I was sitting at my desk recently, working, completely absorbed in my work, as I love my job. I am blessed with the opportunity to write everyday about sobriety and recovery.
With that said, suddenly I heard this extremely loud music….just obnoxiously, irritatingly loud.
Of course the music was emanating from the car stereo of a person I am not particularly fond of..…let’s just say a neighbor.
To be honest, the most recent time that I was disturbed by his music was not the first time, and I am sure it will not be the last.
That is part of my point, I cannot change anyone, so I better get used to that. I do not have to like him but I have to tolerate him because that is the way a civilized and grateful recovering alcoholic/addict must behave.
Yet, and to make a long story short, the moment that the disturbance occurred, anger and frustration was triggered within me. It took everything in me not to react…..not to get up and to inform this individual that he was a distraction; that his incredibly loud music was causing me psychic pain.
Not reacting and pausing is new for me in sobriety.
And although I am certain that his music was too loud and absolutely inappropriate, the amount of anger and frustration inside of me that was ready to erupt was equally inappropriate.
In fact, I think the anger inside of me was residual, stored up from some unresolved incident of the past. This perspective and newfound perception is a result of doing a daily tenth step.
But, to be honest, it has more to do with me being a person that does not like anything out of place.
In fact, I can become equally as angry by a person walking too loudly, or chewing his gum too loudly. There is no rhyme or reason.
Although, there is a common denominator, and it’s me. I am a highly-strung alcoholic/addict.
I prefer my environment to be tightly controlled, preferably beautiful, stress-free, calm, serene…almost like “Pleasantville” if you will.
The reality is that no matter how hard I try I cannot exclude imperfect, particularly when I am surrounded by people, in a world full of diversity, stress, and barbaric people, no more than I can require that the sun does not come up.
As I pause, and hesitate to react, I can calm down enough, to let the anger and frustration pass, if the annoyance is still there, I can calmly approach the person and inform him or her that something he or she is doing is causing me distraction or interrupting my work.
If I take it a step further, and realize that there is so much more beauty to focus on, rather than annoyance and resentment, I might consider the sun shining through my office window, the fresh air, all the lovely people in the world, the fact that I am clean and sober and so forth.
I must learn to co-exist in this world, with a variety of people, of all different personalities.
For me, it will take much more practice before I can calmly tell someone that he or she is doing something to hurt me, annoy me, or distract me. As written in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Some of us are sicker than others.”
In the meantime, I can recognize my anger, sadness, frustration, and so forth as it comes up, feel it, sit with it, let it pass, recognize that it has to do with me, not the other person, place or thing, and then at a moment of calm take a closer look at it, perhaps through working The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
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