This is for alcoholics and addicts in 12 Step Recovery. Introduce yourself or read introductions from others!
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Postby Susan68 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:01 pm

I just went to a 7th step meeting where they spoke of humility. One gentleman spoke of how he didn't get a sponsor for a very long time because he had no humility. I said nothing during this meeting, but it caused me to engage in a reflection and I'd like to share and see if anyone has words of wisdom on the issue.

At one of my first meetings a very friendly face came up to greet me. She looked to me to be about my age. She's been in the program and sober 2.5 years. She called me on the phone my first week. She's been very nice. She's a little hard to read, a little intense; very into the program, very in touch with her sobriety and its source. I asked her one day if she would be my temporary sponsor. She said she would but first asked if I was ready to go to any lengths to stop drinking. She said it in an "ultimatum" kind of way. Made me feel a little pressured, stressed. I was only in the program a very short time (less than 30 days). Anyway, I said "yes." She has a sponsor who would not have been someone I would have asked to be mine for reasons I won't go into. This kind gal seemed a little unsure of herself as far as sponsoring goes and was always deferring to her sponsor. I have since come to find out this is pretty standard practice.

Anyway, I was willing, in the interests of smacking my huge ego (which I only recently discovered I had) down, to just go with it, whatever it was. Then, I go with her to this "strict constructionist" BB meeting where this arrogant (seemed to me) guy was up at the front of the room talking about I think it was the 8th step. He was basically instructing would-be sponsors (focus of his talk). One thing he said, which really bothered me, was, the BB says unless someone is willing to go to any lengths, etc., you move on to someone else.

You know, I came into the rooms volitionally. But I have struggled with step 1. I started feeling like this wonderful person was not listening to her heart but rather following blindly the opinions/direction of others. I just started to feel pressured and I want to go at my own pace. I emailed her and told her I was bagging AA for a while, I thanked her, etc. I felt a sight of relief afterwards, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

After listening to what everyone said at tonight's 7th step meeting, I felt really bad. Like the woman went out of her way for me, really, and I basically walked away from her. I don't know whether I was right to do that. Maybe she needed to be my sponsor and maybe she felt really bad when I told her I was walking. Maybe she doesn't. Maybe I did it for the wrong reasons (too arrogant to submit to any quasi-authority, particularly someone I view as my peer). I don't know. I just feel bad. Thought I'd share; see if anyone has any thoughts on this.

I promise once I get through my own steps I WILL stop talking about me and start listening to another alcoholic who needs my help.

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Postby Dallas » Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:18 pm

Susan wrote:I promise once I get through my own steps I WILL stop talking about me and start listening to another alcoholic who needs my help.

Hey Susan! Great to hear from you again!

Oh... please don't ever stop talking about "you!" That's all we're supposed to do here... is... actually talk about ourselves! Isn't that weird? We're told to get our Ego's smashed. Be interested in others more than we're interested in ourselves... yet, when we talk... to talk about ourselves! :lol:

It used to confuse the heck out of me! (Of course, most everything in AA and about AA confused the heck out of me when I was new!)

The reason we talk about ourself.. we try to avoid telling someone else what to do. Alkies don't like to be told what to do! :lol:

So, we talk about ourselves and about "this is how I feel, I felt" - "this is how I did it" - "this is how I do it."

That's hard to get used to, at first. And, of course... some people never get used to it! We can say something about ourselves... and "they" just KNOW that we are talking about THEM! :lol:

What I had to learn was... to take it easy on myself. To not take everything so serious... but, to always take my sobriety serious!

I had to relaxe. Slow down. Take it easy. (Not easy for a AAA-Type Personality! Or, should that be AA-type Personality?) :wink:

From what I read you write about the other girl... (hee hee! I'll try to not break the rule I just wrote about. Sorry if I do! If I don't -- then, I can't answer your questions)... She sounds as though she's really into her AA and her sobriety. She was probably asked by her sponsor "Are you willing to go to any lengths?" And, those are suggestions that you'll find in our Big Book... Alcoholics Anonymous. (And, it does suggest, that if the person isn't ready... to move on to the next alcoholic). The reason being: Don't waste the time on someone who is not willing to work with you, when there are so many alkies around you that are going to their grave... needing help... with no one there to help them).

The idea comes from page 58, of the Big Book, Chapter 5, "How it works" and it refers to "taking the 12 Steps" and of course, anything else you have to do -- to not take the next first drink! Then, the other part, about going on to the next alkie is found in Chapter 7, "Working with others."

When we try to keep our actions in line with the book... we're less likely to blame ourselves or to give ourselves too much credit... if someone we're trying to help fails or succeeds. We did it as it was suggested by the book... rather than come up with our own un-tested way of doing something that could result in their failure.

You'll probably read of that stuff later when you read the book. (I mean, if you haven't already read it).

