SPONSEE: God! I am SO MAD at my mother right now.
Mr. SponsorPants: You're gonna make me look up that page number in the Big Book which talks about "the dubious luxuries of normal men" aren't you.
Mr. SP: Never mind. What are you so angry with your mother about?.
SPONSEE: She didn't send me a Christmas Card.
Mr. SP: Huh. Okay. And this is grounds for "SO MAD" because ... ?
SPONSEE: I sent her an amazing card and a gift certificate again.
Mr. SP: Again. You sent this to her last year too.
Mr. SP: And ... did she send you a Christmas Card last year?
SPONSEE (quietly): no.
Mr. SP: So ... why did you think she was then going to send you a card this year?
SPONSEE: Well ... when you put it like that ... it's just ... she's my mother ... and ...
The sponsee goes on to detail the many shares they've heard in meetings about healed family relationships.
Mr. SP: I understand. Those are always inspiring when I hear them. But there are two things I think you should consider right now.
SPONSEE: Is this going to turn out to be a pizza analogy?
Mr. SP: No.
SPONSEE: Okay then. What's the first one?
Mr. SP: Well ...
I go on to describe the long and difficult history of my sponsee's relationship with their family, especially their mother, which they've shared with me over time and via inventories. It is a complicated and messy story, and I suspect I still haven't heard the half of it.
Mr. SP: So it's kind of unrealistic to expect a card, right? To hope for a card? Sure. That's lovely and kind of impossible not to do a little in the secret corner of your heart. But expect? I think that's not very realistic. I'm sorry.
Sponsee mulls this over some, while picking at an imaginary spot on the table top. It's like watching a tug of war between the two parts of my sponsee I've come to know: The Sullen Alcoholic and the Sober Alcoholic. My sponsee's face seems to flicker back and forth between a pout and thoughtful resignation. Finally they look up at me, and I can't tell who won.
SPONSEE: But what about all those miracle stories people are always sharing in meetings about families healing, and the stuff in the Big Book about that, and ... and the Promises and stuff?
Oh. Sullen won.
Mr. SP: Okay, now you're just trying to be mad. If your sponsee said that to you what would you say?
SPONSEE: mumble mumble
Mr. SP: Okay, now you're trying to be mad and juvenile.
SPONSEE: Probably I'd say something like 'you hear all different kinds of things in meetings, not just happy ending stuff' and ... I don't know.
Mr. SP: No, you do know -- it's just nicer to feel wronged and outraged. And the Promises really talk about what happens on the inside for each of us, they actually don't say anything at all about how life or other people will change. Just us.
Sponsee goes back to picking at the table top, mulling this as well, and Sullen finally seems to be yielding the field, albeit grudgingly.
SPONSEE: You said there were two things. What's the second? I'm not going to like the second any better than what you just said, am I?
Mr. SP: Hey, you asked to meet with me, I didn't chase you down and beg to hear all about ...
SPONSEE: Okay! Okay!
Mr. SP: The second is just ... I'm not sure I buy any of this.
SPONSEE: What do you mean?
Mr. SP: All this resentment and outrage seems a little ... manufactured. Sure, it is hurtful and disappointing that you have a hard go with your family relationship and all but ... come on, really? You really expected your holiday would suddenly go all Irving Berlin in this department?
SPONSEE: Maybe. I don't know. You have a way of putting it kind of ... harsh.
Mr. SP: This isn't harsh. I've got a phone number for you to call if you ever want to hear about harsh. But it just seems to me that you should consider that everything was fine, you were having a really nice holiday week, and then you just kind of needed to create something to get all worked up about.
SPONSEE: You know, if someone had asked me what kind of answer I might have gotten from you about not getting a Christmas Card from my mother ... my mother ... I would have told them you might be really nice and supportive.
Mr. SP: Yeah, well, if you had asked me the same question, I might have given you the same answer, but I guess this is an example of one of those times in which "nice" and "supportive" are two very different things.
SPONSEE: This is supportive?
Mr. SP: Yeah, absolutely. You want nice, I'll just give you a hug and cluck my tongue and tell you how you've been wronged. But since I care, and since you asked, I'll tell you what I see, instead. I could be totally wrong, but that's how I see it.
SPONSEE: Sometimes I don't like you.
Mr. SP: 's okay, you're in good company. Sometimes I don't like me either.