Teach the Book

Woah! It’s been so long since I logged in here that I almost forgot my password! Vicissitudes, they’re killer, man! I have a hard time speaking up during times of transition. It feels like all I can do to just hang onto my home base until things have settled down into some sort of routine again. Life is crazy busy right now, and I’m going to be half brain-dead for the next month or more, but finally there is a bit of a routine starting to develop again.

I didn’t come here to tell you all the sordid or boring details about my life, though. I came here because while I need to be studying for my first exam tomorrow morning & getting a jump start on my paper due Monday, not to mention starting this ridiculous group project… right now I am good. I am slightly ahead in both of my online classes and currently have 95% or better average in all three courses. My kids are off at VBS for the day (aka: wholesome, free daycare), happy and well. And I learned something pertinent today.

This morning, we took a quiz over the toughest chapter we will be covering in my social research class. I was looking over the book, trying to finish reading the chapter before class started. I had a pretty good understanding of all the concepts from class, but needed a last minute review. I may not have a degree yet, but I’ve had enough college courses to know that the textbooks are generally largely ignored by the professors. Yeah, you can read through them if you want, but the prof is going to teach you whatever the hell he wants.

So, here I am reading through this book that we haven’t referred to once yet (and which would’ve cost me a small fortune if I hadn’t rented it online) when I come across something really interesting. In class, we had been discussing examples of a specific concept which the prof told us was often really hard to understand. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on it from our discussions, but when I looked at the book I realized that there was this whole other side to the concept that I had completely missed. The book gave very clear examples and suddenly everything made complete sense to me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing my professor’s teaching skills or his understanding of the concept at all. Rather, I recognized an error I often commit in my work with sponsees. My prof was attempting to teach us in a way that he best understood the subject matter. Instead of presenting the material in a matter-of-fact way as in a textbook which has gone through review boards and editors to ensure that the material is accurate and pertinent, we were provided the material through the filter of one man’s experience.

When I work with others, I usually do reference the Big Book often, but perhaps my guidance isn’t as true to the book as it should be. Perhaps I sometimes rely too heavily on personal experience, what worked for me & what I have heard works for others. Everybody’s got a different style. I’ve been sponsored by a few different women (and one man) and each of them had their own thing. This one wants to just read through the book; this one just wants to make lists; this one works out of a workbook; this one relies on her personal experiences.

I’ve heard, “I only know how to sponsor the way I’ve been sponsored.” Well, hell, I’ve been sponsored all sorts of ways! This story helped me with this part; this list helped me with this part; this workbook gave me a whole different idea that freed me up during this part, etc. Maybe sometimes I turn to some of these things too quickly and present them to my girls before referencing back to the Big Book, which is the ultimate outline of the best proven course of action in our journey of sobriety.

Maybe sometimes I let my ego get the best of me, thinking I know better than the book how to do this thing. (Ego? Me? Surely not!)

Today, I got a little taste of humility. While yes, my personal experience is my best tool in aiding another through recovery, I have to make sure I’m not allowing them to rely upon me for their sobriety. The book has been tried and tested for 75 years. Me, I’ve barely been able to keep myself sober at times over the last 5 years, 11 months and 9 days.

And now, I must get back to the crazy world of academia….

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4 responses to “Teach the Book”

  1. mishedup says :

    I’m sorry…
    are you in my head?
    I needed this today and my head just did a nice slow relax after reading this.
    I have not sponsored before and was just asked for the first time (I’m really excited!)
    But you can imagine the nervous fear and anxiety coming up for me too. Yes, I have a ton of experience to give, and I am grateful for that. And yes, I used different books to get me thru issues, called different people for specific things…
    but the bottom line is that those first 164 pages ARE the program, and using that as my true north I can’t go wrong.
    Thank you so much for this!

    • Laurie G.F. says :

      Awesome! I’m happy that I was able to help. Congratulations & good luck with the sponsee. Just remember that you can’t make anyone drink who doesn’t want to & you can’t make anyone sober if they don’t want to be. You are going to get so much out of the experience regardless of what happens with your newbie. 😀 You’re growing up! How exciting!

  2. carrythemessage says :

    Congrats on your hard work – sounds like it’s paying off!

    Almost six years? You have always sounded like you’ve had a lot more recovery time! I almost pegged you for an mid- to old-timer (sorry – not in an age way). So early congrats on your upcoming b-day!

    As for the BB thing – I get it. I am a BB reader. Line by line with the guys, plus my own personal experience of course. I am more scholarly, methinks, in my sponsorship than one of those “I will love you until you love yourself”, huggy, 7-day a week meeting, all commitments guys. Maybe I need to venture into that territory (which is weird, because my sponsor is precisely that guy, and we never went through the BB at all – he knew I was doing it on my own and we spoke from the BB, but he never sat down like I do…interesting eh?)

    I think coming at it from the BB and then moving out from there works for me, because as you said, it’s been done and done for 75+ years now. alcoholism hasn’t changed, so why would I think I have all the answers…they’re in the book! So when i read with them, I am relearning or reenforcing things or even finding new things I missed before.

    I am sure that your girls have gotten so much from you – you share so well here and you are so very well centered. Thank you for this – it reminded me about how much I miss sponsoring (haven’t had a sponsee in almost a year)

    Good luck on your studies 🙂


    • Laurie G.F. says :

      Yeah, I can talk a good game. I KNOW what to do… doing it is often another matter entirely! I understand the value in a “let me love you until you can love yourself” approach, but girls who want that know better than to come to me! LOL! I’m all about the tough love. Where I often run into trouble is that I have very specific understanding of why we do things the way we do. It’s an understanding which is personal to me, though, and not necessarily what will work for everyone else. Sometimes that little nudge of understanding helps, but I fall back on it too much because I tend to think everyone is a “Doubting Thomas” like me. I have to really understand why this way is the “right” way before I can commit myself to it. Perhaps what I am doing in passing that on, though, is teaching girls who operate more on faith to be less trusting. It’s not something I really worry about. I mean, there’s a reason girls choose me – because they want what I have. But it’s not my purpose to turn them into little Laurie clones. All I can do is show them how I did it & help them to discover who they need to be.

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