The program of recovery I'm involved in puts a lot of emphasis on meetings. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
I attended one this Sunday morning we call a "Speaker's Meeting." The focal point of the meeting is one person standing up and telling his or her story. In a society of alcoholics, you'll rarely find a speaker's story that's within a mile of being boring. When you get down and to the-heart-of-the-matter just about everybody's life is pretty damn fascinating. Have "any" of those "bodys" be members of a fellowship of drunks... the description "fascinating" is likely a paragon of understatement.
The speaker at this meeting was a friend of mine. I'll call him MIke.
What an amazing life this man has had. Tough guy. Made so by sexual & psychological abuse as a child. High school athlete of the winning kind. Super-sized "I'll show you" chip on his shoulder that sent him into the Marines right out of school just so he could do a righteous retribution number on his parents by declining a number of juicy athletic college scholarships. Learned to drink so well in the Marines when his hitch was up they suggested he not come back for another. Bounced all around the working including rodeo cowboy. Learned lots of skills. The man can build and fix anything.
The part of the story that got my attention was that one night, his young wife was out. He put hIs little girl— she was one-plus something— in her crib and he fell asleep on the couch. He woke up and his daughter wasn't there. He looked all around, asked his cousin who was in the house where the baby was, but she didn't know.
His wife had mopped the kitchen floor earlier in the day and left the back door open. He went outside and found his little girl. In the pool. Drowned.
A room full of people handed him their hearts instantly, but that did nothing to stem the anguish he experienced in the telling— a big, tough guy's pain that even he couldn't muscle away.
There was more to Mike's story. How he got busted again and again. All drinking related. All arrogance related. How a "savior" judge gave him a forced-choice that put him in our program and not in prison. Mike said that judge saved his life. Probably so.
When he was done speaking I stood and clapped and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and told him I loved him.
Driving home I looked again at Mike's story and noticed a few things: He never mentioned he was drunk that night and that that's why he fell asleep on the couch. And he made two innocent, yet "red flag" points in his story that jumped out at me: How his cousin was there in the house, too, and that his wife had left the back door open: Unaware cousin... careless wife...
I sure as hell am NOT picking on MIke. He's a mirror for me, as we all are for each other. In this instance, he showed me how much more there is to being honest— really, truly honest.
He left out an important detail for his recovery— acknowledging he was drunk. Who knows if his little girl would be alive if he wasn't wasted that night. It's important in terms of his accepting full responsibility. And so is any possibility that his cousin should of/could have been more watchful or that his wife had left the door open and... Both of those ideas kept in mind leave the back door open for Mike.
My reflection on Mike's story sends me looking closer at my own. Have I told the truth about where I was and wasn't responsible for the unwanted circumstances that have happened in my life? Have I created any subtle scapegoats I can conveniently share the blame with to ease my pain, but that distance me from the truth of my culpability?
I'll speak with Mike about this all. The beauty of the man and our relationship is that we both know we're in this together. Our fellowship directs us and inspires us— requires us— to practice this depth of honestly with ourselves and each other.
It's a deeper kind of honesty than I've experience in most of the rest of the world. And I marvel at it. And it scares me and I love it, both at the same time.
Please, let me know what you think & feel in the Comments box...
I appreciate you!