Author's note: What started as just place-holder names in a hypothetical example almost two years ago has gotten completely out of hand. These characters have now taken over their own story (so much so that they have a Category in the listing to the right of the blog post entries). And with that said, I am as surprised as anyone as to what comes out of their mouths or what happens next. I'm not even sure what this is anymore ... but it's their show now, I'm just the guy at the keyboard trying to keep up with them.
Down Stage Right, a picnic table, a park bench, a few bushes. Chickpea, Giblet's sponsor, sits at the picnic table, working on a puzzle.
Down Stage Left is a small kitchen tableaux, with a counter, sink and some cabinets behind, a butcher block table, tall enough for one to work at while standing, in the center of the kitchen, and a smaller kitchen table with two chairs set to the side, extreme Stage Left but still in the kitchen itself. Popcorn, Dumpling's sponsor, is standing at the butcher block table, cutting up apples into smaller pieces and throwing them into a large mixing bowl.
The lights come up Down Stage Right, and dim Down Stage Left.
Giblet enters carrying a cardboard to-go tray with two paper cups of coffee on it, and sits down at the picnic table opposite Chickpea.
GIBLET: Umm, thanks for meeting with me on kinda short notice. I brought coffee.
CHICKPEA: I was happy to hear from you. No big deal, I come here every week to work on this. Thanks for the coffee.
Silence for a while as Chickpea works on fitting pieces into the puzzle on the table.
GIBLET: So, what is this. A meditation? A metaphor?
CHICKPEA: It's a puzzle.
GIBLET: Yeah, but, I mean, the whole fitting pieces together thing? It's kind of Yoda, you know? <does a Yoda voice> Puzzle I solve. Teach you I will...
Chickpea stops working on the puzzle and looks at Giblet for a long moment.
GIBLET: Yeah. Ummm ... nevermind.
Chickpea goes back to working on the puzzle. A few more beats of silence.
GIBLET: Do you ... can I help? Do you want me to sort the loose pieces or something?
CHICKPEA: No, thanks.
GIBLET: Oh. Okay. What's it a puzzle of? I mean, what's the picture when you're done?
CHICKPEA: I don't know. I've never gotten very far. I think there are pieces missing, or it might be pieces from other puzzles in the box. I just enjoy the process.
GIBLET: You don't even know if ... well that's stupi... that's interesting.
CHICKPEA: I would ask why you called me, Giblet, since you aren't big on calling, but I know why you called.
GIBLET: You do? That's pretty good, since I'm not even sure why I called.
CHICKPEA: Yes. You called because something bad happened and you're out of good ideas and you don't know what else to do, so, on impulse and at the end of your rope, you thought maybe your sponsor might have some idea to make everything all okay. You treat AA, and all things AA, like an emergency ripcord, Giblet. When things go to hell in your life you call hoping for a magic bullet. You want help cleaning up your messes. AA can help with that, but that's really not what it's about.
GIBLET: Remind me again why I asked you to sponsor me. Was it for this warmth and support you're offering me right now?
CHICKPEA: Dunno. Since you've never been especially interested in being sponsored, I have no clue.
Lights dim Down Stage Right and come up Down Stage Left, where Dumpling is now sitting at the kitchen table watching Popcorn slice the apples.
POPCORN: So Giblet smashed the mug against the wall and you ...
DUMPLING: I sort of went to pieces and wished I'd never said what I said and now I ...
POPCORN: Well that's not new territory for you.
DUMPLING: Huh? What do you mean?
POPCORN: This is an old, old pattern for you. You stuff the truth and stuff the truth and stuff the truth until it explodes out of you and then, when the people you exploded at are surprised and reeling and acting out their shock at your explosion, you retreat into helpless apologetic mode and wish you'd never spoken up.DUMPLING: It is? I ... I do? Oh my God, I feel sick.
POPCORN: Yes. You don't have a problem telling the truth, Dumpling -- you have a problem telling the truth too late -- or when it serves you. Are you telling the truth, or just letting them know you've been keeping score? I don't know if it's about fear or drama or manipulation. Probably a little of all three, actually. I mean, you get to have your say and a nice emotional release in the bargain, but then you perform this fluttery I'm-so-sorry-I-yelled-please-don't-be-mad dance so that you don't have to stand up and have a real and tough exchange with people. It's a great way to avoid taking any responsibility for what you say or how you feel.
