It’s been a very busy few days since I last wrote here. About 75% of my mental energy has been taken up with my degree. The first assigment deadline isn’t for another four weeks, but I’m throwing myself into the work now as it’s imperative that I do well this year – and getting better marks is going to require more than doing everything at the last minute. I’m working every day, treating my degree like a full time job, because it seems better doing it that way. I’m not getting much novel writing done at the moment, consequently, so a finish date by the end of the month has begun to look less likely. But the most important thing at the moment is my degree, really, and despite the suddenly massive workload I am enjoying University more than I ever did when I was drinking.
I think it’s fair to say that my AA programme was beginning to suffer, due to the stress of being back at Uni and the fact that my first sponsor is going away for quite some time this week. When I got myself a sponsor in the beginning it really brought me into AA as I finally had that strong bond that I could trust and work with. For the last few weeks I’ve been in between sponsors and I only realised this week how disillusioned that was making me feel towards the whole of AA. Last night I had an emotional wobble, after yet another meeting in which I didn’t really speak to anybody and which I went home from feeling completely lonely and pissed off with the programme.
The good thing is that quite quickly I was able to pull myself back up, telling myself I could either choose to quit the programme altogether and go back to how my life was before, or I could get a new sponsor and start working properly on my recovery again. Being in AA and having a good programme is about more than just going to meetings every now and then; unfortunately for the last few weeks I’ve let that part of my life drift a bit, as I’ve only gone to 3 or so meetings a week and I haven’t made much effort to connect with people there. Last night I realised that I can’t keep feeling that way – I can’t keep coming away from meetings feeling so disillusioned that I want to throw it all away, however brief that feeling is.
So I plucked up the courage to ask someone who I’ve come to know and trust recently to be my new sponsor, and he has kindly agreed. As soon as I got his response telling me that he would be honoured to work with me, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I can finally get on with working the program and the 12 steps again; I have a reason to keep going to meetings and to make the effort to be honest at all times. A few months ago, I don’t think I would have had the courage or the will to take this step. Asking someone to be one’s sponsor is a scary business, because of the possibility that they will turn you down; basically it’s a very big deal. Three months ago it would have so been in my nature to run away and just give up. It’s a testament to the program that last night I somehow knew the right thing to do would be to stick around and get a new sponsor. My emotional wobbles may continue, but I think I’m getting better at dealing with them.
It all ties in with my issues around trust. I knew when my first sponsor told me he was going away that my trust issues were being tested, because I instinctively felt let down and hurt, even though his reasons for going away are nothing to do with me. He has his own life, his career, and I’m very happy for him. What I’ve had to learn is that there is a difference between trusting a sponsor and depending on them. I have a tendency to depend on those who I am close to, in a variety of situations. I think I became dependent on my first sponsor very quickly because I’d never had a relationship like that before. I needed the honesty that that relationship brought to my life, and so during the times when he couldn’t be there for me, I felt the old bitter resentment that I’ve felt towards various people all my life, ever since I developed my first and most important resentment towards my absent father.
There are other people in the fellowship who I’ve come to depend on, friends who have been there at crucial times and who I have been able to share very personal things with. When I came into AA I desperately needed that friendship, and to a great extent, AA can offer this type of friendship, as it’s what many of us alcoholics have missed out on in our previous lives. AA and the people within it are there forever; when the worst comes to the worst there will always be someone for me to phone, or a meeting for me to go to. But I don’t really know whether it’s right for me to feel so dependent on one or two close friends within the fellowship at the moment. My first sponsor told me that dependence for me is OK, as I am still in my early days, but I think that when it leads to me feeling let down, like it did last night when I didn’t get to speak to the close friend who I hadn’t seen for weeks, like it did last month when my first sponsor told me he was going away, it could be a problem.
For me, becoming co-dependent is such a natural thing to do. I was shown so little kindness in my childhood that it has been impossible for me to avoid feeling dependent on anyone who has shown me the remotest sign of kindness in adulthood. If I don’t see a close friend for a while, I literally begin to miss them so much it hurts; and when I see them again, I feel a lurch of fondness in my stomach. That feeling is so scary because it means I have begun to truly TRUST someone, and in my past experience, trusting people has always led to me being let down. It has been like a vicious cycle of trusting and getting let down. I don’t know whether my new AA friends will let me down or not, and that’s the problem. The evidence so far leads me to conclude that they won’t let me down, but I’ve never been one to fully trust the evidence. I want everything to go perfectly; I want to see my friends all the time, speak with them every day and do things outside of AA that have nothing to do with going to meetings. So far I haven’t really socialised with anyone from the meetings in a non-AA setting, and I’m just waiting for trips to the cinema and so forth to start happening. There are occasions like last night when I go along expecting to be able to hang out with these friends because I know that they’re going to be there; and then as soon as the meeting’s over they decide to rush off home before I can really get a chance to catch up with them. I might need to accept that life isn’t always going to be perfect in that way. Just because I don’t see certain people very much, doesn’t mean that our friendship has automatically come to an end.