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Old 01-18-2019, 08:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Intimacy Issues


I know this forum doesn't get a lot of traffic, but I am unsure where to post this. If any moderators read this and think there's a better place, please feel free to move it. Thank you.

My sponsee finished her resentment inventory and is almost finished with her fear inventory. She told me that she is scared about doing the sex inventory. She went on to talk about some stuff about her husband. I am unsure how to help her. She's rarely discussed her husband with me before.

She's been married about 15 years. Her husband was a binge drinker before they met and at social functions while they dated. She gave him an ultimatum about the drinking and he stopped. At the time, she wasn't alcoholic yet.

He still drank now and then if he was out with friends or co-workers. It didn't turn into alcoholism for him, but it always sort of lurked in the back of her mind. She also said he put the drink down but then became sort of addicted to other stuff like work, sports, gaming, sugar/food, etc. at various times. It was sort of the elephant in the room. She'd try to bring it up, but there were always excuses/explanations and minimizing.

He is the child of an alcoholic father with an enabling mother. His father was extremely critical and verbally abusive toward him. His father was a master Jeckly and Hyde. No one would've ever guessed what he was like at home. They are able to be adult to adult now but there's always tension underneath the surface.

She told me she can't stand his father She sees through his phoniness, and wants to give him a piece of her mind for the way he treated his son. He also makes inappropriate comments to her about her being a blonde. She's going to double check that she added him to her resentment list. I reminded her to also add her mother in law, for enabling the father and for not sticking up for her husband. She hadn't realized the connection.

She confided in me that she loves her husband but that he's had major emotional/physical/sexual intimacy issues since day one. With her low self-esteem and low self-worth being a child of an alcoholic (her dad) herself, she blamed his behavior on herself. Plus she feels really guilty and is full of self-loathing because of all the resentments she has toward her husband due to his intimacy issues. She also said that being married to a man with emotional, physical, and sexual intimacy issues engulfed her with such a dark loneliness that was on an entirely deeper level compared to feeling lonely at times when she was single.

This all was a lot to hear and I had no idea this was going on. So I couldn't do anything in the moment but listen. But I can tell she needs much more than just someone to listen.

She told me that although she takes full responsibility for her drinking, a lot of times she drank in response to his intimacy issues. She had no idea how to deal with it and it made her feel very lonely and confused.

She told me that she tried to bring up the subject to a close girlfriend of hers when they were both newly married, but that her friend just sort of stared blankly and confused back. The stuff her friend said back were pretty obnoxious and put a strain on the friendship. She also forgot to add this to her resentment list. I think this entire subject runs very deep for her and she's struggling a lot to face it instead of denying it. I could see it on her face.

She's talked about other very challenging stuff before, but not with this sort of emotion and difficulty getting it all out in the open. She told me her suicide attempt that she thought was about her alcoholism, was underneath the surface about her lifelong issues of being an ACOA, and because of her sheer loneliness, isolation, and confusion of her husband's intimacy issues. I am worried that this will effect her recovery.

I want to help her with this now, so she won't continue to procrastinate with finishing her fear inventory because she's scared of the sex inventory.

I've had sponsees/people in my network full of drama, but this particular sponsee is different. I'm 100% certain this is not drama-based, or attention-seeking, and just real deep-seated dark pain. I felt it.

What advice do you all have for what I can say to her to help her?

Please also share what you know or have experienced regarding the subject of intimacy (all types) and being an ACOA.
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SoberCAH (02-10-2019)
Old 01-18-2019, 02:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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hold up....you are her AA sponsor, NOT her therapist. your job is not to fix what is in HER inventory. only to listen. To God, to ourselves, and to another human being" - you represent the other human being.

don't get IN to her drama, her life, her problems. don't try to play marriage counselor.

