Posted by: innerpilgrimage | March 11, 2014

Spiteful Donation Day on the Ides of March–Can it Be Used in Recovery?

      I just got wind of this new thing someone started: Spiteful Donation Day. Even more interesting is that it’s on the Ides of March . . . the day Brutus and other Roman senators stabbed and killed Julius Caesar. Rome had gone from a republic to an empire, with Caesar as emperor. They weren’t able to restore the republic, even after a civil war. Donating to charities in the name of a person one resents–right when charities need post-holiday season donations–is a much better idea.

      So, the point of making a spiteful donation (on 15 March 2014) is to donate to a charity I believe in that the other person does not believe in. Sometimes these people are vocal against the principles I believe in, so making that donation is easy. But how can it be a recovered behavior when it celebrates maintaining a resentment, giving a middle finger to a person who I believe did me harm? Can something good done out of spite be made a recovered behavior?

Having a resentment means I can work Step Four and/or Step Ten.

      This action helps me to assess what’s bothering me about my relationship with a person. I’m focused on some conflict which I’m not in acceptance of, and I can work out that conflict and find serenity with something that I cannot change (the conflict of ideals) and consider recovered behaviors and practice acceptance of another person’s thoughts and ideas even as I practice acceptance of my own thoughts and ideas.

Doing any good work in that person’s name is still a good work. And . . . it’s in their name.

      In the Big Book, on page 552 of the Fourth Edition, this advice is offered:

      “If you have resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it everyday for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate, understanding and love.”

      Donating to any charity is a compassionate act, like prayer is. Donation, however, is something tangible. Yes, it stretches some to donate to something I believe in instead of something the other person believes passionately in, but it doesn’t have to stay a spiteful act. Even if I don’t want to act generously in their name, I can. This resentment–enough that I would put my money down in their name–can become compassion. If I believe in something so much that it raises conflict between myself and another, then I can meditate on empathy. That person believes in something so much that conflict was raised. Or, perhaps they did something dismissively or without concern toward me. I definitely can empathize with that in time.

No need to make amends . . . if the person isn’t put on mailing lists on order to harm them.

      It’s donating to a charity. Instead of destroying something or speaking badly of someone, I can support what I believe in because that person has made me deeply aware of my own beliefs. That person has taught me something about myself, and I can learn to be grateful. I’m not quite sure if there is an amend for donating to a charity of my choice in that person’s name. I’ve made them important enough in my life to be suffering non-acceptance.

It’s funny, and laughing over something is better than litigating over it.

      I can imagine telling someone I spite-donated over: “I donated money to a charity because I was angry at you.” I can imagine laughing over it. Of course, I can also imagine them getting angry at me, and that’s when I can end the toxic relationship. If a person is going to get so angry at me over choosing to donate to charity instead of destroying something of theirs? They and I have nothing to talk about. I’m not my ideas; neither are they. If a person has to take life so seriously that a charitable donation in their name is considered as harmful to their ego as destroying physical property, then I and they need to part ways for my own sanity.

      Is it recovered behavior? It doesn’t have to be, but it can be used to make progress in program. I become aware of resentments I can work using the program steps. I become aware of what is important to me, what my own values are. I don’t act on that resentment in a harmful way. In time, I can hopefully look back with that person and share that instead of doing harm in my anger, I did good–despite choosing a charity which went against their principles at the time. And, well, for those people who’ve anonymously harmed me who I resent for their dismissive behavior toward me? I can let go as soon as I’ve done it. It’s over. I have donated to a charity which works on changing the world around that person by lobbying for legislative change that will benefit people.
      I think, especially for those of us who grew up dysfunctionally or who deal with program naysayers, adding an extra dollar or five or ten or even twenty to the Seventh Tradition basket in honor of Spiteful Donation day would be healing. Keeping the doors open, keeping literature on the tables, keeping websites up-to-date . . . those are all ways to take resentment and turn it into healing.
      And, well, it’s funny. It’s the kind of funny I think recovering addicts would appreciate. It honors my imperfectly-worked recovery even as I choose recovered behavior. “I am so mad at the people who tell me that 12-Step is a cult that I added five bucks this week to keep this meeting open.”

      I am grateful for the seemingly bad, for within that seemingly bad are the greatest opportunities for recovery.

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