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.
Spencer, Swetha, and Kelli talk about their experience with Al-Anon, attempting to address the question “What is Al-Anon?” We start by talking about what brought us to the program. Swetha’s boyfriend suggested the program to her, but she didn’t think at first that she qualified. Kelli’s boyfriend’s sponsor told her that if she was going to stay in that relationship she needed to go to Al-Anon. Spencer came into Al-Anon when he realized that his attempts to fix his loved one’s “drinking problem” were making him miserable. He was desperate and figured it might help.
Kelli, Swetha, and Spencer discuss Step 2: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Spencer talks about the first 3 words of the step: First, he “came”. After some time in Al-Anon, he “came to.” As he started to recover, he “came to believe.” Swetha found it easy to believe in a power greater than herself, because she was doing a lousy job of taking care of things. For her, a higher power is anything that restores her to sanity, whether it’s a meeting or a sunset. Kelli had no definition of a higher power when she came into the program, and those first three words gave her space and time to find her path.