Absolute Willingness

Denial of the truth leads to destruction. ~ Anon

Step #1 is a two part action step: We must admit complete powerlessness, and we must become absolutely willing to do what it takes to get and stay sober. There are no half measures. According to the Big Book, “half measures availed us nothing.” There are no halve measures, but there is misery. So, a really good assignment for those you work with is to ask them to list what they are willing to do to recover. Fox Hall groups require some things of their sponsees. I have not had much luck in demanding anything of anyone. In fact, I find that folks who are forced into AA by the courts or treatment centers hold a grudge against AA as a whole and most either relapse or find another venue for getting sober: like another addiction, etc. Perhaps that is a generalization. But in my experience, people are more likely to get and stay sober over the long haul when they have a vested interest in doing so. No one can force this process. It takes what it takes what it takes. Each person has their own value system and what will work for them.

As a sponsor, I feel it is my obligation to be a loving witness and a good listening ear; and nothing more. It find it more effective to have the person have their personal ownership in their own recovery. I cannot do it for them, nor can I compel them to take any necessary steps in doing so. Life is so much easier when I get out of the driver’s seat, keep my focus on my own recovery, and let go. That way, HP can get in there and the real healing can happen. So long as I am acting like a god and running the show, there will be resistance, resentment, and surely relapse time and time again. I need to ask myself if I have a loving and merciful HP in my life, and if so, I need to act as if that is so. AA is after all a spiritual solution for a mental and physical dis-ease. Take what you like, and remember the rest.

Sponsorship Needed

Fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff,

and nudge me when I have said enough!

~ A Sponsor’s  Prayer

None of us woke up one day and said, “gees, I think I will become an alcoholic!” I don’t suppose it was childhood dream for anyone of us either. I am pretty sure we got here because we happened to be born with this dis-ease. And, at some point in life, we pulled the trigger. We chose to pick up the alcohol which ignited in us this dis-ease. For whatever reason, we drank, we over did it, and that got us into AA: sick, defeated, and out of control. Only by the grace of HP, sponsorship and AA did we get sober. In order to keep sober, we must work with others. We must work these steps, and we must follow the traditions that keep us together. There is no half-way measure that will work. Things are smoother on the inside of AA. Riding the edges of AA is harsh and lonely. So, going forward, here are some sponsorship questions for you and your sponsees:

How do you know that you have had a spiritual awakening?

I know I have had a spiritual awakening because I no longer find alcohol to be my answer to any life problem that has come along in over 31 years. The obsession was taken from me. I was told, “don’t you think you have had enough?” by a voice that sounded like my brother; who swears he said nothing. I know these things to be true for me.

What evidence do you have that there is an HP working in your life and through you?

I know there is an HP working in my life because there are many times that I do and say things that I had no plan on doing and no notion that I was going to do. Things just fall out of my mouth. One friend calls it being a conduit to HP. I don’t think I am that pure. But, I do know that what seemed impossible in the past; is possible today. I can count on that.

What are the principles you have learned from taking all 12 Steps?

The 12 principles of the 12 steps are in order: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, self-discipline, and service. Do I do these perfectly and daily? I try. Progress; not perfection. I am a work in progress. That is all for today. Take care. Be kind. Be the Big Book in action.

Hand It Over

As we grow in the AA program, we learn to rely more and more on our higher power, realizing that through prayer and meditation, we will be taken care of in a way we never thought possible. ~ 12 Step Literature

The job of the sponsor is to be a loving witness and a mentor in this program. We are not there to fix the person or be a professional counselor or therapist. We are not loan officers, social workers, family therapists, or anything but loving witnesses and mentors in how to live the 12 X 12 in daily life. So, in Step #11, we need to be ardent in our work to teach our fellow alcoholics how to rely on HP, grow in a relationship with that HP, and trust HP when it comes to decision making and making choices in this life. I had one sponsor who would meet all negative things in my life with this question: “Do you have a loving and merciful HP in your life?” When I would say yes, she would then go through a litany of questions about that HP: Is HP all powerful? If HP all knowing? Do you trust HP? Blah, blah, blah….she would keep at me until I finally would relent and ask HP to lift and carry whatever burden was troubling me. This worked.

