Having a sponsor who challenges me is one of the greatest gifts of my AA program.
When my first sponsor had to bow out of working with me for personal reasons with her own step work, I was bummed. I really related to her. We were so much alike. We had similar family backgrounds, educational backgrounds, both our bottoms were high, and heck, we just plain got along swimmingly. At first, when I wasn’t able to work with her on my steps, it really stressed me out. I liked the fact that I knew exactly what I could expect from her. We were so similar and I knew it’d be hard to find someone else that I could relate to on the same level. And, when she recommended I work with my current sponsor, I was reluctant.
My current sponsor and I, we’re polar opposites. From our styles to our interests to our attitudes to our religion to our drunkalouges. We, literally, couldn’t be more different. But, the more time I spend with her, learning about what she did to get sober, the many challenges she faced, the life she led, the more I learn that we’re not so different after all.
Sure, I look like the collegiate librarian and she looks like the pierced-punk-rocker-East Village-freak from my NYC days. My bottom looked like pure misery from my couch in my apartment, one fifth of vodka and three bottles of wine deep and her bottom looked like restraints in a psych ward. But, fundamentally, it was the same things that got us to a place in our lives where change was a desperate necessity. It doesn’t matter how it looked from the outside.
I was supposed to meet her today at a local coffee shop after my 7AM AA meeting. So, I got there, drank my latte, read my books, played on my phone. But, she didn’t show. This has happened before. And, unsurprisingly, I got really pissed. My impatience was at fever pitch, first and foremost, and then, that feeling that my time wasn’t important to her started to creep in and taunt me. I texted her. No response. Called. No response. And, as I felt my blood pressure rise, it occurred to me: It’s not worth it.
Seriously though. Someone being late to a coffee date should not be a day-ruin-er. That’s just the truth of the situation. And, that was my life before. I let anything, even the smallest most insignificant things, define my emotional state for the whole day and sometimes beyond that.
So I called her again. I left a voice mail this time, telling her that if she’d overslept (which had been the case in the past), I’d come to her house and pick her up. And, within minutes, she got back to me. She was apologetic. She has a condition that disturbs her sleep, so, our early morning meeting can be a struggle for her. I drove out to her house in the ‘burbs and we drove back into Portland proper together.
On our drive, we connected in a way we never have in the past. All those differences between us that I tend to focus on, seemed to melt away. More than anything else, our differences challenge me. They make me think in a way that I don’t really want to most of the time, but, after being forced into seeing things through a lens that isn’t mine, I can see the bigger picture of my own sobriety. Sometimes a different perspective is all you need to see where you’re wrong. I can see how I fit into the bigger plan, and, how I stick out. By seeing how someone so different from me ticks, I actually can better see how I tick. And, the more time I spend with my sponsor the more I see, appreciate, and understand our relationship.
Sure, we probably would have sat at different tables in the cafeteria during lunch in high school. But, this is sobriety, not high school.
And, subsequently, thank fucking God for that.