It’s been yet another busy day, and again I really feel like an adult. My life really is full at the moment; I’m quite happy with that. Unfortunately this morning I managed to get up a bit late again, meaning I lost a couple of hours during which I could have got some serious studying done. I really have to work on getting up earlier. In future, instead of letting myself snooze for an hour after the alarm goes off, perhaps I ought to try and get up as soon as it rings. I might not always be able to do that, but I need to keep trying. Otherwise I will get out of the habit entirely and it will be extra hard when I start work.
We had our weekly lecture on psychotherapy this afternoon, and this week it was focused on the role of the self in counselling. Fascinating topic, as ever. The lecturer talked about developments in counselling during the last 100 years, which have seen therapists move towards acceptance of the fact that they cannot keep their personality and their feelings out of the therapy session. These days therapists tend to use their humanity as a tool to produce change in the client – instead of attempting to manufacture a neutral one-way client-therapist relationship, they allow it to become a normal-ish human relationship like any other, with the therapist acting as a human being rather than a distant observer. I found all this talk fascinating because I still want to be a therapist, and when the lecturer began to describe qualities that trainee therapists should have, my heart was literally racing.
I already knew that one needed to be warm, empathetic, well balanced, strong and tolerant; I didn’t know that many therapists secretly go for it because they desire better self-understanding and the knowledge to treat their own personal problems. I had a feeling that my strong attraction to the profession was due to my chequered life history, the fact that in training you are required to receive a huge amount of personal therapy in order to become fully self aware and mentally sound. In short, I want to understand myself and my issues, and working as a therapist is a great way of doing that. Strangely I thought I’d be alone in having that desire, but apparently everyone who applies to become a therapist does it for the same reason!
Carl Jung was mentioned in the lecture today – he talked of the ‘wounded healer’, who experiences trauma in early life and, in the process of healing, is drawn to therapy as a career so that they can watch clients grow and in doing so heal further. When I heard this I think I had another one of those spooky coincidence moments, as I realised that I fit the profile of the wounded healer perfectly. I do find it healing when I watch other people get better. God, the AA program is built around this very principle! The reason the newcomer is the most important person in the AA meeting is because we help ourselves by helping the newcomer. By passing experience and wisdom onto others we confirm and strengthen it in ourselves. That’s why part of me can’t wait to start sponsoring – already I feel drawn to it, and I’m imagining how I’ll teach whoever asks me to take them through the steps. Up til now I guess I thought it was wrong to want to help others for selfish reasons, but today has shown that it’s a completely human response. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Tonight I went to the gay meeting in town and saw lots of friends as always. I managed to share there for the first time in months. I can’t remember what I said, but it was good to speak out again. Afterwards I went for dinner with my sponsor and a few others. Because I didn’t know everyone in the group this time, I felt that old social awkwardness for most of the time in the restaurant. Even though some in the group were friends, and even though my own sponsor was there, I could hardly speak until the very end when we were getting ready to leave. The mere presence of a stranger set me on edge. This is something I really need to work on, because clearly I can’t completely avoid social situations where there are strangers. I could have gone straight home tonight and avoided dinner altogether, then I wouldn’t have experienced that awkwardness, but at the moment when my sponsor invited me along I felt like socialising – I wouldn’t have been serving myself by running away from the situation just because of the presence of a new person. No, I didn’t have a very good time in the end, but that is entirely down to my character defects. I find it difficult being around strangers because of my pride: I’m thoroughly obsessed with what they’re thinking about me, convinced that they must be judging me negatively because they’ve never met me before.
I can’t remember the name of the new person I met tonight. He seemed nice, and he did try and talk to me a bit, but I just couldn’t respond. I feel bad about that, but I know my character defects aren’t going away overnight. It will probably be like this for a long time. I’m not going to stop going for dinner when people invite me – I have to persevere despite the anxiety. I know I can overcome it because when I came into AA, I didn’t know anyone. Now look at all the friends I’ve got. They were all strangers to me at one point.
I think a good thing is that I didn’t feel co-dependent with my sponsor: I didn’t feel resentful at him for not talking to me the whole time. Well, maybe I did a little bit, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. As soon as I started feeling those co-dependent feelings I was able to question them and push them down. I don’t want to live in co-dependency any more. At the end of the night when we all went home, I was glad to have been invited out and to have got through it without drinking. That’s all I needed to do for it to be a success.