Last week, I had an attack of absolute rage. I was at my normal Monday night AA meeting, which is the meeting I got sober at. All was going well, the meeting was about to end. And the facilitator asked for a new backup coffee person. He mentioned that the current backup coffee person could no longer do the job. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to get my newest sponsee a commitment. So I volunteered him for the position. He is back from a recent relapse and needs something to get him more integrated into the program.
Being recently back from a relapse, he had to stand up and introduce himself when they ask who has less than 30 days. This is after taking a 30 day token a few weeks ago. So the poor guy is already embarrassed. So, after volunteering him for this commitment, I hear loudly from the back of the room “WAIT how much time do you have?” The whole room ignored him. So, again, louder this time, he says it again. Again, the room ignored him. Now the dude is getting pissed, so on the third time my poor sponsee stood up and said that he had about a week sober.
This man, who we shall call Shawn, went on to say that perhaps my sponsee should wait until he has 6 months sober to take this commitment, because the coffee person has a key to the church (they don’t).
Long story short, I have a commitment for coffee with my sponsee now. Which really pissed me off that Shawn, who I have never seen lift a finger in 2 years, thinks that he is the king of AA or something. So for the next few days it circled again and again in my head how awful this guy is, how much I hate him, how I’m right and he’s wrong, how he’s a manbaby with no emotional sobriety, etc.
The Mental Obsession
I was obsessing. So bad that I called my sponsor about it. He immediately knew who I was talking about, Shawn is infamous in AA San Diego for being a prick. But my sponsor went on to say that he guarantees that I am not even on Shawn’s radar, that I making myself crazy about this, and Shawn probably hasn’t given it a second thought, so that I need to get over it and pray for him.
Easier said than done.
Even after that talk, I fixated until Wednesday. When I went to my Buddhist Recovery meeting. And the topic was Steps 1 and Steps 2: powerlessness and acceptance. And it was absolutely what I needed to hear. Sometimes we need to go back to the basics, otherwise we can miss the forest for the trees.
The Five Remembrances
One of the things that I learned about this week from a podcast was the Buddha’s discourse of The Five Remembrances which all deal with acceptance and powerlessness.
- I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
- I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
- I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
- All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
- My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
After meditating on these (and the lesson from Wednesday night’s meeting) I’ve decided the following:
- I am powerless over the actions of others (Shawn).
- What they do is not my business. My business is my actions and only my actions.
- Shawn can be a mindfulness bell for me, to remember how not to behave.
- Just because someone has 20+ years of sobriety, doesn’t mean that they have achieved anything like emotional sobriety. So I must work diligently to behave like the person I ought to be.