Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
There have been many times in my life when words or phrases came to mean something other than what many understand them to mean. Off the top of my head I can think of a few examples.
My husband and I communicate in ways often causing our friends to do a double-take and wonder what in the world we are talking about. For example, I might be in the living room doing something and yell down to my husband in the basement to bring me “that thing next to the big thing.” Seconds later he hands me exactly what I needed. We share a language created during our many years of living together.
Another opportunity to share a unique means of communication is in the work environment. When I was still active in the corporate world, my team of many years knew exactly what each other needed or what we meant by a simple nod of the head or a raised eyebrow. We had spent hours together creating, editing, masterminding and learning to trust one another. In all that time we eventually understood things without needing to say a word. When we were in situations where verbal connection wasn't an option, those non-communication actions spoke volumes. I was somehow comforted by this; feeling a sense of security knowing I was part of something uniquely special.
When I was drinking and rarely eating, there was a lot of conversation in my head which was uniquely special for me too. I never shared these ongoing internal dialogues with anyone because I couldn’t explain them. I had a difficult enough time myself just trying to understand how and why the subject matter would roll back and forth like a pendulum. One moment I’d be justifying my irrational behavior and the next I’d be mentally berating myself for having such thoughts.
I carried on with this silent metronome of conversation for years. I was absolutely certain if anyone else could hear what I heard, they’d consider my train of thought not only foreign but nowhere near normal....
Sponsorship is an extremely important part of the Twelve Step programs, both for the newcomer and the sponsor. As the A.A. pamphlet, Questions and Answers on Sponsorship says about the newcomer, "Sponsorship gives the newcomer an understanding, sympathetic friend when one is needed the most. Sponsorship also provides the bridge enabling the new person to meet other alcoholics - in a home group and in other groups visited."
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous points out the importance of sponsorship for the sponsor on page 89, "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much sure insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics." Sponsorship is an integral part of the program for both sponsors and sponsees.
When picking a sponsor, there are many things that people consider: time, involvement, gender, age, similarities and more.
The Pamphlet on sponsorship reminds us, "An old A.A. saying suggests, 'Stick with the winners.' It's only reasonable to seek a sharing of experience with a member who seems to be using the A.A. program successfully in everyday life." When picking a sponsor, this is a very important issue to consider. Is the person we would like to sponsor us using the program wisely? A most beneficial sponsor will work the program in all aspects of his or her life, and be able to offer experience on how the program can work for us.
Often, newcomers look for a sponsor that shares a similar story and have similar hobbies. Although finding a sponsor who you can relate to may be beneficial, it is absolutely not necessary. The aforementioned pamphlet points out, "Often, a newcomer feels most at ease with a sponsor of similar background and interests. However, many A.A.s say they were greatly helped by sponsors totally unlike themselves. Maybe that's because their attention was then focused on the most important things that any sponsor and newcomer have in common: alcoholics and recovery in A.A." Having a sponsor with a different background may force us to really look at the similarities....
Writing a fourth step is an act of courage. It takes immense bravery to write in detail a complete moral inventory of oneself paying close attention to our part. It is important to detail our resentments, because after doing so we can look at how we were affected and what our part in the resentment was. When we break down resentment we learn that we still carry it because it affects a constant fear that we have. Perhaps someone bruised our ego or we felt cheated, we change our perspective to see where we were selfish, dishonest, or afraid. When looking at our fear inventory, we break down each fear and find that most fears are related. Our fears all share the commonality that we are not actually scared of something concrete or material, but of how it will make us feel. When writing our sex inventory it is important to look at how our behavior affected our relationships. Without beating ourselves up, we accept responsibility for how we acted. It is the act of catharsis to write how we feel, and an act of courage to look at our part.
The courageous act of putting this all on paper must immediately be followed with an act of integrity. The catharsis is incomplete if we do not quickly read it out loud, so we can admit to our high-power, another human being, and ourselves, the exact nature of our wrongs. The power of the inventory lies in this confession. When we read it out loud, we take the power away from everything we have held on to. We are finally able to let go of guilt, shame, resentment, and fear.
Recently I went through my steps for the second time with my sponsor, and the difference between my first fourth step and second one was astonishing. After I read my fifth step the first time, I felt like a weight had been lifted. I felt as though everything that I had carried around for all those years finally dissipated. I was expecting a similarly visceral experience the second time. They were roughly equally in length, and both thorough. However, after the second one I wasn’t as emotional or changed. I attribute this to the constant inventory I take. Since my first fourth step I have tried to tell the truth and tell it faster. This means doing a tenth step any time I have a resentment, and reaching out when I am struggling. After some time of doing this I found that I am fundamentally changed. A weight wasn’t lifted the second time because I no longer let the weight of resentment and pain accumulate.
"Yet we can't well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomers themselves. Perhaps a great many didn't receive the kind and amount of sponsorship they so sorely needed. We didn't communicate when we might have done so. So we AA's failed them. Perhaps more often than we think, we still make no contact at depth with those suffering the dilemma of no faith."
Bill Wilson, AA Grapevine, April 1961 "The Dilemma of No Faith"
Cross posted at
In early recovery, it was suggested "don't drink/use, stay out of relationships, go to meetings, change people, places and things and get a sponsor." While the suggestion to abstain from alcohol and drugs was the most important suggestion, the suggestion to get a sponsor was second in importance. Without a person to guide me through the steps or demonstrate sobriety to me, I would be lost.
At first, I picked a sponsor who was as well as me (which means not well at all!!) It took a while until I realized it wasn't okay to smoke pot "once in a while" with twelve years of so-called sobriety. Next, a professional, Jewish woman like myself approached me to offer me guidance after announcing I was sponsorless.
I went through the steps with her and slowly pushed her away when a sexier sponsor caught my eye. He (yes, I did say he!) was Italian, suave, brilliant and emotionally unavailable. He was exactly what I needed because I had no self worth and chasing him gave me a sense of purpose!
Thankfully, the wisdom he emparted was solid and chasing him from meeting to meeting enabled me to get quite an education on recovery. He went to 4-5 meetings a day and so did I! Eventually, he broke up with me and I had to find a power I could rely on. I found a woman with 25 years to take me through the steps again and she taught me how to use the steps to strengthen my connection with my higher self, which I call G-d.
When she picked up a pill after her husband died, I couldn't believe it. This was the one human being in the world who demonstrated the principles of recovery to me in a consistent manner. If she could pick up, no one was safe! I looked for another woman to replace her and couldnt find someone with her type of sobriety....