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Anne Schaef says that when you treat addiction you need a group of your peers who understand from experience what you are going through. These people are Wounded Healers. Alice Miller always that to heal from childhood trauma you need an Enlightened Witness who understands you. I needed both and I found someone in 1982 at a meeting of Alcoholics. Her name was Joan Roland, and she was my sponsor.
A Wounded Healer, who is also your Enlightened Witness, is someone you can trust and someone who has experienced her own addiction. She is someone who will read your journal and listen to your Fourth Step. She is someone who is patient and kind. Here is a list of the qualities I found in Joan. If you are in recovery, may you be so blessed.
1. She experienced something similar to me. Not identical but close enough.
2. She was a good listener.
3. She gave me positive feed back whether I wanted it or not.
4. She confronted me when necessary.
5. She was sympathetic, but kept her boundaries and did not get lost in my pain.
6.. She could practically read my mind.
7. She never gave up on me.
8. She was encouraging.
9. She was hopeful.
10. She mirrored back to me my inner beauty.
11. She never judged me.
12. She always encouraged me to process all of my pain and not stuff it or take it out on others.
13. She encouraged me to forgive those who had hurt me and to forgive myself most of all.
14. She knew when to talk and when to listen.
15. She was willing to share her story and shortcomings.
16. She witnessed my pain so that I could see through her what I had been through and tried to ignore by drinking.
17. She had worked the steps and helped me do the same.
18. She had other students but always gave me special attention.
19. I did not feel I deserved her but she was there for me anyway,
20. She was always interested in helping others.
21. She helped me find God but she did not ram spirituality down my throat.
Eventually Joan got cancer and left AA. When she came back everybody ignored her. But she had helped save my life. She had helped me recover. So in 1984 she died in my arms. I still miss her and wear the ring she gave me to symbolize our journey together. And today I am a Wounded Healer and Enlightened Witness. I carry my message to fellow alcoholics and love addicts who suffer they way Joan and I had.
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