Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Inventory Humor

So I went to clean out old files today, part of my "fall" cleaning. It had been on my mind for quite a while to get rid of all the files of an old client whom I "fired" a couple years ago (part of taking care of myself). Funny thing is that I had already purged my drawer of said old files. And to think that I spent all that energy thinking about those files when they had already been shredded. Guess I hadn't really given that old client to God after all, at least not until today!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Are You Ready to be a Sponsor?

This is in reply to a question I received on a sponsorship post from 2007:

You are ready to be a sponsor if you have worked the steps. In so doing, you are ready to pass on what you have received. That does not mean that you need to be perfect or have it all together. Progress not perfection is part of sponsorship, too. I have made many "mistakes" which have turned out to be lessons for myself. I also learn much from my sponsees, often amazed at how strong and spiritual they are, wondering why they are coming to me for help? I guess they see something in me they want, which helps me see just how far I have come.

As far as reading about sponsorship, there are Al-Anon pamphlets and indexes in all the books. But if someone asks you to be a sponsor, you are ready. I assume you have a sponsor? Perhaps just pass on to your sponsee(s) in the same way your sponsor has passed the program on to you. Or go with the flow - what does your sponsee need? To work the steps. Then have them go to a step study meeting or go through the steps with them using any of our literature. Give them assignments to answer the questions at the end of the chapters in Paths to Recovery, or have them go through the Blueprint for Progress.

Keep in mind that you are not a guru, just a guide, but the real guide is both of your HP(s). If there is only one rule I have for myself as a sponsor it is to keep my sponsee(s) focused on the solution rather than the problem, and that means focused on their own recovery rather than continually complaining about the alcoholics or other miseries in their lives. It really is a learning process for all of us. It is like doing any service work. You learn it by doing it. So just do it!

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Let It Begin with Me, Really

The slogan "Let It Begin with Me" usually refers to 12th Step work, but I’m using it right now to make amends to myself. I’m letting it begin with me by finally putting myself on my 8th Step list, something I’ve never done even though it has been recommended to me several times. I wish I had done it, but we work the program our own way in our own time. So I’m not going to beat myself up.

In fact, I’m going to stop beating myself up because that’s what I’ve been doing most of my life. It started in my childhood when I was told I wasn’t good enough, that I was just like my alcoholic father, and that no one would ever love me – and I believed it, all of it. So this amends to myself - to tell myself that I am loved, I am forgiven, and I am approved of – will be a lifelong endeavor.

And I’ve noticed something already. That when I’m starting to feel bad, either about myself or someone else, if I get back to thinking that God loves me, God forgives me, and God approves of me, I can change my mood. And when I change my mood or my attitude with those self-affirming thoughts, I change my persona. I actually become a different person because I’ve changed my core beliefs.

That doesn’t mean I change my personality, just how it comes across to the world. I am no longer the damaged little me who barely keeps her head above self-pity, criticism, and justification – running off any potential friends in the process. I become someone who is confident, tolerant, and receptive to others liking me. I am attractive because I love myself, I forgive myself, and I approve of myself.

Actually, when I become an attractive person, from the inside out, I am doing 12th Step work – attraction not promotion. So for me, “Let It Begin With Me” is about my recovery coming first before I can help others. That means I have to put myself first, which means I have to love myself. Although my sponsor has been working with me on this, my ah-ha moment came when I was seeking God’s will and read:

“When I learn to love myself as my Higher Power loves me, I believe I am doing God’s will.” (Courage to Change, page 206)

Although I still desire to be loved by many people and to have many friends, my sponsor reminds me that all I need is the love, forgiveness, and approval of God and myself. That is enough.

P.S. Yes, I know I'm repeating myself some here (see 2 posts ago) but this learning to love myself is a huge lesson for me and a long time coming. So it bears repeating again and again.

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