This is from the AA pamphlet on Sponsorship, as a refresher:
https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf

What does a sponsor do and not do?
• A sponsor does everything possible, within the
limits of personal experience and knowledge,
to help the newcomer get sober and stay sober
through the A.A. program.
• Shows by present example and drinking history
what A.A. has meant in the sponsor’s life.
• Encourages and helps the newcomer to attend
a variety of A.A. meetings — to get a number
of viewpoints and interpretations of the A.A.
program.
• Suggests keeping an open mind about A.A. if
the newcomer isn’t sure at first whether he or she
is an alcoholic.
• Introduces the newcomer to other members.
• Sees that the newcomer is aware of A.A. literature, in particular the Big Book, Twelve Steps
and Twelve Traditions, Grapevine, As Bill Sees It,
Living Sober and suitable pamphlets.
• Is available to the newcomer when the latter has
special problems
• Goes over the meaning of the Twelve Steps, and
emphasizes their importance.
• Urges the newcomer to join in group activities
as soon as possible.
• Impresses upon the newcomer the importance
of all our Traditions.
• Tries to give the newcomer some picture of
the scope of A.A., beyond the group, and directs
attention to A.A. literature about the history of
the Fellowship, the Three Legacies, the service
structure, and the worldwide availability of A.A. —
wherever the newcomer may go.
• Explains the program to relatives of the alcoholic, if this appears to be useful, and tells them about Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen.
• Quickly admits, “I don’t know” when that is the
case, and helps the newcomer find a good source
of information.
• The sponsor encourages the newcomer to work
with other alcoholics as soon as possible, and
sometimes begins by taking the newcomer along
on Twelfth Step calls.
• Never takes the newcomer’s inventory except
when asked.
• Never tries to impose personal views on
the newcomer. A good sponsor who is an
atheist does not try to persuade a religious newcomer to abandon faith, nor does a religious sponsor argue theological matters with an agnostic
newcomer.
• Does not pretend to know all the answers, and
does not keep up a pretense of being right all
the time.
An A.A. sponsor does not offer professional services such as those provided by counselors, the
legal, medical or social work comunities, but may
sometimes help the newcomer to access professional help if assistance outside the scope of A.A.
is needed.
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by AnvilheadII View Post
hold up....you are her AA sponsor, NOT her therapist. your job is not to fix what is in HER inventory. only to listen. To God, to ourselves, and to another human being" - you represent the other human being.

don't get IN to her drama, her life, her problems. don't try to play marriage counselor.

This is from the AA pamphlet on Sponsorship, as a refresher:
https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf
I understand what you're saying. You're right-- I won't offer her any advice.

I don't view this as drama.

I have no intention of playing therapist or marriage counselor.

However, I did want to know what the connection is between intimacy issues and alcoholism and/or ACOA.
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Old 01-24-2019, 04:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Pathwaytofree

I'm not an AA member (let alone sponsor) but just wanted to chime in and say that your sponsee sounds lucky to have someone who so genuinely cares about her well being . Kudos.

Anyway, I too am very interested in this topic. Years ago I read the book "Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Janet Geringer Woititz. If you haven't read it before I think you'd find it enlightening (as an ACoA myself, as well as an alcoholic, I know that I certainly did). I'm guessing there was discussion on this issue in the book, but I can't recall offhand after so many years. You might want to take a look. I wish you the best!
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm not an AA member (let alone sponsor) but just wanted to chime in and say that your sponsee sounds lucky to have someone who so genuinely cares about her well being . Kudos.
Thank you.

Quote:
Anyway, I too am very interested in this topic. Years ago I read the book "Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Janet Geringer Woititz. If you haven't read it before I think you'd find it enlightening (as an ACoA myself, as well as an alcoholic, I know that I certainly did). I'm guessing there was discussion on this issue in the book, but I can't recall offhand after so many years. You might want to take a look. I wish you the best!
Thank you for the reminder. I have heard of this book before. I may even have it from years ago when I first read about ACOA. I sometimes have my AA blinders on and I forget to look into ACOA stuff.
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Keep on trucking! All my best.
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I lacked any capacity to be intimate with anyone whatsoever after growing up in a very alcoholic household.

I was damaged goods before I went off to school and commenced with my 13 year nightly drinking regimen.

For me, working the 12 Steps led me to a rigorously honest lifestyle.

I married my college sweetheart (from the late 1970's, I might add) ~14 years ago.

She grew up in a Ward and June Cleaver type of family.

What she saw in me I'll never know, although she told me that she could see that, beneath the veneer of juvenile, self-centered behaviour, alcoholism, and drug addiction, something of value existed.

When we reconnected after my 21 year marriage to someone else (whom I met in a bar and who drank like I did), I became a 50% co-equal in our relationship.

I had sobered up and I had grown up.

I speak to her from the heart - no spin and no gloss.

