Saturday, April 28, 2012

Newcomer Envy

After many years of sobriety I can still feel shame when I do this. It happened again this week. A man in my home group celebrated 6 months and he was glowing. His life was transformed, he had found a deep faith in his Higher Power, his surrender was complete; he had completed his step work and was quoting the Big Book. His “share” was more lecture than personal story, but I bit.

I was jealous.

I know better. I knew better. But I could feel myself become envious and annoyed. I knew that I should be happy for his pink cloud and changed life but my own smallness revealed my envy. After all these years and all this work—I’m still trying to surrender, have absolute faith, and be a perfectly perfect person.

I know, I know.

These are the moments I wish for a meeting for people who have ten or 15 or 20 years. Not to leave behind the other meetings but so that I can say, “Does anyone else feel like this?” Is anyone else with long recovery secretly ashamed of their own petty reaction when someone with a year or so tells the group how perfect their life is and how they have incorporated all of the wisdom of the 12 steps?

I know better. I really do. But still.

I’m sure I did this too. No, I know I did this. I was the girl carrying AA literature home to family holiday dinners and passing it around like hors ‘dourves. I was the one who lectured every friend about the “principles of the program” and yes, I was the one blowing my anonymity hither and yon because I was so wise, so very wise.

So you’d think I’d have more compassion.

And in my heart of hearts I do. I much prefer that this new man be here and feel the guru than be out there drinking his life away. And I’d rather he lecture us in AA than his own family—which only delays their ability to hear about this marvelous thing we have. It’s just that when I look at my own “progress not perfection” life, and I see the intractable character defects and the amount of fear that is still underlying so much that I do I have to fight my snarky inner commentator who wants to say to the perky, pastel-hued newcomer, “Oh, just wait.”

But what I know is that life happens to all of us, and that we need those pink clouds and happy days to give us the ground under the harder parts of our recovery. The pink cloud days help us to make friends with other newcomers so that we have a gang to hang out with, which means we’ll have peers to call when the harder parts of recovery inevitably happen.

My red-faced humility is this: When I hear those newcomers speak of their transformed lives and the perfect peace that AA has given them I still want what they have. So I keep coming back.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hahaha! I can SO relate to this post :)

And you bring up an excellent point about the benefit of the pink cloud to cushion what inevitably comes later...

After many years of sobriety I work deeper layers, deeper and deeper. It's ok and it's a beautiful that AA has such reach for 1 day to 40+ years...