“Being a sponsor has been an important part of my recovery from growing up with alcoholism. In fact, as a sponsor I never give as much as I get…When I have the privilege of hearing the secret of a sponsee expected to carry in silence for a lifetime, I am reminded of how relieved I was to finally lay down the burden of my secrets with my sponsor…In becoming a sponsor, I cultivate a listening heart for others as well as for myself.”..Hope for Today – August 23.
I went to a good meeting last night in which we discussed sponsorship. There are no musts in Al-Anon, except the purpose states that you are affected by someone else's drinking and the disease of alcoholism. In fact, you don't have to have a sponsor to work any step.
But I would say that having a sponsor is recommended because that person has been through the steps. They can share their experience. My sponsor has helped me see things that I would have missed. Having a sponsor has helped bring a whole new dimension to the program and to myself.
Al-Anon is about sharing. Somehow though when you first come to the program you may hear those words but telling them to someone who is a control freak with a persecution complex, brought on by a falling down drunk, and accustomed to isolation and solitary pursuits, loses something in the first translation. I like the saying “our best thinking got us here”, and while there’s some truth in that, it’s what we do after we get here, that will actually spell our recovery.
It's my opinion that trying to do these steps by ourselves constitutes attempting to fix what’s wrong with us with what’s wrong with us. As much as we need to learn the “program”, we simply need help in it’s interpretation through the eyes and experience of someone who has made it work successfully. If not for having an “unbiased” but caring bystander, I would not be able to see more clearly and understand those portions of myself that I have had a great deal of trouble dealing with . And if you’re not sure what I’m referring to, there’s no doubt a sponsor would be of great benefit.
Steps worked in solitary, are neither verifiable nor accountable, by virtue of our perversity when we first arrive. I know that I wasn't capable of applying a “program” I knew little about, and the results I would have gotten would have no doubt reflected that. I suppose one could use the words “half measures” and the result of those being always “nil”.
Plus, having a sponsor gives someone the opportunity to be a sponsor. It has been a great honor for me to work with those who have asked. I know that I have gotten so much from helping others to understand the steps and their application in life. I read a lot on sponsorship before I got a sponsor. I don't just do things because someone tells me I "should". Al-Anon has some good literature on sponsorship and there is a chapter on it in "How Alanon Works".
Just with my own ideas though I offer the following on what a sponsor is and isn't:
A Sponsor is not a Guru. A Sponsor is not a Savior. A Sponsor is not a Higher Power. A Sponsor is not-God. A Sponsor also is not a spiritual guide, spiritual advisor, psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, occupational advisor, relationship counselor, preacher, or a recovery counselor.
But a sponsor is someone who has found a solution and serenity through Al-Anon and its twelve step program. I have faith, trust and confidence in my Sponsor to guide me to place my faith, trust and confidence in God as I understand him. It is my responsibility to seek guidance and direction from my HP in addition to seeking guidance and direction from my sponsor.
This is all that is and should be required to meet a responsibility and fulfill a commitment to Sponsor, if someone has accepted such a commitment. Some people find it difficult to ask someone to work with them, while some who work with others tend to take over the lives of their sponsees. I believe that the choices people make are theirs. A sponsor isn't supposed to dominate others.
I like the idea of listening to people in meetings and looking for those who have what you want. These are the ones who have worked the steps and are practicing the principles in their life. They are to me the "winners" who are able to laugh and exude joy. I am a people watcher and like to observe what others do and say outside of meetings. Living the program is different from sharing for an hour in a meeting.
I believe that every Al-Anon member has the responsibility to perform 12 Step Work. However, not everyone has to or should be a Sponsor. I think that sponsorship is not a vocation, career, or full time occupation. Undoubtedly, sponsorship requires commitment and responsibilities but if we place the requirements and responsibilities of Sponsorship too high, we will have no Sponsors. I believe that it it is a privilege to sponsor someone. And it's one of the ways we keep what we have in our recovery.