I work to be there for her constantly.

I am protective of her.

We are intimate.

We know and trust each other to the depths of our beings.

The ability to be an active participant in a marriage, as well as in the other relationships I have in my life (business and friendships), only came to me after I worked the Steps with my sponsor.

I suggest that you keep working with her through the steps.

I think that by her doing that and by prayer on her part, the answer to her intimacy issues with her husband may come to her.

Intimacy is pretty much everything in a relationship.

Anything short of full, honest participation by all parties involved (in a marriage, hopefully just the 2 of them); otherwise, you have little more than the types of barroom "friendships" I had before I got sober.

Keep us posted as to the status of matters.

My sponsor helped me with my life problems through the platform of working the steps.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SoberCAH View Post
I lacked any capacity to be intimate with anyone whatsoever after growing up in a very alcoholic household.
I'm sure this is very common for most of us who grew up in very alcoholic homes. I'm so happy my sponsee sees this now in herself. She's got a tough exterior and it's interesting to see her from the inside. This is going to be a big hurdle for her to get over.

Quote:
I was damaged goods before I went off to school and commenced with my 13 year nightly drinking regimen.
For those of us who went off to school--and drank--it's like the fear of growing up. But maybe not even the fear of growing up. It's more that it's how can we grow up, if we don't know how? Somewhere along the line I realized I had to learn to fill my own toolbox, and to stop blaming my parents for not figuring it out before they had children. They raised me with what tools they had.

Quote:
For me, working the 12 Steps led me to a rigorously honest lifestyle.
Same here. Honestly is freeing but we have to first learn to ignore the fear of it.

Quote:
I married my college sweetheart (from the late 1970's, I might add) ~14 years ago.
She grew up in a Ward and June Cleaver type of family.
My best friend did, too.

Quote:
What she saw in me I'll never know, although she told me that she could see that, beneath the veneer of juvenile, self-centered behaviour, alcoholism, and drug addiction, something of value existed.
I understand what you're saying. I am sure if I asked my best friend that, she'd say something very similar. I think she got a kick out of my crazy exterior, but saw something whole and genuine within me. It's cool when we meet people like your wife or my best friend who can see our true selves underneath the mess.

Quote:
When we reconnected after my 21 year marriage to someone else (whom I met in a bar and who drank like I did), I became a 50% co-equal in our relationship.
"Co-equal". I like that.

Quote:
I had sobered up and I had grown up.
The true gift of sobriety.

Quote:
I speak to her from the heart - no spin and no gloss.
Isn't it amazing that we can wake up and just be authentic? Now I get what AA means by "keep it simple". I think you helped me to see more of what I can share with my sponsee--how I used to be in any sort of friendship or relationship, and how I am now. Somewhere along the line of recovery, step work, and therapy, I learned how to be authentic and vulnerable without fear.

Quote:
I work to be there for her constantly.

I am protective of her.

We are intimate.

We know and trust each other to the depths of our beings.
This is so inspiring.

Quote:
The ability to be an active participant in a marriage, as well as in the other relationships I have in my life (business and friendships), only came to me after I worked the Steps with my sponsor.
She hides in her career. I'm not too sure about her friendships.

Quote:
I suggest that you keep working with her through the steps.
As long as she's willing, she knows I am here to help her through them.

Quote:
I think that by her doing that and by prayer on her part, the answer to her intimacy issues with her husband may come to her.
That's a good reminder. I will mention putting this into a prayer. She seems very private regarding prayer, so I respect it and don't mention it too much. But I think reminding her of how to be specific with prayers may help her.

Quote:
Intimacy is pretty much everything in a relationship.
It certainly is. And I think so many of us run from it due to fear.

Quote:
Anything short of full, honest participation by all parties involved (in a marriage, hopefully just the 2 of them); otherwise, you have little more than the types of barroom "friendships" I had before I got sober.
That's a helpful way of putting it. I think she's afraid to see this truth on her sex inventory. I wonder if many who feel lonely in marriages are going through this.

Quote:
Keep us posted as to the status of matters.
I will try! She's been quiet lately. So I'm trying to give her space to process things. I hope she's processing and not running.

Quote:
My sponsor helped me with my life problems through the platform of working the steps.
Thank you. I will continue to focus on doing that. It's hard sometimes to watch them go through a spell where you want to push them through it, but you know that's not your role. I know she will see truth as she is ready to see it.

