Trusting the process – Episode 17

What does it mean to “trust the process?” What is “the process?” Is it meetings? The Steps? Working with a sponsor? Reading the literature? Swetha, Spencer, and special guest Anne H share our experience, strength, and hope on these questions and others. We welcome special guest Anne H to the podcast.

At the beginning, the only trust we had was that coming to a meeting might help. We really weren’t sure how, but we had run out of other options. More trust came later, as we started to see that Al-Anon had helped other people to live a happier, more serene life in the face of alcoholism and addiction.

Spencer had resisted coming to Al-Anon for a long time. He didn’t see how those 12 steps could possibly help with his problems. Anne had similar resistance even after she had been coming to meetings for a while. But, she figured, her “best thinking” had brought her to the place of pain she was in, and decided to try the suggestions she was getting from her sponsor. A problem she had with trusting the process is that it takes time to work. There is no instant solution, and we have to be willing to sit with it, work it, and be patient for the results to come. She suggests that the phrase “do the next right thing” is a “bite sized chunk” of the process.

When Anne was about 4 years into the program, she “fell away” from Al-Anon and tried to do things her way. That didn’t work out really well, and so eventually she knew she had to come back, and that the process she had given up on was what she really needed to find recovery again. It wasn’t easy for her to come back. She really didn’t want to do the work of self-examination that would be necessary. But she did come back, and gradually found that it was working for her.

Swetha came to Al-Anon after her attempt to move away from her problems failed to bring her happiness. After her first meeting, she didn’t think it was for her, and didn’t come back for a month. But she had been given a phone list and so she started calling people for help, which eventually brought her back. At the beginning, she also didn’t see how the program was going to help, but was miserable enough to keep on trying. We agree that this is a form of trust. She has come to see that one form of trusting the process is that by maintaining her spiritual condition, the other parts of her life will be OK.

For Anne, trusting the process is more than trusting her higher power. It also involves trusting the people around her. Even at the beginning, she felt that the others in a meeting were trustworthy. She heard that “we can find serenity, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.” She wanted that so badly. But when her sponsor suggested that she should form relationships with other women in the program, she didn’t see why. But she took the suggestion and found that it provided her with people she could trust, after whom she could model behavior.

A caller talked about how he was recently getting back into recovery, and that his trust currently consists of “bringing the body” to meetings. He also relates to a reading by C.S. Lewis, that benefits can come from just showing up even when we don’t believe that it will work. Anne connects with his experience. There were times when she came to meetings, but “hid” in the back of the room on the floor. But she kept “bringing the body.”  From her time of coming back, Anne finds that trust comes from experience, and can develop gradually, but by bringing her body, it came to her. She sees, and is amazed, that we can trust “the process” without knowing how or why it works, but it still does work. We have all had these experiences, where we found relief and we really can’t explain how it worked. We can only use the word, miracle, for those times.

Swetha relates an experience where she recently realized that an addict friend of hers had lied to her for years. But she was not overset by it. After a few days she called her sponsor to talk about it, wondering why she wasn’t more upset. She realized that this was a result of having worked the program. This experience gave her a deeper trust in the process. Anne has found that practicing the principles of the program has brought her to a deeper and more immediate connection with God. She always had faith in a loving God, but she had never had close contact with God until practicing the program. A couple years ago, Spencer’s son, who was in college, had some significant problems.  When Spencer heard of it, he was sure he didn’t know what to do. But it turned out, he did. Spencer was able to use what he had learned in Al-Anon to support his son, while his son worked through the consequences of his actions. By trusting the program and the process, he was able to so the “next right thing.” Anne brings up the distinction between having responsibility “to” someone and having responsibility “for” them. Al-Anon lets us find that dividing line, if we follow the process we learn here.

Anne brings in something she learned from an AA talk, about keeping things a “real piece of business”, and that when he let them “sink below the horizon”, they would become dangerous. By keeping them above the horizon, by sharing them with others and by working the program on them, then you can trust the process to help you deal with them.

Swetha asks “what is the process?” She feels that it really started with getting a sponsor and working the steps. She also finds that sharing in meetings is important for her, at least in part because that is something she’s uncomfortable with. For Spencer, it began with coming to meetings, with listening, with taking small things and trying them in his life. But his real recovery came from working the 12 steps, especially the “scary” steps of self-examination and making amends. In the last year, he found real power in step 6. When he became truly willing have a fear removed, he found himself ready to do some of the actions that had been paralyzed by the fear.

We talk about some things outside the Al-Anon program that have also helped us. Spencer finds the reading about Tradition 4, which says that, as individuals, we can use whatever resources work for us. This podcast is not an Al-Anon meeting, and we each talk about what has helped us, whether it is officially part of Al-Anon or not. With this in mind, Anne reads the “AA promises”, which she says have been very important in her life. It is part of her process as are other resources. We agree that it important to keep a focus on Al-Anon in our meetings.

Our topic for next week is Step 4, “Took a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves”. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the show

Brandon Heath – Trust You

Other music we couldn't include

Our friend Dayana K sent us suggestions for songs related to trusting the process. We weren't able to include them in the show, but didn't want to ignore them either. We've also included a suggestion from Anne. Enjoy them in this Spotify playlist.

6 comments on “Trusting the process – Episode 17

  1. Kathy J says:

    Fantastic show! So glad that I found this podcast.

  2. Deb says:

    In this episode, Spencer discussed an open talk that made him cry by someone with a last name that sounded like Owen. I couldn’t find this open talk any place. Any suggestions?

    1. The Recovery Show says:

      Deb, I’m going to have to listen to the episode again, because I really don’t remember at this time (5 years later!)

      1. Jill says:

        Was looking for this too. Thanks!

      2. Kristin Norton says:

        I love this podcast so much. I started listening in 2018 and decided to go back to the beginning and listen chronologically. With Episode 17, I also wanted to hear the open talk that Spencer mentioned. Thanks for posting the link!

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