Fearful and Searching, AA Style

By Lucinda Lumiere 05/10/17

Around 9 pm, my sponsor called me back. I didn’t pick up.

Spilled coffee
A rough day dealt with through meditation, inventory-making, and faith

“Hey! Wanna grab a coffee?” Sal texted me.

Sal and I have been program buddies for well-nigh on 20 years now. We came in young, bonded over our “never had a legal drink” status, and still managed to get in heaps of sober trouble anyway. Boys, wild dry nights out, fights over boys, and more boys.

Now we are older and theoretically wiser; still running buddies, of a fashion.

“I don’t know," I tapped back. “I need to meditate,” I added. My fingers clacked on my IPhone keyboard like little Costa Rican crabs on a cool marble floor.

“Can I get back to you?”

“Sure (:“ she responded.

Only problem was, I didn’t.

Because after I meditated, I had to pray.

While meditating, some resistance and fear came up. I observed them as dispassionately as possible.

“Thinking,” I silently intoned to myself as I watched nattering mental chatter arise.

You don’t have time for coffee! She always wants to go somewhere in the West Village where it’s a 15 dollar cappuccino! The monkey mind screeched.

“Back to the breath,” I reminded myself. “Ommmmm,” I added for good measure.

I did this until my timer with the marimbas went off. I was a bit calmer, but still antsy.

It was clear. I had a resentment at Sal. I needed to write an inventory, put pen to paper.

I couldn’t have coffee with someone I was inwardly resenting! That would be like me drinking the poison I wanted to give her, or something. And at fifteen bucks, that’s too rich.

I pulled out a dog-eared notebook and a pen and started drawing the familiar columns.

I resent: Sal

The Cause: She always wants to hang out in expensive cafes and waste time

I envy her rock and roll glamour job

She always has to go to the “see and be seen” places hoping for one of her celebrity buddies to show up

I always feel like her sidekick when we run into said celebrities

She makes me nervous

I feel invisible next to her

I didn’t like writing this or admitting it, even, but hey! The truth shall set you free, right? My first sponsor always told me this, and she is canonized in my mind at this point.

Affects my: Ego, security, ambition, financial security, personal relationships, I scribbled. I paused to consider the other areas it could affect. Sex relations? Sure, if my confidence and income were affected. I added it to the list in my quest for searching fearlessness.

I drew the unofficial last column, not in “the Book,” but suggested by many in the rooms. What was my part?

Now sometimes, if you are a Thumper, you will find evidence of this added column in the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. We are to examine our conduct and emotions and see which of these vices our behavior may fall under. In my case, it was clear that I had Pride, for wanting to be as cool as Sal; Envy, also for wanting to be cool and successful; Greed, for my covetousness; Lust, because, let’s face it, when you are on fleek like Sal, you get more action. I didn’t see much Gluttony in this case, but I recognized unglamorous Sloth. That was the energy that paralyzed me and told me I couldn’t move forward, that I didn’t have the chops like Sal. The corrosive fabric that shot through the whole warped loom of these dangling threads was clearly Fear! Abject terror that I wouldn’t get what I needed. False Evidence Appearing Real had hoodwinked me again! I was reduced to a querulous and trembling ball of infantile anxiety.

Rereading my opus, I got some clarity about how I envied Sal, her easy gift of gab, her je ne sais quoi, her cool job that allowed her to travel the globe with hot bands and stay in nice hotels flying business class. I envied her skills, her résumé, her savoir faire. I felt threatened by it and by the way she treated me as filler in between her gigs. Stable, predictable, doormat me.

Was I willing to have all this goopy petty insecurity removed? Boy, was I.

I got down on my knees, solemn and penitent.

God, I gabbled, earnest and somber, please lift my character defects. I am ready to have them removed.

I prayed for guidance, too.

But then I got confused. Wasn’t I supposed to only pray for God’s Will, nothing else?

God, I added, I am sorry I was self-seeking and selfish and asked for what I wanted. I just want what you want to give me, I added humbly. Thy Will, not mine, be done, knowing I was full of crap. Trust this mysterious, inscrutable and possibly punishing God who wouldn’t let me have a cup of coffee? I THINK NOT!

This was exactly like the dysfunctional family I grew up in, the one that drove me to drink at the tender age of 14.

Frantically, I consulted the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve. No, it’s okay to pray for the removal of the defects. It says so in black and white on tattered yellowing pages, this frequently thumbed copy from a clubhouse that ended up on my shelf and must now be returned. Shoot, that will have to go on my list of Ninth Step amends! It must have been used in a workshop, it’s so highlighted you can’t see white. But it also said we had to be completely willing. Like, completely.

Was I really willing, as it says in the Sixth Step chapter of the Twelve and Twelve, to be separated from the mice like a real man? Wait, I am not a man at all, does it still apply?

Obviously it was time to call my sponsor. I had checked the other boxes, the meditating, the prayer, the inventory, the research of our sacred texts. Now I needed to run it by someone knowledgeable, someone who has what I want.

I got her voice mail. She was at work and clearly too busy to answer.

Hey, it’s me, I whispered into the mouthpiece, I have some inventory to read, so can you call me when you get a chance?

Exhausted, I decided to go to the local café and grab a Joe on my own.

While pouring some almond milk into my steel thermos, I accidentally knocked over the precious nectar onto the notebook I keep my numbers in.

Damn, a whole month’s worth of numbers, soaked in java and illegible.

I got the sign loud and clear. This was the guidance I had prayed for!

Clearly, my Higher Power didn’t want me to leave the house.

I shuffled back home and pulled the covers over my head.

Post script:

Around 9 pm, my sponsor called me back.

I didn’t pick up.

I was too tired.

And Sal?

Well, last I heard she was on the road with another band. Maybe we can have a cup of coffee sometime.

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