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by Bill M.

When I heard a member say in a meeting, “I may not be much, but I’m all I think about,” I knew I was going to ask him to be my first sponsor. I had been going to meetings for a couple of months, drinking before and after and in between (and telling you I was sober). I wanted what you seemed to have, but I still had to drink. An old-timer pulled me aside one night after a meeting and suggested that if I didn’t want to kill myself on the installment plan, I should read the Big Book, go to meetings every day, and get a sponsor.  

That last idea scared me silly. All my instincts were to protect the “look good” I imagined I had, and I was loathe to compromise that by asking a virtual stranger for help. It went against everything I had built myself up to be. My ego won that round, and I kept drinking and going to meetings, hoping for sobriety by osmosis. I couldn’t understand why A.A. wasn’t working and my deep soul-level pain seemed to be growing, not easing.

When I could focus and listen in meetings, I heard people talk about their sponsors in ways that could be described as awe-inspiring, near-mystical and often loving. I couldn’t believe the deeply personal things they talked about with their sponsors. It was at once both alluring and terrifying to me. Alluring because I desperately craved a genuine connection with another human being, and terrifying because if I let anyone get close, they would see the “me” that I saw and be as disgusted as I was with myself.

I heard two things in one meeting that pierced the veil of pride. I heard “If you want what we have, do what we do,” and “This is a program of action. There is no chapter in the Big Book titled Into Thinking.” I saw clearly I had to get past my ego and pride and find a sponsor. But how? I wasn’t quite ready to ask for help, so I just hung out and listened to people in meetings.

When I heard Frank say, “I may not be much, but I’m all I think about,” I felt a basic identification. He shared this with genuine humility, no self-pity, and a touch of playful good humor. It sounded real and honest. At that moment I wanted what he had. I made the leap and asked if he was open to sponsoring. He said “Yes,” and that was my first tiny surrender and first tentative step toward humility.

In that moment of grace from my Higher Power, I was given the willingness to ask for help, and was therefore able to experience, in a very spiritual way, the essence of Alcoholics Anonymous: one alcoholic working with another so that both could be free of our deadly obsession.

Bill M.’s Home Group is BYOBook, 9 am, Saturdays, at Faith Lutheran Church in Castro Valley. Hybrid Meeting – Zoom Code is 871-0897-4652. Passcode is 110619.