Friday, July 24, 2009

Emotional immaturity

My new sponsee called me in the wee hours of the morning. He was trying to make a decision on whether to stay up and party or go to bed so that he could get to a job that he had to do in the morning.

My first thought is, "You have to be kidding me. You woke me and my wife up so that you could tell me that this was an upsetting decision to make." Then I realized that this sounds more like alcoholism than the "isms" of Al-Anon. (I've heard in meetings that these "isms" stand for I, Self, Me // I Sponsor Myself // Internal Spiritual Maladjustment)// Incredibly Short Memory // I Sabotage Myself).

I asked him if he had been drinking and he said that he had a glass of wine. He said that he guessed that his actions were childish. He is 30 years old and still getting money from his parents. Yep, this sounds childish to me: Either stay up and party and miss the work appointment or tell the partiers that I'm calling it a night so that I can work in the morning. Hmmmm....which one would I choose.

I think that I'm going to have to set some boundaries with him starting today. He and I are meeting up for our first discussion on Step One. I'm going to provide him with the 12 steps of sponsoring that I blogged about yesterday.

I understand that he has been a member of the AA fellowship but no longer attends meetings or has an AA sponsor. Based on the conversations that we've had over the phone, it seems that the disease of alcoholism may be alive and well.

I have to remember that although someone may be 30 years, 50 years or even older and sober, they may remain childish, grandiose, and emotionally immature. As Dr. Silkworth said, they may be an "outright mental defective" with all the anxieties, depression and fears bubbling up. I found the following statement about alcoholism to be insightful:
"I am maladjusted to life, in full flight from reality.......... As a going human concern, my natural state is .......exacerbated with and complicated by an obsessive, compulsive, impulsive, excessive, controlling, demanding need for attention, acceptance and unqualified approval. A condition of being which renders me restless, irritable and discontented with life.

Mentally, my thought life is controlled by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity; all of which drive me to live my life according to selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, inconsiderate, resentful and frightened motives, motives which left unattended in me arouse and engage dangerous and life threatening levels of lust (I try not to make eye contact).

Pride, anger, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, I turn into a pig, I want it all - that renders me emotionally a bit sensitive. Which means I have a strong tendency toward taking everything I see or hear personally. I don't like criticism and I'll be damned if I can stand praise (I don't believe you). When it comes to suffering emotionally, I don't like to suffer emotionally. I don't suffer well and I don't suffer alone.

Socially, I'm a bankrupt idealist and brooding perfectionist who lives defensively and guarded in fear of being found out. As such, I tend to rationalize, minimize, justify and deny all of my actions while casting blame upon innocent people in a vigorous attempt to avoid attention. When it comes to my fellow man and woman, I demand the absolute possession and control of everybody and every circumstance that enters my arena of life.

My response to you is that I am quick to anger, I'm slow to virtue, and I get a distinct and succinct delight and twisted pleasure out of judging and criticizing everybody I see. My outstanding characteristic is defiance, and rebellion dogs my every step. Now, as a child of God, that is a list of my finer qualities (anybody want a date?). You'll hear this at every meeting you go to, but from newcomers, this is how you hear them: "I don't fit in, I don't belong, I'm not a part of, my God what's wrong with me - I must be different." And the only thing that satisfies that restless, irritable, dissatisfied nature in me is alcohol or drugs......"-- Wayne B.

I think that I will print this out as well. I have a lot of these same shortcomings. I understand a lot of what is behind the desire to be in "full flight from reality". The difference is that I faced my reality every day and became crazier and crazier because of that. I think that he and I need to get honest with each other about expectations and what I am willing to do and not willing to do as a sponsor in Al-Anon. I sure know that I can't fix an alcoholic.


  1. Syd,
    Sounds wise to me, my friend. Always best to be honest.

    Have a good weekend,


  2. You're a great sponsor Syd. This was an awesome share- I'm printing that out too!!

  3. what a great and Powerful message this is.I have been kown to post about powerful messages in the pastr and link be to the message.I hope you get a bunch of visits soon.

