Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pinko leftist

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.


  1. sounds like he was just itching for a fight.
    "don't wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and the pig likes it."
    ive had plenty of people like this in AA. cranky, opinionated, sour attitudes. Because I see a lot of disturbed angry people change into something better it is easier to see past the toxic behavior, but I do not like cruel rejecting behaviors. I met an equally caustic woman on monday. 9 ? yrs sober, but very angry and unpleasant. after (yet another) dismissive rejecting remark, I decided to avoid conversation with her as it only ever ends in unpleasantness. If she were brand new i might be different with her, but in her case she has been like this for SO long now, it just isnt worth it.

  2. It kinda makes me understand why his son wont let him get a word in edgewise...

  3. I think that is exactly what he needed to hear, whether he realizes it or not. Good for you. Unfortunately, I've found that when many people, but not all, get past the age of 65 or so, they usually aren't too willing to do anything much differently than they have in the past.

  4. ick ick ick.. i can almost picture what he looks like by the conversation! i would have felt SLIMED by negativity and just BLEK!

    what's that saying 'hurt people hurt people'.. bless ya for trying

    my avoidant behavior would have had me out the door the moment i felt his energy.. sorry - i do sooo like giving people the benefit of doubt and love and tolerance and all that. HOWEVER! ya just can't saveum all. bless his sweet old heart.

    i also just thought about a talk i listened to recently where the monk said 'you can disapprove other's actions/speech AND (AND!) still love them as a Being'.. the talk was on forgiveness.. in any case, those moments call for stronnnggg incense! hehe

  5. I have to agree with Cec. I deal with many elderly people at my job, and many have their ideas and will not listen to anything else. Even when I try to be cheerful or light hearted about it. But it was good you tried, because there are exceptions. You don't know unless you extend yourself.

  6. Um, this may sound like a stupid question, but what the hell is a Pinko Leftist?

  7. I thought the pic with the writing was very funny, you may be more of a comedian than you think.

  8. LOL....reminds me of the guy at my other meeting.

    Just wanted to play devil's advocate.

    Maybe these two guys will come around eventually, maybe they won't.

    At some point we do have to back away from that kind of situation I think.

    You did your best.

  9. good grief. i think i know why this guy's lonely... you should have told him about sharing what you've learnt with newcomers. i'd love to know what he'd have replied to that...

  10. Well done, Syd! You definitely were practicing the PRINCIPLES and managing to overlook the PERSONALITY which can be very difficult. Keep up the good work...environmental and otherwise!

  11. Syd-please don't think me insensitive-But I thought that was funny as shit!!!
    ya whale kisser you!

  12. You Pinko Tree-hugging, Sentimental Fool--I knew it all the time.

    Do trees hug back and kiss, too? Is their bark loud at night? (Oh, shut up, steve E.)

  13. Wow it sounds like you did exactly what it takes when you are practicing principles before personalities, which is one of the hardest for me at times...but like you I feel myself doing their inventory and when that happens, I back away slowly and respectfully and shut my mouth. Thank you thank you thank you for this post!!!

  14. Syd, I agree with Pam, I chuckled my way through your conversation (of course it's always easier being the voyeur) and you were so quick with your responses!

    You seemed to handle the situation very well and I am learning from you. Thank you for that!

  15. LMAO. And the guy thinks his son is a narcissist? I bet he gets his 2 cents in more than he believes. Probably just sore because his son doesn't do everything he tells him to.

    Pinko leftist? What's a pinko? Whale-hugger? *snicker* Maybe you should have hugged this guy. He needed to be knocked out of his self-pitying pain.


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