It’s not been an easy time of late for me, life and all that; and it’s been a struggle to motivate myself to do anything other than work too hard, eat too much sugar (choc-ices are my downfall) and feel sorry for myself.
But that doesn’t help. So I run, and run, and go for another run. This month I hit the furthest I have done in a while, almost 60 miles!
And I always deliberately run without music. I just want to be ‘present’ in the place I am running and it gives me time to think. I know running might not be for everyone but it’s really helping me in recovery. It reduces my stress levels, and exhausts me. This has the added benefit of shutting my mind up!
But it does give me time to think…a lot of time. And I have decided to make changes as I hinted at the other day. Some of these changes have been hard, but necessary, and some are plain scary.
The scary one is that I decided that after being sober for over a year, and attending AA meetings in all that time, that I would take the plunge at get myself a Sponsor. Why it has taken me so long to make that decision I wasn’t sure, until after today’s run.
It was a hard but long run along the seafront, and with time to think I realised I have been avoiding getting a Sponsor for many reasons. But first the reasons for:
A sponsor is somebody who:
* Has a one to one relationship with a more junior member of a 12 Step group – this other party is referred to as the sponsee.
* Is there to offer advice and support. Some sponsors are willing to offer this at any time of the day or night.
* A sponsor can be a trusted friend.
* They are an information resource about the 12 Step program.
* The guide the sponsee through the steps.
* They offer the sponsee encouragement and praise.
* They provide a shoulder to cry on and an opportunity to vent.
* They are a friendly face in the meetings.
* They individual can feel free to talk about things with their sponsor that they would not feel comfortable discussing in the meetings. Some sponsees will end up revealing secrets that they have never shared with anyone else on the planet.
* A resource for honest feedback.
* Somebody who can spot the dangers signs of an approaching relapse or that their sponsee has gone off course.
So that is the ‘for’; and the against? Well there are pitfalls:
Sponsorship can be hugely beneficial to both parties, but sometimes things do go wrong. The most common pitfalls include:
* Some sponsors can be overbearing and will try to manage every aspect of the sponsee’s life. They may be doing this out of a genuine desire to help, or it could have more to do a type of hunger for power. Escaping addiction is all about finding freedom, so allowing a sponsor to have too much influence is unwise.
* If a sponsor relapses it can be devastating for the sponsee, and it may even put their own sobriety at risk. This is why it is recommended that members of AA always look for people with a strong foundation in recovery – even then there are no guarantees.
* Occasionally sexual feelings can crop up in this type of relationship. Thirteenth stepping is when sponsors, or other senior members, take advantage of newer members in order to gain sexual favors. These predators do exist in AA and need to be avoided.
* The sponsor is usually provided with a lot of personal information about the sponsee. It is usual to share the step 5 moral inventory with the sponsor. This can contain a lot of embarrassing information, as well as things that may even have legal implications. Giving such information to an untrustworthy sponsor could later prove disastrous.
* Sponsors are just people and they are as liable of giving bad advice as anyone else. This is why it is crucial to not accept their opinion as infallible – this is particularly important when it comes to medical advice. There is no obligation to accept the advice offered by the sponsor.
* Sometimes the sponsor can be overly critical of their sponsee. This can damage confidence and self-esteem.
Ultimately it means hard work, and it could be upsetting. I will have to open up and willingly become vulnerable. I don’t want to talk about my past, or my drinking.
I’m not convinced the past is relevant to my future.
However it is about making a commitment to AA that I find the most ‘off-putting’. I can’t sit on the fence. It means committing to the process and trusting someone else. It’s a dangerous game.
It feels especially dangerous right now as I know I am close to relapsing. But that is also my reason to make that commitment to do AA properly. No more sitting on the fence.