Making Hard Decisions

Three weeks ago, a gentleman asked me to be his Sponsor. Three weeks, two weeks, I honestly don’t remember. It’s been a while but the point is I have to make a hard decision to let him go.

When I sponsor people in AA, I did as I was taught. First, like my old Sponsor, Joe, asked me, “If there is anything I ask you of this program right now are: honesty – with yourself, me and your Higher Power, when you come to believe in one; open-minded – take suggestions I and others offer you; and willing – trying new things in your life because you’re here because the old way didn’t work” From my own experience it is only with those three principles do I first tackle any problems or even just the days activities.

Second, as most people do in the AA program, try to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. From my experience, I didn’t know anything about how the AA program really worked. Listening to others, their stories and how they “practice these principles” in their lives even today as saved my life on many occasions. Meetings for me are an important part of my program because without them, I will drink.

Third, making and sticking to commitments. In my past, I would agree to do something but not do it. Alcoholics Anonymous has taught me to be responsible and accountable for myself. First, I made the commitment – not to drink “One Day at a Time”. Second, I went to meetings as suggested. Third, I make a coffee commitment so I learned to get to know others in the program so I had someone to help me and perhaps, I ended up helping someone else.

These three things, for me, are the cornerstone of my recovery. They, in addition to working with my Sponsor through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, have kept me sober. Therefore, this is what I pass down to those people I sponsor in AA.

Unfortunately, a person I sponsor is not following through with any of these suggestions. While I attempt not to take someone’s inventory, I don’t believe he is being honest – I can see it in his actions. Two, he’s not going to meetings. Three, he agreed to make coffee one night a week (Friday) and hasn’t done it in two weeks. I have to question his desire to stay sober.

What he has done is come over to chat when he is going through difficult times. Again, I’ve been honest, open-minded and willing to help him. On the other hand, I have a feeling of being a door mat. I was there in my early sobriety when my Sponsor finally said, “Mike, you have to work the program. I can’t help you get sober unless you help yourself.” I feel it is time for both him and I to part ways.

This is part of the program which is hard for me because of my codependency. I want to help him but I just don’t see that “desire”. I recognize I can’t get another person sober unless they have this “desire” and for now, it’s just not there. Thus, I have to do what I believe is best for both of us.

Came to Believe . . .

In the various 12-Step meetings, they all have adapted the same for Step 2: “Came to believe in a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” For many, we rejected the idea of God or a Higher Power because “what did He/She/They/Them do for me when I was drinking”? Many nights all those fox hole prayers were never answered. This Step is another stumbling block for many newcomers, even myself.

Throughout the early years of my life, I rejected the Christian God and Christianity in general. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. Specifically, getting me out of the hell hole I was living with an abusive (physical, mental and emotionally) mother and enabling, codependent father. However, I did acknowledge an existence of what I called “a presence” which I found through Nature, Herself. Eventually those beliefs brought me in believing in Those I choose to today, which out of respect for all religions, I simply call my Higher Power.

At the beginning of my sobriety, AA asked me to stop drinking – one day at a time. What? Me? Are you serious? My friend, my lover, my companion, the “thing” that kept me insane from all the insanity in my life? It happened.

As I grew in days and months of my sobriety, now AA asked me to “come to believe in a Power greater than myself to restore me to sanity.” Whoa..wait a minute…put the breaks on! I had my own beliefs and it didn’t include “God”. However, I was reminded of three things from my Sponsor, “If there is anything in this program I ask of you, it is to be honest with yourself and others, an open-mind to experience new ideas and a willingness to try new things.” With much reluctance my response was, “Fine.”

I heard in meetings and was reminded by my Sponsor, which I passed on to those I sponsored later, “Step 2 only says, ‘Came to believe'”. Therefore, with an open mind and my willingness I began to connect with my Higher Power as I knew Them. My trust in Them grew exponentially as time passed. Now, I explain two things to people about this Step to help them out. This didn’t happen over night, it took months, if not years to develop the relationship I have with my Higher Power I have today.

For me, if my gut tells me something is right or wrong; go left, not right; choose the blue box not the red box; I have a choice. Yet, in early sobriety I didn’t choose because I knew no better. However, later on after some experience, I did have a choice. It’s called taking responsibility for my actions and trusting in my Higher Power. For me, my gut is my Higher Power speaking through me. Therefore, if I choose against what my “guy” is telling me, I must accept those consequences.

At a men’s meeting I use to attend to years ago, I will never forget how a friend of mine explained how he practices this Step. “When I don’t know what to do, when I’m in a bad situation, when I think about using, I simply look up and say, ‘Can you help me out?'” Simple, yet revolutionary!

We as alcoholics, addicts, codependents, etc., tend to complicate matters, hence the saying, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Whether you have a religious background or not, it doesn’t matter. Most 12-step programs are spiritual programs. I explain ‘spiritual’ as ‘finding your true Self’. Who do you want to be in recovery – the same piece of shit with two legs meandering through life aimlessly when drinking like I did?

If you haven’t recognized another important part of recovery, it is you can’t do it alone! We have all suffered enough so let others help you, especially in a Higher Power. With the help of a Higher Power, your life will change.

It may be difficult at first to digest this concept. We were all in your shoes. But try one of the two methods I describe above. Don’t think about it, just do it. My Sponsor use to say, “Don’t expect anything. If you expect something and it doesn’t happen, you are only going to disappoint yourself. If you think about it, our addiction will convince us to do otherwise.

Do it just once a day? Do it when you need some help, there is no meeting, you don’t have a Sponsor yet or you just want to practice it. Did it work for you? What happened? Keep working on it.

Eventually connecting with your Higher Power will become second nature. Sometimes in my own life, especially now in my own early sobriety, I use the methods described above. They work. You have to trust and “come to believe in a Higher Power greater than yourself. The second part of the step, “…could restore us to sanity” just comes with time with the practice of the rest of the 12 Steps.

Good luck and remember – Today, don’t drink!