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Day 11 of 30 Days of Truth … Something people always seem to compliment you on.

This is surprisingly hard to answer. I get compliments on superficial things – like my smile, for which I paid damn good money to obtain. People seem to think I’m smart, which is nice. Because I’m usually fairly quiet and now that I have gray hair, people seem to consider what I say. That’s not to say they always take my advice (because that would be disastrous), but people tend to take me more seriously and listen to what I say. I’m sure it’s the hair. I look wise.

I’ve received two compliments that I treasure, though. The first came via a woman who had absolutely no use for me as a human being. It happened when I was in my 20’s and was mostly a dumb, but opinionated, kid. Back in those days I thought I had a drinking problem because I drank like a fish because I was frustrated with my sexual orientation. I only told you that because the story happened at an AA meeting. On the wall there is a sign that says “When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to always be there and for that, I am responsible.”

There was a woman who was mentally unstable who came to meetings occasionally. I’ll call her “Barbara.”  I could tell lots of stories about her, but it’s sad. She had some serious problems and alcohol was the least of them.  A new woman came to a meeting and Barbara started talking to her. After the meeting one of my friends (I’ll call her “Claudette”) told the new woman to stay away from Barbara – and repeated several of the crazy stunts Barbara did. She also said that Barbara shouldn’t even be in AA. She said all of that in front of me … and I was offended to my toes. I told her she had no right to repeat stories about Barbara when she had no personal knowledge of them – they were stories we’d all heard. I also told her that Barbara had every right to be at any meeting she wanted to attend. And then I pointed at that sign and asked her what she thought it meant.  Surprisingly, she apologized.

The woman who couldn’t stand me was also standing there. I’ll call her “Sondra.”  Sondra told Claudette later that I was the fairest person she knew. She didn’t say it to me, of course, but Claudette told me about it – and there was no reason for Claudette to make that up. It made me feel really, really good, especially coming from someone who didn’t like me much.

The other compliment came from Claudette not long after that.  She said, “If you ever get your head and your heart in the same place at the same time, I don’t want to be standing next to you.” It made me laugh, but it also made me realize that I needed to stop fighting myself. It took another 15 years for that to begin to happen, but … it is happening now.

You should probably duck.

 

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