Man, I sure hope this one comes out right.
Recently I ran into someone I used to work with.
We were standing on the sidewalk chatting, playing a bit of catch up, a little bit of "have you heard from so-and-so" (Facebook fills that space for a lot of people, and in running into this gal what we discovered, as we talked, was that "Friending" each other on FB gave us a good framework to fill in, rather than replace our need to catch up in person -- so much, once again, for the evils of the internet age -- that's not a plug, by the way. I come woefully late to the Facebook party -- it's just an observation. I actually only reluctantly joined FB because a sibling badgered me into starting a Mr. SponsorPants Facebook page -- which I did for a day but then took down and haven't remade. But I digress...).
A guy I know from AA came along, and stopped to say hello to me. I introduced my friend from our former job to my AA friend. "This is ______, " I said. "We used to work together."
"Actually," my former work friend said, "Mr. SponsorPants here used to manage me."
The conversation went on, and my AA friend went his merry way.
Work Friend and I chatted a bit more. Out of the blue she said, "You know, that's funny. I remember at [place we used to work], when we would go out to lunch or something and we ran into someone you knew, you used to do the same thing." (If you go to a lot of meetings and you go out locally sometimes you look like the mayor for all the AA peeps you run into. Well, the mayor or a slut.)
"What same thing?" I asked, totally not following her.
"You always said 'we worked together.'"
"Yeah. I said that we worked together because we worked together." I laughed.
"No," she went on, "you never said 'She works for me' or 'I was her manager.' You always said it like that -- that we 'worked together.'"
"Well we did. I mean ... " the point was so odd to me, I didn't really know what to do with it, so I just trailed off.
We talked a little more, made noises about meeting for coffee, I'm sure both of us thinking that would be nice and each of us assuming that life was busy and full and it was a lovely idea that likely wouldn't come together. With a hug and a wave we went our separate ways -- she with my book recommendation and I with her movie suggestion.
It wasn't until later my thoughts drifted back to what she said. I don't think it's a big deal, but I realized that for some people it might have been -- asserting their position might have been something they did really without much thought. But ... it just wasn't important to me.
I'm not saying that it is a good thing or a bad thing -- as I type this I'm not at all sure that I'm expressing myself very well about this. I'm not making any kind of value judgment about how other people might have done it -- but as an observation it's been nibbling at me all night.
AA literature makes the excellent point -- somewhere in the 12&12 I think -- that "humility has a bad time of it in this world." (Evil Old Cat is asleep on my shoulder as I write this, and it would take a braver man than I to wake her so that I could get up and go grab my 12&12 to give you a page number -- sorry).
When I was new to AA, I thought humility meant keeping yourself down -- and that you weren't allowed to say anything "good" about yourself -- actually I thought the game was to get other people to say something good about you -- thereby turning almost every exchange into a minefield of passive-aggressive, self-deprecating manipulation. Then if other people did say something good about you, you had to dismiss it. "Oh no, no ... it's nothing." Man, that is all so convoluted and (sorry) fucked up. (Really, the depth of dysfunction there requires I express it thusly: SO fucked up).
Elsewhere, in the 12&12 it says that "another word for humility is perspective." For me it's all about right sizing -- not falsely diminishing myself, not needing to inflate myself.
Along the way to actually living this, what is important to me and how I need to identify myself has changed profoundly.
Sure, if you're an AA doubter you might credit some of that with just plain old getting older -- and you're right, that's undoubtedly a part of it.
But the way I am wired and how I relate with people has undergone a much more dramatic evolution than merely logging time on the planet.
AA has not just given me sobriety -- first and foremost, it is about not picking up a drink -- but it's given me ...
I'm having a helluva time writing this.
I keep trying not to write, "AA has given me some degree of humility" since actually writing that seems somewhat lacking in humility -- or is that just my fear of how it will be read.
Right-sized, Mr. SponsorPants. Not inflating and not diminishing -- <sigh> how dreadful to, as I write this, in real time, have to walk my talk.
I guess what my friend from work said made me realize that AA has given me a sense of humility, and it feels right -- it's a good and comfortable thing today.
Yeah, this one was weird to write.