It’s already Wed-nes-day, congrats everyone! I wanted to talk a little bit about sponsorship today because I’m in my fourth year of recovery and I’ve never been a sponsor. I also have not finished the 12 steps yet. I am “on” step four, but I haven’t written a word since probably June 2010. Sponsorship is incredibly important so I’ll tell you a little bit about the sponsors I’ve had. Ironically, the discussion topic at Maiden Voyage last night was sponsorship!
A sponsor is someone who guides you through the 12 steps. If you think you can just magically recover by going to meetings and hoping you get better on your own, you are incorrect. There is a difference between abstaining and recovering. In addition to helping you work the steps, a sponsor is someone you can talk to about everything, even the intimate details of your life you might not be comfortable sharing at meetings. In turn, they end up being your friend and your mentor. And ultimately someone you will be incredibly grateful for.
My first sponsor was Rachel. She was at my very first meeting. Her now-husband was chairing that meeting. I’ll never forget that. At my second or third meeting, the first meeting I didn’t BOLT out of, she came up to me. She gave me her phone number along with a long list of other women’s phone numbers. She told me to start calling her whenever I needed to talk to someone.
Rachel was the first person I called. I would call her really late at night, crying in my car outside my house really wanting to start the engine, drive to my dealer and use. She would talk me back from the ledge every time. One day we met for coffee because I planned to ask her to be my sponsor. I think she knew the whole time that I was going to ask her, but I was so nervous! For me, asking someone to be your sponsor feels like asking someone to date you. I can’t explain it, but it can be terrifying. The good thing is, most people are taught never to say no to a sponsor request unless they already have a million sponsees. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. We talked for hours outside this amazing coffee shop called The Mudhouse. She told me that she got clean when she was 14! She was attending the same college as I was. I was so impressed and grateful that I’d found such an incredible woman. When she drove me back to my car, I asked her if she would, maybe, possibly, want to be my sponsor. She turned and looked me in the eyes and said “It would be an honor.” WOOHOO! She went over a few of her rules with me and told me to go home and make a list of expectations. For example, will I call her every day? I choose to call her every day– is it important that she call me back if I don’t explicitly say so? So I made the list and we went from there.
She took me through my first and second step but somewhere in the middle she moved to Nevada with her husband and we made the long distance relationship work as long as we could. When I’d been in NYC for a while I decided that if I was going to take my stepwork seriously I would need to find someone who I would see face to face weekly and keep me accountable. Although she’s not my sponsor today, I still call Rachel when I can’t figure out the next right thing to do or when I just want to talk to someone who I love. In fact we talked online yesterday! She told me some exciting news in her life and I was ecstatic to hear it! If we lived in the same location there is no question that she would still be my sponsor.
I love my current NA sponsor but as I’ve been slowly transitioning over to AA I haven’t been making the same effort into the relationship. The next right thing for me to do is have my feet firmly planted in one fellowship and that means finding a sponsor in AA and working those steps so that I can get better and so I can someday be able to sponsor someone else. And so that process shall begin…
I will always be grateful for the three sponsor relationships I have cultivated thus far. Each one has taught me something different about myself and about the program and about life.
What has sponsorship given you?