I’ve worked now with G, T, ?, S, S, and J as sponsees. I’ve learned quite a bit from each of them, some good things and unfortunately some not so good things.
What I love about sponsorship is that I’m able to read their writing and reflect on where I’ve been, where I am today, and the direction I’m facing. The two sponsees I’m working with right now have been a great experience. I feel both of them are really trying to turn their life and will over to God through working the steps, journaling, and recognizing their feelings and emotions in a positive way.
Here is an email interaction I had this morning with one of my sponsees:
This morning I read the personal story at the beginning of the white book. That was a hard read for me. I actually didn’t want to finish. I felt a few triggers going off while reading it actually. But I felt it was important to power through it. He experienced some real dark places. Some real holes of Hell. I think it was a good thing for me to read, because if someone in such a dark place can eventually come back to the light then I know that I can as well if I continue to submit my will.
Another part of me came away from that kind of worried, questioning, and distraught. I’ve never been to those depths. I haven’t experienced that kind of low before. I’ve felt pretty low on myself before, but I don’t know if it compares.
A part of me has started to wonder if I can possibly find the right will and strength in side myself to do what needs to be done to recover, or if I need to sink lower to in order to really hit bottom. Of course that doesn’t really make sense, but those thoughts have been kicking around my head. I don’t want to have to sink any lower to develop that will, that desire to completely turn over my will. I remember Nate mentioning he heard something to the effect of, “Until we want to recover more than we want to breathe…”.
In writing this, I don’t believe that I need to sink lower to learn. I believe that if i continue on the path I’ve started down, that Jesus Christ can give me to strength to continue to grow in the right way. I’m made plenty of mistakes and walked down some extremely lonely roads. I can learn from those things. I shouldn’t have to think that I need to experience more heartbreak in order to really find happiness. We don’t all walk the same road, but we do walk similar paths.
Should I slip further in my life then the Atonement would still be there for me to find and hold on to, but I don’t need to slip any further down my addictions to begin using the Atonement in my life and moving forward rather than back. There’s no set amount of suffering i need to cause in order to recover. I choose to recover now, not later. I choose to be in recovery today. I chose that today. I did my best to be aware and turn my will over today. As a result I was sober today and I believe I’ve learned a couple of valuable things in the process.
Thanks for you note back yesterday. My wife and I actually spent a good time reading some of your other entries last night in bed together. It was great. I was very grateful for those moments with her last night.
My email response:
I’m hopeful the stuff I wrote was helpful. It’s not always pretty but I’m glad to be able to be honest with myself about where I was and where I am today. If you ever have questions or want to talk about anything I’ve shared, you’re welcome to leave a comment or we can chat about it.
Satan is going to continue to play with your mind and cause fear to come in, especially as you think ahead. All I really am able to think about is right now or I get nervous. The best technique I’ve used to combat the fear is writing out what I’m feeling, why I think I’m feeling it, and turning it over to God as best as I can.
I liked what you said here:
When I have finished this program I am going to continue to use the first hour of my everyday for study and reading and submitting my will to the Lord. What I’ve realized is that I need this to recover. This isn’t just to simply a tool to jumpstart me in the right direction, I need this time in the morning in order to continue to recover. This is part of my new normal there’s no question. I am so grateful for this time.
I can’t tell you how much it helps to work step 12 as a sponsor. Not only does it cause me to reflect on where I’ve been in the past, but it also helps me continue to ask where am I today. Sponsorship isn’t easy, especially when I feel like I’m responsible for the recovery of the person, or especially when I can sense that the person is just going through the motions (I don’t feel like this at all with your progress by the way). When I first started as a sponsor, I felt a weight to “fix” the person or tell them what to do or how to do it. Not only do I recognize that this was pride and trying to control the situation, but I recognize today that this ultimately didn’t help either the sponsee or me.
Today, my perspective has changed about sponsorship. Today it’s about sharing what’s worked for me, reading what the sponsee says and reflecting on it, and focusing on empathy and hope instead of shame and control.
I’m grateful to be working with you on recovery. I’m grateful to have my wife who works with me on recovery and understands the addiction cycle. I’m ultimately grateful that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I’m actually able to recover if I put my trust in Him.
And yes, the white book story is scary. It’s a really tough portrayal of where the addiction can and will take me/us if we continue to feed it.
When talking about rock bottom, I don’t know what the best answer is. I have felt the same way – there’s always someone who’s done worse than me (or thoughts like that of comparison, justification, and minimizing). I guess what I can share is that the farther one gets down the rabbit hole of addiction and sin, the tougher it is to recover, to make up for the betrayal and pain I’ve caused, and to gain back any level of trust and companionship. It’s just not worth it to dabble or test the limits.
The last year and a half have been some of the hardest times, if not THE hardest times, in my life. To see the trauma come back in my wife’s eyes as she experiences a trigger or has a thought come back is awful. It’s like I’m back at day 1 and am fearful that I’m going to lose everything that’s most important to me. This, in and of itself, is why I never want to go back to those dark places again.
One thing I’m so grateful for is that my wife has set boundaries, both good boundaries and bad ones. These boundaries help me understand the importance of keeping my weapons of war buried and turning my will over to God one day at a time.
Here are the boundaries that have helped:
Have a great day. Thanks for the consistency in your step work and journaling.
I’m so grateful to be able to empathize and share what is working for me, what’s been hard, and give a word of warning about the pain that WILL come if I or he continues down the path of addiction.
Last night, Caleb started telling us about a school experience. His tone and how he phrased everything reminded me of myself when I’m telling a half-truth. Justification, minimalization, and rationalization are words that come to mind. I smiled at Becky, didn’t say anything, and he caught the smile and sort of freaked out – went off crying to his room.
Becky pointed out to me that I indirectly shamed him with my look, and I agreed and recognized this.
I went in to his room and apologized for not listening and for shaming him. From there, the conversation turned to me asking him about the experience and then talking about justifying and rationalizing and minimizing. I talked about addiction and how telling little half-truths can be dangerous and lead to bigger lies.
I hope that what I shared will help him think about being honest with himself and with others. I hope that he will trust in me to be someone he can talk to when things are hard or when he’s made a mistake.
I’m grateful for today and for the time I’ve made to read, write and reflect.