Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Taking The First Step"

Sponsorship can be so cool. It's a beautiful thing, watching up close as someone changes their life and starts living it differently. The haunted looks become joyful smiles. The self-obsession becomes concern for others. The self-hating becomes humor.

It truly is my priviledge to help guide others on their spiritual path. I get to watch myself, too. It could be easy to listen to my sponsees share in meetings and think that the reason they are doing well (if they are) is because of my spectacular vision and tutelage. But I know that's not the case, and if my brain ever starts to tell me it is, I can wave and say, "yes, hello disease, I see you over there." If my sponsees are doing well, it speaks far more to how well they're working the program than it does my involvement.

At my step-study meeting this week, I got to hear one of my sponsees share that he'd just finished working step one. The group commended him and you could see the change in him from before. He was proud of the work he's done, but there were also the signs of the change that working the program brings. More peaceful. More real. He talked about the work he'd done. He'd been very thorough on his first step, maybe more so than most. As his sponsor, I was happy to let him work the program as he felt he needed to, and just watched to make sure he continued making progress.

When he'd felt he was done, we had gone over his work. He had been thorough, but as we talked it became clear that there was still something not quite right. It wasn't something I could put a finger on, except to say that he seemed to still have a reservation somewhere. Like, somewhere in the back of his mind he was still thinking maybe one day he could go back to getting loaded the way he used to, or perhaps one day he'd be able to control his using. I realized that, for all the work he had done, he hadn't quite managed to actually take that first step.

This is what I said to him: when we read the first step in meetings, we say 'we'. When we take the first step, we say 'I'. *I* am powerless. *My* life is unmanageable. The text from 'how it works' says these are the steps we took. These are things we have done. When my sponsee then said the first step using the word 'I', his entire look changed. It was as though he were honestly admitting to himself for the first time that he really was an addict. The deceitful power of denial fell away--and so did his reservations.

After that, he seemed to have felt a little self-conscious about all the work that he had done when the actual taking of the first step was so simple. I reminded him that simplicity is something we learn though working the program. I told him, too, that all the work he had done served a very important purpose: it was what he had to do to make himself ready to take that first step honestly.

I've heard people share in meetings about the importance of the word 'we' in that first step, and they are absolutely correct. It's our first introduction to the idea that we aren't alone. We aren't the first to have to admit to ourselves that we have this disease. We aren't alone in our Recovery, either. There is a solution. There is help.

We take these steps for ourselves, but not by ourselves.

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