Not knowing about your situation... or the young lady, I would guess... from the way you described it, that she is a very caring young lady and wants to help you. She probably realizes that putting herself on the line to help you -- is what helps herself. She may not have a lot of experience in sponsoring. And, that can be just as good as it can be not so good. She's willing to defer to her sponsor... which means, if she doesn't know the answer... she'll find out the answer. And, that's important, too. Some people will assume they know everything and don't need to check-it out... and they can end up with "ass-u-me" circumstances!

Kind of like one young attorney might ask a more seasoned attorney "What'cha think about this? What should I do? What would you do... if it were your case?" :wink:

It doesn't always mean the more seasoned attorney will have the best answers... but, they've probably had more experience in the court room, or negotiating in Chambers. So, they share their "experience" which is worth much more than their knowledge.

I hope my answer helps! If not... just ignore it and someone else will hopefully... soon... reply to your post! And, what they write will make more sense! :wink:


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Postby Susan68 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:01 am

Thanks for your response Dallas. I have to stop obsessing about things, which I am starting to become aware I do so much of.

Re, the sponsor: I felt really bad so I texted her and asked if I could still reach out to her. She said, very short "anytime." So I emailed again and asked if she had email and she wrote back "no, and I don't text much either." Just so intense. I don't feel bad anymore. I realize we're not a good match, and that's okay. She's a very nice person and obviously has very good sobriety. I have no doubt she will help someone else.

You know, I get that we need to deflate the ego and give up our will for God's, but I need to feel empowered on some level and subjgating myself to such rigidity makes me feel very unempowered and made me want to get away from this. I do feel bad talking about it but I feel better processing it. It was weighing heavy on me. I don't ever want to take advantage of anyone's kindness, but I just felt like I had to always watch what I said, etc.. No fault of hers; again, perhaps just not a good match.

Thanks for letting me share this. :)

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Postby Susan68 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:12 am

I just think that this doesn't happen like a lightning bolt for a lot of people. Sure, some people may feel completely "ready" as the book says. But others may struggle with step 1. I can tell you I woke up on some days last week thinking, "what the heck am I doing in AA?" The kind of rigidity that goes along with giving someone an ultimatum like that is apt to send people running away who are feeling that way. You know, it's like "who are you to decide where to pigeonhole me?" That seems arrogant in and of itself.

Sorry, I'm going on about this in a less than "AA" way, but I feel like I have placed myself under so much pressure lately, for good reason, but that I just couldn't take the additional pressure I was feeling over this issue.

Anyway, I'm done obsessing over this . . .

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Postby Susan68 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:29 am

Okay, I'm not done obsessing just yet . . .

Isn't it better to spend a little time with a new person in AA (email, phone call, coffee after a meeting) and speak about the program and wait until that person WANTS to fully embrace the program. You know, since I decided not to work with this very wonderful person I feel hopeful again. I went back to that 1-2-3 step meeting I spoke of in another post (it was really hard to walk back in after last week's meltdown) this morning and I met a few wonderful older guys. Bright, sunny and breezy June morning.

Alright, alright, I'm done sharing on that issue.

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Postby Susan68 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:34 am

Could you imagaine placing a large sign outside a church, which touts itself as a congregation of "attraction" and which clearly has as its mission to bring new people to whatever faith that is, that reads "ONLY THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO GO TO ANY LENGTHS TO BE SAVED NEED ENTER."

Perhaps someone who has lost everything might be inclined, but someone who has not will run right past that church. Just my opinion (albeit not so humble).

See, you know, a little thing like this erstwhile short-lived sponsor, with all the obsession and analysis, is just the kind of thing that would usually send me off on a Saturday afternoon to the local pub for a pint of something. I need to find new ways to deal with things. I guess that's whay I am here.

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Postby Susan68 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:17 pm

Yes, I know, I have very little humility as it turns out.

I've also been thinking, how much of one's recovery should get caught up in other people as opposed to reading the BB, trying to find that connection/relationship with God? Balance. Don't have it in general; why is not surprising that I am having trouble finding balance in AA?

I think I'll go plug in my sobriety date, see for how many miliseconds I have been sober (I love that thing!).

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Postby sunlight » Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:42 pm


You are awesome! I had no humility either, but it took me a LOT longer to realize it!

When I came into AA, I had to pretend that I was in kindergarten, learning everything over for the first time. I came home from a lot of meetings, in groups & with my sponsor, crying because my feelings were so hurt or my pride was so bruised. But I was willing to endure this because my way did not work. Their way worked and I wanted what they had.

I work with many women who aren't yet willing to go to any lengths or aren't "ready". I ask them to just keep taking the actions, the steps, and see what happens. You can bail at any time. No strings here!
It's funny how thinking can turn around, if you don't think too much and just do it.! :lol: One of those AA paradoxes that I love.

I have a saying on the dash of my car, "Don't believe everything you think."
It reminds me that wrestling with my thoughts is like getting tangled up with an anaconda - I'm so constricted that I can't move.
I try to keep it simple, like a child, and do the next right thing and smile. :)

Happy to have you hear. Enjoy the day!

