A friend called me pretty much the minute I walked through the door from my Tuesday night meeting. We had been very close once, but in the past several years had drifted out of each other's immediate orbits.
After some cursory small talk and a surface attempt to ask how I was doing they launched into a 20 minute diatribe about their life, and all their trials and varied tribulations.
THEM: So... what do you think?
I sighed a little and pinched the bridge of my nose. It had been a long day. The headache, which had been somewhat successfully kept at bay for most of it, had begun to lightly caress my cerebellum with its hot, aching fingers. A sure promise of more to come.
ME: I don't know. What I think is... I'm not too sharp right now. Long day and a bit of a headache. Maybe it's more important what you think...
THEM: I just told you what I think. I want to know what you think.
ME: Why? What difference does it make what I...
THEM: I just do.
ME: You know, that just means that you believe you know what I'm going to say anyway -- so this is either about confirming what you already think is true, or I am about to become the straw man in an argument you're already having in your head.
THEM: Look, don't get all Yoda on me. Just tell me what you think.
I sighed again, though more sub-vocally. They wanted to know what I think? Fine.
ME: I think you are hypersensitive to everyone's behavior around you. I think your ego is pretty inflated because you have no Program going on to speak of. I think you've devolved down to the First Step -- you have no issue with remembering you are powerless over alcohol, but you're not doing shit for any other AA work. You don't go to meetings. If I had to guess there is little prayer and no mediation. Since you're not going to meetings there's no 12th Step work going...
THEM: Look, maybe some of that is true, but my job is really taking a lot of...
ME: Tough shit.
THEM: Tough shit? Seriously?
ME: Yes. Tough shit. Listen, you are a real alcoholic. A blackout drinking, car totalling, drink sneaking, breakfast drinking alcoholic. You wouldn't even HAVE that job if you hadn't gotten sober. And though you tried -- if memory serves what you've told me in the past -- you couldn't do it on your own, or in rehab -- or multiple rehab, now that I'm remembering -- and AA worked for you. Now you're too damn busy for AA. Fine. Then be too busy. This story is as common as dirt. Hopeless alcoholic gets sober in AA, life improves dramatically over the years, now sober alcoholic can't be bothered with AA anymore and then... whatever. It's your life, man. But honestly, when you were talking, all I could think about was... well, it's on pg. 52 of the Big Book.
THEM: Oh fuck you. Just tell me. Don't get all cute with page numbers.
ME: No. I won't tell you. Instead I will bet you a dinner at my old restaurant that you cannot, in the next five minutes of this phone call, even put your hand on your Big Book to look it up. I bet you don't even know where your Big Book is right now.
THEM: They never charge you at your old restaurant! That's not much of a bet.
ME: So what. You're the one with the big job. I'm too smart to let you pick the terms. Tick tock, tick tock. Can you even put your hand on your book or not?
THEM: ... Fine. No. But...
ME: Stop. Please. YOU called ME. I've said it a thousand times, I'm not selling anything. You asked what I thought and I told you. What I also think is that I'm worried for you and if you just make meetings a priority...
THEM: Okay! Okay! I'll go to a meeting!
ME: Number One. Don't do me any favors. Again, I'm not selling anything. You don't want to come, then don't come. Find the willingness or don't. Two. One meeting is hardly going to do anything for you. That's like saying I'll go to the gym once. Do it like you used to. Get out the Directory and pick four or five meetings in the week and plan the rest of your time around them. Early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends... there are tons to choose from you can make it work if you're willing.
THEM: Okay. Okay. But... I have to confess something to you.
I got afraid for them for a moment -- afraid they would say they'd already slipped or something.
THEM: I DID know what you were going to say. I guess I just wanted to hear someone I trusted say it.
ME: Okay. Fair enough. Shall I save you a seat on Thursday night?
THEM: I can't this Thursday... but I can the one after. And I'll see you Sunday morning for sure.
ME: Okay. I look forward to it.
We exchanged some more pleasantries and hung up.
Maybe I'll see them at the meeting Sunday. Maybe I won't.
The important thing from all this is that I know I'll be there.