Things I knew I DIDN'T want to 'inherit' from a Sponsor.
There is a very close relationship towards what a sponsor 'has' and what the Sponsee 'gets' (or is TRANSMITTED, to use the AA term)
The phrase that best sums this up in the big book is
You CANNOT transmit something you haven’t got.
What does this mean?
Well. I always say to new people that are looking for Sponsors.
Think about it. If you would like to NOT be depressed in recovery, then it doesn't make a lot of sense choosing a depressed person to be your Sponsor, does it?
Think about it. The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to overcome depression, if they are in fact, still depressed.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to deal with their anger, if they are still angry, touchy, reactive, defensive, indignant, vengeful, punishing, verbal attacks, or losing their temper. (Acting out basically)
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to overcome irritability, if they are still snappy, and short with people.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to overcome fear, if they are still having panic attacks. Or are unable to move out of their habitual comfort zone.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to overcome their Pride, if they are talking 'down' to people, or are self righteous, pompous, arrogant, rigid, inflexible, un-teachable and closed minded.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to overcome self pity, if they are still feeling sorry for themselves, or hard done by, weeping constantly, or just plain world weary, heaving great sighs, sad smiles, and lackluster.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to cope with 'trials and low spots', if they are falling apart, every time they hit a rough patch. Or worse, relapsing.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they are still pretty self centered and selfish if they still make no effort to help newcomers. Or a half hearted superficial attempt that never adequately addresses the newcomers greatest weaknesses, therefore leaving the newcomer in great danger.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to overcome mood swings, if they are still unpredictable, changeable and inconsistent, or emotionally unstable.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to wear life like a loose garment, if they are still being a drama queen. Emotionally or behaviorally.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT KNOW (yet) how to enjoy their sobriety, and have fun, if they are still 'dull, boring and glum'. Dreary, overly serious and earnest? Sober not somber!
The EVIDENCE suggests that they DO NOT UNDERSTAND (yet) how to practice tradition 1, if they are still badmouthing or gossiping about other aa members.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND (yet) how to practice 'restraint of tongue and pen', (or moral restraint generally) if they still have no impulse control.
The EVIDENCE suggests that they CLEARLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND (yet) how to practice step 12 and pass it on, if they make everything (about recovery) seem mysterious, complicated and unfathomable. Or wooly, boring, intangible and unfocused. Or simply never get to the crux of any problem they are presented with by someone in need.
It's not exactly rocket science!
None of this would matter IN THE SLIGHTEST were it not for the big book statement 'You CANNOT transmit something you haven’t got.'
Normally I would have no interest whatsoever in what other people in aa have or haven't got, but if 'what they have' influences what may or may not be transmitted to ME in future. Well then, suddenly I am VERY interested!
Not because I care whether Ralph or Suzanne are doing what I think they should be doing. (Because what Ralph or Suzanne decide to do with their recovery is NONE OF MY BUSINESS!)
No. the reason, I show even the slightest interest in what Ralph or Suzanne has achieved (so far) in recovery is BECAUSE IT LIMITS THE EXTENT OF WHAT THEY CAN TEACH ME ABOUT RECOVERY. And that will have a DIRECT IMPACT on what is 'transmitted' to me. And therefore, the QUALITY of MY sobriety.
I was very greedy with recovery and wanted as much as I could get my greasy little hands on.
So I became VERY interested in what my peers had accomplished, and could therefore TRANSMIT. To me!!
So. Look for people who HAVE ALREADY ACHIEVED the goal that you are aiming for yourself.
The slogan that best sums up this approach is
'Have they got WHAT YOU WANT?'
This is a TERRIBLY PERSONAL question, because if you ask 20 AA's what they want to be like or feel in 10 years time, you will get 20 different answers. This is PERFECTLY FINE.
Nobody said we were all supposed to be the same. We aren't. This is NOT A PROBLEM. The 'spirit' of Live and let Live, means that we are completely comfortable being around other people who clearly have differing and opposing views to our own. That's the way it is supposed to be.
Submitting to peer pressure or 'following the crowd' is NOT being true to yourself. There is no integrity in such a position.
You should have the guts to GUILTLESSLY express your heartfelt desires. If only to yourself. REGARDLESS OF WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS, or wants.
DO NOT FEEL OBLIGED TO WANT THE SAME AS TOM OR RACHEL SAY THEY WANT.
That's not the point.
Tom or rachel may think what you want is ludicrous or totally unachievable.
Unfortunately OPINIONATED, CONTROLLING types will be the first in the queue to tell you (in no uncertain terms) what THEY think you should be doing, or wanting!!
The truth is IT IS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS what your heartfelt preferences are!
This is not a VALUE JUDGEMENT. This is an HONEST HEARTFELT PERSONAL PREFERENCE.
I always say to people who feel guilty about expressing their heartfelt desires for fear of being judged by others...
Lets say I offer you some ice cream. I say Hi Joan, fancy some ice cream? Chocolate or strawberry?
You say 'chocolate thanks'
I say (In an INDIGNANT, SHIRTY tone) 'What do you mean??? Are you JUDGING the strawberry? That's not very nice of you Joan!!! '
Do you see how crazy, irrational and DEFENSIVE that reaction is?
