- Step 5 from the receiving end...

Step 5 from the receiving end...




12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

Step 5 from the receiving end...

Postby anniemac » Mon May 14, 2007 9:02 pm

This weekend I am due to work with a sponsee on her 5th Step. This will be only the 2nd time I've done this. I'm a bit nervous about my ability to be of any help whatsoever during this process.

I think that's because what made the 5th Step important to me, seems to differ from what made it important to others who I hear share. I hear a lot about folks needing to talk about their past and their secrets and their shame and their guilt, and how being able to tell all of that to one person was very freeing.

That was not my experience. I have always been an open book. I talked and talked and talked to my friends and my therapist all throughout my "active" years. Matter of fact, when I got sober, I had to learn boundaries, to learn to NOT share everything about me, with everyone I met.

So, what Step 5 did for me was to help me "connect the dots" regarding my patterns, my personality traits. My sponsor was very helpful in showing me the themes that ran through my life. For instance, I might have thought that a particular situation or situations affected only my pocketbook (per the BB categories), but she showed how it also affected my self-esteem. She helped me to more honestly look at me. Although I was quite open about the events of my life, I didn't know how to be honest with myself about myself.

I don't feel capable of doing the same for someone else. My sponsor has 20+ years of experience and has done many other 5th Steps prior to mine. I don't want to short-change this woman by simply listening and nodding my head, yet don't feel qualified to do anything further.

Help!!! :shock:
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Postby garden variety » Tue May 15, 2007 3:04 am

Hi Annie,

If you dont feel right about it then dont do the 5th with your girl. Its not a bad thing to say no and she might be better off doing it with drug counselor or some kind of pastor or preacher. Thats what a lot of sponsers say around here. I told one of my guys he would have to do his 5th with a priest because hes a real catholic kind of fellow and I knew he would be more comfortable with a priest. Besides I didnt want to hear his crap and he did have enough of it to make you want to run and hide. He told me stuff anyhow that I didnt want to hear and I didnt like it. But he was like you said you were and didnt know about boundaries. He crossed mine for sure - oh well - I got over it.

But there are people with lots of experience with 5th steps like counselors and priests. This priest guy heard over 3000 5th steps I sent my guy to. Since your the girls sponsor you can call around and maybe find out if she has a religious belief or a church she used to go to - just to get the denomination cause she might not want to go toi her old church They always tell me I only have to carry the message and not the mess. If you cant or dont feel comfortable then all you have to do is point her in the right direction or send her to someone you trust and maybe do a better job than you. If you cant do it then your responsibility is to help her through the steps and not do them for her.

Thats just my call on it and Im not an expert by no means. They also have 12 step retreats here and there and folks do their 5th steps there somtimes too.
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Postby Dallas » Tue May 15, 2007 8:28 pm

The hardest part of helping another alcoholic take their 5th Step -- is listening to it. Keep lots of popcorn and coffee available. It's the same thing that we do most every day -- one alcoholic talking with -- and listening to -- another alcoholic. Try to remember, that it's the other person who is doing all the work. We're just trying to be helpful. We want to be helpful because we've had them read the pages on the 4th and 5th Step -- and we've pointed out, in the book that they may never get over their drinking -- if they skip this vital Step.

The thing that qualifies us to help them with their 5th Step, is the same thing that qualifies us to help them with any of the Steps. We're sharing our experience -- our experience of taking the Step. As we took the Step, we gained experience and strength, and now we have something that can offer them hope, because they can see that our experience comes from "our doing" rather than our theorizing.

Whenever I'm in doubt about anything regarding recovery and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and my life -- I turn to my sponsor. I don't go to a religious person, a therapist, a doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. (Unless my sponsor would suggest it :lol: and, so far that hasn't happened, yet! ) Two of the reasons that I go to my sponsor is: 1. My primary interest is to stay sober. 2. My design for living is the 12 Steps. 3. In the A.A. way, I've discovered that sometimes we do things differently than other folks. The other folks don't usually understand "why" we do things differently... and, it's not even necessary for us to understand "why" we do things differently... because it works for us... "if we work it that way."

Learning to live sober -- for me -- was kind of like flying an airplane. I had never flown a plane -- and I still don't know how to fly one. If I wanted to learn to fly a plane -- I would want to learn from an experienced pilot who knows how to fly a plane!

To the new person -- they are looking to us because of our experience. We have lived sober. We are living sober. And, hopefully it's our physical sobriety and our emotional sobriety that has attracted them to us.

