Tough love

I feel pretty bad. Yesterday there was another incident at the meeting involving our very sick friend, A. When I got there he was the only person in the room and I instantly felt uncomfortable; after what happened two weeks ago at the picnic I never wanted to be in such close proximity to him again. When he saw me last night he came straight up to me, as if nothing had ever happened. Knowing that he’s very unwell at the moment only seems to make me feel more uneasy around him. I didn’t say “hello” to him last night – I didn’t want him to get the impression that we were still buddies. Unfortunately he took great offence at my apparent impoliteness. He commenced another personal attack on me, lecturing me in front of everyone on how rude I had been and how badly treated he had been. I couldn’t say anything to retaliate: I’m still no good at confrontations. Luckily my new sponsor was there, and he stepped in quickly to protect me. Straight away A turned on my sponsor, shouting, kicking and punching at him, even throwing a cup of coffee at him. I’d never seen such violence in AA; it was the sort of thing you’d see outside a rough pub on Friday night. I was mortified, and still I could do nothing. My sponsor naturally defended himself, throwing the punches back, and afterwards he felt bad for not reacting more calmly. I felt bad for causing the whole thing.

It was over quickly, but A wouldn’t leave the meeting, so I had to leave, my new sponsor with me. I was in shock, and I didn’t want to see A again. I definitely couldn’t be in the same room as him. We went for a walk around the block, on the way bumping into friends who were horrified to hear what had happened. They all thought we should call the police to remove A from the meeting, so we did that, as it seemed like our only option. I went back to sit in a room in a different part of the building while we waited for the police to arrive. They came quickly, and I saw A being led out of the front door of the building with his hands cuffed behind his back. I felt able to return to the meeting, but I was tearful throughout, and by the end I knew I had to share about what had happened.

My thoughts were going crazy, I was convinced that I was to blame for what had happened. I thought I should have been more polite to A when I saw him, I could at least have said “hello” to him, then he wouldn’t have got upset. I shared about this, as well as my gratitude to the meeting for being so supportive. They’d all held me and comforted me, telling me that it would be OK and that they’d protect me from A if he came back. The truth is that for every moment of the meeting, I was terrified of seeing him walk back through the door. Of course he didn’t, he was detained at the local police station, but my paranoia was really playing up on me last night.

Not only was I scared of seeing A again, I felt guilty for making things worse between us and I felt bad for my new sponsor, who must be wondering what on earth he’s got himself into with me. How ironic that on his first day as my new sponsor, he should have to protect me from a psychotic ex-friend. I can’t deny that I’m worried he’ll sack me. He might say that my problems are too much for him to handle at this time. He was incredibly kind and supportive to me last night, saying nothing about wanting to sack me, so I have no reason whatsoever to think that he will. It’s just my paranoid, sick, selfish head.

We all knew things would have to get worse before they could get better, we all knew that A was going downhill fast and that he was heading for trouble. Apparently this kind of thing has happened to him in the past. His illness reaches a crescendo, then he gets the help he needs, and then he’s fine again for a while. It makes me sad that he has to get this bad before anyone can do anything. He shouldn’t have to get violent, he should have been seen by his doctor weeks ago and given better medication. I know we have an under-funded mental health service in this country, but I’m sure it’s not that bad.

While A is in this state I know I can’t be around him at all. I thought I could keep my distance from him in meetings, but he won’t leave me alone. He came straight over to me yesterday to start that fight. I couldn’t wait to get home last night – I knew I’d feel much safer here because he doesn’t know where I live. If I see him in meetings again and he’s still in that state, I will have to leave. He’s dangerous. They say that no one should ever be kicked out of AA, no matter what they’ve done, but what if someone is violent and others feel threatened by that person? AA is supposed to be a safe place, and it definitely wasn’t last night. I wish A didn’t have to be barred from meetings, but until he gets help I don’t think the rooms are the best place for him to be.

What of my part in all this? Am I really to blame? No, it’s not my fault that he’s ill, but have I been as supportive to him as I could be? Have I treated him with the same compassion that I would a sick friend, like the Big Book says I should? Probably not. I was rude to him last night to begin with, but then again, he hasn’t exactly been polite to me recently, and everyone has assured me that I don’t have to be friendly with anyone I don’t want to be. A is sick, and I haven’t done anything wrong, I should know that. I dread to think where he is right now, what he’s doing. God, I hope he gets better soon. I really miss the person that he was.

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