The same goes for the sponsor. You do not have to have anyone else’s answers. You do not have to be HP. You do not have to do anything but lovingly witness the other person’s process and growth. The more you hand your sponsee over to HP and let go, the more that person will grow closer and know more the HP of his/her own understanding. One guy said recently, I need not just an HP greater than myself, but an HP that is greater and bigger than alcoholism. That makes sense to me. The holidays are upon us. People will be consumed with manic consumerism, overeating, over imbibing, and over indulging on happiness (or the insane pursuit of the same). Our job is to lovingly direct the alcoholics around us to seek out HP, call before and after get-togethers, have a plan of action, go to meetings and just don’t drink. Happy holidays, but hand it over to HP.

 

First Thought: Wrong

You can give a person knowledge, but you can’t make them think. Some people want to remain fools only because the truth requires change. ~ anon

Have you heard the saying in AA: “first thought…wrong!”. We need to think, but then run it past a sponsor or someone else you trust before taking action. It is not because we are stupid or unable to make decisions, but as addicts we have minds that tell us stupid things like: No one is watching. What the heck/who cares. It is my life. I deserve better. No one will know the difference. Everyone else does it. Just this once. I can do as I please. Surely, my mind is not the only one that spends a lot of time justifying and rationalizing in order to get the outcomes I think I need and want.

In step #9, we get the chance to review how this stinking thinking got us into trouble in the first place.  We get the opportunity to find better ways of relating to people, places and things. Life doesn’t have to be so hard. I don’t think most folks lay awake all night trying to figure out how to make us miserable. I don’t think G.O.D. does either. We choose how we are going to respond. Today is going to happen anyway. We might as well decide on it being a good day. Right.?Think..think/… think…but check in with someone. Sometimes, just hearing yourself say the justification is enough to help you hear the crazy. Just think: that would be one less amend to make. That is a huge reward for me!

Step #8: a 2 Part Plan

 

Made a list of all people we had harmed and became willing to

make amends to them all. ~ AA 12 X 12

The first part of step #8 is to make the list. The easiest way is to write down everyone that was on the 4th and 5th step list. I strongly suggest that everyone works with a sponsor in this process. One quick story: a sibling of mine, who came right out of a treatment program, and being so anxious to stay sober, ran around telling tales on everyone she had been involved with. It caused a great deal of pain, and she went back to the drinking as a result. Your sponsor will also be helpful in removing those names on the list who victimized you, not vice versa. Heed this advice. We are not doing this to alleviate or assuage the guilt of others. We are doing this to recover our own sanity and stay sober.

The second part of step #8 is to become willing. Here is that word again! The essence of the 12 step program of recovery is just that: being willing and remaining teachable. If how we were living our lives was working for us, we would not have a need to be in AA. I recommend to my sponsees that they write letters to each person on the list, but do not send them!! Write what you would want to say, if you knew you would never see the person again. Then, with the aid of the sponsor, nail it down to a simple sentence, “I was wrong about such and such, and how can I make it right.” Now, the hard part is to pray for them the things you wish for yourself. The healing thoughts and feelings will come. You will know when you are ready to move on.

 

Good Judgement

Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience

comes from bad judgement. ~ Rita Mae Brown

I sure wish we could live life backwards. I am pretty sure what we chose as 20 somethings is nowhere near what we would choose later in life. One sponsor told me once, “Wait 24 hours. There is a whole lot can happen in one day’s time.” I was fairly new in recovery and deep into rescuing loved ones from their own messes. I got an emergency call to come bail my sister out of jail and appear as a witness to plead her innocence. She was in her mid 40’s, and completely adult enough to stand up for herself. When I called my sponsor, she said, “Do nothing” and I was told to wait 24 hours before I returned the call.  That was on a Friday.

I cried the whole weekend. What if this and what if that plagued me. It seemed an eternity; but I did as I was told, went to meetings, shared my pain, and cried. By her court day on Monday, the decision on her case was made, she had consequences (heaven forbid!), and I was saner and healthier for not running interference. I learned that many things can happen within 24 hours. And, I learned that G.O.D. is working on others as a much as he/she is working on me. What a huge relief that I do not have to carry the whole world and it’s problems on my little shoulders. Good judgement is a direct result of hard lessons learned. Thank goodness for AA and solid sponsorship.