Monday, February 27, 2012

Secrets, trust and pain

I'm back from class. Another late night for me.  I wish that I didn't have to miss my home group meeting.  But only four more weeks to go before I'll be able to get back to the group.  I sure do miss the comfort of that group.

I haven't heard from a few people who I sponsor for weeks.  I have to say that I am not really disappointed, although I wonder at times what more I could do to keep the ones that either don't really get started in the program (stop at Step One) or those that stop at Step Four.  I give a few calls to check up on them, and then I have to let it go.

At first when I sponsored a fellow, I was much more of a brow beater.  I wanted them to work the program on some kind of schedule that suited me.  That was the control stuff coming up--do it in my time and on time.  Assignments given so that things could move along at a regular pace.  Now it is so much easier to let people go their own path until they are ready to come back.  That suits me much better than trying to force people to conform to what I think they "should" do.

I am much gentler with myself and others these days.  People will do what they will.  With those of us in Al-Anon, trust is a major issue.  And so often it is not easy to trust our secrets with others.  We've hidden them for so long.  It was a major step for me to connect with a sponsor, be rigorously honest, and share all my secrets.  What a load was lifted off my mind.  Sharing the pain, reduces it.

People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.  ~Jim Morrison


  1. Trust, Syd, so hard and so crucial. A good post, this one.

    And your header pic is a beauty, those white sails and the rippling water

  2. Perfect, Thankyou . . . That Jim Morrison quote is exactly what I needed to read . . . and digest.

  3. Trust me i would rather not feel the pain I feel from my neck to my low back...but then I trust you're speaking to a different type of pain.

  4. I think there is a place for both kinds of sponsorship. It is good to know which "camp" you belong in, and it sounds like you have found yours Syd. I am sure you are a blessing in the lives of those you sponsor.

  5. Some recovery blogs are so hard core..they scare me.

    I resist being told to do it "your" way. I was told my entire childhood what to do, right down to how to sit on a chair.

    I'm glad you continue to reach out, not everyone is on our timetable.

    1. That is exactly how I have been feeling about so many of the recovery blogs lately and for my own recovery I have been staying away from most of them. I just cannot for the life of me understand how people can try to pound it into you that the way they handle their addict is the only way. I am seeking God's guidance and the counsel of close trusted friends and thank God my son is doing better. One day at a time for this family. I appreciate this blog as I always feel better after reading it not condemned.

  6. sharing pain reduces it...what a truth there...the big step is def getting beyond the shame

  7. When my son would say he was clean I was always trying to define to myself what I thought clean should be. If he was working on recovery I would count meetings, I would watch his behaviors, I would nag and plead about everything.

    Took me a long time to learn that his recovery was his business. He does what he needs to do not what I think he should do. When I learned that I think both of our lives improved.

  8. I wonder why in the world I used to be so sure that I knew what was best for people. I have finally come to realize that I don't even know what's best for ME!

  9. Everyone works it in their own time, or they don't work it at all, and suffer the consequences - no change.

  10. Hi Syd,

    This blog is well put. It took me over 5 months to choose a sponsor, and when I did, I was terrified of the power, meaning the old childhood fear of 'not doing things right' loomed. I was also in therapy prior to coming to Al-Anon, and had an over-lap period with both mental exercises, thank heaven.

    MY therapist was a great sounding board for my fears, until I realized - just as you pointed out in your blog - that fear is not always valid - but still does not ease the pain of negative anticipation.

    My sponsor and I were and still are very very different, and I have learned much from her. I have no problem disagreeing with her, as long as I esplain my feelings. Together, we decided that my stubbornness required me to 'customize' my program as I learned it, which I did, thank heaven.

    I have learned over all the years of my involvement with others (as a sponsor myself) that it is best to allow each person to play with their safety rope and figured out for themselves just how they can go until it is no longer safe. I allowed myself to be a 'safe place' and this has been most gratifying, as well as humbling.

    When I first begin sponsoring someone, I make sure that it is understood that all we exchange is kept sacred between US ONLY - and not shared with anyone else, unless permission is granted. In other words, I can only tell MY STORY - - - as long as I speak of me, no one else can take offense.

    This process gave me the freedom to search out my true feelings and attitudes regareding my own issues, and deal with them as they arose.

    Wow - - - seems your blog has provoked a deep need for recovery refreshment. Thank you for this.

    By the way, the pictures of the Navy Yard brought back many many memories to me, as I was there during the closure.

    Anonymous #1

  11. Letting go and trusting it will all work out...
    I like Jim Morrison's quote. Pain is meant to wake us up.
    Feelings are a part of you. I ran from my feelings most of my life. Too much was handed to me as a young child and then I went into a deep freeze. I was dissociated at times to my life. It was scary having to live my life as a shadow puppet. Alanon has helped me come back to myself for this I am grateful.

  12. I love the quote by Jim Morrison. I used it in my writing about program as well.

    "Pain is something to carry, like a radio." Tune in and be in touch with the news and music around you.

    I also appreciate your sharing how you once were. I think all of us had strong ideas of how others should work their program, and sometimes we had folks in our care who got to receive a "brow-beating." I cringe. Even the words I did not dare say aloud... were kind of judgmental back then.

    Occasionally that old tape still plays in my head, "THAT is not doing program!"

  13. people will do what they will do. that is so true. sometimes listening to the truth is difficult too!

  14. I find that listening to the truth from a counselor or a close friend is just so much easier than someone who really knows very little about the whole picture. I think it is a little dangerous when we seek advice from people on the internet. I do think that it is a wonderful resource though and it definitely helps to see that you are not alone in what you are going through.

  15. Both you and Jim Morrison, share such raw honesty, I love it! I would have to agree, it is tough to not hide the pain and use it as an opportunity to feel and learn from it. I find it does pay off in the long run.

    Letting go is one of the many valuable things I've learned from my sponsees.

  16. great share Syd... Jim is so profound an in touch with what makes us tick...

    It really does take time before we can open the door of trust, even with a veritable stranger who's holding a life preserver out to us in a sea of insanity.

  17. great quote :) thanks for sharing..

    'It’s all in how you carry it.'



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