Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Interesting work with others

"Some people seek an easier and softer way by doing a "general confession" to God alone. They are not about to name specifically the humiliating, "awful" thinks they have done out loud before another human being. But this act of specifically confessing things is what often leads to serenity. The more afraid you are to tell about a certain act or thought in your Fifth Step, the more likely it is that confessing that particular thing will put a new crack in your denial and free you in a new area. There doesn't seem to be an easier, softer way, and people who seek one apparently don't understand the tenacious and tricky nature of this spiritual disease we are facing. Step Five is to help us see, to grasp, to understand specifically how the disease has permeated our lives in ways we usually cannot see any other way."
- A Hunger for Healing

I had a lot going on yesterday.  I worked all day, emptying out more file drawers and carted off many bundles of papers, letters, old drafts of manuscripts, and other refuse from this career to the recycle bin.  Nothing new there.  But the highlights of the day were really those dealing with recovery. 

I had a noon meeting with a sponsee to go over Step 12 and give him his one year medallion.  I have had mixed emotions about this sponsee.  He is brilliant and says all the right things.  Yet, he does not regularly attend meetings and does not want to do service work.  I have seen him grow, yet wonder whether he will darken the door at an Al-Anon meeting again.   Working the 12 steps is not like graduating from college or receiving a certificate of completion.  To me, it is truly about continuing to grow spiritually.  I can say that I have done my part to the best of my ability to share my experience, strength and hope with this fellow.  What he does with that is now up to him. 

Later in the afternoon,  I heard another sponsee's fifth step.  Every experience with this step is different depending on the individual.  All tell their life story and do a kind of self-reporting.  But it is the way that the story is told that can vary so much. Some find this step brings up a lot of  painful moments of self-knowledge and great remorse over past failures.  I was critical of my past behavior and highly judgmental about myself.  I can remember my sponsor reminding me not to be too hard on myself. No matter what I had done in the past, I could use the present to make changes and undergo new growth.  The fifth step for me involved a lot of internal "cleansing".

Others have a more matter of fact approach in which the details of their life are shared as if they are giving a report.  And that is what this sponsee did.  His story was nearly devoid of emotion.  It was a factual blow by blow.  I would occasionally ask him questions about what he was feeling during some of the events he was sharing. And as the hours went past, he began to loosen up a bit.  He admitted that there were many things that had been suppressed and that he preferred not to think about.  We talked about those.  I don't know whether he felt the great weight lifted from him.  It is what each of us chooses to make it. 

After the fifth step,  I went to chair the book study group in which we are discussing Step 10.  And after that was the regular meeting.  There were several tender new comers who shared their tears and relief at being in the meeting.  Several have left their alcoholic spouses or are dealing with children who are "out".  Appropriately, the topic was grief.  How good it feels not to be grieving at this moment.  I am at a place of acceptance which is a blessing at the moment. 

So by the time, I went to sleep last night it was late.  The day had been full of recovery which helps me to sleep with a sense of peace. 


  1. awesome reflections of your busy day,
    I am glad that you have moments of peace!
    Happy Wednesday!

  2. we cant deny those dark places, they are there and ignoring them only seems to make them stronger...i would much rather tell the tale than be left to deal with them alone...

  3. When I finally got to the doors of AA I was beyond ready. I was done. Doing my fourth and fifth steps brought up a lot of pain but I was also so ready to lay them down. I presented them to God and my sponsor. By sharing them out loud with another it legitamized that they actually happened. The could no longer be smoothed over by my cunning little mind. It was such a good feeling to revisit the past and realize that I could survive that look, to scrutinze my defects of character and honestly understand why I do or did the things I did. When people ask me about AA they expect it to be all about the alcohol. I always tell them it is a program that can change your life. Drunk or sober a twelve step program that is truly worked is life changing. Celebrate your busy life!

  4. The main thing I learned from my first 5th Step, is that I was not the awful creature I'd imagined myself.

  5. thanks for sharing on the 5th Step. I went to an Al-Anon meeting last week and we read and shared on this step. I realized that I often forget to admit to God my faults because I figure He knows what they are!

  6. Thanks for this post, Syd. This site helps me so much. I'm at sea so much of the time and your comments help me to see how I can just keep doing the things that bring recovery, whether I want to or not. Contrary action is hard! But what else can I do? I have nowhere else to turn but my HP, my meetings, my sponsor... and this wonderful site. Blessings....

  7. I like that you sponsor someone who wants to work the steps and see you regularly but does not go to meetings regularly nor is he seeking service work. We are all at such different places and if this is all he is able to do right now, at least he is working the steps. I think what I like is that you aren't setting him up and telling him he has to do things a certain way or hit the highway. The fact that you share your experience with him and let it go is to your credit. You never know, this man might some day be into service and meetings and be a super sponsor.

  8. somehow just reading you gives me exude thank you.

  9. First of all...what a day! This post made me think of the saying, "We are only as sick as our secrets." Speaking them to another sets us free. Plain and simple. We aren't imprisoned by the fears of "what if someone finds out..." IME, it is better to offer the information freely than to get "found out."

  10. My recovery comes in layers, and so does my honesty with myself and others. I like what I read in your post about becoming specific. I learn by seeing people who are seemingly telling my story by exposing their own painful truths.I would like to become more fearless.

  11. Good grief, Syd! You were, like, totally immersed in working the steps. I was tired for you by the time you wound everything up. Such stamina! You set an awesome example for someone wondering what it's like to be of service. Personally, I have enough energy to work with one person on her step in a day. It's emotionally draining and wonderful. I bet you slept like a log.

  12. I accepted so fully that God was everything as I went through the 4th and 5th step process I had no choice.

    Of course, I've had these experiences too, wondering (worrying) about sponsees or others in the rooms to whom my heart is connected more intimately. I'm quite often surprised when they continue to come, or surprised when I find someone isn't as willing as they seemed when they were right at the brink of their personal crisis.

    I'm not fond of meetings where the topic is a problem, I like them much more when the topic is the solution. It helps to center the meeting in solution sharing rather than problem sharing (but that's opinion and only my experience, I'm still quite often surprised when a sad or depressing meeting full of sharing problems gets hit in the end with someone who shares truth and solution so well that it changes the spirit of the room palpably and end up very powerfully solution based anyway. Thank God for the dedicated men and women who are there to continue to carry the solution back into the meetings to pull more people through the murky waters to a place where they too can experience the connection to a God of wonderful power and light. :)

  13. a day of service to God and others leads to a fitful sleep indeed!

    recovery folks in your area are fortunate to have you out and about helping and sharing your experience and wisdom.

  14. your journey..really inspires...Stay strong ok...

  15. This is the first time I've visited your blog and just wanted to thank you... lovely reflection of what it means to keep what we have by giving it away.

    Recently my beloved AlAnon sponsor of 11 1/2 years returned the 50 or so pages of 4th-step material I had written and given to her as part of my fifth step. We had talked about the material, of course; but as I was writing, I'd send her batches of pages, and unbeknownst to me she collected them and filed them. On a card, she had written, "Dear Guinevere, 'Remember when...'" That has been one of her favorite sayings throughout my recovery in AlAnon. Remember When. Compare Yourself To Yourself, Not To Others.

    She wrote, "Today you have more hope and 'I don't know' with a smile."

    Of course, my recovery for the last 20 months in AA has also helped. I've worked two rigorous fifth steps and cleaned up a great deal of wreckage.

    I respect your focus on getting your sponsees to take ownership of their processes...

    And I love your profile pic.

    Thanks for being here... I've put you on my blogroll (hope that's OK)... Hope you'll stop by my place sometime. --G


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