Thursday, March 1, 2012
We go there and stay in constant motion for an hour. Lifting, pushups, pull ups, timed planks, Peak 8 on the bike--I leave feeling euphoric because this intensity gives me an endorphin "high". I have either run, biked, rowed, swam, ridden horses, sailed, or kick boxed at some time in my life. I have to say that it has kept me fit, both physically and emotionally. It is a naturally congruent activity with recovery because I feel restored and better able to deal with what gets tossed my way by life.
It is so easy for me to slack off though and not truly push myself unless I am accountable to someone. But if someone is there taking me from one exercise to another, urging me on, I simply don't try as hard.
I talked with a fellow I sponsor about that yesterday. He and I finished up Step 12 over coffee. He was willing to do the work. After more than a quarter century in AA, he found that he needed something more. I met him at the Thursday noon Al-Anon meeting. Our energy connected, and he asked me to be his sponsor. Sponsoring a long-timer in AA can be a challenge because the programs are different.
I use a lot of AA material with my Al-Anon sponsees. They read the Big Book, the AA 12 x 12, and other AA material that I have. I use the AA fourth step inventory in addition to Al-Anon's extensive Blueprint for Progress. I believe that AA was the foundation of Al-Anon. The message is delivered a bit differently in the two programs.
I think one of the main differences that I have found between the programs is that Al-Anon has no musts--I suggest things that I would like those I sponsor to do. I am not demanding that they call every day, but I do suggest it. I don't demand that they go to more than one meeting a week but suggest it. And I don't demand that we keep moving forward one step at a time, but I suggest it.
The AA fellow I sponsor said that he would simply tell those who aren't doing the things that he asks (call every day, go to meetings, commit to a weekly schedule for step work) to find someone else who doesn't care about those things.
And herein lies the difference: I do care, but know that I cannot force anyone to do what they aren't ready to do. I tell them when they are ready to call me back, I will listen. I don't sever the connection but leave the ball in their court. I tell them that they can call me at any time. I don't pursue them over and over. I will make a call after a while when I haven't heard from them in weeks. I know that for some that phone weighs 800 pounds and is heavy to pick up! Most come back either out of desperation or when recovery resurfaces after there is a lull in whatever else they have going on.
And that is how the unmanageability of alcoholism keeps us from getting well. It seductively tells a person to stay busy with kids, husband, wife, work, play--a thousand things--rather than to take time to look at yourself. Do for others, focus on anything but the emptiness within. Stay safe within the cocoon of a chaotic life.
When I stopped filling every moment thinking about others and actually thought about myself, I realized how empty I was. Who was I? What was I beside a job, a husband, a yard man, a fixer? I had no close friends who knew the "real" me. I was a pretender.
I'm glad that I reached out, committed to doing the work with a sponsor, stayed focused on my recovery, and pass along how it worked for me to those who are willing. I am the coach who urges them along. I don't want to break them down, be a drill sergeant, but I will encourage and tell them what will happen if they follow the steps of the program. The promises of a better life will come true. And that is the truth.
P.S.--Keep those questions coming. I have gotten some good ones so far. Thanks for asking!