Drop the rock. Let go of the fear. Ask God for help. Read the Big Book. Read the 12 & 12. Ask your sponsor. Ask your A.A. friends. Then, just step up to the plate and "Do it!" :wink: And, don't avoid your responsibility to the new person. It isn't you or me that's going to fix the person. :wink: It's God doing it -- through the 12 Steps. If we had the power to fix anyone -- we would be using it on ourselves. The Power that we do have -- we can use to "help others." And, that's what we're doing... just being helpful.

The biggest problem that anyone can have with the 12 Steps -- is the "thinking about them!" :lol: It's our actions -- that change our thinking.

Dallas

P.S. 1. Remember.... the Pioneers kept this thing simple enough that ANY drunk could do it!!! :lol: :lol:
2. Start listening to more 5th Steps!!! Then, you'll always be more comfortable with them. 3. Most everything starts with the first one. 4. Many of us alcoholics ... after we've done something once... could write a book on it, or be a pro at it! :lol: :lol:
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Postby anniemac » Wed May 16, 2007 4:54 pm

Thank you both for your replies. I talked to my sponsor about this, and to another friend, and they both reminded me that I'm not supposed to have all the answers ( :oops: I always forget that!!). All I need to do is pray and meditate before I meet with her, and the rest will fall in to place. My sponsor said I'm there to listen, not to offer insight. I said "yeah, but you offered insight to me!", and she said "yeah, well, I happen to have a big mouth -- but it's not a requirement of the job."

So, I feel much better about it and will try to get out of my own way by Saturday!!
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Postby garden variety » Wed May 16, 2007 10:04 pm

Dallas wrote:Whenever I'm in doubt about anything regarding recovery and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and my life -- I turn to my sponsor. I don't go to a religious person, a therapist, a doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. (Unless my sponsor would suggest it :lol: and, so far that hasn't happened, yet! )


First of all let me say Dallas is 100% correct in saying to go to your sponsor. Second - I dont want you to think Im suggesting you dont do what your called on to do - especially if your sponser says to do it. But over here - let me say in this neck of the woods in the Akron Cleveland area - there are a lot of what you call traditional AAs here. Some of them do things exactly the way Wilson and Smith did them. There are guys in my home group that knew Wilson personally and he knew our group too - look into the Memorial Day Mass for decesaed AA which is a tradition that was started in this area and Bill Wilson gave his blessings to that tradition. Im not saying that to be bragging but I want you to know that having another human being other than yourself listen to a 5th step isnt some cockamainee idea I thought up on my own - this is how they do things around here.

Well that gets me to the point of the 5th step and the way we learn it over here. To make a long story short - the traditional old timers around here look at the 5th step as something like doing a confession which is why we have priests artound here that have done 3000 5th steps. I was friends with one of them his name was Father Joe and he did 5th steps for a treatment center there in Cleveland called Rosary Hall which is where Sister Ignatius worked and she really helped drunks a lot even though she wasnt alcoholic. I think Father Joe is now dead but there isnt many folks around here that didnt know him and several hundred mention he did their 5th step in their leads.

And they also have 12 step retreat weekends here too where there are priests already there and ready to take 5th steps over this 12 step weekend. They been doing these 12 step weekend retreats seems like since time began at a place up there in Parma called St Stanislovs church. My sponser just suggested to me to go the one coming up in June. The sponsers help their sponsees with the 4th step - then they tell them to go to the priest to do their 5th step. So I want you to know Annie that I think different places do this thing different ways. But dont get me wrong - you should always go to your sponser for directions like Dallas said.

One of the things I been told by my sponser is that I dont have the right to dump a 5th step on anyone that they might be so inclined to go drink on account of what I said which can happen to some people. Thats why were told to go to a priest or pastor or counselor who has the experience with 5th steps because some of the garbage in peoples life (myself included) is pretty sick. Thats why there are pastors and counselors who have done so many 5th steps. I get guys always asking me if I have a phone number of somebody to do a 5th step - and I give them a number of a priest that works with Rosary Hall and a counselor that works for Glenbay. Both of them always tell me to send anyone their way. Thats just how its done around here. And it dont cost anything to do a 5th step with them either.
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Postby Molly M. » Wed May 16, 2007 10:57 pm

Hi Guys;

Anniemac you're awesome and you will do a great job.

