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Sponsorship: A Personal Journey
In 1982 I went to my first 12-Step meeting. The speaker caught my attention when she said, "I know it will be hard, but you will have to reach out for help if you want to get better." I remember saying to myself "Never. I can do this on my own." I laugh now because I was so wrong. I really did need help and I got it by the grace of God.
A week later, a woman spoke at a meeting I was attending and I really identified with what she was saying. We had similar stories of addiction. I approached her and she asked for my phone number. It was like she was reading my mind. We exchanged numbers and began a new adventure together. Joan helped me and I helped her because she said she needed to help me to maintain her own recovery. I didn't understand this at first until I began sponsoring others. "Carrying the message," prompts me to keep up my studies and to get away from my tendency to isolate. It also makes me feel good about myself and about life.
Eventually, Joan got cancer and left AA. When she came back everybody ignored her. But she had helped save my life, so I took care of her is hospice. Then, in 1984 she died in my arms. I still miss her and wear the ring she gave me to symbolize our journey together. And today I am a Wounded Healer and Enlightened Witness like her. I carry my message to those who suffer they way Joan and I had.
Joan was someone I could trust, and someone who had experienced her own addiction and was now in recovery. She was someone who would read my journal and listen to my Fourth Step. She was patient, kind and wise. She was also very spiritual which was what I needed the most.
Here is a list of the qualities I found in Joan. If you are in recovery, may you be so blessed.
1. She experienced something similar to me. Not identical but close enough.
2. She was a good listener.
3. She gave me positive feed back whether I wanted it or not.
4. She confronted me when necessary.
5. She was sympathetic, but kept her boundaries and did not get lost in my pain.
6.. She could practically read my mind.
7. She never gave up on me.
8. She was encouraging.
9. She was hopeful.
10. She mirrored back to me my inner beauty.
11. She never judged me.
12. She always encouraged me to process all of my pain and not stuff it or take it out on others.
13. She encouraged me to forgive those who had hurt me and to forgive myself most of all.
14. She knew when to talk and when to listen.
15. She was willing to share her story and shortcomings.
16. She witnessed my pain so that I could see through her what I had been through.
17. She had worked the steps and helped me do the same.
18. She had other students but always gave me special attention.
19. I did not feel I deserved her but she was there for me anyway,
20. She was always interested in helping others.
21. She helped me find God but she did not ram spirituality down my throat.
May the angels take care of you now my friend . . .
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