Last night, a new member of our Alcoholics Anonymous group asked me to be her sponsor.. Yes, me!
Although it was after only a few skipped beats that I gave her my reply, it seemed like an eternity, because a lot of questions immediately surfaced in my mind.
“Am I qualified to be a sponsor? How will I be able to say the right words to her at the right time? Is the quality of my sobriety sound enough to inspire her? What if I do irreparable damage by a faulty response to an important question? I am not a very profound person and am still finding my own way, so how can I have all the answers for her? Some of the Steps are difficult for me to follow, so wouldn’t it simply be a case of ‘the blind leading the blind?”
At that point in my panic, I noticed the expression on her face, a mixture of fear, hope, and the lost look of one seeing the inevitability of rejection. I was immediately snapped back to that evening in my life when I nervously defiant, approached an apparently serene fellow member and asked her to be my sponsor.
I had been advised to make the attempt, and I knew that I needed all the help that AA had to offer, but a cold water splash was dreaded and expected. After all, what person in her right mind would want to sponsor me? When she hugged me and smiled and said, “I’d be delighted,” my sudden sense of relief and gratitude was almost overwhelming. Taking that initial hurdle turned out to be just the beginning of a long and extremely valuable friendship.
Among my sponsor’s important contributions to my life was her teaching me that she was not perfect. She readily, admitted that very early in our relationship.
Although it was evident to me that she was an admirable person, knowing that she, too, was vulnerable and prone to make occasional mistakes helped me see that there was hope for me. She told me her story, and learning that she had “been there” helped me understand myself.
My sponsor and I do not always agree on everything. As I have grown in the program, I find that I am no longer accepting her every word as gospel, but am able to do a little thinking for myself and come to my own conclusions, whatever they may be. She has helped me achieve that happy state. More often than not, whatever answer she has given, to whatever question we disagreed upon, turns out to be the only sensible answer. Sometimes, it just takes me a while to see the light.
Upon those rare occasions when we still do not see eye to eye, she remains calm and collected and does not consider me bad or wrong for questioning what, to her, is the obvious. As a matter of fact, she is genuinely pleased that I have made enough progress and am fond enough of her to say, “Bull feathers!” once in a while. With my sponsor, I am able to enjoy a freedom of thought and a sharing of ideas that are both a revelation and a solace to me…. I knew that if this prospective ‘sponsee’ and I did not work out together for some reason, she would always be free to “fire” me and find a more compatible helpmate.
Intrinsically, I am a very selfish person, and one of my most blatant defects is the habit of dwelling too much upon myself and my own real, or imagined problems.
She will provide me with the means to get out of myself and concentrate upon another person. I needed her more than she needed me. But the real bottom line, the crux of the whole matter, was that I cared about her.
Perhaps only a couple of seconds had passed after she asked that all-important question. But when I hugged her and smiled and replied, “I’d be delighted,” we both sighed in pleased relief. Now, we are off and running the good race together.
C.H. – “Grapevine”