One of the things in the New England area that AA groups do are commitments. A commitment is when an AA group will go out to either another group or to a place of recovery such as a Detox, a jail or a halfway house. At those places, its members will share their experience, strength, and hope in their AA recovery. It’s part of the 12th step work of reaching out and helping others.
Recently, I had an interesting experience happen one night when my group was on the schedule to speak at a detox in Brockton, MA at a place called High Point. Sometimes groups get double booked, meaning two different groups are scheduled to speak at the same time. The normal process when that happens is for one person to chair the meeting and to call a mixture of speakers from both groups.
I made a phone call to the detox ahead of time to make sure my group had the commitment that night as a few times that’s happened as well with a group showing up that wasn’t on the calendar. To my disappointment, my group indeed that night was not on the calendar for some unknown reason even though we had it on our calendar. What was ironic though was that the group that was scheduled was my former home group of which I still had AA friends in.
One of its members was still a friend of mine, her name is Jen. I called her and asked if she was going to be there. Sadly, she was not, but she encouraged me to still go. Truthfully I had really been looking forward to the commitment that night as I had not been on one for quite awhile.
After some dilemma, I agreed with her and went. When I walked in there were two people I knew and two I did not from my former home group. Up in the front of the room were five chairs and four of them were occupied. A girl I knew out of the people there asked me if I was even part of their group anymore and I made a joke about not being sure where my home was lately. She laughed and then I told her about my group having been on the calendar and then suddenly we weren’t.
This is where the story brings up the title of this posting. Also at this commitment was a guy who I had known for several years. He is most often referred to by a nickname but for purposes of anonymity in this posting, his name is Darren. Having just seen him a few weeks before and sharing a good conversation, I said hello and he ignored me which I found odd. Then he slid his chair towards the wall as far away as he could get from me which I found even more odd. He was chairing the meeting and just before he was to begin I asked him what was up and why he was sitting so far away.
The only response I got was that he was just claiming his space. During the commitment I noticed he wouldn’t look my way at all and when I tried to talk to him silently during it he closed his eyes and ignored me. He proceeded to call the three people to my left that were members of his group first and then with 15 minutes still left in the meeting, he called me.
When the meeting ended the other three members said goodbye and it was nice seeing me and hearing from me and several of the women and men in the detox came up and thanked me for a God centered message. I went to say goodbye to Darren and he was already gone.
I’ve really tried in my life today with recovery to not take ownership of other people’s stuff. I’m far from perfect in this and can say there are still areas of unsettledness within me and insecurity when I know someone has an issue with me.
Two nights later, I showed up at this former home group for a beginner’s meeting. Darren was in the front of the room helping to set up. I went to talk with him and ask him what was up from the other night and he walked away. When I proceed to follow him into the kitchen in the church basement and ask him for a few minutes as I had a question for him, he said he had nothing to say to me. I could feel the anger seething from him towards me and yet I had no idea what it was about.
Then the topic that night was presented at the beginner’s meeting by the speaker. It was about letting go of anger and resentments. How ironic! I listened to each person that raised their hand and was called up. One of which was Darren. I found it interesting when he shared because he talked about how he was free of anger and resentments and how his program was working so well that he didn’t walk with the anger anymore in his life that he once had.
It reminded me of much of my own journey where I went into meetings and wanted to speak just to feel important. I would tell everyone when I shared how great things were in my life, how I was free from this or that, and yet deep down I was still that same angry and resentful person. In hearing Darren’s message I saw the mirror for myself on something that I did quite often in my life until I truly decided to turn over my will completely as the 3rd step says to the care of God.
It’s been about two weeks now since that night and I have come across his path a few more times. Each time he has completely ignored me. Last night was the most difficult as I was talking to two AA friends of mine and Darren was also talking to them and when he left he said goodbye to the both of them directly with their names and said nothing to me.
I really don’t know what Darren’s anger and resentment towards me is about. I’m not really sure why he’s ignoring me. I wish I did. The human side of me has thought a lot about every possible thing it might be and I finally just prayed and I’ve been praying. A pacifist by nature, I like everyone to be happy and joyful with each other and I don’t like feeling anger or resentments. They are poison within. They eat away at the soul. If I was to walk in a room of 10 people and 9 of them shake my hand and say they are happy to see me and one ignores me, guess what, I want to know why and the self-centered side of me wants to fix that person and make them talk to me or like me again.
I’ve been praying daily for Darren to be free from whatever anger or resentment he holds towards me. I send him peace, love, and light and hope that whatever it is will come to the surface and that he will share it with me. My recovery today has taken me to a place where I will own anything that I may have done to bring harm to anyone else on any level. And what I’ve learned as well in my recovery is that I can make the attempt to find out what it is by speaking with the person if I don’t know what it is. If that attempt is met with a conversation, then I listen with an open heart. If that attempt is met with avoidance as such with Darren, I’ve learned there is nothing I can do.
It’s frustrating on some level now for me because it’s like the “elephant in the room” when I see him. I go to say hello and then I realize he doesn’t want to talk to me for whatever resentment he’s harboring. I don’t want to hold anger, resentments, grudges or anything negative towards anyone today including him. My own will leads me to being angry back at him. God’s will helps me to let it go and pray for peace, love and light for him.
It’s IMPOSSIBLE to be spiritually centered and God driven when I hold anything negative towards anyone. Where Darren is at is where I lived for most of my life. I am not better than him. I spent many years harboring negative thoughts and feelings towards people that I didn’t like for whatever my mind told me. Today, it’s not a way that I want to live and I’ve made a choice to live differently. I practice daily praying for those that I might feel anger or resentment towards. I also have a list of mantras that work around that same area and I do them each morning. It’s my goal each day to serve God faithfully and love all the people here on this planet, even those that I may not like how they are treating me.
I will continue to pray that Darren will find peace within himself towards whatever it is that has cause him to now ignore me. As much as it’s difficult for my wanting the whole world to get along and for everyone to like each other, the sad reality is that people aren’t there yet and that people carry those grudges.
To be filled with God’s pure light and be a beacon of hope and joy for everyone, all darkness, negativity, and toxicity must to be removed. I pray that one day Darren may approach me and talk about whatever he has been carrying negatively towards me, until then I turn it over to God and will pray for Darren’s happiness.
Peace, love, light and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson