“Why haven’t you found accountability partners yet? Are you close to finding a sponsor?”

Each week in counseling, I am greeted with a new challenge from my counselor. I think he dreams up ways to continually make me uncomfortable.  After our joint counseling session, I didn’t know if he could top that one.  Somehow he always seems to succeed.  Accountability partners make me very uncomfortable.  I tried accountability about 20 years ago with a group of guys.  I was open and honest with them.  Well, as open and honest as I could be at the time.  Which, to be rigorously honest, wasn’t very open or honest.

Accountability partners. Who should that be?  According to my counselor, I should find guys that I can trust.  Ok, that is a given.  Also, I should find guys who are willing to ask me hard questions.  Also, not a surprise.  Oh, and preferably in recovery and don’t automatically believe what I say, and care about me enough not to take my word for anything.  Ok, now that is very confusing.  How is that supposed to work?

I think I have two guys in mind. One is a guy I know in recovery who I went to church with for several years.  I think I mentioned that I like the version of him I know now.  He isn’t trying to one up me on the arrogance scale.  I will ask him.  I will also ask a friend who isn’t in recovery who I have known for many years.  I have lied to him.  A lot.  He cares about me and my wife.  He was there when my oldest son was born.  He has supported and loved us.  He didn’t abandon me or my wife when I first announced that I was leaving her and then briefly came to my senses when she told me she still loved me and would let me come home.  I wonder how he will respond when I reveal myself as a liar and an addict to him.  I don’t know, honestly.

My counselor wanted to instruct my accountability partners on how to be accountable with me. However, first he wanted me to tell them my story, my first step.  I had written it in draft.  I made copies for them to read.  However, my counselor said that wasn’t enough.  I had to recite my story verbally to them. I started from the beginning.  I told them the parts I didn’t want to reveal even to God. I opened up my soul and exposed my shame to them. I told them about how I was broken, damaged, and then about how I inflicted pain and suffering and hurt and destruction on my wife and kids.  They didn’t even know the extent of it yet.  What I realized in revealing that was that I didn’t fully understand the depth of the hurt and damage either.  Reliving it was emotional and painful and ripped my heart into shreds and exposed my shame.

And……they supported me anyway. My friends cried with me and for me and for my family. I don’t understand why God has given me people that love me this way. I don’t love me this way.  How can anyone else? How can God? Then I heard Him….I heard God saying, “How do you not know I love you? I died for you as you are, not as you hope to be.”

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