Have you ever asked someone to commit to doing a task for you in your absence and even after agreeing to do it, they never followed through with that agreement? Recently, I was faced with this specific situation in my Alcoholics Anonymous home group.
At that group, I am the General Service Representative (GSR). It’s my job in that position to go once a month to a district meeting where I’ll hear what’s going on in the AA world for the general area and report that information back to the group. Since taking on that position, I have been spending more and more time away from the area and slowly migrating myself to an eventual move in with my partner several states away. Given my travel schedule, I knew in advance I would be unable to attend any of this summer months GSR meetings beginning in June. One of the things I’ve learned in recovery over the past year is to make sure I continue to maintain any responsibilities that I’ve taken on, even when I know I’m not able to be present at them. In the past, when I lived more in self-centeredness and wasn’t practicing good recovery, I wouldn’t have cared about missing the meeting and would have allowed my brain to come up with some excuse as to why it didn’t matter if I was there or not. This isn’t so true anymore. Because of the dedication to my recovery now, I looked for an alternative person that could attend these meetings in my absence and found someone in my group that was willing to do so. After prepping them for the temporary job and giving them my GSR notebook, I headed out of town for my partner’s home. When a few days before the first of those meetings arrived, I sent a few messages over to this person’s phone to confirm they were still planning on attending the meeting in my absence. A day passed with no response so I tried calling them instead. When I was immediately forwarded into their voicemail, I knew then that they weren’t going to be attending for me. How did I know this? Because the behaviors this person was exhibiting were exactly the ones I would have done back when I didn’t care about keeping to my commitments.
When the next day arrived after the meeting night had passed, I called this person again, but this time from a blocked number. Unfortunately, I’ve learned in my life that’s the only way sometimes I can get people to answer when they are trying to avoid dealing with something such as this. My call was promptly answered and I could hear the surprise in this person voice when I identified myself. The long and short of it was that they did not go to the meeting and instead chose to go to a Boston Bruins hockey playoff game they got tickets for at the last minute. It took a lot of practicing patience, love, and tolerance for this person during and after that phone call. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed and slightly angry. But through prayer, I came to the realization that this person’s recovery was no different than mine once was when I would have done exactly the same thing that he did.
While I can see how going to a Stanley Cup game was probably much more alluring then going to a 90 minute meeting that may often be boring, there was a step they could have taken to handle this better. Although I normally wouldn’t cancel one obligation to go to another these days, there are extenuating circumstances that have led me to still doing it. When it has happened, I always contact the person I’m committed to helping out and am truthful to them as to why I have to cancel my obligation with them. More than not, I’ll even ask if they would like me to help find another person to keep the obligation so I don’t feel like I’m leaving them in the lurch. While this may still bring undue stress to the person I was supposed to help out, I at least gave them my honesty and time to find an alternative. Isn’t that what recovery is supposed to be all about?
I’ve decided I really can’t be angry with this person because of having done those very same behaviors to others all too often in my life. I also had to realize that it takes time to learn valuable lessons such as this in recovery and that this person is rather new to it all. I’m grateful to God for seeing and understanding this. God has truly shown me that in almost every situation when I find myself getting irritated or angry at someone else now, I have done those very same behaviors myself. That realization alone usually does the trick to remove any anger I might be feeling, and often it’s replaced with God’s love and light instead.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson