I’m going to use one of the questions listed in the reading. Most of them don’t apply to me – seriously – because I have no “home life” as such. In my friendships I do practice being loving, but that’s easy I suppose if you know you can go home or leave anytime.
So I’ll talk about question 12: do I have a sponsor, and do I have a working relationship with my sponsor? I’m very fortunate to be able to say yes to both. That hasn’t always been the case – I have had a number of sponsors. Each one has left a mark in my life, has contributed to my abstinence, and passed on the miracle in some way…
- My first ever sponsor, back when I was in New York getting abstinent the very first time, marked up my Greysheet and explained in person exactly how things worked. She relapsed after I was abstinent for about 2 weeks, and shortly after that, I went out too.
- My second sponsor, a year later, responded to me because I posted on Greynet. She was the first person to respond, and I just grabbed on to the lifeline she offered. At that time, I was absolutely desperate and would have done anything… and as a sponsor, this woman was fantabulous. She structured our phone calls to be 10 minutes long, I would read something from the Little Black Book and comment on it, she was available to answer her phone almost every single day. She had an enthusiasm for abstinence, told me to eat the foods I loved, and just exuded gratefulness. She had what I wanted: JOY. I worked with her for over a year, until I moved to England. I did not want to let this relationship go, but it became clear soon that there was no way our schedules could be worked out together (8 hours’ time difference!). So I looked for, and found, a sponsor in the UK.
- My first sponsor when I lived in the UK was herself a UK’er, and also gave me a set amount of time each day as I called, to talk about things. She structured our phone calls, too, and gave me much insight into her own recovery. Our personalities, however, just didn’t work for either of us (plus, after my previous sponsor, it would have been very hard for anyone to fill those shoes), so after a few weeks I decided to find another sponsor.
- Having met several UK GS’ers at the Roundup, along with some Americans who visited, I met my next sponsor there and she was American. I called her mid-day every day, having to sneak away from work, because that was the only time that worked for her. She was usually babysitting her grandchildren during my call and I didn’t feel much of a connection happening. At that time, I was being pulled away from Greysheet by well-meaning friends, I discussed my need for it, and eventually it wore me down enough to let go of Greysheet. Worst decision ever.
- Three months later or so I was desperate, and decided to go back onto Greysheet no matter what. This time, I called Sponsor 2, and asked if there was anyone she sponsored that would be able to sponsor me – reasoning that her style would trickle down. She matched me with one of her sponsees and I worked with her for several months… but again, connection just didn’t happen, apart from the fact that I had to call at the same time every evening (and evenings are usually social times, it’s hard to take that time out). After some months, I was looking again.
- I contacted a Greysheeter I had met at the Chicago Roundup several years before and had chatted with there briefly. She was on the phone list, but her sponsorship status was listed as “please inquire”. So I did, and she had an opening. She remembered meeting me, which I found really surprising! I’ve been working with her now for, hm, I think almost two years and I could not ask for more. The one thing I could never share with Sponsor 2 was how the programme works through, and in, my Christian faith (she wasn’t a Christian). With this sponsor now, I can commit by email – and I type very quickly, expressing myself this way is almost easier than verbally! – and we share both abstinence and faith. This relationship is going to a depth that no other sponsor has ever come near, and I think at this point my sponsor is the person who knows me the best in the world. She knows who I am, how I am, and never fails to challenge me when she feels I’m veering off programme (NOT abstinence, I’m talking about living in the solution). I don’t always follow or agree with her suggestions, and she doesn’t get offended by that, just lets me live my life as I see fit but without her input I would have done many things differently, and for the worse. I have come to value her insights immensely, and she is always available. Not everyone would sit down and type out page-long emails in response to my questions, or even to explore with me some life issues or decisions… whatever it is, she gives of herself and of her time so freely it humbles me. I can only hope to be a sponsor like that!
So… I am grateful beyond words for everyone who is willing to sponsor others, as I have been blessed by six people, but the best thing is that I have someone now who’s just a gem – I suppose it’s a personality thing to some degree, and we have had to work out some differences and ways of communicating without taking or giving offense, but I genuinely share so much with my sponsor that this relationship is just incredibly precious to me.