As I understand it, our primary purpose as members of AA is to help our fellow drunks get and stay sober. We do this through passing on the steps as outlined in the BB. This is how we stay sober.

I also felt uncomfortable with my first fifth step until my sponsor explained to me what an honor it is to hear another alcoholic share their fifth step. The fact that we have a sponsee who wants to share a fifth step is a major thing to be grateful for because it helps us stay sober. When we take a sponsee through the steps, it brings us back through the steps alongside them. I know that fifth steps can be heard by other people, but in my mind I'm not about to pass off on anything that helps keep me sober. And by doing my best to listen and share my experience strength and hope (as limited as it might be), I am recognizing the honor of someone choosing me as their sponsor and allowing me to share in their recovery.

Anniemac your sponsee is a very lucky girl to have you as her sponsor:D

Molly
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Postby Dallas » Thu May 17, 2007 1:41 am

Paul, those are great points that you brought up. And, it reminds me of our AA history, how in the beginning -- one of the reasons that those in the Catholic Church were having a hard time with accepting AA's ideas -- was on the topic of confessions. I'm pretty sure this is why the wording in both the Big Book and the 12 & 12, reflects and considers and suggests, that if it is according to someones tradition, culture or religion, to do it in a way that is appropriate for their situation. And, that even sharing with a stranger is better than hanging on to the garbage that we need to dump.

It is just important now -- as it was, way back when -- that we try to keep the path to sobriety as wide as we can, so that no alcoholic needs to perish in their alcoholism.

And, Molly -- I agree with you! Anniemac is awesome and she'll do a great job!

Dallas
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Postby garden variety » Thu May 17, 2007 3:42 pm

You know its funny you should mention about the Catholic church here because its a bigger influence than I give credit. See Im not a Catholic person but my sponsor tells me that I pretty much am a Catholic but I dont care to argue with him because he's a Catholic too.

I think he says that because I believe in a lot of the things they say about God and some of the best books I read about getting closer conscious contact for step 11 have been written by some Catholic Monks. They are Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, and Basil Penninton. I never read such spiritual writing before but it isnt all about the Catholic church - and boy do they know how to put things into words exactly what Im thinking. Well Im sure other people are thinking the same things too or they wouldnt be writing them. But they dont try to push God or Jesus or the Catholic church either - it just seems like very spiritual writing that could apply to any religion even ones that arent Christian. But they can say things in a single sentence that would take me 2 hours of stammerin and stuttering to say.

Well now Im off the track which is not something new. But anyhow Annie just do what they suggested here and dont take on any of your girls garbage or let it get you down. Just listen and dont judge because any one of us can be just as big a jerk as the next one, and any one of us could be just like Napoleon or Hitler too because we have this disease of alcoholism.
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Postby anniemac » Thu May 17, 2007 6:25 pm

Wow, GV, that's very interesting, the history and customs surrounding the 5th Step out your way. I don't know of anyone who has done their 5th with a clergyperson, or any other non-AA member for that fact. I love learning how the customs differ around the globe.

Thanks, Molly, for your kind words. I did make it very clear to this woman that her 5th Step does not need to be done with me. She has an immense amount of abuse in background (as recipient, not perpetrator) and I wanted to be sure she understood that she could do her 5th with anyone. She's undergone so much intensive counseling in sobriety, though, that she feels comfortable talking to me. You're right, it is an honor, and my sponsor reminded me of that as well.

Aw, Dallas, thank you too for your vote of confidence!
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Postby Dallas » Thu May 17, 2007 10:19 pm

Often, I wonder if I’m getting more help by listening to a Fifth Step, than the person who is talking. There is usually something in their story that brings up a memory for me, of something in my past that was buried and long forgotten. And, once remembered – I can look at it from a different angle and let go of something that may have been an unconscious problem for me.

On other occasions, listening to someone’s Fifth Step has made me so grateful – as I realize that some of the bad things that came my way, were nothing in comparison to what the other person experienced. And, the realization that my life was pretty good in comparison to some of the things that happened to others.

One thing is for sure – I always walk away from it feeling as though I’ve had some sort of spiritual experience as a result of my participation with the other person. Something inside me -- changes me – for the better. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’m encouraged to help another alcoholic -- the help I need comes through the back door – when I meet with those who come in through my front door.

For me, it’s such an honor, a privilege and an opportunity – that I have been allowed to participate in something that is so big – and so good.

Dallas
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12 Step Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery | - Step 5 from the receiving end...