A famous New Yorker cartoon shows a woman sitting on a couch with a man standing next to her talking to a policeman taking notes. There is pair of legs sticking out from behind the couch. The caption says: “He misspoke, I miss heard, shots rang out.” How do I stand a chance if I can’t even hear you? I didn’t know I couldn’t hear you. I didn’t know with whom I was relating. It turns out there are three places I could be possibly coming from: my conscious, my unconscious, or my ego. The same goes for you. So there are at least six entities in every interaction. In my experience, good communication happens mostly by accident.
It has taken 20 years in recovery to figure out that my chances of understanding and being understood could be improved; that enlightened communication could be made to happen; could actually be cultivated and learned. My ego didn’t like this. Why would I have a thought that wasn’t right? Why would I say something you didn’t need to hear? The turn from these positions took some doing. I was dealing with three million years of instinct 50 plus years of bad habit and whatever pattern I pursue upon the discovery that I am the author of my life.
First the garbage had to be removed—all the noise that filled my mind constantly. The 12 Steps are the perfect recipe to do this, but they are also filled with diversion, clichés, and dogma. I needed to question everything, doubt nothing and ask, ask, ask. It’s my life. Point it where I want to go. Puckered, sour pessimism, is not dealing with reality; it’s the bastion of the LIE.
It’s the home of negativity. What would happen if I tried something else? What would happen if I really started to listen to you? Not waiting for you to finish so I can tell you how it is but to listen with a mind with nothing in it. What if I drop all prejudice, judgment and selfish pride?
I begin to ask questions that had verifiable answers. I began to make statements that were clean and direct. I find that I use way too many words. Maybe you would love me if I drowned you with words? This does not work; the more I practiced doing something different, the easier it got. The more I stopped listening to the negativity in recovery; the more I heard how generous and giving it is. There isn’t one bit of negativity in the 12 Steps. Recovery asks over and over: What can I bring? How can I help?
Every relationship in my life from the gas station guy to my beautiful wife has changed because of my persistence in this endeavor. There is no more dark just the love, light and joy. Encourage, honor, celebrate, bless and you will watch your world change before your eyes.
God bless you, I love you…. Bill