Enduring habits I hate…. Yes, at the very bottom of my soul I feel grateful to all my misery and bouts of sickness and everything about me that is imperfect, because this sort of thing leaves me with a hundred backdoors through which I can escape from enduring habits. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882
Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength. ~August Wilson
The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt. ~Max Lerner, The Unfinished Country, 1950
1. From TAAAF (Through an Al-Anon Filter): “Stages of Spiritual Growth”:
I’ve heard it said that spiritual growth in 12-Step consists of three phases – the first phase is “Help me!” We come into Al-Anon self-absorbed and seeking relief from our pain. As the introduction read out at meetings states: “Living with alcoholism is too much for most of us…”
We’ve often reached a stage of helpless anger and frustration, with no idea of what we need, but knowing that we need help. We become willing to surrender to the understanding that we can’t make the alcoholic stop drinking..
The second stage of spiritual growth in 12-Step is “Grant me…” we reach this stage when we have some idea of our character defects, how they make our lives more difficult and hinder our search for serenity. At this stage, we’ve given up the blaming, rationalizing, justifying, and see ourselves without harshness or judgment, simply with clarity – “this is who I am.” We ask to be granted relief from our character defects that we might find peace, yes, but also that we might be a better person – we begin to look outward as well as inward, to understand what it might be like for others to deal with us.
The third stage of spiritual growth in 12-Step is “Use me.” We reach a place of quiet knowing that just as our Higher Power uses people in our life to teach and sustain us, so can we too be used. Before a meeting with a sponsee, I say a little prayer: “Please make me worthy of this person’s trust.”
2. From faithallen (Blooming Lotus): “Child Abuse Healing Process Pushing Away Friends”:
I, too, went through this with many of my friends in the early years of healing from child abuse. The surprising part to me was that even some of the people who took my news very well in the moment and said all of the right things pulled away after my disclosure.
One in particular was great at first – she made a point of making eye contact and saying, “This is NOT your fault. You need to understand that.” I sooo needed to hear that message and thought, “Wow. She gets it.” Then, crickets. I still bump into her from time to time, and she is as sweet as can be, but she pulled away when I needed her the most.
I think the problem is that emotionally unhealthy people attract emotionally unhealthy friends, so the pool of friends to choose from for support is likely not to offerthe best choices. I am no longer friends with any of the ladies I used to hang out with before healing or during the early stages of healing. If we bump into each other, we’ll do the casual chit-chat thing (other than the one ex-friend), but I have healed too much for any of those friendships to work anymore.
If anyone had told me this would happen, I am not sure I would have had the courage to continue healing, and I sure would not have viewed this as a good thing. I had such a deep-seated fear of abandonment that I would have been scared to do anything to push away the people I loved … and I did love my friends.
3. From Spiritual River to Recovery: “Complacency is More Dangerous than Resentment in Long Term Sobriety”
They have a popular saying in recovery circles that I believe is flat out wrong: “Resentment is the number one offender.” Meaning that more people relapse due to resentments than for any other reason.
My experience in recovery has taught me that this may actually be a misleading idea, because it is not resentment which seems to get people into trouble, but complacency.
Complacency is when you get lazy with personal growth and you stop pushing yourself to make positive changes in your life, believing that you are safe in your recovery and that you have made all of the progress that you need to make in order to remain clean and sober. You can see how that might set you up for a possible relapse.
This happens to people who have been in AA for years or even decades sometimes. They have recovery all figured out and they have been enjoying a stable life in recovery for a long, long time. In most cases they will even be working with other alcoholics on a regular basis and will still be going to meetings. But somehow it is just not enough. They fall into a trap of boredom, they stop making personal growth because they are no longer pushing themselves or challenging themselves with new goals in life. And so they wind up relapsing. Not because they could not handle a resentment but because they got too comfortable in their lives and stopped pushing themselves to make new growth.
Of course this can easily happen outside of AA as well, the program you are following makes little difference. The trap is still the same and the script is almost always going to be similar.