I had a whole different post planned to write.
And I would rather have done that -- answered a question via email -- than talk about the rude insight I had just a little while ago. But much like the Princess and the Pea, as I sat at my computer, fingers on the keyboard, no matter how I tried I just couldn't get comfortable. That little pea of truth, as unattractive as it was and uncomfortable as it felt, wanted out. I think to have written an answer to a question tonight would have been hiding behind dispensing my experience as a balm to my ego.
This is a bit of a leap, but it's got the same flavor to it as the reasoning above: When I speak at meetings, I usually don't say how much time I have sober. Now, there is nothing wrong with saying how much time you have, and certainly I'm blessed to live in a place where many people with a good amount of time participate in meetings regularly, so it's not as though I'm always the biggest dog in the room every time I speak (though sometimes I am -- which really means nothing in and of itself too, as you know -- just context). But I've noticed that, when I have the impulse to roll out the number of years, it's because I'm uncomfortable in the moment. In other words, my impulse does not come from a place of service, it comes from a place of fear. And ego. I'm trying to compensate for some perceived lack, some imagined slight, some projected judgment from someone(s) in the room by saying something like, "in my XX years sober... ." To do it like that would be an attempt to add gravity to my persona, to artificially pump myself up with an allusion to a false hierarchy. Not only would that would be wrong, it would undermine any sense of authenticity I have in myself.
For a long time in sobriety it does not matter why you do something, it matters much more what you do. But eventually that changes -- and by that I do NOT mean that the why becomes more important than the what -- only that the why gets important in its own way, too.
Writing an Email Questions post right now would have been the same as rolling out my time sober at a meeting -- I'd have been doing it out of ego, as a way to compensate, not out of service and a desire to help. And try as I might, I just couldn't sit on that pea.
I was talking to a friend on the phone this evening -- we've known each other for many years, and he is sober a long time.
The conversation meandered some, as we hadn't caught up in a while. He mentioned a big meeting he used to go to, which prompted me to say, "Oh, I'm going to be speaking there this Monday." I went on to add how it was the first time I'd ever been asked to speak at a meeting via FaceBook, and how odd and funny that somehow felt.
So naturally then we chatted about FaceBook and speaking at meetings. Over the years he has heard my tired story many, many times.
On the topic of FB, I said, "I've seen some people put up little notices on their profiles, saying things like 'Hey, I'm speaking at such-and-such meeting, and it would be great if people showed up to support me.' I just don't get that. What the hell, right?"
"Well, you know," he said, "it's different for them than for you now."
"Yeah, but ... I don't get that. I mean..." I went on to rehash what I'd just said. Making a little speech about it I fear.
The conversation moved on, we talked about lots of other things, had some laughs, and committed to doing a better job of keeping up and maybe going to a meeting together and grabbing a bite some time soon.
After the call ended, I had that feeling I've come to know so well. That little *ping* on my recovery radar, which usually precedes a few butterflies as I connect some dots to form a picture I'd rather not look at.
I suddenly had an uncomfortably clear memory of my making that same little speech about asking people to "come and support you when you're speaking at a meeting" more than once -- and how it was colored with varying degrees of superiority and disdain. I could see myself clearly, in fact, doing that with a few sponsees.
I realized that when I was making that observation it wasn't about "not getting it" at all. It was a subtle trumpeting about how I was so above that. It was really about my telling people that I was so different, so evolved, so much better than that behavior. Making sure I looked like a tough cookie, so experienced, yet so humble. (I would give a lot not to have typed that. But it's the truth.)
It was pure ego on my part.
It was the worst kind of grandstanding -- a speech about other people's behavior as a gambit to underscore something "special" about myself.
As crude in its way as asking people, "Does this shirt make me look fat?" knowing perfectly well it doesn't, but only so that people will tell you how thin you look. (A metaphor in my case, believe me).
There is always more to learn about how to be more truthful with myself and more authentic with others.
There is always more to see when it comes to the threads of ego which are woven throughout some exchanges I have, and the subtle posturing I am capable of.
There is always more work to do.