One of the groups that I attend regularly has lost its meeting place, and for the last three weeks we’ve been meeting at the local IHOP for fellowship and to discuss possibilities. (It turns out that meeting space is at a premium on Saturday at 6:00 PM.)
It was interesting, but also disappointing. The two guys with the least sober time spent quite a while discussing members who weren’t present, telling war stories, and generally talking about stuff that I don’t consider conducive to recovery – – at all – – in that particular fellowship. The others in the group mostly kept quiet. Since it wasn’t really a meeting, and since I didn’ t find it disturbing on a personal level, I just listened. Naturally, the guy with the least time was the most vocal by far, pontificating on this and that and generally behaving like a newcomer who hasn’t yet gained a realization of how his ego is getting in the way of his growth in recovery.
The way I used to be. (I’m not still, am I?)
When I got out of treatment, back in the Dark Ages, I was already a bona fide, self-certified Junior Therapist and all-round expert on recovery, psychology, the program and whatever other subject might have arisen – – just the sort of know-it-all jerk I was when I was an active drunk and addict, and just the way I can be now on the bad days. The concept of “sit down, shut up and listen with an open mind” totally escaped my notice, as it still can on (thankfully) rare occasions. Hey, I used to belong to Mensa! How wrong could I be?
That attitude, the poor self-image that made me a pedantic know-it-all, and a general disinclination to listen lest I hear something that threatened my little cocoon of complacency kept me from getting into real recovery for the next 23 years. Only when my previously-hidden sex addiction finally kicked my ass did I begin to develop even the vestiges of humility, which I continue to work on daily with varying degrees of success.
I wish there was some way to impress on people like me, early on, that we really don’t know shit, and that opening our mouths too much simply demonstrates that to others. I know now whence came the smiles on the faces of the old-timers back in those days.
It wasn’t from a sense of admiration after all.