Jun 10: The Trappings of Texting

The Trappings of Texting

I love to text. I text with my husband, my friends, my family and my co-workers all day long. I send messages, emesis, photos, memes, gifs, videos and links to articles. One time my husband was in a text-less situation for several days and I felt like my right arm had been cut off. I can even text and send hand-drawn images from my watch!

My sponsor hates to text. She abhors it. She says, “People can hide behind texting. It doesn’t enhance the ‘we’ of our program. It actually does the exact opposite, allowing us to isolate and mask our true feelings.” She’s okay with quick, non-personal messages like, “I’m on my way,” “Running late – be there in 10” or “I called – please call me ASAP”, but that’s it.

I’m beginning to agree with her. How often can we tell something’s not right with someone simply by hearing a certain inflection in their voice or by observing other non-verbal cues? How often have we been misled by taking a text the wrong way?

How often have we suffered from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) due to group texts about friends going out drinking, to a party or to happy hour? “Poor me – sobriety sucks – I suck,” leading us right down that dark rabbit hole of self-pity and self-loathing. Our disease loves it, laughing all the way, while twisting that sharp knife of FOMO around and around in our gut, jeopardizing our hard-won sobriety.

How often have we suffered the horror, shame and guilt from hastily sending a snarky comment about someone to that exact same person by mistake, ruining that relationship forever? Written words cannot be taken back – they are eternal.

All this misery stemming from tiny black letters on a rectangular piece of plastic, small enough to fit in our hands. It’s ridiculous; another addiction.

I recently developed a huge resentment over a text. Our adult niece, whom we raised, texted us that her boyfriend had just purchased a diamond for her engagement ring. A text. Not a phone call – a text. I was instantly filled with rage saying, “WTF?! Only a TEXT??! This is a HUGE event in her life and after ALL we’ve done for her, she doesn’t even think we deserve a PHONE CALL??!” I was so upset that I didn’t even respond. I felt unloved, unappreciated, disappointed and disrespected.

Luckily, our program kicked in and I immediately did a mental Fourth Step, realizing how all those feelings boiled down to one single thing – my big fat ego with its self-righteous expectations. As we say, “Expectations are the stair steps to resentments” and I had just sprinted right up those stairs! I knew all these things in my head, but my heart and gut refused to connect to it.

Texting is how Millennials communicate. I know our niece loves, respects and appreciates me with all her heart. I was most likely the first person she wanted to share her excitement with and what did I do? I stomped my foot and made it all about me. Crazy, right?

I fessed up about all this to my sponsor the next day. I had written out a Fourth Step by then, using the four-column technique, and read it to her. She confirmed the insanity of my feelings. She said our niece is probably feeling confused and hurt because I didn’t respond. After all, I’m the one who fostered this style of communication with her and here I am, all pissed off because that’s exactly what she did! It had nothing negative to do with me.

After working with my sponsor, my head, heart and gut began to unify. I felt much lighter and acted on her suggestion to call our niece and sincerely share in her excitement. We had a wonderful hour-long chat and my resentment completely dissolved.

My emotional sobriety had been restored through the use of the tools provided in the rooms of AA. Who knows how long this resentment would have festered had I not used them? In the past, I most definitely would have drank “at it” in order to numb my feelings. I am now willing to feel my feelings, as uncomfortable as they may be, and to work through them. This is yet another example of the miracles of our program and I am grateful for it.

Has texting ever jeopardized your physical and/or emotional sobriety? Has it ever been the root of a resentment? How do you guard yourself from the trappings of texting?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you for letting me chair and share. Love to all – xoxoruthb 4/13/15