We talk about asking for help. When we came in, we did not have experience asking for help in a healthy way. We didn’t want to impose on people we barely knew, we still thought we could do it ourselves. How did we come to understand that reaching out was not weakness, that others gained as much as we did by being asked, and that asking for help did not mean giving up? How do we feel and respond when someone asks us for help and support?
Step 3, Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. How do we understand and use it in our lives?
Swetha, Spencer, and Kelli talk about our experience and understanding of Step 3, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” Spencer kicks off the discussion by with his initial problem with that step. He did not grow up with an image of a God that he was willing to turn his life over to. Kelli agrees that she felt similarly, and asks for feedback from listeners who came into the program with a helpful concept of God. Her initial reaction was “how can I get around this step?” Swetha also talks about her disbelief in the God of her parents. We all wanted to retain control of our lives.
Spencer, Swetha, and guest host Nic talk about shame – what it is, how we feel it, how we used to deal with it, and how we deal with it in recovery. We start by looking at the difference between shame and guilt. When we do something wrong, we feel guilt, and we can deal with it by making amends. When we feel shame, the message we are hearing is “I am a bad person”. We react to shame by hiding it and internalizing it and stuffing it down. We feel that we are not worthy, and that we will lose our friends, be ostracized if we reveal the thing that caused us to feel shameful.
Kelli hosts Swetha and Spencer as they share their experience, strength, and hope about detachment. Kelli opens with a reading that links detachment to self-acceptance and self-care. The first time that Spencer heard about detachment was when his uncle told him, “I hear that you’re supposed to ‘detach with love’”. Spencer had NO idea what that meant. He did not understand how he could detach and love at the same time. When she came into AlAnon, Swetha wanted certain people to just be gone from her life. She received a sheet about detachment, which started “Detachment is neither kind nor unkind…” and felt relief. Kelli thought that “detachment” sounded like giving up on a person. Her black and white thinking told her that she should either love and help (and enable) someone or just leave them. She couldn’t find a middle ground.
Swetha, Spencer, and Kelli talk about enabling. We start by defining our understanding of the term, enabling. Early on, Swetha wondered whether anything nice she did for someone was enabling. Her sponsor helped her by giving her this definition: “getting between someone and the consequences of their choices or actions.” Kelli also had this confusion. Her codependency had distorted her thinking so that she always thought she was being helpful, whether she was really just being nice, or she was enabling. The concept of enabling did not come naturally to her, because of the codependency in her family growing up. Spencer is pretty sure he had no idea what “enabling” meant before coming to the program. If he drove to the store to buy more wine, so that his loved one would not be driving drunk, he thought he was doing a good thing, even though he might have resented doing it at the same time. He struggled with the difference between enabling and keeping his family safe, at times.