We sometimes hurt those we love because they need to be “taught a lesson,” when we really want to punish. We were depressed and complained that we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention. This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom. This subtle and elusive kind of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought. Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character-building and good living.
Work comes right to mind for me, and all the time there I am supposed to be looking out for the greater good. I’m afraid that I have acted selfishly in the past (I’m sure I have), and in that context it would really hurt many people. People I’m supposed to protect from harm.
I’ve written before about my partner at work, Edith. We’ve worked together now for ten years, and things have broken down and been built up again. She is not in AA and she actually has very little knowledge of AA, but she is somewhat “religious” in that she mostly follows an organized religion, though not in a bad way. I know that she’s basically out for the greater good because really, I know what she does better than anyone else, since I do the same thing. We both do way more than our share, and through the years we’ve struggled together and done without things so that others can have them. And we haven’t pointed that out to anyone else in order to be congratulated for it.
I started writing that paragraph to point out to myself that she and I can be checks for each other, making us a bit safer from the dreaded rationalization than if we acted alone. But writing it has almost choked me up, I’m realizing (again and more) how lucky I am to have her with me in this place at this time. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and our situation can’t continue forever, but I’m pretty sure that tomorrow it will be more of the same and we’ll work together as we have been.
This is a beautiful program and the words above made me reflect and appreciate again and some more one of the many good things in my very good life. I’m going to have to consider how I hide bad motives underneath good ones another time.