I am not a very good sponsor!
There you have it!
I have come clean – I have nearly ten years recovery but still struggle to be a good sponsor.
So many things get in the way of me being a good sponsor.
I am also an Al Anon, someone who grew up in a family consisting of an alcoholic father (who didn’t drink but did not have a 12 step program of recovery) and a mother dependent on Valium after suffering nervous breakdowns, hence I was a Alateen too at one time.
As my dad was effectively a dry drunk at times and my mother struggled to cope there were many traumatic domestic scenes to contend with as a small child.
My mother’s behaviour was emotionally, physically and mentally abusive at times and I grew with an insecure-anxious attachments towards her and a recurrent fear of abandonment/rejection.
There was a lack of appropriate supervision by my parents and my sisters and I often ran wild. Boundaries that define me and others were completely blurred.
I know enough about alcoholism to help a recovering alcoholic and I have enough love in my heart to help another alcoholic in recovery but something always gets in the way.
Me, I get in the way!
I have a need to fix people!
I grew up as a caretaker in my own family as my parents were often lacking in their parental direction. I thought their lives and how they acted were my responsibility that I could manage their lives too and then things would be okay. They wouldn’t have violent arguments and my mother would not try to force a dozen of two pills down her throat and terrorize her children.
I somehow thought her mock or real suicide attempts were to do with me, how I behaved, they were my fault, so I acted to make sure these things did not happen again.
I grew up too soon, never had the childhood others had.
Things around we were too volatile so I sought to control by any means available. I am a world expert in controlling others.
I have a severe case of Al Anon and Adult Child of an Alcoholic (and addict) that I am now only starting to address in my life and in my recovery.
I know exactly how you can recover from alcoholism but have difficulties letting people learn their own mistakes. I am too needy. Too eager for them to recover.
I rush sponsees, scare them off, demand too much from them.
I need to deal with my Al Anon issues before sponsoring anyone else.
The most alarming thing is that this childhood trauma sets you up to re-enact rejection situations throughout your life.
Your “inner child” has learnt that people reject you so you act in a manner, or pick people, to unconsciously ensure this will occur again, this re-enactment of childhood rejection. You kinda control the rejection that will later occur!?
The acting out of trauma occurs repeatedly throughout ones’s life until the trauma is dealt with via some therapeutic means.
I was due to start EMDR therapy for my trauma but have had to postpone this until my wife is better, she suffers PTSD and anxiety disorder herself and is off work at the moment due to these mental health issues. I am supporting her at the moment. Times are tough at present for sure!
For now I have to stew in the painful emotional residues of my many traumas and hope to see a therapist in the near future.
I constantly have to talk through emotions I have no name for, they are so deep in my implicit memory. I no longer run away from these, at times, very unpleasant physical and emotional sensations but sit with them, and talk them out. This is a change in my approach, feelings do not kill, what we do with them sometimes does.
Sensations in our body from the past also propel our behaviours often without us consciously knowing so.
More on this in a later blog.
I cannot sponsor anyone for the foreseeable future. I even set myself up for failure with the very people I most want to help. This is trauma not alcoholism.
I will fill you in with other stressful events that are occurring in my life in the next blog.
So let’s end where we came in – the simple fact that knowing it is different to showing it.
I have to get to recover the real me more before I help anyone else. As I need help myself, I can’t fully help others at present.
Recovery is at times a process of finding out or discovering the other disorders and problems that we have other than alcoholism and addictive behaviours, it is also in finding out and discovering what issues and disorders fulled alcoholism in the first place. The trauma, the absue, the bereavements, etc
There are many layers of this metaphorical onion to peel and they all make you want to cry!
That is the way it is, acceptance of this is the key as always.
An old guy of over thirty years recovery told me that he sponsors by showing recovery not by preaching it.
I haven”t got there yet I am afraid. I know it but…
I also want them to succeed so much I scare them off, I become too intense!
I demand too much too soon, that is my default setting. Set myself up for failure as a sponsor.
I want them to “get it!” soon as possible to reduce the risk of relapse.
This is however flawed because it is fear based thinking.
I want them to get it before they relapse again, that is the truth. At some unconscious level I want them to “be saved” so that they do not try to kill themselves again with substances like my mother used to attempt to do. That terror drives my behaviour without me knowing it.
It is not borne out of Grace but fear.
The simple truth is that I do not trust God enough at times and try to fix hings myself. I have not fully forgiven God the many many things that I somehow believe happened on his watch, I guess?
In the end, I can only share my experiencence of recovery and let the rest be, let God take it from there. I know this in my head but my heart revolts.
My Al ateen/al Anon side takes over.
I want to make sure they get better, ASAP!
My motives seem good but they are warped. There is a bad motive in a sense under a good one.
I have to learn to increase my trust in the process.
Let others make their own mistakes and have patience when they do. Having love and tolerance of others is to let them be themselves, free to make there own conclusions, come to their own understandings.
I am but the messenger, passing on a message that has been passed on to me.
That is my role in this, not to fix but to allow someone else the space to make the same mistakes I did.
I can’t speed along someone’s recovery, they have to go at their own pace, otherwise it is frightening.
The good can be the enemy of the best.
I have this deep seated fear that whatever I do it is not enough so I make up for this by doing too much, too much….ending up manic and off-putting.
Ten years in and still a long way to go.
More, unfortunately, will be revealed…
God goes deep!
Thanks for posting this! Alcoholism IS a family disease, even when the alcoholic (me) thinks they’re drinking and behavior doesn’t hurt anyone but themselves. Sometimes I jokingly say that I live in a recovery house, but it’s true, both of my kids are in or have gone to Al-Ateen and my husband is in Al-Anon. We choose to work a recovery program and talk openly about where are our feet/head are daily.
sounds great – addiction is based on an emotional illiteracy so constantly sharing how you are feeling sounds the way for the family to recover – constantly sharing is constantly considering, is constantly loving.