Posts tagged Honesty

Resistance

Recently, a sponsee approaching the 8th Step called to talk about not going through with it.  After listening to her use a myriad of excuses to justify not going forward, the truth came out.  She was afraid.  She didn’t want to see her world change.  She likes everything black and white and moving forward with the Steps, in her eyes, means being forced to look at the gray areas.  She had felt safe in the realm of denial and was resisting the clarity that is inevitable when we work the 12 Step program.

That fear of the unknown I well remember.  From time to time it still appears.  My path through the 12 Steps also included resistance at what I might learn about me, and about life.  It was scarey.  I didn’t want to do it much of the time.  Fortunately, my wise sponsor gently reminded me, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”  She disclosed that she hadn’t wanted to do the work either, but doing it got her to where she was – a place of calm and serenity that I truly wanted for me.  Even if we don’t feel safe, we are.  My sponsee didn’t think she was ready to learn more.  It occurred to me that when we’re in school, we’re rarely feeling comfortable with all that new information and may not see ourselves as ready to learn more, but we do.  We listen to the teachings, do our homework, pass the test and to varying degrees we find we now have more information with which to understand the world and how it works.

I admire this sponsee for hanging in there with our conversation long enough to allow herself to get honest, share about her fears and make the decision to go forward as planned.  She apologized for the earlier excuses, and for not being honest from the beginning.  For my part, passing on that she is in good company, that many of us have experienced the same resistance and trepidation about proceeding into unfamiliar territory was a gift.  A good reminder about the progress I’ve made, and also, how much alike we are on the path to recovery.  It was important for me to let her know how much care and fellowship I feel for her.  My approach to walking through the Steps with sponsees is that it’s a sacred responsibility, an honor and a privelege to share this part of their journey and pass on the many gifts shared by oldtimers with me over the years.  No one gave up on me.  I won’t give up on anyone – but, they have to do the work.  I can’t do it for them – and I will be there for them through the trials as all of us will be there for each other.  We are never alone.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am making progress daily.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Why We Share

A woman recently shared with me that she had been suffering from anxiety for some time and she was embarrassed to admit it.  She had shame about this condition. 

What she didn’t know is that anxiety is a common condition which many of us in 12 Step programs suffer with for much of our lives.  She is in good company.  There is relief available.  I too was plagued by embarrassing bouts of anxiety for most of my life until a few years ago.  Although my intellect knew that I was perfectly safe in situations, the emotional side of my brain did not seem to be capable of processing the safety message.  Instead, when even a minor stressor came into my life, my body went into overdrive – heartbeat racing, elevated blood pressure, overactive intestines (diarhea for decades) and a sense of inappropriate panic.  It seemed to be a carry over of the hyper-vigilance required while growing up in an unsafe home environment.  But, that was then and this is now.  It didn’t make sense to me that it should still be impacting me so strongly as an adult since I was certainly capable of caring for myself and knew that my conditions were safe.

What I’ve since learned is that there is actually a physiological reason that some people suffer from this condition.  And it is suffering.  It impacts our ability to enjoy calm when our body on it’s own is panicking.  Fortunately, there was a solution for me in the form of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  It only took one session for me to experience noticeable relief!  EMDR may not work for everyone or for that matter be appropriate.  But, it required no medication, no longterm therapy and has made a huge positive difference in my quality of life.  After decades of discomfort and working around it, my right brain emotions are able to match my left brain intellectual awareness of my safety and serenity.  My level of sanity matches reality.  I’ve referred many people to the licensed therapist who practices this newer therapeutic technique and they, too, have experienced marked relief from the same issues.  It is imporant for us all to share about our difficulties, even if we are embarrassed or ashamed.  It helps others and let’s us all know that we are not alone and there are solutions for us.  What a blessing!

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to be rigorously honest.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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What We Bring

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One of the meetings that we attend is going through some growing pains.  It’s good for all of us as a group to experience the process of working through topics. 

At times it can be very uncomfortable.  Perserverence is required.  What seems to be important to remember is to focus on what we can bring to the meeting instead of what we can take from it.  When new at meetings it was more important for me to listen.  I didn’t “get” what people were talking about, but I truly wanted to “get it”.

Now, my focus is more on what my presence can bring to the meeting most of the time.  Rigourous honesty is a key here.  We may never know what our Higher Power is using us for in a meeting, but we don’t need to know.  My experience from listening to others share is that our honesty can touch another member in miraculous ways.  The relief and clarity that I’ve gained – the new awarenesses – from another member’s humble, honest sharing has been invaluable.  To find out that I’m not the only one going through a particular situation has provided me with serenity and sanity that was previously inaccessible to me.  The generousity of other members has worked miracles in my life.  And, it’s important to pass it on.  So, keep coming back – it works. 

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 Affirmation for the Day – ” I am divinely guided and inspired.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – Let me remember what my purpose is.

Practice – Father, forgiveness is Your chosen means for our salvation.  Let us not forget that we can have no will but Yours today.  And thus our purpose must be Yours as well if we would reach the peace You will for us.

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We’re Only As Sick As Our Secrets

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In the past few months, 3 women have kept their decisions to date men a secret from their sponsor.  When the first one brought it up to me, months after it began, she felt uncomfortable.  She knew that it wasn’t the wisest choice she could have made because she’s in the midst of a divorce and new to the 12 Steps.  She’d already judged herself knowing it might have been better to wait to start another relationship.

The second woman decided to get married to a man with whom she has a quite volatile relationship, and hadn’t mentioned it to her sponsor.  She mentioned it somewhat sideways to others in the program.  Everyone was surprised.

The third woman had asked for sponsorship particulary because of relationship issues with a man.  She ended the relationship, and soon after began dating a man formerly referred to as a friend, but kept it from her sponsor until mentioning casually that she was going away for a long weekend with him.  It didn’t last.

Why is it these women seem hesitant to be honest about their relationships with men?  These are programs of rigourous honesty.  When I’ve spoken with the women about this issue, they admit they were afraid they would be judged because they knew these decisions could be big mistakes.  That was their expectation, perhaps because of their own doubt about the wisdom of the choices they made.  But they wanted a relationship.  Speaking only for myself, having been in similar situations, I wanted to have a man in my life despite the signs that it could be an unhealthy choice for me.  As my self esteem and confidence level has improved, as a direct result of my progress in the program, my “need” for a man in my life has correspondingly decreased.  What this means is that if there is a man in my life it’s because I “want” it, I’m getting to know him and I have more helpful, healthy boundaries about how I show up and the relationship dynamics in general.  It is a process, and now I focus on getting to know this person – or these people if I’m just cultivating potential friendships.  I tell my sponsor about it, even if I have concerns that she may have concerns.  If she does, she tells me and we discuss it.  She supports me in the process.  She wants the best for me and reinforces my self esteem by reminding me of my good qualities and what I deserve.  These are helpful comments for me to hear, and it reminds me of how important it is to acknowledge those same things in the women I sponsor.

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 Affirmation for the Day – ” I am clear and honest in my communication.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – God is the only goal I have today.

Practice – And so, our Father, would we come to You in Your appointed way.  We have no goal except to hear Your Voice and find the way Your sacred Word has pointed out to us.

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Rigorous Honesty

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When we commit to working through the 12 Steps we discover it is a path of rigorous honesty.  For some of us this is a foreign concept.

Recently I was reminded that people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.  Good food for thought.  My loved one comes from a family where honesty was not, and is not practiced.  Instead of rigorous honesty, what appears to have been status quo was rigorous dishonesty and deception.  It manifested as follows:  secrets and more secrets, phone conversations secretly recorded or listened to on extensions, belongings rifled through, lies told regularly, instead of addressing situations honestly people literally run away from home, no follow through on obligations, people routinely isolated in addictions while the rest of the family pretended it wasn’t going on and tip toed around the situations, and there’s much collusion (including breaking laws) to support the addictions and codependency, general dishonesty and dysfunction.  Many of us can relate to these conditions.  We’ve experienced some or all of them to varying degrees. 

That was then, this is now.  If we are committed to a new way of living we have the option to choose the safe vulnerability that comes from rigorous honesty.  It is a humbling and rewarding choice.  Again we take a risk to experience a new way of showing up in life.  For those of us who have come from an extremely dishonest environment, this can be daunting.  However, as we follow the examples of our sponsors and the instructions layed out in the 12 Steps we find that honesty can serve us well.  It helps illuminate the fogginess we’ve been operating in and gives us clarity about who we aren’t and where we went off track.  It builds character and self esteem to choose honesty.  Although we are cautioned not to cause others harm with our honesty, as in the 9th Step, we are encouraged to practice it in all our affairs.  It takes less energy to be honest and offers us a new freedom we may never have previously experienced.  The freedom to handle life on life’s terms with tools that work.  We see that we can stand as equals to our sisters and brothers on the planet in a way that never felt comfortable before.  Courage may be called for at first, but eventually we build a history to reference of success with our new found honesty and it becomes an automatic practice.  And we learn to be honest in helpful, discerning, gentle and loving ways that encourage others to respond in kind.  We understand how to communicate even what is difficult to address, in ways that others can hear and receive with an open mind.  It does take practice, and it does become easier as we progress through the learning curve.  One day at a time.

If you find this helpful, pass it on to others.  For daily updates, press the orange RSS feed to the right for directions.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to change.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson –  Father, today I am Your Child again.

Practice – We  thank You, Faather, that we cannot lose the memory of You and of Your Love.  We recognize our safety and give thanks for all the gifts You have bestowed on us, for all the loving help we have received, for Your eternal patience, and the Word which You have given us that we are saved.

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