Thursday, October 2, 2008
I had a strange encounter at today's meeting. There was an elderly man there who was new to the program. The topic of the meeting was dealing with anger and resentment. The elderly man shared about how his son was a narcissist who only talked about himself when he called. The son didn't want to visit his father but did want to tell him for 2 hours about his life, his loves, his job, etc. The father said that he resented this but listened to his son go on and on because he was willing to accept "a few crumbs" tossed his way.
The question he asked the group was who was going to give him those crumbs if he told the son he was busy and didn't have time to listen to his self-centeredness for two hours. He asked if someone would talk to him after the meeting.
Several of us went over to introduce ourselves and welcome the elderly man. When one lady patted him on the shoulder, he told her to not touch him because it broke his thought process about being in pain. He asked her why she was looking at me instead of talking to him. She said that I had more experience than she did. So then he focused on me.
Our conversation went something like this:
Him: " Why do you still keep on coming to this program since you've worked the steps?"
Me: "Because it's now a way of life for me, not like a course that I complete and then stop studying."
Him: "But you seem sharp. Do you think that you might backslide if you stopped coming?"
Me: "It took me over half my life to get here and old habits die hard. I don't want to go back to my old way of thinking."
Him: "Well, what do you do?"
Me: "I'm an environmental scientist."
Him: "Oh so you're one of those pinko leftist's like Jon Stewart."
Me: "I'm not much of a comedian."
Him: "You're probably a tree hugger or a whale hugger, right?"
Me: "Well, I've devoted my entire career to studying the environment but I don't particularly like labels. And I'm not sure what this has got to do with Al-Anon. "
Him: "I'm entitled to my opinion. I can talk about what I want to."
At this point, I was beginning to feel a strong need to detach from the conversation. And I was beginning to take this man's inventory. So I told him that I was glad that he came to the meeting and that I hoped he would keep coming back. I'm not sure that I meant those words.
This is why I need to practice these principals in all my affairs.