"You don't have any rights, at least when you're in my shoes," said Janice A., a friend who sent me her testimony in Narcotics Anonymous for her ten year token. She gave me permission to use it here. I'm printing it nearly verbatim, removing some of the longer parts of the story, and put down the essence of her talk from what I can make out from the recording.
"I lost my rights when I went to jail at 19, then again to prison at 25. When I was released from Donovan (State Prison) I got a job, went to NA and AA, and started a road to recovery."
"I got a job answering phones, filing, front desk stuff. Didn't pay much, but I wasn't on my feet. Got this thing wired, got my confidence, and the folks on the job thought I was great."
"Well, then I met somebody at the job, and he asked me out, we got married, and he's now sitting in the back of this meeting. Feel free to wave to him. Anyway, on our first date, he asked me if I was in the program, and when I told him I was, he said he was, too. Then he asked me if I was a newcomer. I said I wasn't that I'd had four years sober when I was in prison. I asked him why he thought I was a newcomer, and this is what he said: "Because you seem to think you're the center of attention."
"That really pissed me off. I was kind of mad at that point anyway, because a minute before that comment, the waiter came with our dinners. I told the waiter that he didn't fill up my water, the piece of salmon had too much skin on it, the broccoli was too small, why hadn't the bread been refilled, and could I see a dessert menu now so I don't have to wait?" My then boyfriend now husband almost spit out his coffee, he was so embarrassed. I, on the other hand, thought I was exercising my confidence.(laughs from the meeting)"
"He said, "You know how you were in prison and you had no rights? Well, what changed? Didn't your prison experience humble you even a little? What about the rights of your waiter here?"
"Your rights," he said, in a very lowered tone, "are your expectations. You lost both your rights and expectations to have any rights when you injured those with your addiction and your crime. You have completed your criminal sentence, for which I applaud you, but you haven't made enough progress to know that you're not the center of the Universe."
"I fell in love with him right there. From that moment, and ever since, I've known that I have to be more accepting, and my now husband is the test. You guys been in a relationship? I've learned, from him, that I'm not the center of anything. I am accepting of this life, his routines, his issues, and his presence, that I've learned to be flexible and accepting. In this beautiful life, and I've learned so much from my husband about how to take things easily, be accepting, keep my temper and my mouth managed, I just don't have time to be upset if I'm focusing on the stuff I'm not taking too seriously and that's just about everything."
"And, so you all know, I went back to that restaurant and I apologized to that waiter. He now assistant manager of the place He remembered me! I told him I hoped that I would be remembered for this apology instead of my entitled controlling behavior. He smiled, and he gave me a hug (you can hear Janice crying on the recording.) I didn't deserve the hug, but I am so grateful of his accepting my apology." "Thank you. Thank you for being here. If I could share with you anything I've learned it would just be that you keep on being accepting. It's easier. Just go with the flow. God will work out the rest. Good night!"
accepting. It's easier. Just go with the flow. God will work out the rest. Good night!"