Part of recovery is carrying the message to a newcomer to recovery. They say that a sponsor must set safe boundaries and not get attached to those they sponsor. I speak from personal experience when I say that it’s a lot easier said than done. You share their pain, hear the deepest darkest experiences of their lives and you genuinely want to see them succeed. You want them to experience the freedom that comes with recovery, you want to see the light come back into their eyes, you want them to live. It is very difficult not to get attached.
The responsibilities of a sponsor are nothing more than to guied a newcomer in recovery. We aren’t shrinks, friends, taxi cabs, banks, or relationship counselors. It’s all about recovery and everything else should fall into place IF they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. There are some sponcees who believe that it’s our job to completely “Fix” their lives and that they do not have to put in any real work…..Nay Nay, that is NOT how recovery works. I’m often asked how many people do I sponsor. My reply is always the same; “The correct question is, How many people am I sponsoring that are actually working their program. A sponsor can only do so much and nothing at all for those who are not willing to put in the work it takes.
Everyone sponsors differently. I can get a feel of how I’m going to approach a sponcee within an hour or two. I don’t treat any of them with “kid gloves” but there are those I’m slightly easier with than others. The first thing I tell a new sponcee is that as much of a goof ball as I can be, I take recovery VERY seriously and will not waste my time on someone who isn’t serious about it. I also inform them that I’m not going to chase them, if they truly want recovery, they will make it a point to keep in contact with me. In addition, I make it a point to tell them that they aren’t always going to like me and that’s fine with me. Very much like my sponsor, I’m not going to tell them what they want to hear, I’m going to tell them what they need to hear. I’m not a true hard ass like my own sponsor is although I pass on the lessons that he’s taught me. My sponsor is blunt and to the point, he tells me when I’m full of it, he calls me on my crap and he doesn’t do kiddie gloves. I’ve taken a great deal from him and am very grateful to him but had to find my own way of sponsoring that worked for me.
I also get asked a lot WHY do I sponsor individuals and sometimes allow them to work my last nerve. The answer to that is simple. They help to keep me sober. You see, the longer one stays sober, the easier it is to forget the pain and devastation. Working with newcomers keeps that fresh in our minds and reminds us of where we don’t want to go back to. Do I have sponcees that would drive me to the brinks of insanity IF I let them? Most definitely. However, watching the light come back into the eyes of the ones who start to “get it” is an amazing experience and one I never get tired of.
Just because you become a sponsor, that doesn’t mean you no longer have to remain in contact with your own sponsor. Although I do not call my sponsor every day anymore, I am still in frequent contact with him. The simplest way to describe sponsorship is “Paying it forward” we give back what was freely given to us. I don’t always like my sponsor, but I always love him.
How do you find a sponsor? In reality the ONLY real thing you need to have in common with your sponsor is your disease, any other similarities are a plus. The best way to find a sponsor is to listen to the individuals who speak in the recovery groups or twelve step groups. When someone says something that catches your attention and you feel you want what they have, you just ask them. They won’t look at you funny or act like they don’t know what you’re talking about. It may seem awkward ad first, but in order to get through the recovery process, one MUST obtain a sponsor. Trust me when I tell you, I thought I was different than everyone else and tried it on my own…..I failed miserably. LOL
If you have any questions on this topic or any other topic, feel free to hit me up any time.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist