Friday, November 02, 2007

More about Sponsorship

I called another person on my list last night. She is a really nice lady and I really enjoyed our conversation. For those of you who are wondering or have expressed concern, no... I do not spend the entire time talking to them about my friend or even my husband. Al-anon is not about anyone but me. I have mentioned situations to them but only to get their opinion on how I handled something or a suggestion on how I should handle it in the future.

We actually spend most of the time on the phone with them just getting to know me and a little bit about my story. Last night we talked about where I work and what I do the night before I talked to the lady a little bit about why I came to Al-anon and how long I have been in the program.

Oh and speaking of me, for the commenter who posted last night to tell me that other people have problems and I should stop focusing so much on myself... um this is my blog. That's what you do on a blog is talk about yourself. That's the point. If you don't like it, navigate yourself to someone else's blog. K?

Now... on to the true meaning of this post. Laura asked me some questions about Al-anon and AA and since I love to educate those who really want to know I thought I would share today. First of all here is her comment for those of you who didn't get a chance to read it:

I have another couple questions about AA and the sponsor thing. First, are Al-anon and AA the same thing? In your last post it sounded like they weren't, but I thought they were both just different ways of shortening the name "Alcoholics Anonymous." Is that incorrect?

Second, I am a little confused as to why you need a sponsor. I have never been part of AA or Al-Anon so I have no idea how it works, but I had always assumed that the sponsors were for alcoholic's/addicts to help them get through their addiction. That is obviously not your problem, you are not the addict, you are a family member of an addict. What purpose do the 12 steps in recovery from addiction serve for you, if you're not an addict to begin with?

To address her first question. No Al-anon and AA are not the same thing. Al-anon is for friends and family members of addicts/alcoholics. Most of the Al-anon literature refers to alcoholics but one of the things you learn pretty quickly in the program is that an addict is an addict no matter what their drug of choice.

To quote from the official Al-anon website:

It is estimated that each alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people... alcoholism is truly a family disease. No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship.

Many who come to Al-Anon/Alateen are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about change. We all come to Al-Anon because we want and need help.

In Al-Anon and Alateen, members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

As for question number two this was something that even I did not understand when I first entered Al-anon. As I have been there for a couple of months it has begun to become more clear. AA members need sponsors to help them work the 12 steps and get through their recovery. Al-anon members need the same thing.

Most people who have never been to Al-anon do not realize just how sick the family members of alcoholics/addicts can get. As my husband's disease got worse so did my own. As they say in Al-anon:

Your thinking can become distorted by trying to force solutions. You can become irritable and irrational without knowing it. (And believe me when I tell you I have made a lot of irrational decisions while trying to "force" him to be sober.)

The 12 steps are to help me to understand my part in what happened. I did not make Jake use but I did have a part in enabling his addiction. I covered for him I didn't file charges when he stole from me and from family members. Instead I just covered checks/etc. I worked harder and juggled money when he would miss work and we would be short. I did a lot of things that enabled him and so in a way I got sick right along with him.

On Friday of last week Jess came with me to an Al-anon meeting. It was a speaker meeting where a very nice woman I know told her story and it just seemed like it was my story all over again. She talked about becoming sick with her husband. About getting in the car at 3 AM to drive around looking for him. About paying for their house while he laid on the couch all day, about all of the crazy things that she had done that I have also done.

The Al-anon 12 steps are a way to work through all of the anger and resentment that I have towards Jake and also a way for me to dig myself out of the dark hole I have been in for the last 10 years. They are to help me gain a new way of thinking about myself and about my life so that God forbid something like this ever happens again I will be able to better cope and won't turn into such a crazy person.

Does this help answer the questions? Does anyone have any more questions? I'm really an open book and I will answer just about anything that you want to know, so ask away. Post anonymously if you want to ask but don't want others to know who you are.


Laura said...

That does indeed answer my questions. Thank you so much for sharing, I've learned a lot from this post.

Kbreints said...

I bet that it helps you to sort through your thoughts to write them down and "teach" others about the program. You will be a great sponsor yourself one day. I think that is going to be an important part of all of this eventually- helping others through it as well.

Anonymous said...

I see a whole lot more about the programs now, just by your last 3-4 posts. Thank you. Seriously!

The way you work thru it all on your blog is kind of a good "teacher" for people to learn little bits that aren't really clear or explained in a short pamphlet. Know what I mean?

Anyway, just want to say thanks and keep up the writing. Exploring all this in detail by reading your posts is interesting and it kinda like "48 hours" or "Dateline" - an investigative type of lesson. Thanks! :)