Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Willing to go to any lengths?

I'm getting ready to head out the door to meet up with a fellow that I sponsor.  We are working on being entirely ready to have God remove his defects of character.  This sixth step is about being willing.  And being willing is what seems to have been a great asset in my recovery.

Will is a strange thing.  For me,  I had run things on self-will.  I was a willful kid for sure.  My father used to tell me that I was strong willed.  I suspect that meant that I was a pain in the ass at the time.  I found that in later life my will was more about having my way and feeling that I was entitled to feel angry.  After all,  I was married to an alcoholic which seemed to give me the right to feel bad and place blame.

I was also willing to tell my wife what to do, how to be happy.  Just do what I say and all will be okay.  I thought that all my problems were because of her.  Not once did I really look at what I was doing.  And if I did, it was just for a fleeting moment so that I could get back to being a victim once again. 
When was I willing to go to any lengths?  It was when I my pain finally wiped out my self-management delusions.  What I was doing wasn't working.  My wife wasn't getting sober.  I was miserable.  Nothing was working for me, except work itself.  And there I could tell others what to do and have things neat and orderly.

So complete and utter desperation brought about my being willing to do something different and believe that something that was beyond what I was doing might be a better solution. 

And once I was willing to reach out,  I had to take some actions.  I had to stop pretending that I had things under control.  I had to be honest with my sponsor and others.  I had to be the person that I really am, rather than the person that I wanted others to see.   Being authentic is not easy for me, but I gradually began to share my own weaknesses, to be honest about my feelings.  And the miracles began to happen.

So I ask those that want me to sponsor them, "Are you willing to do the work?"  Sometimes the answer is a strong "YES".  And sometimes, even saying yes and believing it is followed by "It's too hard" or "I have trouble trusting".  Some are willing to do some things but aren't willing to go to any lengths.  Caveats often are the rule rather than the exception, unless I'm willing to go to any lengths.

I have had to ask myself when I start to falter in recovery:
Am I willing to be open and honest?
Am I willing to stop isolating and actually call someone, extend a hand, grasp a hand? 
Am I willing to stop making excuses about why I can't do something and come up with reasons why I can?
Am I willing to break free from what holds me back in being at peace with who I am?

I have found that I am willing to do these things.  And I will keep doing them because I don't want to go back to being the miserable person I was a few years ago.  Yes, I am willing. 


  1. Today you seem strong and willing. Maybe that is what grows out of strong willed from working the program? :)

  2. For me being entirely ready means doing nothing but waiting for God. The absolute hardest thing I have ever done. For a hardcore Alanon action is the name of the game.

  3. smiles. willingness is is with the kids i help...i can talk til i am blue in the face, i can try til it hurts but nothing is going to happen until they are...

  4. Syd, I so appreciate your blog. I can relate to almost every post. It was my daughter that brought me to Al-Anon. I have been working the program now for over 2 1/2 years and am in a much better place than when I started, but I still get so frustrated with myself because I feel my progress is slower than it SHOULD be. (I still haven't quite gotten rid of that word, but am getting close.) Your daily posts really help me keep things in perspective. Thank you so much for your blog.

  5. "Self management delusions" - great description of the mental state so many of us are in when we reach program.

  6. Someone recently in a meeting said, "I take the program like a cafeteria line. I take what I want and leave the rest". I used to think that too until I realized that it wasn't working very well. Willing to go to any lengths now means to me that I'm willing to be humble enough to take ALL the 12 steps to the best of my ability, while still keeping my program SIMPLE.

  7. Most people are the rule rather than the exception that's for sure.

    You are exceptional.

  8. "It was when I my pain finally wiped out my self-management delusions. What I was doing wasn't working."
    'self-management delusions' is a very good term..
    nice one

    Wow thats a really great Step 1 post. It really communicates the exact kind of utter defeat that motivates people to seek help. I find Step 1 really hard to explain well, so you've done a really great job here imo..

    In my home group, my fave old timer used to say he asked 2 things if someone asked him to sponsor them..
    'Are u willing to go to any lengths?
    and 'Are you willing to take direction' ..meaning if he suggests something, will they be able to go away and do it.. In the hands of an unscrupulous person this could be abused, but in his case it was fine because he was suggesting effective solutions. I ask the same two questions when people ask me to sponsor them..

    As someone who finds step one very hard to summarize I think this is a very well written and helpful post for people who do not yet understand what it means to have a sponsor, or to consent to go through the steps at the very start..

    So thanks for sharing Syd, and hope you and C are having a ! great day over there..

  9. Giving up my will is hard to do. Although, the older (or perhaps wiser) I get the looser I hold my will and way. It's scary to trust that someone else may know better.

  10. Good for you Syd. Nothing wrong with willingness to be open to reality.

  11. I hope you are safe from Irene Syd.

  12. Have a good weekend, Syd. I hope the storm passes you by for the most part. You have been in my thoughts.



  13. My willingness to have an open heart and be honest is a huge part of my recovery. Wonderful post, thank you for sharing!

  14. My willingness ebbs and flows. If I'm managing well, then I'm not so very willing to go to any lengths to change anything. When the evidence mounts up that I am not doing such a bangup job, then I get willing. And everything sorts out! Nobody has asked to hire my management skills lately. What a relief.


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