At a speaker meeting the other night one of our brothers was telling his story. As in, “…what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.”
During the third portion he mentioned that people sometimes ask him, “How many men do you sponsor?” His standard reply? “About half of them.” Funny. But true.
It took me quite a while to come to an understanding of this sponsorship thing. First there was resistance as in, “Nobody’s gonna’ tell me what to do!” My ego did not want to relinquish what I misperceived as my power and control over the world. This, even though asking someone for help, to be my sponsor, and then following his direction, was exactly what our founders knew to be a part of the solution to alcoholism.
Later I spent months in a quagmire of inaction because of an attitude that, “This is important— I’d better take my time and not goof this up.” During all of this time I was, as AA says, “…a newcomer who is hesitant about “bothering” anyone…” and later “a member who has been around for some time trying to go it alone…” Scattered among these rationalizations for procrastination are a thousand other reasons [insert your own personal excuse/rationalization here].
Finally, I came to see that this is not prison. And, I was not marrying someone. There is nobody who can make us do something we don’t want to do. And this is not a, “Till death do us part proposition”. If it does not work then you find someone else. That’s all. No hard feelings. We’re dealing with life and death here and nobody begrudges another if the sponsor/sponsee(?) fit does not feel right.
Today however, it seems to me that finding a sponsor (Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery) is simply: (1) listening to people at meetings and based on what you hear, (2) selecting someone that you think understands this disease and has taken action and then more action, and, (3) is now healthy as a result.
As is usually the case, the sooner we do this thing we fear, the easier it becomes to cope with our chronic, progressive and, all too often, terminal disease. That’s my experience anyway.
Me? I like my sponsor. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. Since it became necessary for him to move and live an hour’s drive from Des Moines in order to practice his profession I don’t get to see him at meetings as often as before. But we have scheduled a time when we talk on the phone two days per week. We don’t always talk about A.A. stuff. Sometimes it’s sports or family, the weather or religion. We enjoy these 7:15 A.M. visits. Oh… and full disclosure— he helped me with this column.
How about you? Do you have a sponsor? What has been your experience? Has he or she helped you stay sober? Have you helped him or her stay sober? What do you talk about? Please drop us a note and let our community know your experience. You never know when something you say at a meeting or write in the Partyline will help someone else. Ed.