Sunday, February 05, 2012

I've Crossed a Line

A pizza with green peppers I made the other night
I keep writing about a woman I am sponsoring, I do feel bad about it.  But you don't know who I am talking about and she doesn't know about my blog.  So, maybe it is anonymous anyway.

Last night we were at a social event together.  She introduced me to someone as her sponsor.  Then she said "I wouldn't be alive without this woman!"  I told her that is not the truth.  I really don't believe it is the truth.  She went on to elaborate about how much I have helped her.  That's great, that's what sponsors are supposed to do.  

In good sponsor/sponsee relationships, you will hear the sponsor say "you have helped ME tremendously."  Because, in my opinion, sponsorship is a two way street.  It is a reciprocal relationship.  It is not a one-sided proposition where one person has all the questions and the other has all the answers.  It is a relationship where we SHARE our experience, strength, and hope.  Someone told me long ago that in AA, we don't TELL anyone to do anything... we simply share our experience.  I believe that.

Recently with this woman I have begun to tell her what to do.  I have begun to sort of lecture her.  I have begun to be the "expert."  Now, I know a lot of you are very comfortable with that, I can see it in the way you write your blogs and by the blogs you follow.  But I am not comfortable with people who define themselves in these ways.  Not the experts, nor the helpless.  

In AA there is not supposed to be a hierarchy.  Our org chart is inverted, so that the group is at the top.  The group.  Not the individual.  We do not have leaders.  We are a collective.  

Most of my peers, in terms of length of sobriety, are gone.  They have have died or left.  Some of them come to meetings regularly in order to be a big shot.  They call it "paying back."  They would insist that they no longer need meetings, they just come back to "help others."  I find it gross to listen to them.  They don't share, they tell.  They lecture.  They give speeches.  

I am sober today by the Grace of God.  That means I can get drunk, just like everyone else.  I am not immune.  I did not reach a sober anniversary and become an "expert."  I am a drunk, that is why I belong in an AA meeting.  Part of my sobriety is helping others.  But as someone who understands because I have been there, not as someone who is perfect and therefore can give everyone else advice.  

I have be out of here to meet my running club in 15 minutes.  I better get dressed.  

I think today I shall step off the soap box and attempt to live in unity with others, just the way God intended me to.  And I will likely stay sober if I do that.  I hope you do too.  


Anonymous said...

Mary Christine, why don't you talk to your sponsor about it?

Mary Christine said...

Anon, Of course I have talked to my sponsor about this! We are both conflicted about it.

Patty said...

I loved your blog today! Maybe the reason I dont have a sponsor today is because I grew enough that I no no longer made them my Higher Power. Some people have a real issue with that. You have also motivated me to go to a meeting today. Thanks Mary! Running club-YAY!

Daisyanon said...

Hmmmm...This is reminding me now of an experience of my own, not in an AA context, but in a spiritual one.

My person kept trying to turn me into an authority figure, someone to tell her what to do, so she could rebel against it. Just like she did with her father. She was a glass always half empty person as well. Unlike yours, she had a good deal of insight into this behaviour pattern. It was still hard work though.

We muddled through somehow and I did not let her define me and my responses. It was incredibly draining and exhausting. Every time we met I decided that would be the last. Eventually, after a gruelling session she finished the formal relationship and we are still on good terms, but not friends.

Can you manage not to let this woman manipulate you? Do you think it is worth the effort? Will the effort harm your own sobriety?

It is beginning to sound as if you need a break from her. And maybe she does from you. If she is succeeding in her games with you it is not good for her.

Syd said...

I think that she may be ingratiating herself to you which is really about getting positive strokes from you. When people praise others in an elevated way, there is some motive. She needs to inventory what that is.

Annette said...

The one word that came to my mind as I read this great post was "humility." By the grace of God you are sober today and I can spend another day minding my own business and trusting God to do for me what I can't for for myself.

That, and I immediately started wondering if I was one of the people whose blog comes across as being very comfortable telling others what to do. LOL You know us co-dependents....its all about us, really.

dAAve said...

If you have, in fact, crossed the line, you know the way back.

It sounds like she may be putting you on a sort-of pedestal. I know that can be dangerous. You might remind her that you're just another drunk.

Mary Christine said...

Dave, I remind her of that every time we speak. I am not so easily pedastalized, believe me.

Lou said...

I don't know what to say. I have had uncomplicated sponsor relationships, except for the psychiatrist sponsor. She would not get off the "suppressed memories" bandwagon, so I got away from her. I have enough memories to deal with, without digging for ones I don't even remember!

Also, some people just make dramatic statements, full of hyperbole.

Mrs D said...

I'm trying to just be a really good listener when people come to me with their problems, even though I feel like they're seeking answers from me (like I'm some kind of expert after having admitted my own failings). Your blog is thought provoking, thanks xxxx

Mary LA said...

I like your honesty Mary Christine. When I find myself giving advice or being controlling, it is usually because I am anxious about someone who is not taking responsibility for herself. All I have to share is my tiny scrap of sober experience.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I love you!

I love you for the reflection you are and the light that you bring.

I've been hearing a different song lately, and it's so hard to want that 6th step change now, to hear the new story and to find someone you love lagging behind, fighting.

I appreciate all of your reflections because I have followed the person who "lectured and told me what to do" and I've also followed someone who provides no direction only a solid guidepost and help with my reading and accountability. Somehow I don't think I would have gotten where I am without the balance that the fellowship brings. I guess that's why its about constantly working with others. I never know how far I've gotten on or off track until I have these sudden moments of clarity.

I'm grateful today for long timers like Peg, Polly, Julie, Beth, Mary Christine, Pammie, Anna, Cindy, Melissa... so many women who .... reflect grace, love and sobriety in such an awesome way