Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Strangers Yelling"

I've got some tenth-stepping to do. Here's the story:

I was having trouble getting up this morning. It was one of those days where I hit the snooze button on the alarm over and over and over again. At about quarter after eight, an email came through saying my first class was cancelled. Awesome. I could relax a little. I had time before my next class to run to the post office and grab a coffee. On my way to the post office, I apparently cut off some pedestrians who were trying to cross the street. I know this because, once I got to the post office, two different people yelled at me. Not just a quick, "you're an asshole," but seriously long, in-depth, "I'm gonna teach you a lesson/you should be thrown in jail/why don't you eat shit and die" yelling. I didn't yell back, mostly because I was caught so off-guard by the sheer hatefulness that was being spewed at me. When all was said and done, I thought to myself, "well, damn. I must be in the wrong."

I'm a little tempted to sit here and defend myself, say that it was a wide street, that the people crossing weren't inconvenienced, that no one was hurt; maybe even drop a few lines about what is wrong with people that they think it's okay to just lay into a total stranger like that, or ask the question to them if they had considered the possibility I didn't realize what I had done? But no, that is not the 12-step way. Clearly, I was in the wrong, so there you have it. I was wrong. I'll try and be more observant in the future. If people are crossing, I'll let them cross, even if I have plenty of time to go ahead of them.

The yelling really shook me up. You'd think I had murdered a child, the way they came at me. Later today, I'll call my sponsor and fess up to what happened. But the whole incident really got to me. Complete strangers had been appointed by God to make sure I knew what a horrible thing I'd done. I guess I needed to be told. Sure it would have been nice to hear, "excuse me, maybe you don't realize this, but you totally cut off those people back there." Oh well, message received, regardless.

On the way to school, I was thinking about all this a lot. Then I realized I was obsessing and had a laugh at myself. "Guess I'll just be thinking about this all day." Having had that moment, though, I felt better. And I think it's about acceptance. I'm not perfect, I'm human. I'm going to make mistakes. The best I can do is admit where I've been wrong, learn from it, and try to do better in the future. Maybe I didn't deserve as harsh a reaction as those people gave me, maybe I did. It doesn't really matter; I've got no control over others people.

So yeah, I was wrong to cut those pedestrians off. I'll try to make sure it never happens again. Since this is the first time it has, I'm pretty confident I'll be able to do that. No one was hurt. The people yelling at me probably spent more time yelling at me than the half a second they'd had to wait for me. I had some serious anger thrown my way, but I know it wasn't personal--even though they tried to make it personal. To the strangers who yelled, I'm not a human being who makes mistakes, I'm a selfish asshole who doesn't give a shit about other people. I know THAT's not true, and I know that if someone else has a problem with me, it's their problem.

I heard someone share once in a meeting that they don't have bad days anymore; they can have bad moments here and there, but that's all. And I must admit, I'm still feeling like it's a good day over here. Kind of a 'whoops, I fucked up/damn that was kinda scary/glad no one was hurt' morning, but that happens. It's life. Life keeps on happening, and I can deal with it from the center of my spiritual self, or I can let my disease dictate what I do. I could wallow in self-pity about what a horrible person I am, drive around in sheer panic and terror the rest of my life, or I could go get fucked up and spew all kinds of negative energy at the people who yelled at me--how dare they? Don't they know who I am?!

Or I can work the program of Recovery: admit where I was wrong; remember that I'm human, not perfect, and do better in the future; not take things personally; and finally, let it go.

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