Sunday, September 23, 2012

Question about Trust

"I asked someone to be my sponsor, but my first meeting with him, he did a lot of talking about a sponsee who fired him, and criticising him. What do I do?"

At a meeting I attended recently, someone spoke about the fact that a long time in program doesn't equate with a long time working on one's own character defects. It's like the old joke about sitting in the garage doesn't make you a car - sitting in meetings for many years is no indication of a good solid grounding in the principles of the program.

The relationship between sponsor and sponsee needs to be one of trust - without the trust, not much can be accomplished. I would not be able to bare my soul to a new sponsor who was breaking the confidentiality of someone with whom they'd worked in the past. I don't have to shame, judge, or blame them for it, I can accept that in this area, perhaps they haven't grown as one would hope, but I'd protect myself, and most likely I would find another sponsor.  We don't always have to be sponsored by someone who's been in Al-Anon for more years than we have; I've watched newcomers leap to understanding about things which took me years to learn. But I would suggest a member who practises program in all of his affairs, not just at meetings, and often, that takes a few years to truly grasp.

I've reached a place in my life where I no longer feel the need to share my opinion on many things with those around me, although I do have a couple of friends with whom this is a wind-down ritual - a little moaning and groaning on the way we think the world could be better conrfigured for our taste. But with those I sponsor, I consider the relationship inviolate, I do not share anything they've told me with a third person, and I do not take the easy road of being critical, when I am still so flawed myself.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Selective Vision for Step 8

I've been to several meetings this week on the topic of  Step 8: "Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."

I find it interesting how many people seem to see this as another way to look at what the alcoholic has done to damage us. That's not what this Step asks us to do. We aren't  making lists of all the people, including ourselves, harmed by the alcoholic, we are taking a clear and careful look at our own character defects, and how those have caused pain, grief, sorrow and trouble to the people in our lives.

It wasn't until I was willing to admit that I could be a jerk, that I began to get much from this program. As long as I was still fixated upon what the alcoholic had done, was doing, might be about to do, my focus was skewed.

I don't attempt to suggest that we haven't been harmed in this alcoholic relationship, one is always getting toes snipped off and bits gouged out when we love an alcoholic, it's the nature of their disease, of the inflated sense of self, and overweening ego, which accompanies the other symptoms.

But we become equally as self-absorbed in our confusion and our pain, "irritable and unreasonable without knowing it." That's why we need a sponsor, because when we start out on this journey, our defenses will have us insist that we have no character defects, that we don't need to make a list, that we haven't harmed anyone. Over the years that I've been in this program, I've seen this happen time and again - someone relatively new insisting that they don't like this character defect stuff because it sounds too punitive, or they havn't done anything compared to the alcoholic's crimes against the world, or just a general sense of outrage when it's suggested to them that they learn to focus on their own faults.

 I've been that person, wanting to blame another for all my unhappiness. It wasn't until I became more willing to sit down and have a good hard look at myself that I began to find change in this program. But that requires some beating down of our own egos, and open minds with regard to who our sponsor sees
when they look at us.