When Someone Changes

IMG_5641What do we do when someone we love changes?  When my father had dementia and didn’t know who we were, some of us “kids” still visited, some didn’t.  It was important for me to be there for him – regardless of any history we may have had.  Regardless of the fact that he didn’t know who I was.  As I sat at his bedside for weeks on end, he gave me the greatest compliment I have ever had.  He looked at me with his big blue eyes in his emaciated face, and said “I like you!”  I was so startled, I asked him “What???”  and he said “You’re nice.”  Just something he might have said to a stranger, but it still makes me cry.

My sponsor has been “fading” for a few years.  She is in poor health.  She suffered a life threatening illness, and treacherous surgery over the summer.  She has said since that she feels like she will never regain her cognitive function.  I have murmured reassurances.  I stay in touch, just as I always have.  But on Sunday, when I called, she said something that made me know that I am dealing with someone very different, someone who doesn’t really remember who I am.  She advised me to pray every day.  That’s fine, even though she surely would know that I do that – for a not negligible percentage of my waking hours.  But she said “I don’t care if you believe in God or not, just pray.”  I really thought – do you even know who you are talking to?

I will always love her.  I will always be there for her.  But I think I might need a new sponsor.  And then I think – how many people who have been sober closing in on 3 decades even have a sponsor?  Honestly, no one I know.  My sponsor certainly didn’t, but she is married to another AA member and they live, eat, breathe, and sleep AA.

I have a couple of women in my life who I have known for all of my sobriety.  I need to be closer to them.  There is a woman who took me in when I was homeless, leaving my crazy husband.  She always says she knew I wasn’t neurotic when I fell in front of her house and broke my foot.  I didn’t blame her or try to sue her, I just accepted that I broke my foot and it happened to be in front of her house.  Anyway, we have been dear friends since that time.  At nine years of sobriety, when my then sponsor was living with my husband, I begged this friend to help me with my steps, which I was doing again out of desperation.  She kindly helped me and when she heard my 5th step, she suggested something to me that profoundly changed my life.

Regardless of my situation with my sponsor, I need to really “care and feed” the relationships with these women.  They may really be my lifeline right now.  And one of them is suffering terribly now, as she lost her brother and her dog within the last few months.   She is devastated.  We’re e-mailing back and forth and are planning to have lunch on Sunday.

I have a confessor now.  What I used to think of as “character defects” (such as anger) have evolved into “sins” in my eyes (such as when I am angry it is usually pride at the core of it).  I have found tremendous help in the sacraments of the church.  I have found that good priests are incredibly compassionate and helpful.  In a meaningful way.

Life has changed so radically, I am not sure what I need to do.  But I know that I will continue to clean house and trust God.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.  for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.  — Luke 1:46-47

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6 Responses to When Someone Changes

  1. Syd says:

    My first sponsor who moved to the West coast has started to slip mentally. I have a local sponsor who I talk with. I still call my first sponsor, but he simply is not the same person. He doesn’t like living with his daughter, repeats stories to me, and isn’t going to meetings in CA because he can’t find one nearby. He has had a lot of physical problems but now the mental acuity is starting to wane. It happens to all of us if we live long enough. I am glad to have found a local sponsor who I enjoy being around, but I will not forget my first sponsor who took me through the steps.

  2. kelly says:

    I’m dealing with people changing, too. My grandma is 87 and she has her lucid days, but then there are days when she doesn’t really know who I am. It’s tough.

    In regards to priests, they always scare me! I’ve talked to a handful, and only one was helpful. Or, I guess I should be honest and say that only one said what I wanted to hear…the others have been very judgmental. And, during confession, well, I don’t really know what a good confession even feels like!

    • There is no relationship like one’s first sponsor. Unfortunately mine got drunk within a year of helping me so much at first.

    • Sorry, that comment is in the wrong place! Anyway, Kelly, I am sorry about your grandmother. I know that is so heartbreaking. And priests, there are all kinds I guess. Maybe I have just been lucky. But after I was about 10 years sober, I went back to the church full of willingness to do whatever it took. I usually go to confession asking for help to change my behavior. And usually I get the kind of help I need.

  3. Mary LA says:

    So hard that change in a close and trusted confidante — but we are able to be there for them as a friend. I’m glad you have found a confessor whom you find helpful.

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