Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Scary Pretty Things

In my last post, I referred to my friend Troy's wife, Angie, as "scary-pretty." It just popped out, and now I find it a curious adjective. I could easily describe my sponsor, Mary, that way, as she has one of the most beautiful faces I've ever seen.

When we first met (at one of my first AA meetings), we immediately connected, and within five minutes or so, she offered to be my sponsor. I said an unequivocal "yes," but I couldn't help but notice her extraordinary beauty. With her long, blonde, straight hair, she looks like a California model cloaked in urbane Manhattanite high-fashion threads. As I walked home from the meeting that day, I wondered if I could actually spill my guts to a face that was so perfect without feeling some kind of intimidation or, worse, jealousy. I actually considered backing out of the deal with some kind of lame excuse.

But it took just a few minutes to have the insight I needed. How many times in my own life have I felt rejected or rebuffed because of my own gifts? While I've lost a friend or two due to my health ordeals (some just can't handle this kind of thing), what's actually hurt far worse have been the rejections when I was shining at my brightest. Whether it was a successful art exhibit, or my writing a memorable pop song, or looking particularly fine while wearing a clip-on ponytail, or--perhaps most important--just feeling a day of boundless joy, the no-comment commentary or the sly digs were deeply painful, at times even excruciating.

These are the things we do to one another when we feel insecure about our self-worth or our own gifts. That insidious character-erosion of those we supposedly care about is a deadly game, for sure, and it hurts both perpetrator and victim alike. Sadly, when I've shined a bit too bright, instead of it serving as an inspiration, some friends fell by the wayside. While their departure was ultimately welcome in the end, as I couldn't stand the stress of it anymore, it was also profoundly sad, as are most situations where communication crumbles.

As soon as I had this insight, any intimdation I may have had about Mary's looks vanished, and since then, I've discovered that the beauty of her soul far exceeds her external appearance, if that's even possible. She couldn't be more compassionate, intelligent, loving, non-judgmental and serious about her role as my sponsor.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, she has the face of an angel.

Lucky me.

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