By Bill M.
I was just over eleven months sober when I told my sponsor, David, I was ready to start dating. Having been justifiably thrown out of a 20-year marriage two years prior, the prospect of dating was both ego-gratifying and horribly frightening.
After we had talked about my “readiness”, David suggested: “Before you ask anybody out, you might consider praying that God makes you fit to be in a relationship.” I tried it and it felt right. It brought me closer to the program and to my Higher Power and enabled me to realize deeply that my house needs to be in order before asking anything of others. That simple suggestion also left me without a doubt as to why I need a sponsor.
Many months later, I shared with David that I was getting serious with someone, and he stunned me by saying “I’ve been pretty bad at relationships, even in sobriety, so maybe you want to find a relationship sponsor.” I was baffled and afraid – I thought I was being fired. My experience in A.A. was that we have one sponsor who we work with on everything.
Having more than one sponsor just didn’t fit my limited view at the time. David told me that because of his growing passion he had a service sponsor in addition to his primary sponsor and both were very comfortable in their roles. I know now he was also teaching me to reach out to others when confused or troubled.
The frank self-awareness, humility and loving care of his suggestion that I consider finding a relationship sponsor became my example of sponsorship in the A.A. program. It brought to life a couple of things I had often heard in the rooms: that I am responsible for my own recovery, and that a sponsor should be someone who has what I want.
It made sense to me then (as it does now) that if I need help or clarity in a particular area, I should find the best person to talk about it with, under the guidance of my primary sponsor. In my recovery I have had “sponsors” for a hip replacement, bankruptcy, meditation, and yes, my relationship. The “special” sponsors chuckle when I introduce the idea, but without fail I get the help I need. My primary sponsor says, “Who cares what you call it, it’s all about one alcoholic talking to another.”
As a sponsor, I try to carry the loving humility David showed me (he passed away 8 years ago), remembering that I don’t have all the answers, and that I don’t need to have all the answers. There are willing members available who have more to offer my sponsees in some areas than I do, having practiced the 12-step principles around these issues intensely. I still fight the occasional battles between my ego and the principles of the program, but then I remember that we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
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