So, I have been through the steps now. Do I still need a sponsor?
In the early months of sobriety it is easy to see where sponsorship is essential to someone’s recovery. A sponsor can help the new fellow move towards working the steps, can help them through any anxieties they may have around people in the fellowship, life in general and stopping drinking. A sponsor can share their experience with a new fellow so they do not feel alone in their seemingly massive problem.
I remember myself having plenty of questions, all of which were very reasonable, to ask my temporary sponsor. Whether I listened to the answers was another thing.
At about 6 or 7 months of sobriety, I had just finished step 5 and was excited, on fire, about the whole program, about how it had changed my perspective, about a new world coming into view and of course about how stopping drinking had been so easy. I wanted start a meeting maybe two, to shout it from the roof tops, to help everyone, that what I was going to do, it was my higher power’s will for me, it felt right… to me…..
“Slow down there” came the wise words of my sponsor who had more experience than I.
“I think you enthusiasm is great and hope it stays with you. Yes you can help others, get to the meetings, help set up, get to service, and let’s do it one step at a time”.
I did not realise the commitment in setting up a meeting until it was outlined to me, then the continued commitment to keep it running for the long haul. I also did not realise it would require more than just me and my super enthusiastic ideas. Whist my motives were full of good intentions, I lacked the experience and vision which could only come with time and continued sobriety.
Ok, so with that in mind I now stand 6 years sober, YES!! I have been through the steps and continue to practice the principles that I have learned. I feel I have grown, that I have some of the vision as talked about by Bill in concept 9. I am calmer, more thoughtful, less worried about this and that. When I am on my game and do all my stuff, I feel ALIVE and part of the world. I am connected to my higher power, answers seem to come and everything feels ok. YES!!!
So, do I still need a sponsor? Or can I get by with my higher power as my guide? I am a grown man, right. I can do this.
I don’t know about you, I have a tendency to make my mind into my higher power and at certain times I cannot distinguish if I am running on self, or running within the principles of my program. Sure, some things are now easy, as I have been over them a few times and I get it, I have passed the test, so can we move on to the lessons.
So what about the times when there are holes in my program? When I get complacent and lazy and I miss a few things here and then a few more things there. Suddenly, to me, it seems ok to be doing less than I was a few weeks back, I have this sown up, I have progressed, I don’t need to do that anymore. Then a situation happens. Actually, I am not in great fit spiritual condition and my mind starts coming up with solutions to problems that I have created myself and the situations just get worse.
I get myself into a place where my alcoholic mind is running the show. I start directing everything because it’s the only way I know how to deal with it. I keep myself busy to keep myself distracted and I try to do the same with the people around me. I know it’s happening, yet I cannot get out of the loop, I try to sit and do the suggested things but my head is too loud. I go to a meeting but I miss what’s going on and I don’t really want to be there.
Then I am at my home group and people are asking about me, I see my sponsor and he points out I have not called and that I am distance, he is concerned “is everything ok?”. I hate that at first, it irritates me to the bone. “I am ok, I have not had a drink, I am doing my stuff, I am fine.”
Alcoholic thinking. Everything is not fine and I know it.
I eventually ask my sponsor if I can get some talking time and I tell him my stuff. He quickly guides me back on to the program, shares some experience with me, walks shoulder to shoulder as I download the information in my head. He never judges, never acts holier than thou. Just clear simple directions to help me up and keep me walking. “There is a new man over there, go talk with him, see if he wants a coffee” is his suggestion and it works.
PHEW!! Once that process is over and complete, the relief is just great, I see where I have taken a detour and I find it easier to pick up the simple tools of recovery.
My answer to my own question is yes I do still need a sponsor after working the steps and after 6 years of sobriety, simply because I am still an alcoholic and whilst I do not drink any more at my core the central problem still remains with me. It knows what I know, the things I do, my strengths and my weakness. It is cunning, baffling and powerful.
Having a sponsor, one person to be completely honest with is a vital spiritual tool for me. To check things out, to bounce things off, to have in your corner, to listen to and talk to, among other things.
And I don’t even come close to working it perfectly, nowhere near. But I try.
It is worth mentioning that it does not mention the word sponsor in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. It does how ever give a brief description of sponsee on page 92.”Even though your protégé may not have entirely….”
It also gives a similar type of description of sponsor on page 96 “Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery. Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice.”
Advice on what?? On the Twelve steps of the program of recovery.
Sponsor is also all over other AA literature when read it speaks of how the first members of AA learnt about sponsorship and how crucial it was to their recovery.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”