(from Essay February 2019)
I believe the SA newcomer has three levels of disturbance – temptation, obsession, compulsion.
The last level, compulsion, has to be broken first. This is done by the newcomer following every suggestion of the sponsor. When a sponsor suggests an action, I immediately face a decision: follow the sponsor’s suggestion or do what I want to do. One breaks down compulsion, the other leads back to what I have always had. I don’t have to want to follow suggestions. I get to do it if I want to progress in recovery.
The act of following the sponsor’s suggestions creates the sponsor/sponsee relationship. If I choose not to follow the sponsor’s suggestion, I am sponsoring myself. I am unable to get rid of the compulsion on my own because ego will never be satisfied and I have no control over ego. The resistance I feel at following my sponsor’s suggestion IS the disease I am fighting. Constant surrender and following every suggestion breaks the compulsion.
Now the work begins on the obsession. I suggest sponsees go to their HP with every temptation (the alcoholic’s “mental obsession.”) When a lust temptation enters, it is at its weakest strength if I immediately go to my Higher Power and ask for HPs Presence, which is my comfort. Then Love and Joy flood in, I feel relief and my “thinking” changes to “I really don’t want that.” Every time I surrender lust immediately, temptations get farther and farther apart and their power lessens. Eventually they weaken to such a point that the obsession is broken.
But if I pause and don’t go immediately to my HP when temptation strikes, I will take a lust drink. Then the time between temptations will get closer, they strengthen in power and the mental obsession grows until it reaches compulsion again. I will act out without control – the alcoholic’s “phenomenon of craving”.
Once the obsession is broken, I experience recovery. Recovery is the freedom from obsession not the freedom from temptation. I keep surrendering every temptation immediately to maintain sobriety and thereby remain in recovery.
I can have sobriety without recovery, but I cannot have recovery without sobriety. Sobriety without recovery is a miserable place to live, a desert of pain and suffering. Without recovery I either live as a dry drunk (restless, irritable, and discontent) or return to my drug to relieve the suffering.
Recovery is the result of following sponsor’s suggestions by working and practicing daily the 12 Steps. Recovery is living the principles of the program one moment at a time and only in the present. I cannot work my program for tomorrow or two hours in the future, I can only work it in the moment as it happens. I do not have to fear what’s ahead because when I am working my program in the moment, I am connected to the most beautiful Power and It is everything.
Dennis T, Alaska USA