Tension was present in every one of my relationships for as along as I can remember. Before I began my spiritual journey in Alcoholics Anonymous, there had not been one person in my life with whom I felt comfortable enough to relax and be completely me. Some relationships were less tense than others but tension was always present to some degree or another. Since I grew up in an alcoholic home, I became tense at a very early age. The anxiety grew to feel normal to me. I drank against this dis-ease for thirty years.

The tension came from the fear that at any moment I would lose your love, approval, and acceptance. I needed these things more desperately than I needed alcohol and drugs. My character defects grew up out of this cesspool of insecurity: perfectionism, people pleasing, lying. I was so afraid of losing love and approval that I had to try and control and manipulate you. I couldn't let you get too close for fear that you would see what a loser I was and pack your bags.

I lived this way until I met my first sponsor when I crawled through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous at age 47. We went through the steps together. He learned everything about me -- all my failings at life, all the icky stuff I did, and all the names of my inner demons. He shared his stuff with me. Through this process, I grew to trust him in a way I had never trusted anyone before, not my parents and certainly not my ex-wife. It is such a relief to know there are at least one human being that know everything there is to know about me -- all my secrets, all my fears, all my twisted thinking.

Through the years I've had many wonderful opportunities to sponsor others. During the course of our step work, I share my shortcomings with them, just like my sponsors did with me. I'm coming to believe that sharing my human failings is much more helpful to our recovery than sharing spiritual ideas and interpretations of the Big Book. This mutual sharing connects us, no longer as egos, but as fallible human beings.

As Leonard Cohen says, "Everything has a hole in it, that's how the light gets in."