Thursday, April 9, 2009

Giving Freely

"We make a living from what we get. We make a life from what we give." - Sir Winston Churchill

At my home group, we have a woman who brings a homemade lunch for the entire group almost every Tuesday. No one has asked her to do this, but everyone heartily digs in and lavishes her with thanks.

She is also a raging Al-Anon. Her husband still drinks heartily, and most weeks her catering is attached to sharing about how much people love what she does for them.

She has taken a job that requires her to be out-of-town for two weeks at a time. Yesterday she was back from her first tour of duty, and since she had been working, did not bring food. No one expressed any dismay.

The chairperson of the meeting called on folks to share, instead of having people just jump in. He did not call on her until the end of the meeting. She said this (loudly):

"I haven't been at a meeting for two weeks! I didn't come to have the chairperson call on people! I wanted to pick the topic of the meeting, something that's upsetting me! This wouldn't have happened if I'd brought food!"

And with that, she stormed out.

My immediate reaction to this mini-rant was that this meeting is not about her, but about a disease everyone in this room shares. As I thought about it though, I realized she might suffer from something a little deeper: giving of herself, but not freely. I suspect she feels entitled to select the topic of the meeting because she feeds people.

My old thinking told me that if I did something for you, bought you something or provided any other service, you owed me. I gave, and so should I get. You can bet that if you did not reciprocate in the manner I felt was appropriate, I got a resentment. I quit doing things for you, and more that likely you appeared somewhere on my list.

Sobriety doesn't hold up to scorekeeping or the anger, self-pity and resentment that follows it. Now, I give things without expecting anything in return. If I bring donuts to a meeting and you eat one, you don't owe me anything.

Nor do I owe you anything if I eat the donuts you bring, either. I assume that your motives for providing something to us are pure.

I will find out soon enough if they aren't.


Michael said...

I'm sorry that some of my comments were judgemental & shaming.

Please forgive me Pam, Mary Christine, dAAve, Scott W, RAAnch, Shannon, Megan, ZaneJabbers, Trailboss, Kathy Lynne, Lash 505, Ed G, Steve E, Heather, AnyEdge, Danny S, Mark W, Shadow, J-Online, JJ, Syd, Patty, Banana Girl, Edsumani, Findon, Gwen, Sober Nuggets, ONE PRAYER GIRL, Bunny, Cat,, Letting Go, No Name, Vicarious Rising, Stop, Drop, Recover; RipGurl, Recovery Archive, Recovery Road, Recovering Wino, It's a Brain Disease, In God's Hands, Life Safari & all 12 STEP BLOGGERS, where I have posted shaming & judgmental comments.

PS: You won't need to moderate your comments, anymore!

God Bless You

Andrew said...

When people with drug addiction get clean, their thinking on getting something for what they give should not change. It's not wrong to get even exchange. If you don't allow a person to pay you back for something, then that person can very well go criminal on you, feeling that they are entitled to things.