When very new to program, and asked by my sponsor, when I called to check out with her, whether or not a course of action I was contemplating was healthy, "What would be your motivation were you to do that?" I was dumbfounded by the question. What on earth could she mean, my motivation? My motivation back then was all about trying to get what I wanted, but never by asking outright - I couldn't even imagine just asking for what I wanted, the person might refuse, and then where would I be? No, I manipulated and schemed, planned, considered, debated with myself, and then stealthily put my plans into action, all the while with one eye cocked to see how the other person was responding, and whether or not I needed to alter my course.
It was an exhausting and very sick way of relating to other people, but it was all I knew. I'd been raised by someone who is still a master manipulator at her present age of 91, and I had internalised the lessons I'd learned from watching her achieve her own ends, even in the face of strong opposition. She never gave up, she was inexorable. Rare was the family member, or stranger, who could stand unbowed in the face of her intense, immense pressure.
Being asked to consider my motivations before I took action, or spoke up, was disconcerting to me, I felt exposed - naked. I wasn't sure I was willing to be always looking at myself first. I liked it better when my focus was outward, upon the other person, because careful consideration of my own motives meant that there were many times during which I did this checking in with myself, and discovered that I wasn't going to be able to proceed as planned. I'd realise ruefully that not only could I not deny that my motives were unhealthy, but acceptance of that truth meant that continuing no longer fit with the new moral code I was developing.
My moral code matured before some of the rest of me, and my conscience would be speaking quietly, remonstrating with the childish part of me, who wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. Some days, it would be quite the war going on inside my head, but continued exposure to 12-Step made some things impossible, if I wished to be able to live comfortably with myself. One of those impossibilites was to deny to myself that I was being selfish or unkind or demanding. Al-Anon brought me clarity long before I was ready willing or wanted to accept it. I got it from working the program with my sponsor, wanted or not, and that clarity forced my hand in many instances,
I can recall thinking with sadness that I wasn't going to be able to say or do something I really wanted to say or do, because my motive for doing so was inescapable, and my conscience was nattering at the very idea of it. It's funny now but it was a big struggle for me in Al-Anon.