Friday, June 25, 2010

Who to trust?

One of the big things that people desperately want when they come to Al-Anon is for the alcoholic to get sober. And that truly is a big thing. But what isn't immediately realized is that getting sober doesn't mean that there is an end to alcoholic behavior and thinking.

Trusting and believing that sobriety is going to solve the spiritual sickness is naive. I can remember wondering how terribly disappointed I was that the "isms" of the disease were still present. How naive was I to think that being restless, irritable, and discontent was going to be replaced permanently with being happy, joyous, and free? That comes for each of us with step work, service, and God's grace.

Trusting is often a big issue in a relationship with an alcoholic. I've heard lots of sharings from people who tried over and over to trust people who were untrustworthy. They wanted to believe the lies and promises about not drinking. And they wanted to believe that sobriety was going to make everything okay. My denial and naivete kept me from the realization that people frequently are going to fail me, lie to me, abandon me, and not be trustworthy.

I think that I definitely prefer to trust others. I am not suspicious by nature. And I have also preferred to believe what I have been told. I think some part of me was hoping that I wouldn't have to be on guard. I was hoping that others could be a substitute for a Higher Power. And that they would make me feel okay about myself--that they would make things right for me. That was dysfunctional thinking both before and in early recovery.

I've come to realize after more time in recovery that trust is something that is earned and has to be mutual. Even in Al-Anon, there are people who I know that I can trust and then there are those who I don't reveal much to. People do the best that they can, but because they are human, they have their failings. If they could do better, they would.

Ultimately, it is trusting in the process of recovery, trusting in my Higher Power, and trusting in my sponsor that have proved solid. I know that by trusting the process of working the steps, I can recover. I no longer have to control, obsess, or be filled with fear.

I know that by trusting in my Higher Power, I'll find my way. I've learned to trust that things will be revealed to me in God's time, not mine. I know that making another person my Higher Power is not going to work.

And I know that working with my sponsor has been an example of trust on my part. Revealing things about myself that I've never told another is an act of trust.

All of this has helped to rebuild my trust in myself and through that to open myself up to a renewed trust in others. I would say that I'm not trusting others to solve my problems but am trusting that there is some goodness within them. This means that I accept the possibility of disappointment, and grasp the good that loving another person gives me.


  1. SYD, You must be well rested since cleaning and painting Compass Rose. Because your post is so complete in its instruction on what to do, how we cannot depend on others to behave as we would prefer.

    Thank for another Alanon "win"...

  2. It all comes down to discernment I suppose -- and detaching from our expectations of another's recovery. I've been talking to someone who relapsed and is now bonding with fellow relapsers to blame AA. I'm disappointed in her and keep feeling she is not helping herself, doesn't want to get better, isn't prepared to be honest etc. But that is my perception --

    Take care Syd

  3. Trust was picking up the phone-
    the first time, because a friend had planted the seed, over and over!
    It was following two people: who knew the ropes.
    Listening: because they told me I needed to shut up and listen.
    ( If I couldn't think my way into sobriety- how was listening going to help?)
    Finding a Temporary 'Sponsor'!
    ( it took a while to understand how that worked)And why did it
    have to be a woman?
    Learning what "My side of the street" meant- and that I was responsible for it....
    And these were only the beginning!

  4. For me, I have had to learn to look at people's actions and not just listen to their words. I am an optimist by nature, like you. Why would someone lie to me? :-D I have a handful of people that I trust completely..and I am grateful for them. I love the others, pray for them, but like they say, Trust God and lock your doors!


  5. That's a lot of wisdom there, friend.

  6. Getting to the end of oneself, that is what I think is needed to begin truly recovering from any addiction. I think we are saying the same thing. Help is only has helpful as the level of honesty the one needing the help actually has. It is like peeling back an onion. Until there is nothing left but the plain, hard, cold and naked truth, recovery is nothing more than another step in the process.

  7. Desperately wanting something isn't a guarantee of getting it or anything even resembling it. I don't know when I became a non-believer, maybe back at age five. Unlike you, I am suspicious of others especially if I am close to them. It is a miracle that today I can say I trust Hubby. Not his doing one way or the other. It has been my work and my recovery that has changed.

  8. I was so backwards I didn't even realize I HAD trust issues for the first couple years. More will indeed be revealed!

  9. yes, lots of wisdom here. I still trust too easily at times. By this I mean confiding too much about myself to folks that I'm not sure of. I don't like that about myself but, I'm still working on keeping healthier boundaries. I open my mouth then worry what will be said when I'm not there. Not good. Life long habit obtained from living in a "Christian Community" where there were supposedly no secrets. Then I read, Community and Growth where Jean Vanier said that, "Everyone has a right to their secrets." I guess things that should only be known by me, God and the closest most trusted. Anyway, I'm rambling. Its hard to know how to connect to folks and who to connect to for me. We are always moving. My husband is a United Methodist Pastor. WE move usually every 3 to 5 years which mean I usually have to find a new job and meet all kinds of new folks. So, I'm still trying to figure out the balance of building relationships, intimacy, etc. Being raised in an alcoholic home left me with lots of insecurities that I have worked on for many years. I'm still rambling:)
    Thanks again for all you share on here. I appreciate YOU. Jeanne

  10. a very sweet post. I completely agree it is ultimately about trusting the PROCESS of working the steps, my Higher Power and my sponsor. The process of the steps and my higher power have yet to fail me. I did change sponsors because I did not have full trust in the one I had. Not because of anything she did or I did. It was during a major depression episode, which she has never experienced and it was clear to me that she did not understand. How could she? So, for the sake of my sobriety and recovery I asked a woman who has experienced major depression to be my sponsor. I am glad that I did. Before the program I expected from others that which they did not have to give. Today I realize that we each have our own gifts, experiences, and capabilities. I know that one person cannot meet all of my needs. With God's guidance I am better able to discern (as Mary LA stated) who I can turn to in times of need, which may be one of several people depending on what my need is at the time. On the flip side, I now realize, too, that I cannot meet all of any one person's needs. So, when a friend, sponsee, or even my husband seeks support or suggestions from someone other than me, I am less likely to take it personally, get jealous, or down on myself. This type of humility only brings me more peace. Sorry for the long comment but your post made me think about a lot. Thanks!

  11. Wonderful post, Syd. You really deal with this topic so well here.

  12. This is just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.


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