Are you in a 12 step program? If you are, I hope you have a sponsor, and you sponsor others.
More and more when a newcomer asks someone to be their sponsor some of the responses are terrifying.
Here are some of the worst:
Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
I tell you what, go to 90 meetings in 90 days and call me every night at 8 pm and if you do and I believe you are ready I will be your sponsor.
I can’t sponsor yet I don’t have a year under my belt
Those are the perfect example of why our Fellowship’s success rate is so bad.
Imagine for a minute that instead of the disease of addiction you have cancer. You are fed up to here with this cancer, so you go to the doctor.
The doctor looks at you and says are you willing to do whatever it takes?
Then he says go to 90 support group meetings in 90 days and call me every night at 8 pm. If you do that I will treat your cancer.
That would be crazy right? Well no more crazed than a sponsor who has the knowledge to deliver this poor suffering soul but instead they wanna to put the newcomer to the test. The problem is that many newcomers might not live another 90 days.
Well, I’m not willing to risk the lives of people to test their willingness. They are going to tell you that they are ready to do whatever it takes whether they are or not.
A sponsors job is to take newcomers or sponsees through the steps, do it. It’s not about you.
I’m writing this for two reasons.
- I heard Chris R. talking about this very thing, almost word for word. I laughed because it was funny in a that’s insane, kind of way. Then it happens to me personally.
That leads me to the second reason,
2. I have had the toughest time finding a decent sponsor. Somehow I’ve made it a little over a year without the guidance of a real sponsor. I started working the steps but hadn’t made it past step three.
Now some of this or all of it is my fault. After going through hell in the last six months I decided to buckle down and get me a real sponsor, you know the kind you can meet at a meeting or out for lunch.
To my astonishment right in front of me stood the sponsor Chris R. talked about. At that moment I wanted to say look I don’t know if I have 90 days to me.
I had just had a year of hell on top of being clean for a year without a lick of recovery. If you don’t know how that feels, it sucks. There was no way I could wait another 90 days. It was impossible. At that moment I was closer to a relapse than ever.
I needed a sponsor right now. Not in 90 days. I planned to be done with the steps with any luck in 3o days. I was prepared to focus, and I needed the solution, not a test. The past year was the test of a lifetime already.
This is a pervasive thing in our fellowship, and it needs to stop. Someone gave you the solution when you came into the rooms, and now it is up to you to pass it to those who come after you. Chris R. says that as soon as you do the steps, you can start taking the next person through the steps.
You don’t have to be clean for X amount of time before you can sponsor or chair meetings. Nowhere in the book does it give a timeline for these things.
If you are reading this and have worked the steps, please don’t do this to our newcomers. If I hadn’t had a year already, I would have used that night. Thankfully I asked another woman at the same meeting who was 6months clean, and she is a godsend. I am so grateful.
We have to do better.