Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Spontaneity is the quality of being able to do something just because you feel like it at the moment, of trusting your instincts, of taking yourself by surprise and snatching from the clutches of your well-organized routine a bit of unscheduled pleasure. --Richard Lannelli

I have been a creature of habit for most of my life. I think that having responsibilities and striving for perfection took away a lot of my spontaneity. I didn't drink to excess because I didn't want to lose control. I didn't venture forth to uncharted territory because it seemed unsure. And when I did let go, I felt some guilt for having had a "good" time. I learned to associate spontaneity with compulsive, self destructive, and irresponsible behavior. It is classic stuff for a co-dependent who has learned to be safe by being right, strong, and in control.

Since being in Al-Anon, I've learned that being spontaneous is a lot of fun. I don't have to be what others want me to be but can express who I am without fear.

Now I have a sponsee who reminds me of how restricting perfection can be. He has lived a life with little spontaneity. He's a list maker, a scheduler, and a perfectionist. It's as if I'm looking at myself from the not so distant past. And I see the fear in his eyes and the frown on his face when he talks about losses he has experienced. He is a young man who hasn't allowed himself much freedom of expression.

I've learned that I had nothing to lose by being spontaneous but a lot to gain. By trying new things, I've grown in confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. It would have been safe to just sit on the sidelines and watch the game of life play out, but I didn't want to be safe anymore. I wanted to play more and place more stock in myself, in my ability to do things that I had never done.

My sponsee wants to live a full life. He talks about the loneliness. I hear him loud and clear. By letting go of the control, I've been able to achieve more intimacy in my relationships. I trust myself more than before and I'm not afraid to express my vulnerabilities. To be spontaneous allows me to be engaged in the present.

So I'm going to encourage this young man to lighten up. As we go through Step One, I'm going to share my experience that it's okay to make a mistake, to have imperfections, and to be vulnerable. I think that he'll eventually enjoy who he is and what life has to offer.


  1. Hi Syd
    If you send me an email with your email address I'll ask the secretary to send you an invite to the meeting.
    Love to have you join us.
    SOmeone from WA just joined in today--a coincidence? I think not...


  2. This was a good read for me this evening, I am such a creature of habit...I feel guilty when I do something off "schedule" for fun. I need to stop that.

  3. that's a nice thing you're gonna show that guy. spontaneity for me is hard and took a long time coming (and exactly what i meant, btw). and to feel guilty 'cause you're having fun... i had/have to slap my wrist occasionally. in hindsight i've realised that the lack of it really blocked a lot of life experiences. now i can watch out for it. nicely written this!!!

  4. yep. sooner people start wearing life like a loose garment the better! ie. not a hair shirt.

    back to essays!

  5. enjoy not endure! yeh, I heard that the shortened version of the serenity prayer is ... lighten up!
    Often said to me by my sponsor!


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