Surprising lessons from sponsoring addicts

When you join a 12-step fellowship, you’re looking for help to quit your drug of choice.
But you may find so much more: a community & spirituality, which work better than drugs!
And once you have finished the 12 steps (fellows know once never truly finishes them), you get to sponsor other addicts and pass on the knowledge that was given to you.
Surprisingly, it was when sponsoring others that I learned boundaries, self-care, abandoning my people pleasing tendencies, true patience and acceptance.

Over 7 hours, I told my sponsor my
life’s resentments towards other people.
I couldn’t believe they said it was
an honour to do so.”

When you sponsor someone, you essentially go through the steps again.
But this time, you’re not too close to your own problems to see the lessons:
You can learn through someone else’s experiences which eerily resemble your own.
I still held on to anger and prejudice which I had to hear through someone else to realise that they belonged to a different mindset that was no longer my own.
Sponsoring gave me insight and retrospect, teaching me to reflect on myself before calling others out and getting mad at them.

You can’t sponsor anyone who needs it,
only those who also want it.

We are not actively helping those we sponsor, we are merely a guide for the program which does the work. This takes away the pressure of helping an addict or watching them relapse.
Above all, this allows us to grow boundaries.
Most addicts never had limits, be it with substances or with people.
Now we learn when to be vulnerable and when it is more loving to all to put a foot down.
We can only offer help to those who are ready, and indulging those who are not might actively hurt them (and means we are still people pleasing if we cannot let a sponsee go).

Looking back, we have changed so much.
But it never stops:
We just keep on growing
and only realising in hindsight.

And this teaches us humility.
Something external to me, some larger than me, allowed me to do the one thing I just could not do by myself: quit drugs.
Having had a spiritual awakening which explains this complete realignment of priorities, I am arguably a different person. But this growth isn’t a one-time thing, it’s continuous.
When I was an active addict, I didn’t truly feel or process anything.
But today, I reap the fruits of my recovery more and more as each day passes.
And a large part of this growth is helping others who are still in a dark place.

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