A few weeks ago I talked about five things to consider when looking for a sponsor.
What’d you think?
How do these concepts apply to your quest for a sponsor?
For me, there are three initial questions I would ask a potential sponsee when he’s looking for a sponsor:
1. Have you been in meetings long enough to connect with other members in the group?
If you’re brand new to the SAL meetings, be patient. Finding a sponsor is not necessarily a check-list item you do and then move on.
If you’ve been in meetings for a while, you do need to get a sponsor. But rushing into it may not be a helpful thing either. Get to know the other members in the group. Then, ask someone you feel you connect with. Even it’s only a temporary sponsor, that’s a good start too.
2. Do you have the list of names and numbers of members in the group?
This is one of the best ways to get to know other members in the group. If you bolt out of meetings right when they finish, you probably won’t make connections. Staying after the meeting for the “meeting after the meeting” can be a good option to begin talking with others and getting names and numbers too.
3. Are you reaching out to members of the group during the week to see how you connect with them?
Making calls. Receiving calls. This is how you make real connections which can lead to finding a good sponsor.
If you never reach out to anyone except for at the meetings, it may take you quite a bit longer to find a sponsor.
The only way to really connect with others is by getting out of my comfort zone and making calls.
If you’re not reaching out to others to get to know them, this is a big first step.
Those are a few initial questions to consider as you look for a sponsor.
Now to the remaining five things to consider when looking for a sponsor.
6. A sponsor should have a sponsor themself and should attend meetings regularly.*
Have you ever heard the cliche: “Practice what you preach.”
This is applicable to finding a sponsor. An addict has never “arrived” at a point where they don’t need to be humble and reach out to their sponsor for guidance and support.
I’ve realized that making calls, no matter where I’m at in sobriety, is crucial to developing the humility that I’ve lacked for most, if not all, of my addict life. Making calls is vulnerable and requires me to get out of my comfort zone.
7. The main objective of a sponsor is not to be a “friend” but to help you work the 12 Steps of recovery consistently.
This can be difficult. We want to make connections in meetings and eventually friendships with those we are sharing vulnerabilities with. However, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when two friends attempt to work as a sponsor/sponsee – not much.
The sponsor is afraid to say anything that might hurt the friendship.
The sponsee may try to please the sponsor by saying what he thinks the sponsor wants to hear.
It’s not healthy.
I tell sponsees right up front, “I’m your sponsor first, your friend second.”
This means I may tell you things you might not like to hear.
8. Distance doesn’t have to be a barrier in regard to sponsorship – there are many ways one can communicate with a sponsor (phone, email, Skype, etc.)*
Reminds me of the song in Napoleon Dynamite, “I love technology…always and forever, always and forever.”
If you’re part of online meetings where you may be meeting with people from all over the world, get their contact information and reach out to them.
Like we talked about earlier, this may not be “comfortable” or easy, but if you want to make the real changes you’re going to need to make, remember that “pain is the pathway to progress.”
9. A sponsor doesn’t do the work of your recovery and doesn’t provide magical answers to your problems.*
Magical answers are something that we addicts are generally looking for, especially at first.
In fact, in Step 6 of the Step Into Action: Four, Five, Six, Seven it says:
“We needed a different attitude from the old pleading that some of us did with God: ‘Help me stop acting out!’ ‘Save me from my jealousy!’ ‘Don’t let me rage again!’ In those prayers our self-will was looking for a magical answer. We were looking for rescue, not recovery. We wanted instant relief rather than a change of mind and heart.” (p. 46, bold added for emphasis)
Sponsors aren’t your mom who calls to wake you up in the morning.
Sponsors aren’t going to micro-manage you.
As a sponsor, I rarely if ever reach out to a sponsee to see how they’re doing. It’s their responsibility to contact me, to get outside of themselves.
It works when YOU work it!
10. A sponsor shares his experience, strength and hope and points you back to the tools of recovery found in the 12 Steps.*
This is one of the best things I’ve learned from my own sponsor.
For quite some time, I would call my sponsor to ask him what I could tell sponsees who I felt were off, struggling or just not “getting it.”
He listened to my fears and frustrations, empathized, and then shared what he had learned from his own experience.
The best thing, in my opinion, that a sponsor can do for himself and for his sponsee(s) is to listen to the struggles, think about a time he felt the same way or was in a similar situation, and then share what he did (or didn’t do) to get through the pain.
Not only has this helped me really practice listening and being curious (also known as empathy), but it’s also helped me remember where I’ve been and see that my sponsees are where they are – that it’s about PROGRESS, not PERFECTION.
In the White Book it states clearly:
“When we want to communicate to another member, we speak in terms of “I,” not “we” or “you.” We don’t tell them what’s wrong with them or give advice; we relate what happened to us. When we thus identify with another, it may not only help that person, but often reveals something about ourselves we’ve missed before. We don’t tell; we share.” (p. 186, The White Book of Sexaholics Anonymous)
What’s working for you?
Are there things you’d like to mention about finding a sponsor that have helped?
Finding a sponsor is essential as you work the steps. But I warn you to not make it a check-list item that you just do to appease a wife, a therapist, or others in the group.
I look forward to your comments!