Love is always the answer

I once met someone who often ended his share with this phrase.

I often wanted to punch him in the nose when he said that.

That I didn’t is more a credit to our respective seating positions than my self-restraint. The meeting we both attended was in a rectangular room, with chairs arranged in an oval shape. As the numbers grew, it became a double oval row of chairs with the inside row inadvertently occupied by the ones who came later. (As a result, it was rare that people came late, partly on account of the embarrassment of having step over the outer row and clamber into -effectively – a front-row seat where everyone could see you.)

Since we both usually came early and would be seated in the back row, against our respective favourite walls (which were on opposite sides), it would be exceeding difficult to time a punch that would be swift, effective, and most importantly timely.

Such was the seating arrangement that for me to reach him, I’d either have to step over the front row, walk across the centre in front of everyone, climb over the front row on his side, to get to him.

Or, shuffling between the rows across at least fifteen people, with endless excuse mes, pardons, and sorry didn’t mean to step on you, by which time, possible two more people would have shared, and nobody would have any clue why I went to hit him.

Why did I want to punch him in the nose?

Because it hurt.

No – to be absolutely honest, it didn’t hurt my feelings. I am fortunate enough that I did receive love in my growing up days, and whilst I rarely accepted it (own fault), I have no basis to be resentful and unhappy about this aspect of life at least. If anything, he had far more reason to be bitter and angry if we were comparing childhood nurturing, but obviously, he wasn’t. At all. And that was what annoyed me so.

It hurt my pride.

How dare he be so certain about this love thing? What does he know about love? He’s not even in the same religion as me. I know about love. God is Love! It says so in the Bible and here are the verses to prove it. What? You don’t believe the Bible is true? Here is my thesis on why it is true and you are a closed-minded d***head. Don’t you dare talk about love, when I know better than you!

Don’t talk about love to me, especially when you seem to understand it better than I do, give it better than I do, accept it better than I do, and live your life as though you really believe what you say to be true.

The other reason why I didn’t punch him was because, deep down, I knew he was right. That happens a lot in the Rooms. The things that rile me up the most, are usually truths I refuse to accept, or at the very least, reveal something about myself I’d rather not face. Hence my defensive, angry response.

And, besides, I really liked him too.

He looks like Bill Bailey, is just as funny and affable as the comedian. And he is always so calm and serene, sometimes he seems to glide into the Rooms to his chair on the opposite wall. (Actually, in the classic British comedy Black Books, Bill Bailey swallows the Little Book of Calm, ends up absorbing it, and becomes a living saint/guru complete with soft diffuse lighting around him… a perfect depiction of this fellow addict if I ever saw one.)

Once, I heard him share about how his childhood was like. Within two minutes, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up in horror. Mind you, as an addict with years of no-holds-barred, no restrictions acting out online, I’ve seen it all before. But to hear it first hand from someone in front of me was harrowing.

But as he shared, there was no bitterness in his voice, no anger or hate, not even a set-up as a reason for “why I started acting out”. It was simply a background of his life, as a starting point to narrate to where he was now. And where he was now was in serenity I would never have thought possible for someone who went through what he did. But yet, there he was in front of me. No show, no pretence, no buffing up his story…. well… no need.

So back to the phrase: Love is always the answer. Is that really so?

Years after that time when we overlapped in meetings, I think so. Universal Ultimate Truth? I can’t say for sure, but I think it has a fair shot. At the very least, Love is always the answer for that one person, at that one point in time. It was obvious because he absolutely lived it, and it seemed, without trying too hard either.

Like many things in recovery, I have to be careful about declaring anything to be Ultimate Universal Truth. But if it is just… true…? Even if only for one person, even if only for at that time, then at least something worthwhile is there, and I’d be a fool not to pay attention.

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