It has been a couple years since I have had to do the “sponsor search” but I remember what it felt like and how many mistakes on finding a sponsor I made the first year I was in recovery. Now I’m not saying what I say is the only way or THE way but it is what helped me and maybe it will be something that can help you.
When I first got sober I heard these three words over and over again “Get A Sponsor”…when I first walked into treatment I really had no idea what that meant and I was too ashamed to ask. I kept thinking it was someone who was going to pay for something…yeah, I was that naive. After 20 days being in treatment I finally asked my roommate who was leaving…”are you getting a sponsor?” She said oh I already have one set up and I meet her the day I leave…me still slightly confused asked the next logical question…how did you know to ask a girl? My roommate laughed and sat beside me on the bed and said…”oh sweetie, you don’t know what a sponsor is do you?” Thus began my knowledge of what a sponsor actually is! So we are all clear, they don’t pay for anything and your sponsor is not your own personal piggy bank!
So you may ask yourself what is with the title of this blog…Feel Good vs. A Real Good Sponsor…I only named it that because I chose the Feel Good and it got me in trouble so now I have a Real Good which is keeping me on the path in recovery.
The Feel Good Sponsor…
I got out of treatment and I knew I had to find a Sponsor…okay, how do I do this…what do I say…what should they look like…there were so many questions and I didn’t have any answers because I never asked when I was in treatment (first mistake). When I got out of treatment I was fragile, emotional and unstable. I found a Sponsor that I thought would comfort these things and help my “fragile” state and by that I mean have pity on me, not actually HELP me let it go.
My first meeting and I spotted her right away…she was sweet, first one to say hi and offered me coffee. I never listened to her talk but I liked the way she looked…because the amazing addict in me deep down said…I can manipulate that. I was on the path to destruction before I even hit the pavement. I asked this nice lady to be my Sponsor and she said she would and told me to meet her at the same meeting next week. Really (my thought process), that’s all I have to do…meet you hear next week and I’ll stay sober…no other strings attached, no other work to do? This is going to be amazing!
So my first year, was exactly that…no work, saw my Sponsor one time a week at the same meeting. I made coffee maybe once, I put my chair away and that was about the extent of my recovery. Meanwhile everything at home was on a bullet train on a crash course…I got pregnant. I found out 4 months into my recovery and I was scared. I was scared but who was I going to talk about it? I never spoke with my Sponsor and an AA meeting was not a place to chat about pregnancy. So I held all my feelings inside and buried them deep waiting for the day for my baby to come and my emotions would explode. That was what happened, no other fancy way to put it. I exploded! Every emotion that I felt my first year in sobriety came crashing over me the day I gave birth. Postpartum depression set-in and it was off to the races for me, relapse was eminent.
While that first year I had never used drugs or alcohol I had relapsed emotionally and that was all it took to relapse me totally. I chose the “feel good” easy- to- fool Sponsor and that didn’t get me anywhere but back where I started, in treatment.
The Real Good Sponsor…
When I got back to treatment I felt defeated and lost. I kept asking myself what I did wrong and where could I have done better? I started to open up to the counselor that I had and she asked me some very key questions that started to give me answers…did you talk to people in the program, did you tell your Sponsor what was going on in your head, when you picked a Sponsor did you listen to them speak about their recovery (what they used to be like, what happened and what it is like now). These questions helped me figure out that looking for a REAL good Sponsor was a must. Someone who knew what a program of recovery looked like. I needed a Sponsor who wasn’t going to let me get away with minimal service work, never calling, not reading the big book and never going through the steps.
I never even went through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with my first Sponsor and to be honest I didn’t even know all of them, so sad. I knew I was starting from ground zero but that was a good place for me to start.
With an amazing counselor that gave me great direction, I knew I was going to be able to find a Sponsor that would help me walk this journey of recovery. I was looking for someone who walked the walk, was embedded in the AA community, had their own Sponsor, had and was continually working the 12 Steps of AA, was current in AA meetings and had a home group. This sounds like a huge list of musts but I knew I was risking my life if I only wanted to do the minimum from a feel good Sponsor. I needed a Sponsor that knew when I was giving them monkey gravy and not the honest truth, in other words…someone who would put the mirror up to my face and call a spade a spade. I had an ocean of character defects and I needed a Sponsor to guide me through them to help me show up in life the way I should so I wasn’t drowning in them anymore. I knew my Sponsor wasn’t going to be my best friend but they were going to be someone who was friend enough to tell me when I needed to change. It takes a lot of guts to tell someone they aren’t living life on life’s terms, taking their will back and not following a program of recovery but I would rather a Sponsor do that then hold my hand and tell me it will all just blow away. Now this is just my experience, my journey and maybe the feel good Sponsor would work for you but I got honest with myself and knew that I needed a real good Sponsor to help me stay honest and help me become the person I am today. I did find that woman and I will be forever grateful! She walked me through some of the hardest years of my life.
I love the end of the promises that tells me I it’s not going to be easy, you are going to have to…WORK!
“Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” Alcoholic’s Anonymous p83-84
If I did the work I was going to reap the rewards. My recovery would not always feel good so I knew, for me, my Sponsor wasn’t going to be able to always have that feel good, loveable and I can take care of you charm…she would be my strength when I was weak. Take it from me get a real good Sponsor…no matter the bumps, heartache, stress, shame, anxiety, anger, resentments…they will walk you through it all with the work that needs to be done! Work, work, work…the miracle will happen! Will it be easy, NO…worth it, ABSOLUTELY!