Over the last week or so I’ve been helping try and sort someone else’s mess out. Essentially they had got themselves into a mess about some finances that had led to them been asked to a meeting with their bank. I went along with one set of assumptions as the person told me one side of things. It got more confusing at the bank, one thing was resolved but another bigger issue was presented by the bank. The person involved denied knowledge of this transaction. The bank were about to launch an investigation but I asked for some extra time to go through the persons papers to see if I could figure it out. I just grabbed all the paperwork this person had later that day and in a few mins had figured out how this had happened. Crisis averted.
But then I talk to the person about how to fix the position they are in. Firstly they don’t see it as an issue. I try to explain why it is an issue. I then say “So you can’t leave it like this. What do you want to do?” Nothing – a shrug and a “I don’t know”. So I outline the need for this person to take responsibility and to at least make a decision. Nothing.
So I feel so frustrated. I appreciate some of this is a bit complicated but the person just wants to absolve themselves of responsibility and get someone else to shoulder that. I realise that that debunking of personal responsibility is the thing that is really irking me. I don’t care what they do or don’t do really but I feel they need to be responsible for the decision even if execution is left to others.
Why’s this frustrate me so much? Well, whilst this person is not an alcoholic or addict, I see my own old bad behaviours being reflected in that absolution response. In step 12 of the AA programme it says “… practice these principles in all our affairs“. Took me a while to even hear that, let alone realise the massive connotations that had for me and much longer still to begin to weave my new responsible sober mindset into how I conducted myself in all situations (well most anyway!). Often my way of avoiding was simple – drink and it will disappear – it never did…. or avoid and someone else will fix it …. sometimes they did, most normally they didn’t.
Somewhere in one of the popular stories in the AA big book there is this passage.
“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
Boom there it is… I need to concentrate on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes. Hmm…. as ever work in bloody progress!