Mr. Pie and I have started regularly attending a meeting on Tuesday evenings. We had been talking about it for a while but really got serious at the start of the new year, and happily now it is well slotted in the weekly routine.
The meeting is chock-full of silver haired long-timers, with a sprinkling of middling-range sobriety and regularly about a dozen or more folks in their first year.
(All of which is to say that the floor of the meeting is deep with years, and the air sometimes thick with personality.)
We generally get there on the early side, to get our fogey on and enjoy the "pre-game" conviviality that marks most of the AA meetings I've ever attended. It's nice. And much good growth has come for me from that famous, healing, spirit-lifting "meeting before the meeting."
Yet, as you're about to read, there's still plenty of good growing for me to do...
I saw him going before I saw him coming, and from either direction there was a lot going on. Everything was "too."
He was practically a walking exclamation point.
When Mr. Pie saw the direction of my gaze he sucked air between his teeth and leaned in to me, wincing as he did.
Mr. Pie: Mr. SponsorPants, do you know the story on that one?
Now I want to hasten to add, before I give the wrong impression, that Mr. Pie is a good and principled AA, with maybe a slightly-too-acerbic sense of humor on occasion but a very loving heart.
Mr. SponsorPants: No, I have to say, I've never met him. There's... a lot going on there though, it looks like.
I watched Mr. Pie gather his restraint and refrain from sliding downward into behavior neither of us really want to practice (as sweet, tempting and entertaining as it can be). Rather than speak further he gave me a Look Which Said Volumes, nodding his head very slowly in agreement.
Mr. SP: I can tell you this, though. I saw him heading to the restroom and then returning and...
I paused and smiled at a Meeting Pal as they walked past our seats, clasping hands with them for a moment before they continued on to the coffee.
Mr. Pie: And?
Mr. SP: About a minute after I saw them going and coming I started praying really hard for God to reach inside me and just yank out all those bitchy, judgemental thoughts.
Mr. Pie laughed and laughed.
Later, when I got home, I decided I was mortally tired of wrestling with that particular twist in my character. That defect, as pernicious as it is universal, is like the cheapest carnival candy: Sweet and fun to get but very quickly sickening. Time to sit God down and have a Serious Talk about it. Again.
Mr. SponsorPants: God?
GOD: Right here, Mr. SponsorPants.
Mr. SP: Good, great, thanks... listen, that judgemental part of me, I try to... but... it just spits out shitty thoughts about things and people so quickly it's hard to nip it in the bud and...
GOD: Hang on now, Mr. SponsorPants. You might be being a touch hard on yourself there. Before we get into this, would it be fair to say there's been progress on this?
Mr. SP: Well... yes, honestly, I guess there has been.
GOD: Maybe a lot of progress?
Mr. SP: A lot? That seems... maybe. I guess.
GOD: Maybe, or are you afraid to say something good about yourself?
Mr. SP: Wow... am I afraid... not... well... okay, maybe in this case, yes. A little. Little bit.
GOD: Okay, then I think it's important you keep clear on that fact as you continue to work on the long-term defects.
Mr. SP: Doesn't that sort of focus on me and pull me away from working on the defect?
GOD: You know, Mr. SponsorPants, a character defect there's been maybe not so much progress on is "needlessly complicating things." Had you given any consideration to that?
Mr. SP: Waitaminute, waitaminute... fine, good, yes. But I really want to talk about Your help with my inner judger.
GOD: Honestly, Mr. SponsorPants, seems to me that you caught yourself and changed your thinking to something else. In this instance it happened to be prayer. You and Mr. Pie both really pulled back from 'going there' as you kids say.
Mr. SP: Kids? Seriously?
GOD: I'm God. You're all my kids.
Mr. SP: Whoops, right. Fair point. Anyway, it was such a crystal clear moment to me of how toxic that thinking is. But...
GOD: But? BUT? What but?
Mr. SP: Well... you have to admit, I mean, come on, he was kind of asking for it.
I'm not entirely certain, but I think God did some kind of face palm right then. I know for sure I heard a heavy, Divine sigh.
There are more essays like this in "Mr. SponsorPants: Adventures in Sobriety and The 12 Steps for AA's and Others." Available as an eBook on Kindle via Amazon. Download the Kindle reader app for free on any device or platform, from PC to Smartphone.