So much of my anxiety stems from predicting other people’s responses.
I’ve always been painfully self conscious. A codependent, people-pleaser.
So, when I decided, months ago, that my sponsor wasn’t the right fit for me, I put the thought in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to face the uncomfortable steps of finding a new one. It involved reaching out to women in the program I didn’t know, facing a new, unfamiliar program, and, most devestating in my mind, hurting my current sponsor.
While we haven’t always clicked or seen eye to eye, my sponsor has done everything she can to keep me sober. I trust her. I’ve been honest with her, and, she’s been honest with me. Our step work has been life changing and positive. So, to think that I could make her feel bad, well, it made me feel bad. I didn’t want to be responsible for making someone else feel unsuccessful or inadequate. I didn’t want to feel that way, so, how could I go and make someone else unhappy? It felt so un-AA-like.
I talked to other women in the program. Asked them what I should do. And, much to my surprise, I discovered that lot of people switch up their sponsors mid-way through the steps. And, I heard from more than one source that, it’s a sign of a truly good sponsor when they gracefully let you move on to a situation that suits you, and your sobriety, best.
I worked the AA circuit, and found a woman in one of my women’s meetings that really struck me. I’ve been in a meeting with her since I got sober, and she’s always been an example of service, humility, kindness, and enthusiasm for the program. I told her my situation and asked her if she’d be willing to work with me. She was. And so, I no longer had to fear being sponsor-less.
Now, the hard task lay before me. “Firing” my old sponsor.
I stewed on it for hours. Dreading the conversation. Drafting excuses and reasons for my desire to move on. And, when I’d run my brain to the point of exhaustion, I came to the conclusion that, after all this time and work, I could safely say that, in my heart of hearts, I knew that this would be the best thing for my program and my sobriety.
So, tonight, I called my sponsor. And, instead of pulling out my old repertoire of excuses and justifications, I told her exactly what was in my heart. I told her that, above all, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. That I appreciated all the gifts that she had so selflessly helped me to give myself.
And, as per the usual, her response was that of a truly good sponsor. All she wanted to know was that I had another sponsor on deck. She didn’t want my program to suffer. She told me that, her job is to make sure that my sobriety is the best it can be, and, that’s with or without her.
Her compassion and kindness made me want to re-hire her, if only for a moment. She confirmed that we can’t predict how people will respond. We’re not mind readers, as much as we’d like to be. She reminded me that getting your sponsee to work a good program means that you, too, have to work a good program. And, to work a good program, we only have to meet love with more love.
Now, that’s a good (re)sponsor.