I’m relatively new to this side of the coin; sponsorship, I mean. In more ways than one.
The first time I’d heard of The Steps was when I was in the treatment center. I thought they were brilliant, all of the introspection and seeking where we’d been wrong and try to correct ourselves – all except the God part. But I’ve covered that in a previous blog. Aside from my initial fight to not have much to do with The Rooms and The Program that “preached” it, I still believed in The Steps. I wanted The Steps. I just had to weave my way around that “God” word. So weave I did.
Aa I came into The Rooms, I was told time and again to get a sponsor. Ugh. Like I needed a Dad to stand over me and tell me what to do; I wasn’t in the military, so I didn’t need a sergeant barking at me; and I was there by “choice,” so no one was going to tell me what I had to do – I knew what I was doing… I was quitting drinking, not taking orders.
That was nearly two and a half years ago (just shy by less than a month). What a change I’ve made since then! Included in those changes were sponsors. I have since had three sponsors, including my current one. Why three? Well…
Before I begin, I'll simply state that each and every one of them have assisted me in my sobriety at exactly the right moment that I needed what I needed. There will be no bashing here – there’s no reason to. That having been said…
My first sponsor was good for me because he didn’t push the “God” thing, one of the very reasons I disliked The Programs -- any one of the many types. Instead, he just got me introduced to the first steps, introduced me to sober people, and he was always sure I had the opportunity to talk. Ugh. I hated that, but I did it. I was never “forced” to, but I was always asked. I realize now that I needed that. Still, he never really pushed The Steps.
My second sponsor believed in a Higher Power he couldn’t define, nor did he try (with me, anyway). He was Buddhist, and that’s what attracted me to him to begin with. He’s also a retired counselor. When I asked him to be my sponsor, he told me right out of the gate that he was more of a friend and would probably not be the best for guidance through The Steps. It was a wise decision on my part to go with him… or, maybe I should state: “… that my Higher Power guided me to go with him.” His guidance helped me in many ways with my past struggles and my dark way of thinking. In conjunction with my current counselor, they helped me begin to see myself with less hatred, and with more self-understanding and self-compassion. I still struggle with that, but not like I used to, and I’m currently working on it. But still, he didn’t push The Steps, either.
By now, I wanted The Steps more than I initially did, and I would yearn to get a grasp them – how could I help some poor soul if I didn’t understand how they worked? But I didn’t know where to go, and the frustration began to grow as helplessness and depression began to sink in.
Enter two things: A prayer, and some hope.
One day I was discussing my predicament with my very close friend, AF, and she said, “D.L.! Pray about it! Leave it to God! But pray.” <sigh>
So – on her suggestion, I prayed. And I hoped. Faith was still evasive; hope was the best I had, but it was just enough.
I had found out about an activities group that is a branch off of The Program, so I went. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I really only went to investigate, and get out of my head and my comfort zone. It’s called: Action. But that’s another blog.
The following day, I was bombarded with a text that let everyone know what activities were going on for the week. It was very surprising, but I appreciated the inclusiveness. It spawned off a conversation between the chairman and myself. Initially, I was simply going to ask for some advice on how to find a sponsor that would assist with step work, and how to politely ask my second sponsor for his blessing and a friendly “firing.”
This conversation eventually broke off into a Facebook chat, and it grew. Before I knew what was happening, I was being asked questions about some readings in the big book, things about my life, and where I was at in my Sober Recovery. This happened quickly, yet went on for a while, and then it hit me – He’s prepping me for a walk in The Steps! This wasn’t what I had intended, not at all! I just wanted advice! Hmm…
I decided to warn him, “Hey, I’m only looking for advice, I’m not necessarily asking you to take me on.” He simply acknowledged my chat comment, and then continued with the conversation. He’d seen what I had typed, it was important enough to him to notice and acknowledge it, but his concern was obviously less about what I initially asked, it was more about what I needed.
That has never happened to me before – ever. Not from anyone that I know. Who takes the time to find out what a person needs, rather than just take the face value of the question? I’m still not sure how it happened, but I'm grateful it did.
We ended the conversation with a loose, tentative schedule to meet. When we got together, I reminded him, “I’m not asking you to take me on, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate already.” To which he quickly replied, with absolutely assuredness, “I’m taking you on,” and that was the last he ever spoke of it. It was a done deal.
We walked through some of the step work, discussing each part, and I ended up with “homework.”
Finally – I had some structure. Finally – I had some guidance. Finally – I was working the very steps I so badly wanted to work nearly two years prior. Finally.
But the true blessing is in the practice; an opportunity was placed in front of me just tonight. I was asked by a fellow in recovery for some assistance. He told me of his current sponsor, and how laid back and great the guy was, but he was lacking structure. The very thing I’d been searching for, for two years, I was now able to grasp a hold of, and put into action.
The one thing I’ve always dreamed of all my life was to help other people. It’s inherent to my design, I’ve strived to be of use, and I prayed about it as a child. As a child. No greater faith has a man than the faith of a child; it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed. Maybe my faith hadn't been as elusive to me as I had once thought -- I just didn't let it into the sunshine.
Where I once had such a hard believing in a Higher Power called God, let me state this now – something/someone/somehow is out there. I don’t understand it, and I gave up trying some time back. I can’t figure out how these “coincidences” happen time and time again, whether small and current, or large and very old -- they just happen, but not until I decided to stop worrying about it, believe it, and put it into action.
It has taken me since I was five or six years old to learn that. That's forty or so years, folks.