SPONSEE: Hi Mr. SponsorPants.
MR. SP: Wow ... what's wrong?
MR. SP: Ummm ... you could say that. There's so much sad coming over the line that Evil Old Cat has jumped up on the desk and is looking inordinately pleased with herself -- and you know how much she enjoys the suffering of others. I should have named her Schadenfreude, come to think of it.
SPONSEE: That is a pretty good name for a cat.
SPONSEE: Well ...
What follows is the saga of a good alcoholic who's had a really bad week. Couple curve balls, couple kidney punches, couple of friends being flakes. Sometimes it's not the big stuff that gets you down, it's the sum total of all the little stuff.
MR. SP: Well, it would be raining on Planet SponsorPants if that had been my week, too. What are your plans for tonight?
SPONSEE: Well ... I kinda wanted to stay home and just chill.
MR. SP: ...
MR. SP: ...
MR. SP: ...
MR. SP: You're really going to make me say it?
MR. SP: Well of course you could stay home ... maybe that's a good idea. Remind me again, though ... is staying home alone -- I won't even call it isolating, that seems so judgmental...
SPONSEE: And we wouldn't want that.
MR. SP: Exactly. So remind me, is staying home alone thought to be a particularly effective treatment for feeling sad and lonely? I'm getting old, and I drank a lot as a child, so these things slip my mind sometimes.
SPONSEE: Okay, okay. I was half kidding, I'm going to go the the 7 o'clock.
MR. SP: Half kidding. Uh huh. And you know what you have to do when you get there, right?
MR. SP: But this time I will say it anyway ... you have to stick out your hand, say hello to a bunch of people -- best case is to find someone who looks more miserable than you and go and engage them.
SPONSEE: But ...
This is not a sponsee who offers many "buts" so I patiently hear out the challenges he has with some of the people at this particular meeting.
MR. SP: <gently> Yes, I understand -- and I can't say those things aren't troubling for me, either. But at this point in the journey, I mean really, seriously, what choice do we have? Stay at home and feel worse? Let it build until it's either a morass of self pity or a tidal wave of resentment? Stuck or swept away? When does that ever do anything but lead to some kind of self destructive something-or-other? And I'm sorry, but now, the hard part won't be going to the meeting and it won't be sticking out your hand.
SPONSEE: It won't?
MR. SP: No, because you have practice in those things, and you're good at them. The hard part will be doing it without expectation. To go and let the difficult alcoholics, still working through their stuff, be who they are, and to say hello anyway, without a chip on your shoulder or an agenda in your greeting. The hard part is not to go in keeping score, and expecting that people there will understand that you're sticking out your hand because you're having a tough night.
SPONSEE: ... yeah, okay. yeah.
MR. SP: But again, what choice do we have? Go there and punish sick people for being sick? At least they're sick people who keep returning to a place that offers a solution to their sickness. Or worse, go there and perform your sadness for everyone, hoping to draw someone in, like an emotional venus fly trap?
MR. SP: Right? Sit looking forlorn and sigh a lot, and perform how you feel in an effort to manipulate people into connecting or comforting? Dear God, save me from that part of me every getting the wheel again!
Sponsee laughs more
MR. SP: Well now you've done it.
MR SP: Evil Old Cat has vanished back to wherever she lurks ... the sound of the clouds parting seems to have annoyed her. You know I'll pay for that later. So we can update the weather report for Planet Sponsee as ... partly cloudy with only a light chance of rain now?
SPONSEE: Call it partly sunny, with a good chance of sun tomorrow.
MR. SP: You know there's something to add here.
SPONSEE: There is? What's that?
MR. SP: Because you're in the habit of picking up the phone, because you call when it's not rainy, you didn't even think twice about calling me now, when your general feeling was to be alone and isolate. That's important to acknowledge. You do a lot of things right in your sobriety, and this is the result you get.
SPONSEE: Huh, yeah. Well ... yay me, I guess.
SPONSEE: You're quoting now ... I'm gonna go, okay?
MR. SP: I take it all back! Stay home! That's what you should do! Stay home and wallow, you terrible rude thing!
SPONSEE: Too late! No takesies-backsies! Ha! Goodbye!