-minded friends and family. They have inflexible opinions on every subject. And they all call my grayness fence-sitting. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this dilemma.

What’s a person to do when he or she can see both sides of debates on most topics? I tend to get so frustrated. Someone will state his firm opinion on an issue, and when I say something more moderate, he’ll get defensive and tell me it’s all or nothing — in essence, that everything is either black or white.

Am I cursed by too much gray matter? — Frustrated in Gray

Dear Frustrated in Gray: Your open mind is a blessing, not a curse. And the attitude of your friends and family toward your “fence-sitting” says much more about them than it does about you. If they were really so sure of themselves, why would they have to convince someone else?

Keep doing what you’re doing. Question everything and consider all sides of an issue. It requires more mental energy, but it will keep you actively engaged with the world around you and will lend greater empathy and understanding. As Voltaire once said, “doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

Dear Annie: When I read your column, I note that you offer Al-Anon and Nar-Anon as support groups for families and loved ones of those with addiction problems or related behavioral problems. I’d like to offer another 12-step support group as an additional resource. It is Families Anonymous, with meetings all over the world.

For nearly 30 years, I have been a grateful member and contact person for Families Anonymous.

The purpose of our meetings is to offer support to those adults who are concerned about the alcohol, drug or behavioral problems of a loved one, a friend or maybe a co-worker. When people come to these meetings, they discover that they are no longer alone but rather “among friends who have experienced similar problems.” Our members do not judge or give advice; we simply listen and share our own personal experiences.

In ways that have to be experienced rather than explained, we become able to take the emphasis off the person we are concerned about and put the focus back on ourselves and what we call our own recovery. In time, when we work the program, we become much less confused and able to think clearly, to deal with problems of living.

The problems of someone you care about can take over your life and leave you unable to live the life you deserve.

Won’t you join us? There is no pre-registration; there are no dues or fees. We ask you to simply come, listen and share if you choose. — Judy D.

Dear Judy: Thank you for sharing this valuable resource. Support groups offer a space of love and solidarity. I encourage any readers who are struggling because of a loved one’s behavior to visit http://www.familiesanonymous.org for more information today.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.