Monday, November 21, 2011

The love that went out of fashion

Yesterday a man I know and love talked to me after the meeting.  He wanted to be sure I knew about a conversation he had with one of my sponsees.  He is a good man.  He has seen a lot of chicanery in that group and does everything he can to avoid being involved in any.  He loves his wife and wants to avoid any temptation to destroy that relationship.  She (sponsee) came to him crying.  He and another man talked to her for 15 minutes or so.  They offered comfort.  Soothing words.  Sounds nice, huh?

I told him about a conversation I had when I was new in sobriety... maybe 30 or 60 days sober.  I was having difficulty at home.  I came to the AA club one day crying.  I sat down with my friend Max.  I started crying and telling him what "he" said, what "he" did.  Max shocked me when he said "STOP."  "Stop right now.  When you come to me crying, my solution is for us to take off our clothes and do whatever comes next."  "Go talk to a woman."  I was embarrassed.  But I learned a lesson.  And that lesson was more valuable than his commiseration ever could have been.

I learned not to play games with AA people.  My real intent was to get attention, and maybe even attention from Max.  I could not have told you that at the time, but Max knew.  When he told me to stop, I had to really look at my motivation.  I had to take responsibility for myself.

Maybe six months later, I came running to the club crying again.  I was upset and wanted a drink.  Some man (I really don't remember who this was), asked me what was wrong.  I told him, "I want to drink."  I was thinking he would take me aside and talk to me for hours, sympathetically listening to all of my woes.  Instead he reached into his pocket and handed me a dollar bill.  I asked him, "what is this for?"  And he shocked me when he said "for your first drink."  I was shocked and hurt.  But I stood there and really thought about it.  I learned something absolutely invaluable for a sober person to know.    Did I expect someone else to keep me sober?  Or was I committed to being sober?  Would I stop indulging in attention seeking behavior and take responsibility for myself?  It occurred to me that I better do that if I wanted to stay sober.

This stuff was called "tough love."  And it was the real deal.  It was tough, but it was also love.  I am so appreciative of those lessons, believe me, I have never forgotten them.

There were also people who had the "tough" part down, but skipped the love, and they gave tough love a bad name.   I can tell you that I know no one these days who is willing to tell hard truths to people who are struggling and probably need some hard truths rather than soft shoulders to cry on.

I thank God for the people who were willing to care enough to sacrifice their "image" to actually help me.  It is not that much fun to be the bad guy, but I think sometimes it is necessary.

I am grateful for those people who helped me to get sober by being tough guys and gals.  That is what I needed.  I also had the soft friends who I could run and whine to about the "meanie" who said things to me.  But I remember the things that those tough guys told me.  And I thank God for them.

I think I will stay sober today and I hope you all do too.

14 comments:

AnyEdge said...

I cannot tell you how amazing this post was. And how much admiration I have for the poeple who were willing to tell the truth, and for you for hearing it, and telling it.

Mary LA said...

I see that kind of seductive melodramatic behaviour quite often in young women in AA -- many of them do know what they are doing, but don't know how to get their needs met in more appropriate ways. When they figure that out, the game-playing stops.

dAAve said...

Great story with a valuable lesson.
I learned the same thing from an older-timer.
So I have actually offered to take someone to the bar for a drink and told them I would just drop them off. I wouldn't be going in with them.

Syd said...

I think those truths need to be told. Questioning motives is a good thing and too few people do that. What am I doing and why am I doing this? It takes a lot of introspection to get at those answers. I like the old timers that you write about. They knew the answers.

Annette said...

LOVE this post. Such truth here. I love that there are still people in the world (and of course we find them in the rooms of AA) who want to live an honest life and are willing to lay it all out there by being honest and protecting their own selves and the young ones as they find their way in their new sober lives. I'm glad that you were able to realize what a gift they were giving you. Brave stuff to look at MC.

Furtheron said...

Great post.

We don't like to look at our real motives at times do we even more so when someone we are "playing" spots it and holds the mirror up to us to look in

Debbi said...

Wow, what a great post. Any time we are challenged it's an opportunity to look at our behavior and motivation with new eyes. I've been on both the receiving and the giving end of tough love. The reaction to a confrontation often predicts whether one will stay sober or not. I'm glad you have. And I'm glad I have, too.

Jeremy said...

Great thoughts here for me to think about. Thank you!

Pammie said...

Love this post, but then you knew I would.

Lou said...

Tough and love..it is hard to get it right. That is why read those who have more experience.

Anna said...

Thanks for a great post.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I love you! And I love that women like you have helped me to see that women like you are out there!

I spent a good deal of time learning to be with the guys so that I didn't have to face my issues with women. I'm grateful for the women who stick around, and stay with the reality, waiting for lucid moments, for those cracks in my exterior, to shine light into the darkness :)

Grace-WorkinProgress said...

Sometimes we don't know our own motives for doing something. A little shock therapy clear things up quickly.

Multi Site Content Poster said...

Great dream. LOL
Newt Gingrich on the couch! LOL