  4. Syd I cringed when I was reading this. I guess I am just not ready to put myself out there in this way and I agree boundaries are in order. My first thought was "Who needs that in thier life" and my second one was "I have been there and done that, no thank you!"

    I admire you for all your strnegth and compassion and patience.

  5. A good honest conversation is exactly what it sounds like you need. I hope for his part he will be completely open and honest with you.

  6. I haven't had the 3am thing for a while - it works a little different for me. I suppose the prospect that you staid sober through the night is small consolation.

    ...yeah, I thought not...

    Good luck working it out with this dude - sounds like you're both going to learn some things...

    Blessings and aloha...

  7. Goodluck Syd, you have your hands full on this one. I have a question?
    Are the signs of alcoholism when someone finds himself doing things when they drink that they regret doing? OR does a person who drinks socially with friends on the weekend considered an alcoholic.

  8. Sounds to me like a true case of "First Things First" with your actively alcoholic friend. I know what I'D be sayin'to the boy. Great post as usual Syd.jeNN

  9. I am 20+ into recovery. Yesterday, a white knuckle day. I still do not yet know what set me off and until I can find the demon that stirred the monster, I will be repeating my steps and keep my mind fully concentrated on tedious task.

    Your setting boundries. This is good. It has taken me personally a very long time to create boundries and to learn how to say no. You will help him in long run though the short fall may seem severe to him.

    I think printing this out is perfect.

  10. You always amaze me and help me to see that working the program is so much more than the steps and so much more than just going to meetings...thank you!

  11. "a bankrupt idealist and brooding perfectionist who lives defensively and guarded in fear of being found out".

    I was. I still struggle.


  12. Two thoughts:

    1. If he was a member of AA, I would assume he is alcoholic and therefore based on his conversation with you in the wee small hours and his glass of wine, it's not "the disease of alcoholism MAY be alive and well."'s the disease IS alive and well.

    2. Oh how I agree that we sure know we can't fix an alcoholic. That knowledge is a priceless gift I have received from Al-Anon.

    I just know you will handle this with grace and God's guidance. This gentleman is a lucky man.


  13. Obviously I am the meanest of all commenters. You know that boundaries are needed. I suggest unplugging the phone. Even God needs rest.

  14. What a great post. It really spoke to me on so many different levels. I'm going to be printing this out as well for all of the great reminders it will offer me.

  15. I copied that piece from Wayne B. Thanks.

    Maybr your sponsee thnks Alanon is that "easier, softer, way"....

  16. Oy, Syd, I do not envy you one bit. I doubt it was one glass of wine. Good grief, he called you for advice over being responsible or not?

  17. That does sound like alcoholism -- and the Alanon persona may be a pretext there.

    Time for some tough talk about boundaries and the reality underlying that 'small glass of wine'.

    Another great post.

  18. I think printing out this post and the last one are a great idea. The guy seems confused as to what your idea of a sponser is supposed to be. I'm in agreement the Alcoholism is prevalent here. Thankfully I never had that question needing answering even while I was drinking. There is never, ever a question of work. (Hugs)Indigo

  19. Wow, this post really hit home with me...the quote from Wayne B. describes things I feel I'm seeing & dealing with in a relationship with a loved one in my life and where I've been working hard on boundaries, detachment and forgiveness skills with the help of my HP, my sponsor, my home group et al.... I'm going to copy and save the quote.

    Some years ago I needed to learn to set boundaries on late night phone calls because I had a friend who'd get drunk and then, full of booze and self-pity, call friends on the phone very late at night. I had to get up at 5:30am and felt very frustrated being awakened by those 2am calls which were inarticulately boozy and whining. After a few of those calls I learned to set boundaries not only with this one friend but all my other friends and family. My Boundaries on phone calls in general: Please call any time between the hours of 8am and 10:00pm, emergency calls only between 10pm and 8am. Don't hesitate to call in an emergency; please be sure it's truly an emergency before waking me late at night. My sponsor and I agreed on similar telephone call boundaries from the beginning.

  20. He should be in AA. You know that, right?


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