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Postby tim-one » Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:50 pm

Thanks, Susan. This is great that you're working yourself out in front of me. I appreciate your rigorous honesty with yourself.

I've had sponsor things, too.

There are all kinds of sponsors. Hardliners. Compassionate. Grim. Friendly. Whatever. I was told, "If you want what we have ...". I wanted to find one with what I wanted. They all had what I wanted. It was how they expressed it and how they got there that I was shopping. And there's nothing wrong with shopping ... if you're HONEST with yourself about what you NEED.

I go to this place at least 3 times a week. Usually between 50 to 80 newcomers and about that many AAers. Fri. night there are usually over 200 peops in the room. Normally about 20 sponsor hands get raised.

When I was a resident and looking for a sponsor, I always looked for a face under a hand. Got it. Then we circle-up and everybody gets lost in the crowd.

I had my eye on this one guy, but never could catch him. I was admonished, "Get a dam sponsor! TODAY!"

That Fri night , the BIG meeting, same thing all hands disappeared in the crowd. I finally jumped up on a chair and yelled, "WILL ALL THE SPONSORS PLEASE STAND STILL AND RAISE YOUR HANDS ... FOR 5 MINUTES!"

I scored a sponsor that night. Good guy. I'd watched him. I'd been paying attention to who said what I needed to hear and said it in a way I could understand and identify with.

The next night, I ran into the guy I really wanted. I asked him to sponsor me. I called the other guy and fired him. Never had a meeting. Kidding about fired. I told him why and he said, "That's great. You're doing what you need to do for yourself. Call me if you ever want to jaw or if you can't reach your sponsor "in time". That's the perfect sponsor attitude.

I loved the guy I picked. I thoroughly grokked his attitude, spunk, BB knowledge. I called him Coach.

Into step 9, he went out on me. Bless his heart. He's a great guy. I stiffled myself from being overly buddy-buddy with him to maintain my submitted respect for him. He came back in a few days later lookin' like a whipped puppy. I put a choke-hold on him and gave his bald black head a hard noogie.

He'd taught me well. His relapse had absolutely nothing to do with MY sobriety. I was sorry for him, but I wasn't even the least bit worried about myself. "Shaken .... not stirred." :wink:

We're buds now. Joking, guffawing, crying, and staying sober together. I drive 8 miles east to pick him up for a BB study which is 15 miles west from my house. I love the guy. This is the relationship we sould have.

But I digress ... I scored another sponsor the next day. I chose this one because he is very Biblically orient. I talk Bible, if ya haven't noticed. I wanted that. He just had his 5 year last week.

At our first meeting, he finally found his Big Book in his kids bookshelf. :shock: "AWrite, Lord, Let's see how this goes." :?

While reading, I noticed he was "interested" in what I said about our reading. :shock: I was saying things he never caught outa the BB. :roll:

I prayed and decided to use two sponsors. It's done sometimes. Not necessarily recommended for perfectly good reasons I fully understand, but it can be done.

I would use him for his sobritey related Biblical approach. And I would use my other sponsor to WORK the steps intensely with me.

When I told him about my decision, he was kinda disppointed. HE wanted to read the BB and go through the stepwork again. He'd misunderstood my plan, to keep him AND have another.

Anyway, two in a row, I'm getting staying sober with a sponsor and I'm sponsoring a sponsor. :shock: :lol: Go figure. 'sokay by me ... I'm 12 steppin'. :D

Re: the previous sharing, in my exprience watching the sponsors around here, there are all sorts. One, "I don't give my number to guys who won't use it. Call me tomorrow." Another, "Are you willing to go to any lengths?". Another, "Let's sit down and talk about you so you can be sure you want me." Another, "Hi. Lookin' for a sponsor?"

Their all good ... for someone.

As I related in another discussion, as they say here, "It's MY PROGRAM."
Yes, it's the AA program. Yes, it's God's program. But they tell us that YOU are the one who has to work YOUR program. No one else can work your program for you. Your sponsor guides you to help YOU correct wrong thinkin', attutude.

It is absolutely non-negotiable that I am rigorously, brutally honest with myself and that I fully and humbly submit to HP to get what I need, not necessarily want. What I want is what's best for me, like it or not.

And that's AA in it's entirety.

Thanks for helping me work on this, y'all.

Love ya,

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Postby tim-one » Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:01 pm

PS: Humlitity keeps me out of a whole bunch of humiliation. It's those dam brain-fart ego things that rub my face in the dirt.

Humility: Latin - humus - "dirt". Human means "from dirt".

When a king would conquer another king, he would have him dragged through the dirt to his feet. He was "humiliated".

When a man is becoming a priest, he lies prostrate on the floor. "Humility".

The difference is, we choose humility. We are forcibly humiliated.

THIS alcoholic forced humiliation upon his ego-driven self. :oops:


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