Well the BAD news is that AA is full of TOUCHY, REACTIVE, INDIGNANT OPINIONATED people. Again this need not be a problem. Personally I do not have a problem with this.
This is the nature of RESENTMENT and is par for the course when dealing with the disease of alcoholism. Its the NORMAL manifestation of UNTREATED ALCOHOLISM.
(In reference to Resentment) 'From it stem ALL forms of spiritual disease.' P64
I mean you'd hardly be surprised to walk into a cancer ward to find !!! People with tumors, would you? You wouldn't berate or scold them, or JUDGE them for having those symptoms, would you?
Well then, its makes just as little sense to judge 'restless, irritable, and discontent' people in a meeting as the big book tells us in no uncertain terms that resentment is the PRIMARY SYMPTOM of alcoholism. ( 'From it stem ALL forms of spiritual disease.') Trust me, its really normal. Its the most prevalent symptom when dealing with UNTREATED ALCOHOLISM. So its is to be expected. Judging it would be stupid really.
I encourage you to MAKE YOUR OWN MIND UP.
This is YOUR recovery. Not THEIRS.
Decide for YOURSELF what you want to achieve.
Do not be BULLIED into thinking you OUGHT TO CONFORM to other peoples VIEWS and OPINIONS about what THEY think is realistically achievable.
DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.
This requires sometimes that you grow a spine! Recovery is not for sissies!
So the best course of action is to ask yourself 'What do I want to be like 10 or 15 years sober?'
Do I want to be depressed?
Do I want to be depressed one day in every seven?
Do I want to be depressed one day in every month?
Do I want to be depressed one day in every year?
Do I want to be miserable?
Do I want to be miserable one day in every seven?
Do I want to be miserable one day in every month?
Do I want to be miserable one day in every year?
Do I want to bitch and moan?
Do I want to bitch and moan one day in every seven?
Do I want to bitch and moan one day in every month?
Do I want to bitch and moan one day in every year?
Do I want to struggle?
Do I want to struggle one day in every seven?
Do I want to struggle one day in every month?
Do I want to struggle one day in every year?
Do I want to be defeatist?
Do I want to be defeatist one day in every seven?
Do I want to be defeatist one day in every month?
Do I want to be defeatist one day in every year?
Do I want to be on anti depressants?
Do I want to be on anti depressants one day in every seven?
Do I want to be on anti depressants one day in every month?
Do I want to be on anti depressants one day in every year?
Et etc. you get the drift by now I'm sure.
Don't be afraid of looking stupid. (that's just your Pride, and we all know what the big book tells us about pride!) its rubbish!
Just admit to yourself, what you HONESTLY want for yourself.
Don't think, 'don't be silly I'll NEVER be like that'. What will Graham think?
Just admit HONESTLY what you REALLY want. What would YOU truly LOVE to be like? What would be your dream? Your INNOCENT HOPE? Imagine ANYTHING is possible. (perhaps not flying to the moon in a converted Lada, but you know what I mean!)
Its quite embarrassing admitting your heartfelt desires, even to yourself!
Ok. Once you have done that,
LOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS THE THINGS THAT YOU WANT.
The MORE things they have that you want. The higher they 'rate' on your 'recovery monitor' and the MORE attention you pay to HOW THEY WORK THEIR PROGRAMME. The MORE you try to copy what they are doing to stay sober.
In an ideal world, you would get someone like this to be your sponsor. But if that is not possible, you can LEARN FROM THEIR EXAMPLE. Watch what they do. Go to the same meetings they do. Listen to what they say in meetings. Find out who they have sponsored, and ask them what suggestions they have been given. Find out how they did the steps. How did they do their step 4 EXACTLY? Be nosey. Find out as MUCH as you can about their programme.
Alternatively. The LESS they have of what you want. The lower they 'rate' on your 'recovery monitor' and the LESS you do what they are doing to stay sober. In fact, make a concerted attempt to AVOID doing whatever they have been doing to stay sober!
This is a summary of what I call
'Sticking with the winners'
'By their fruits, ye shall KNOW them' (from the Bible)
Its also embodies the slogan:
You move towards, and become like, that which you think about, whether it is good for you, or bad for you
Another slogan that springs to mind..
Wise people learn from their own mistakes. Smart people learn from other people’s!
YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO APOLOGISE FOR THE THINGS YOU WANT AND VALUE IN LIFE.
IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON TO WANT GOOD THINGS FOR YOURSELF.
So don't apologize!!! Be true to yourself!!
The sad fact of the matter is that you can ONLY learn from people WHO HAVE ALREADY ACQUIRED the skills and abilities that you are planning on learning.
If you sincerely care for the newcomer, and plan on staying comfortably sober, so that you can pass on your experience to 'the suffering alcoholic', Pay VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to the achievements of your peers,, because their accomplishments LIMIT what you 'get'.
Why? Because 'You CANNOT transmit something you haven’t got.'
Blinking heck! Explaining these things takes far too much time!!! Oh well..
- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Innocent Hope, and 'You CANNOT transmit something you haven’t got' -Doesn't say, 'except for Martha, or Johnny'
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