When addiction takes over the brain, finding drugs or alcohol becomes the prime motivation for waking up every morning. Cravings exert a powerful force that will drive a person to do whatever it takes to relieve their urge. Even the most principled and honest person can be turned inside out by the trappings of addiction.
Dependence on a substance will often cause an individual to lie and hide their true selves from the people they love most, including themselves. Recovering from this disease requires an openness to vulnerability. This article will talk about the importance of being vulnerable with your sponsor in recovery.
What It Means to Be Vulnerable
When you look up the definition of “vulnerable,” the findings don’t exactly invite you to open up. Merriam-Webster defines it as “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded/open to attack or damage.” Who wants that, right? Brené Brown, Ph. D., LMSW, has been studying vulnerability for decades. Her perspective is that although vulnerability causes you to be uncomfortable and emotionally exposed, it doesn’t mean you are weak.
On the contrary, when you put yourself out on a limb to receive criticism, think about your mistakes, and make changes, you are being quite brave. Being scared to honestly share your feelings but doing it anyway is a courageous act that you should be proud of – not everyone can do it.
The Value of Opening Yourself Up
Of course, there will always be risks to vulnerability. The person you open up to may reject or disappoint you. You may trust the wrong person and face betrayal. This is all part of a process that will make you more resilient if you allow yourself to learn from it. You can experience the joy of intimacy and authenticity in relationships. As Bob Marley once said, “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.”
With practice, you will:
- learn to establish healthy boundaries
- learn how to communicate more effectively
- learn more about your areas for self-improvement
- build trust and deep connections with people you love
- develop a clear understanding of your identity and values
Exposing yourself to the discomfort and awkwardness of vulnerability will ironically make you feel more comfortable and less awkward over time.
Allowing Your Sponsor to Help You
Transparency is particularly important to have with your sponsor. Your sponsor is there to guide and mentor you as you work the Twelve Steps and experience challenges in recovery. They have been in recovery for at least one year, so they understand what you’re going through. You may find the lessons and knowledge they’ve accumulated helpful in dealing with your current situation.
Your sponsor is also there for you when you want to talk about things in confidence. Maybe there are particular topics you don’t feel comfortable sharing in 12-Step meetings. Perhaps some of your concerns need more time for you to unpack and evaluate. Your sponsor is also there to hold you accountable. They will notice if you start missing meetings or slacking on recovery work. Keeping you on track for long-term sobriety is their main goal.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your sponsor is the only way this process can be effective. They can’t give you feedback if you don’t honestly share what you’re thinking and feeling. Studies show that sponsorship leads to better recovery outcomes; what do you have to lose?
It’s Okay to Find a New Sponsor
It’s important to understand that your sponsor is not a trained clinician or doctor. They are just a regular person who has some experience battling addiction. They will not have all the answers, nor should they attempt to provide them. While a certain level of closeness is bound to develop, it’s important to maintain some distance and establish healthy boundaries that are rooted in respect and objectivity.
If you find that your sponsor is no longer right for you or is struggling with their own recovery, it’s totally acceptable to “break up” and find a new one. Sponsors are meant to be temporary, so don’t feel guilty if you have to move on. When you are searching for a new sponsor, there are a few things you can keep in mind to avoid problems:
- Find out how long they’ve been in recovery and how much experience they’ve had with sponsoring.
- Trust your intuition in the face of bad advice. Ask your therapist for their opinion on the matter.
- Choose a sponsor who demonstrates strength in their own recovery and has time for the responsibility.
- Don’t jump the gun. Spend time learning about potential sponsors to determine if they are trustworthy.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a core part of recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. With practice, you’ll discover the courageous and strong soul that lives inside you. Renaissance Ranch is a rehabilitation center with facilities in Bluffdale, UT, and Heyburn, ID, that offers a full continuum of care. Our services have been helping men heal for decades, and we believe we can help you, too. At the heart and soul of our programs are the philosophy and principles of the 12-Step program. We also incorporate cognitive therapy, EMDR, family treatment, and more. Our outpatient and sober living programs can help you stay connected to the recovery community through 12-Step meetings if you’ve already been through treatment. The Band of Brothers hosts alumni events such as hikes, golf tournaments, and other activities. We understand that recovery is a lifelong process. Let us help you stay on track. Call us today at (801) 308-8898.