Do You Want To Know What I’m Thinking? Me Neither

By Vicki Abelson 06/08/18

I gain peace when I choose not to suffer. It isn’t easy, but neither is being miserable.

Angry woman with mouth open, as if yelling, and holding phone receiver.
I wanna be heard. I want the truth. I want justice. And I wanna prove I’m right, dammit!

I’ve got a big mouth, a lot of opinions, and little hesitation about expressing them—even when I haven’t done the homework.

No matter how long I’ve been sober, how many meetings I attend, how many times I work the Steps, call my sponsor, pray, and attempt to meditate—when I think I’m being played, lied to, or, maybe even worse, ignored, my default is still to want to throw down and battle it out. I wanna know why. I wanna be heard. I want the truth. I want justice. And I wanna prove I’m right, dammit!

I convince myself that I can convince you, and if that fails, coerce you—maybe even attempt to intimidate you. Not consciously of courseI’m way too good a person for that.

But I can be pretty scary and intensein good and bad ways.

I used to jump without taking a beat or giving ample thought. Sobriety and recovery have tempered that. Now I force myself to take contrary action and pausebecause wise people have taught me that if I really want to have my say, I’ll still want to say it latertomorrownext week. So, why not let it breathe and see if it dissipates?

I hate that shit. If I let it go, you’ll never know that I know I’m right. Or worse, you may think I think you’re right.

Hell if I do.

They say that doing the right thing is more important than being right. Oh yeah? How about on a math quiz? Not that I’ve taken one in a gazillion years. But I am tested innumerable times, daily—especially of late. Mars is up my Uranus or some shit, and years of program have eluded me more times than I care to admit. But since we’re only as sick as our secrets…

I was asked by one of my closest friends why I uncharacteristically didn’t return a couple of calls. I wondered why he had uncharacteristically made the calls, as I’m usually the one initiating, at least 90% of the time. (That’s a totally made up arbitrary number. I’m also a liar by defaultonly now, sober, I have a sort of Stanley Kubrick Clockwork Orange aversion to it, and bust myself almost before the words land.) I paused, as I’ve been taught to do. I rattled off all that had been keeping me busy. He pressed on.

“Anything else? You’re sure nothing’s wrong?” I took a beat. I heard my sponsor in my head reminding me to just say “No!” I was quiet. I said nothing.

He asked again. I knew better, but out of my mouth, without my permission or consent (aren’t those the same thing?), before I could stop, spilled: “Well, I’ve been kind of frustrated. I feel like every time I start to speak you interr…”

He jumped in… and… interrupted me. I shut up. He realized almost immediately and gave me back the floor, or, in this case, aisle 8A at Costco. I was already hating on myself for saying a word, let alone 17 ½ of them. To what end? It's not about meit’s his thing. Nothing is ever personal. I know that.

I started to kind of apologize for saying anything. I was actually ostracizing myself for opening my BIG mouth. He, on the other hand, supported my choice, and because he’s in recovery too, we discussed the value of keeping our shit to ourselves versus talking it out. He thanked me for telling him. For the rest of the conversation, I could feel him biting his tongue to enable me to complete my thoughts. I appreciated it more than I can saybut let me try. It means so much to me when I matter enough to someone for them to make an effort to alter their natural rhythm on my behalf.

Since that talk, every time we speak, when he starts to interject, he catches himselfboth of us aware of his effort. As thoughtful as that is, and as grateful as I am, it manifests a big awkward elephant dancing between us on the phone line.

Did I really need to say anything? We are who we are.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Discovering one of my oldest and closest friends had been in town a few times and warned his sister not to mention it blindsided me. Sure, our friendship had degenerated in recent years; where once we spoke every daysome days multiple timesand saw each other almost as often, lately it was occasional emails, holiday greetings, and a get-together whenever he was in town. Or so I thought.

On the day we spent together last month, I chose to focus on the now, based on our 40+ years of shared history. I went out of my way to make him comfortable; he was grateful and generous. We agreed we’d shared a fabulous time.