DUMPLING: Ummm ... ouch. Remind me again why I asked you to sponsor me. Was it for this warmth and support you're offering me right now?
Lights dim DSL and come up DSR
CHICKPEA: Do you know what a 'bush league pinch hitter' is, Giblet?
GIBLET: Kinda. What.
CHICKPEA: Well, in the AA literature it talks about how people sometimes treat God like He's a bush league pinch hitter ... the bush leagues were ...
GIBLET: I get it, I get it. People treat God like they only call on him in an emergency and you're saying that's how I treat God. Okay! Okay! I get it!
CHICKPEA: Oh, not just God. AA, meetings, a sponsor ... Giblet, you don't want any help. You don't want any suggestions on how to do things differently. You want to do things the way you want to do things, and the only time you're interested in any input is when it's too late -- and then when AA can't offer you an instant fix you file that away and use it as a justification to keep doing things your way.
GIBLET: Okay, but ... maybe. Whatever. It's just that ... what if I want to be ... to do things differently.
CHICKPEA: What if you do? Even if you do, it may not fix things with Dumpling. Suddenly flinging yourself into AA as some sort of penance to offer Dumpling for what was essentially a violent outburst ...
GIBLET: Oh, please, I smashed a mug.
CHICKPEA: And your remorse is terribly moving.
GIBLET: I am! It's just ... let's not act like I hit anyone or anything.
CHICKPEA: Fair enough, but you don't have to hit anyone to create an atmosphere of menace -- the threat is there, regardless. Dumpling finally called you on your... Dumpling told you a truth, rather than playing along with you as you've bullied them into doing from the start, and you immediately punished them and then took all your toys and stormed out. Before they could throw you out, if I had to guess.
GIBLET: Fine. Fine. So ... what do I do? What do you suggest I do?
Lights dim DSR, lights up DSL
POPCORN: Well, what you need to do is write an inventory on this relationship -- actually, you need to work the Steps on this relationship. You're powerless over this relationship and it is making your life unmanageable. But you're here because you believe the 12 Steps can help you, and you're willing to try them on this, and ...
DUMPLING: I don't need to work the steps on this, you just did it for me.
POPCORN: You know what I mean. You need to really take this in, and then, you do need to write an inventory. You need to look at your part in this, so you can look at things clearly, and decide ... well, let's just say so you can look at things clearly and leave it at that for right now.
DUMPLING: I'm just ... I'm so mad I'm sick about it.
POPCORN: Well, the fun, dramatic, righteous indignation part is your anger at Giblet. The sick, dark, twisted stuff under that might be your anger at yourself -- but I'm not here to play amateur therapist. I just want you to use an inventory to look at your part in things, since that's the only thing you can really, truly, do anything about.
DUMPLING: I just ... I feel like if I look at my part in things then ... then I let Giblet off the hook.
Lights dim DSL and light up DSR
CHICKPEA: No. You put Dumpling squarely on the hook in the first two columns. That's what they're for. If you ever had gone through the Big Book with me and we'd gotten to the 4th Step you'd see that one of the first things it talks about there is that "the world and its people are often quite wrong." Looking at your part in something doesn't mean that other people don't have a part. But you told me that you'd done the steps in rehab...
GIBLET: Yeah, we did things in a workbook and stuff, and ... you know, I'm not big on writing and all ... I didn't get sober to do homework you know?
CHICKPEA: Don't take this the wrong way, but you didn't get sober at all. You got dry, Giblet. You're still a raging alcoholic, you just don't drink.
GIBLET: How could I possibly take that the wrong way?
CHICKPEA: Giblet, the only step you've ever really taken is Step One, when you checked yourself into Rehab. Now what you're finding out is that it's not a one step deal -- and unfortunately your relationship with Dumpling may be the collateral damage to that learning curve.
GIBLET: Okay, okay, so I need to do an inventory.
CHICKPEA: What you need, Giblet, is a Program. An inventory is part of it.
GIBLET: You know, I never thought I would turn out to be that person.
CHICKPEA: That person who's nothing but a dry drunk?
GIBLET: No. That person who is such an asshole in a relationship.
Lights dim DSR, lights up DSL
DUMPLING: You know, I never thought I would turn out to be that person.
POPCORN: That person who needs to stop passive/aggressively manipulating and start to go to Alanon?
DUMPLING: No. That person who is such a doormat in a relationship.