Monday, October 11, 2010

Wild thing

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

D.H. Lawrence

I talked with a sponsee who is having a particularly bad time of things at the moment.  Someone near and dear to him is very ill.  He is filled with stress and is depressed.  As I listened to him and the problems in his life at the moment, I wanted to tell him how I thought he would find some peace in his life through this program.  I wanted to tell him that the friends he has in Al-Anon will be there for him. But he didn't call to talk recovery.  He called to offer up how angry he was at the doctors, how unfair all this was and how he was too busy to attend meetings or continue with our meetings on the steps. So I didn't offer up what he might do or how recovery could help.  I just listened.

Maybe he would be better served by a sponsor who could smart-mouth or guilt trip him into recovery or cajole him to attend meetings.  For better or worse, I am not that person.  I do know what works for me.  When I am out of sorts with life and stress is piling up,  I pick up the phone and call my sponsor, get to meetings, write out what is bothering me, and get to a place where I can feel close to the God of my understanding.  Most of the time, I head to the boat and look out at the harbor.  I know that the solution to my inner peace comes from what I have learned in recovery. 

Some of the things that I have found to be particularly helpful are to: 

-Open my heart to someone (Step Five) and through trusting another person,  I am building self-confidence. If I cannot accept myself as being human, how can I ever accept and trust others? If I cannot accept and trust others, how can I respect and love them? If I cannot respect and love others, how can they respect and love me?

-Keep a positive attitude about people and situations.

-Be compassionate towards others

-Accept that life is not perfect and neither am I.  If I let the fear of making mistakes control my life, I would do nothing at all.  There would be no forward progression. 

-Give up unrealistic expectations of myself and others

-Take action in order to improve. I will build self-confidence by being challenged to my limits, meeting them and then setting new limits

-Remember that the dark times don't last and will go away

-Maintain a sense of humor and don't take myself too seriously

-Make a positive commitment that I can keep

Go beyond myself and self-interested focusing to embrace spirituality that requires courage, independence, and faith in my own potential as a human being.

I also found the following to be so profound and beautiful:
" Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but for the patience to win my freedom."
"May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need."
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama


  1. sometimes the best thing to is just just keep you trap shut and have ears wide open. I did that one and the person I was working with(he was MY Sponcer)was having a rought time of it as well.By being a shoulkder to learn on is jst as important as helping guide someone to soberitiey/serenity.Jut my take.

  2. My new sponsees rarely call or can show up to meet one to one. It saddens me they are short listing their recovery.
    One sponsee continually flogs herself by not showing up.
    I smile at her while she rattles off excuses. It is difficult to see through the veils.
    The program is there for me even when I cant be there for myself.

  3. i love your opening quote. would love to put that on the wall in my home for all to read, actually.

  4. i really like that next to last quote...some good key points as well...

  5. though I can be tough at times, there have also been times I can do absolutely nothing, powerless, because the person sitting across from me, or on the other line, really doesn't want my help, they just want an ear that isn't theirs to hear.

    I can be Gods ears too. Thankfully!

  6. Good thing you are not a pushy sponsor who guilt-trips someone into doing something. In every program, that does not work. Life is not fair and it is how we perceive the trials and how we accept what cannot be changed that help us grow.
    I really appreciate the Dalai Lama quote, particularly the second line.

  7. It's too easy to jump on the verbal train and give banter back when frustrated with another. Much harder and more disciplined to sit and quietly listen to someone pour out the pain. His anger is truly fear and pain. Both passages are one's I've enjoyed in the past. One thing us AA'er's are good for, finding the best quotes, passages or verses to get us through the next rough spot. Great post. Tammy

  8. Lovely verses, Syd. Very true words.



  9. I think your closing prayer holds within it all that I truly desire. My mother-in-law has Alzheirmer's and a sense of humor, patience, taking care of myself, prayer, and gratitude have helped me to take it one day at a time. I could not do this without Al-anon. No way.


  10. been lurking for a while now, off and on for a few yrs. wanted to de-lurk and let you know i find that what you write is inspiring. make today GREAT~

  11. Hi Syd,

    At the risk of being labeled "martyr," I will share one thing I learned from my grandmother when I was very young: "Accept the burden of pain that you feel; you have been blessed with this and probably are helping another with pain they are unable to carry for themselves." Thus, I have come to be grateful (sometimes begrudgingly) - for painful experiences, as well as for physical pain. I really do give up to my Higher Power these things, and hope that someone else will benefit from my willingness to help carry theirs. At least I receive some satisfaction of personal and quiet prayer service by this acknowledgement.

    One other thing I learned to do in Al-Anon was to pray for an individual who I considered too difficult to 'hear' or 'help' for 30 days. By the time 30 days was up, I had let go of my personal worry for the individual, and somehow, they had managed to move ahead with their own life.

    Good luck!

    Love and Hugs,
    Anonymous #1

  12. Just what I needed to read today. Thank you :)

  13. beautifully written - a gracious reminder to listen rather that spew words of no meaning. :o)

  14. thank you so much for your comments, Syd. i needed it badly. i'm struggling a lot, am in my 9th month of the program and still feel like i have to drag myself to meetings, drag myself to read the literature, call my sponsor, drag, drag, drag, when what i want to do is run screaming, far far away from everyone and everything. the verses you closed with were beautiful. your words made me feel more able to deal with the "monkey mind" as they call it in Buddhism, and to simply be willing to stay open and teachable. thanx so much. Sarah

  15. One of my sponsees regularly sabotages her time with me by inviting me over, and when I get there, thinking we'll have one on one time, she has a houseful of people and we talk superficial stuff. So I've quietly stopped going over. I make myself available to her in a situation that can only be one on one unless she's going to bring people to my place, at least twice a week. She has been a no-show for two weeks.
    I don't browbeat people. My sponsor doesn't guilt, cajole, or harass me into doing my work. If she did, I'd have to let her go.
    Thanks for sharing this - needed to read it.

  16. somehow seredipitious, my reading this post just when i did

    the quote about nature stopped my in my thinking track and gave me perspective. is it not strange how something simple and obvious suddenly hits us and sinks in when someone says it with such poetry? (or just in a random moment of drama)

    for me the biggest challenge perhaps is the first few points on the list. to be realistic about myself and others. to trust and respect people enough to be genuine and open up. to share what i am feeling. i don't know why it is so hard. why the fear of being judged is so insurmountable. but i am grateful that i am at least aware of it as a little independent monster under the bed to be tackled

    great post! thanks :-)

  17. beautiful quotes to match a beautiful view of recovery you have Syd. For those who are ready to hear the message and take action, you're a fine sponsor, no doubt!


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