Monday, January 10, 2011

Honesty Can Be Painful.

On occasion, one of my sponsees will ask for my input, then when I give it, either fall silent with one of those pregnant pauses, or be direct about what they're feeling, with a statement along the lines of: "Why did I phone you, you're telling me what I don't want to hear!"

I believe that not only will I be unable to puncture someone else's denial, it's not my place to try, and I do not say things lightly when discussing program. I stop to consider before I speak, and I try very hard to be guided by my Higher Power. Many times I will open my mouth, reconsider, and close it again. That's one of the greatest gifts I've received from 12-Step - learning to be peacefully silent.

I've learned that there are going to be times when what I say is not well-received: remember how easily and regularly I was offended by my first sponsor: remind myself that if I've been careful before I spoke, I need to let go of the outcome.

My being unable or unwilling to be honest in my relationships, not only with the alcoholics in my life, but with everyone, was my part in the problems between us. I gave a false impression of who I was, and what was acceptable, when I didn't speak up. I can come up with many reasons for why I was this way, and how my denial was fostered by my childhood experiences, and the effect of my first husband - a furiously angry alcoholic, who raged and bellowed and slammed and ranted. I can justify, I can explain, I can rationalise. At bottom of it all was/is fear.

I have been afraid that because honesty can be painful, something I said, would cause the other person to reject me. I was so terrified of rejection, that I was willing to pretend to be someone I was not. I was willing to live a lie, in order to be accepted.

Before Al-Anon, I didn't know that, rather than try to manipulate another human being into acceptance of me by pretense and people-pleasing, I could seek out those who would accept me for who I truly am, "as is." I didn't believe that I was acceptable. I based my self-value upon what I accomplished in a day - how "productive" and "helpful" I was. I still get twinges when I look back upon a day and see that I didn't get anything done that I'd planned, but I'm learning to let those pass by - noticed - but not leapt upon and used as a blunt instrument with which to belabor myself.

When someone wants me to be what I am not, do what I have said I won't, I don't need to be giving lectures on how they shouldn't be wanting these things from me - that's an exercise in futility, and only causes a rise in the tension, with no change in the wanting.

Life is what it is, there will be incidents when that wanting from another person, feels strong enough to momentarily overpower my sense of self. I'm learning that if I keep quiet, and pray for strength and courage from my Higher Power, the wave of their wanting will recede a bit, and I can stand up, shake myself off, and speak my truth with courtesy and kindness. If I am true to myself and search my motives fearlessly, I will be able to withstand whatever then results.

I don't have to like it. I don't have to remark upon it. I only have to be able to hear it, and let it go. It's not my problem. My problem is finding the courage to be honest about who I am. If I cannot find any courage within myself, I can pray to be granted some.


  1. It is good to be able to be myself, character defects and all, and to speak my truth. I am glad to not have to pretend and try to be what others want me to be.

  2. Just when I think I know myself I find out something new. It is a process and knowing I can start over every day helps me to not be so hard on myself. I never knew who I was each day before the program. It is hard sometimes for me to see my motives but I keep working at it. Denial is also my specialty I can't see my own but I can spot yours a mile away.

  3. This post hits the spot for me right now. Learning to say no with kindness and love is difficult. People want me to go back to my people pleasing self but I cant go to where I was stuck and miserable. Slowly more is revealed to me and learning to speak my truth.

  4. I am glad I found this blog, and it's message of recovery and renewal. It is early days, but I am feeling a tinge of a new feeling, hope...