Step one is by FAR the most exhausting. For MANY reasons. But invariably, there comes a point of utter exasperation, where I reach my ABSOLUTE LIMITS of patience and tolerance. Normally I will just let it ride. But if I have SERIOUS concerns about the persons imminent (1-3 month) risk of relapse, or I am simply 'not getting through', I will adopt more 'dramatic' verbal approach. Which also happens to be VERY exhausting, for myself.
Its one of my least favorite tactics, as I find it REALLY tiring and mentally draining. But I have found that it seems to 'work' pretty much every time I use it, so I reluctantly implement it when no other method appears to be working. Also when my patience runs out!
What it feels like for me is like I am taming a wild horse or something, or wrestling with an alligator, or trying to catch a greasy pig.
It feels like a 'fight' of some sort. A battle of wills.
It is my belief that I am wrestling their ego to the ground in these verbally and mentally EXHAUSTING and very confrontational exchanges. Actually its not really THEIR ego, it is the ALCOHOLIC ego RUN RIOT that I am addressing, as opposed to THEM personally. I will not stop until I 'win'. And I do not care what I have to say or how I have to say it to 'win'. I often throw their previous behavior in their face, or aspects of their past that they are in denial about. Its pretty dramatic. Afterwards, Sponsees tell me I have been 'brutally honest', but that they REALLY appreciated it, and NEEDED to hear it. But don't get me wrong. Nobody ever WANTS to hear this stuff. I actually find it a bit scary saying it all. Although you wouldn't know that if you heard me in mid-stream! But that's probably because I hate confrontation. I can do it, but I do not like it.
I call it 'Reading the Riot Act'.
Its VERY draining! Its pretty intense and emphatic, A 'no holds barred' full on 'thing' where I tell them (whether they like it or not) what they are doing WRONG. And usually how pissed off I am at trying to deal with it. Its a bit like being a 'hairdryer'. Its weird. Its a technique I have only really used for ? 3-4 years. I am amazed at how well it seems to work when all else fails. Basically its a very FULL ON thing where I take their inventory, and tell them in VERY unflattering and blatant terms where they are horribly wrong. Its VERY ego puncturing. But that's step 1. There is always a very unique kind of silence at the end stage of the exchange. It feels very different than normal silences. Better. Its a good silence. It tells me I am getting through. It reminds me of the 'silent' response of tom cruise in the vanilla sky clip I have posted on my side bar JUST after the guy in the lift tells Tom Cruise that 'It was Sofia who never fully recovered'. Anyway I feel step one is kind of 'on the way' when this point arises. You need to allow the dust to settle and the effect of the words to sink in. but usually you see a much more 'humbled', quieted, person after such an encounter. Provided they were a bit 'gobby' or 'mouthy' beforehand.
Anyway, I had to one of these the other night, and I am STILL mentally burnt out from it. My head literally ? Feels 'burnt out'.
Anyway it seemed to work and I like to think that they have enough information now about where they are going wrong to avoid getting themselves in the same mess they were in when I spoke to them last. I don't like to make any assumptions. And I CERTAINLY do not want them to think that they are in any way safe UNTILL they start implementing some new behaviors, as the LAST thing people need when they are getting it horribly wrong is to be lulled into a false sense of security. But you never know. Perhaps this is the last time I will have to repeat myself so empathically and at such length. I hope so!
Disclaimer: I meet a TON of women who are DOORMATS and go through life being BULLIED and just take that for granted. Also I have seen more than my fair share of browbeating, heavy handed and mean spirited sponsorship, so if you have experienced or are experiencing this type of sponsorship, do NOT see this post as an endorsement of that kind of sponsorship. It is NOT. It took AGES for me to develop the confidence and efficiency to develop this technique. Plus it simply DOES NOT WORK if the person doing it is even in the SLIGHTEST way RESENTFUL or BITTER.
The technical term for the difference in approach is 'clean anger' and 'dirty anger'.
Whatever. Just thought I would share that. I might add, I have not come across another sponsor who uses a similar technique, but I AM hoping that my Sponsees might learn how to do it themselves at some point, as I have found it to be REALLY effective at 'taming' newcomers. If you get step one right, the rest is downhill. Well pretty much anyway. And learning how to 'tame' rebellious Sponsees means that you are able to help a much wider range of personality types, and often more damaged people. Which can only be a good thing.
- 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.
Monday, June 18, 2007
'Reading the Riot Act': A Step One confrontation technique I use occasionally
Posted by An Irish Friend of Bill
Labels: Sponsorship, Step 1, Untreated Alcoholism
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Very interesting! When I was trying to decide who to ask to sponsor me I knew I wanted to ask someone whose program I admire, but I also wanted someone who would not pat my hand and "there, there" me all the time. I have plenty of people to tell me, "oh you poor thing." I need someone who will show me how to save my own life and will not hesitate to tell me when I'm wrong. I'm pretty sure my sponsor is that person.
I got the secret. See my new post...
And thanks for sharing.
Interesting stuff, as always. A lot to think about and, surprise, surprise...not sure how much I agree with you. But that's okay.
Always thought provoking.
hahaa Well you know me Kenny. Nothing I can't bear more than an 'yes' person, so I am very happy indeed to hear your guiltless expression of a difference of opinion. Shows you are thinking for yourself, and I always like that.
Hope you are enjoying the sun!
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