Posting about it on The Facebook, as I’m wont to do, then waking at 6 am to his sister’s flip comment about her happiness that he chose to see me this timewas like a hammer to my heart.

There was no way to pretend I didn't know. And yet, he isn’t on social media, so I could choose to ignore it.

I wasn’t that recovered.

What stung more: the fact that he lied to me, what he lied about, or that everyone I knew, knew too? The line between ego and feelings is not only fine it’s oft crossed without my awareness.

I knew I should let it go—find peace with the help of my sponsor, my therapist, my life coach, my God squadforget a village, it takes a city (a big one, like New York and the surrounding metropolitan area).

Without seeking grace, I found only will. Before saying a prayer, making a call, or taking a breath, at not quite 6 am, I sent him his sister’s wordsregretting it before I heard the swoosh of the “send.”

He wrote me back immediately saying he’d had a terrific time, and was now sick to his stomach. He offered to explain. We planned a call. He forgot. Attempts to reschedule failed. About a week later I received an email. He had various and sundry practical reasonsit wasn’t personal, of course. Reading betwixt the lines (lines… we both gave that shit up a million years ago) was weed. We smoked together through the majority of our friendship. When I gave it up, I stopped being as much funto him. Why hang out with me and jones, when his other old pals still indulged and so could he.

I get it. I remember how much I hated hanging with people who didn’t get high and infringed on my buzz. I avoided them whenever possible.

I read his email, again and again, still smarting, still wanting to take his inventory about all the other shit he’s done over the years which hurt my feelings. I wanted to be heard, be right. This time I took a beat, said a prayer and found the courage to change the things I could. I took my fingers off the keyboard.

I don’t want to fight, or need to be right. I want to party…

Life is a party when I release expectations; when I don’t suffer the words and the actions of others; when I stay over here, on my side of the street and keep that sucker clean; when I let go of resenting people for not being who I want them to be, and remember that the behaviors of others have nothing to do with meother than I may be an unconscious trigger.

That shit is hard.

Letting go doesn’t have to mean goodbye, the end, no more. It just means I’ll be loving on you from over herewhere it’s safefor now. I’ll stick a toe back in, try again, and we don’t ever have to talk about it.

I gain peace when I choose not to suffer. It isn’t easy, but neither is being miserable.

Yesterday I had to make a choice—because when I’m learning a life lesson the universe makes sure I have plenty of practice. I was askedrather it was demandedthat I sign away all rights to my words, my authorship, and my copyright in perpetuity across the universe. In return I'd have an additional platform for my work, an enormous platform which reaches millions and would provide much-needed additional income. I’d already swallowed one huge alteration to my piece, done without my knowledge, which shifted my intention and my voice.

What to do? Accept the things I can’t change? Have the courage to change the things I can? I sought counsel from my city and gained the wisdom to discern the difference.

An evolved soul in the oft-dirty business of show, helped me to value and trust my worth, and find a spiritual solution. I chose to walk away; I did so sans drama, with a modicum of grace, thus leaving the door wide open if I alter my view—trusting an alternate venue and money stream will present.

As if on cue, as I was relaying my decision via email, I got a call from a wise, successful, generous entrepreneur, suggesting a business we could do together. I have no idea if it’ll come to pass, or if it’ll be the answer I seek—but I do know it’s a sign. Someone’s always got my back.

It works, when I work itwhen I take the high road and keep my righteous trap shut.

I’m giving up my membership to fight club. The universe is keeping score, so I don't have to.

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Vicki Abelson is the bestselling author of Don’t Jump: Sex Drugs, Rock ‘N Roll… And My Fucking Mother. Published by Carl Reiner’s Random Content, the fictionalized memoir chronicles her addiction and recovery. A featured contributor for The Huffington Post, Vicki’s the host of The Road Taken, Celebrity Maps to Success, and Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write, Celebrity-Driven Literary Salon. Both can be seen Live on The Facebook. For more of the self-proclaimed whore of all media, follow her on Twitter and @vickiabelson on Instagram.