Thanks, SoberCAH, for a very helpful post.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You're certainly being an excellent sponsor, PTF.

Keep up the great work.

I had those same fears of growing up.

I had no idea of what to do to start "adulting".
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You're certainly being an excellent sponsor, PTF.

Keep up the great work.

I had those same fears of growing up.

I had no idea of what to do to start "adulting".
Thank you, SoberCAH.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:55 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hi PTF,

Intimacy, I don't much like even saying the word. At least that was how I felt before recovery, therapy and being sober/abstinent several years.

I no longer blame childhood trauma (violence and molestation), moving every couple of years, an alcoholic father, victim mother, my eating disorder or alcoholism, etc, etc. for my aloofness and difficulty maintaining friendships.

I chose sponsors who I knew wouldn't press me much hence my healing from the 12 Steps was very slow. With my first OA sponsor, I knew her a year before going to her house. Too intimate. I went to her work place which is not conducive to step work. My work had me moving often; I can't remember the names of all my AA sponsors.

But you know what? The combination of the 12 Steps healing power of love, therapy, continuing to practice being a friend, and seeking God's will for me have all brought much joy and dare I say, intimacy, into my life. My world is huge today.

Lastly, like SoberCAH, I am happily married to my best friend and confidant. I feel so very safe with my husband. Kinda cool that I noticed this post on intimacy seeing that today is Valentine's Day.

Developing friendships with women continue to be a challenge but not impossible! I have a feeling in retirement (starting Jan 2020) I'll make significant progress as I'll have more time to get together.

Your sponsee is fortunate to have a caring sponsor such as yourself. Focus on the Steps and you can't go wrong!
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Hi PTF,Intimacy, I don't much like even saying the word. At least that was how I felt before recovery, therapy and being sober/abstinent several years.
It's a tough word. Right up there with religion, politics, and money.

Quote:
I no longer blame childhood trauma (violence and molestation), moving every couple of years, an alcoholic father, victim mother, my eating disorder or alcoholism, etc, etc. for my aloofness and difficulty maintaining friendships.
I give you a lot of credit for that growth. I stayed in the blame game for far too long. I still catch myself in therapy doing so. It was easier to blame then to do the hard work myself.

Quote:
I chose sponsors who I knew wouldn't press me much hence my healing from the 12 Steps was very slow.
Same here. I took too long through the steps. My sponsee has slowed up but I'm trying to gently nudge her.

Quote:
With my first OA sponsor, I knew her a year before going to her house. Too intimate. I went to her work place which is not conducive to step work.
I know what you mean. I do things like this, too. I keep people at an arm's distance. I never went to my former sponsor's house, but we used to talk on the phone a lot like close friends. My current sponsee I can tell has trouble opening up. I agree that work places are not conducive to step work. I tried that a few times with a temporary sponsor and was uncomfortable.

Quote:
My work had me moving often; I can't remember the names of all my AA sponsors.
And that was likely comfortable for you I imagine.

Quote:
But you know what? The combination of the 12 Steps healing power of love, therapy, continuing to practice being a friend, and seeking God's will for me have all brought much joy and dare I say, intimacy, into my life. My world is huge today.
That is inspiring.

Quote:
Lastly, like SoberCAH, I am happily married to my best friend and confidant. I feel so very safe with my husband. Kinda cool that I noticed this post on intimacy seeing that today is Valentine's Day.
That is so cool. I think a lot of us alcoholics didn't feel safe with people and that's one reason we drank. Intimacy of any kind was scary. Vulnerability. Being our true selves.

That's a funny coincidence it's Valentine's Day! :-)

I do wish, though, that people in society would put more of a focus on love for self, friends, others, than just romantic love. We can't love others if we don't love ourselves.

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Developing friendships with women continue to be a challenge but not impossible!
Same here........ It's been one part of my sobriety I still struggle greatly with.

Quote:
I have a feeling in retirement (starting Jan 2020) I'll make significant progress as I'll have more time to get together.
That's exciting to be retiring in less than a year.

Quote:
Your sponsee is fortunate to have a caring sponsor such as yourself.
Thank you!
Quote:
Focus on the Steps and you can't go wrong!
I finally learned this by sponsee #3.
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