Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Does A Spiritual Awakening Look Like, Anyway?

Almost two years ago, a sponsee and I were out walking the dogs and talking, and I asked a question regarding a choice she was making. I could see her recoil, and then the wall came slamming down. After that day, she was courteous at meetings, but she cut me loose as her sponsor.

I really wrestled with this, swinging back and forth between lashing myself for having phrased it the way I had, and being able to let go of it. I finally achieved an uneasy peace, realising that I could have phrased my question differently, so as not to offend her, and still stimulated her into thinking about why she was making that particular choice. From a sponsor point of view, it was obvious that one of her character defects was driving it; my mistake was in not realising how my question would sound. I was too direct, and  my question was shaming. I had been, in my clumsy way, oblivious to her feelings.

Recently, this sponsee has begun to contact me again, and we have been discussing this mistake of mine, and her response to it. I have found it freeing to be able to be completely honest about where I was when I asked the question, what was going through my mind at the time, the aftermath, etc.

I was thinking about it today, and realised just how far I've come in Al-Anon. This is how I "practise these principles in all our affairs."
I'm willing to admit to my character defects, and discuss them openly and honestly, even when they are making me cringe and writhe.  I'm willing to sit quietly and hear how I have caused another person pain through my actions, and when they finish speaking, make amends. No justifying, no rationalising my behavior, just listen, and make an amend.

My spiritual awakening has been, in part, to realise that I am going to continue to make a mess of things in my dealings with other people - I am a flawed human being.

If I don't make the necessary amends for the mistakes I continue to make, I will begin again to feel ashamed. If I lash myself rather than work through whatever it may be, using my program tools, I will start to backslide.

If I cannot admit to, ask forgiveness for, (forgive myself for) my character defects, I will once again be lost inside a misery of my own making. I may be easier to deal with now, than I was before Al-Anon, but my character defects are going to keep tripping me up until I take my last breath. That's a given.

Whether or not I work to sustain this different, more honest, more peaceful way of life, is up to me. I am faced with the choice a hundred times a day - I pray to continue to make the right one - to continue to practise these principles in all my affairs.


  1. The important thing is recognizing what we have done and dealing with it. The 10th Step is there because we're going to keep backsliding even after the first 9! If we reset our dates in Al-Anon like our AA breathen, an oldtimer would have about a week of time in! Have a good one!!!

  2. Great post. I hate having to admit that I'm not perfect. Amends are just not comfortable or fun. The difference for me, today, is that I feel uncomfortable if I need make an amends. Though sometimes it takes my sponsor to "diagnose" my ill.

  3. I think this is an excellent post for me on how to KEEP working the program. You remind me that I need to continue making amends and I need to get more and more comfortable openly discussing my character with others. Those strategies have worked well for me in the past, and I need to keep them at my hand. Thanks.

  4. "misery of my own making"
    Those words speak volumes to me. It's all about choice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject and reminding me. Al Anon. What an awesome gift.

  5. I love how you share today. For me, it is simple unless I choose to complicate it (one of my defects). My conscience (my inner guide) lets me know when I have erred or the Universe whacks me with a big metaphysical 2x4. I have learned that amends free me and restore my relationships with others. If the "others" aren't ready to forgive, that's okay too, as long as I did my part and meant it.


  6. I really find that it is such a comfort to not fear the admission of a mistake or the manifestation of a character defect. Step 10 is a wonderful step.