Patty’s Story: Boundaries

Our Suppers group has been struggling to interpret the boundaries around promotion. In the opening, it clearly requires us to “refrain from the promotion of any particular diet, product, or service.”

A man who distributes a line of vitamins came to one of our meetings. We made it clear: he was allowed to tell us what he does for a living but absolutely not allowed to sell his wares (although a few of us had questions after the meeting). On another occasion a member talked about her good results after taking particular supplements. My orientation is to do everything you possibly can with food and lifestyle changes, so I didn’t want to hear about her pills. Later I asked the facilitator if that should have been allowed.

First she asked me a question: was there ever a time when I was grateful to speak about my journey, knowing I wouldn’t be judged at a Suppers meeting? I’ll say there has been, numerous times.

She said that if a member was sharing a personal experience without trying to sell anything, it was OK.

That was not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. Every one of us at Suppers is there because there has been some challenge, some pain in our lives, some health matter that makes us feel vulnerable. By keeping our focus on nonjudgment, we create a safe place for people to speak. We create a safe place for people to experiment with new ideas, make mistakes without fear of ridicule, and especially to reveal who we are in the safety of the Suppers family table.

I’m getting practice upholding people’s right to tell their truth, even when it is different from mine. Judgment is, after all, just one more toxin I don’t want to have to flush out of my system!