Be Gentle with Yourself

I go to 12 step meetings where you can get someone called a sponsor. Read on to find out more!

#sponsorshelp #amwriting #memoir #letgoletGod

Sooooo how are you doing? Hungry, angry, lonely, tired? In 12 step meetings, we call that HALT, or might say that you’re HALTing. 

Feeling like using something outside yourself to cope? Food, money, sex, drugs, alcohol etc.?

Try a 12 step meeting! Right now they’re very convenient lol because like most of the world, you can find a link and password to a Zoom meeting easily.

Try to go to several if you can. 

I write this from experience. Way before this awful pandemic and especially emotionally charged time, I found 12 step meetings. They were all in person, and sometime this year or next year, they will be again. I can’t wait! I miss my friends.

And if you’ve ever spent some time in 12 step meetings, you can probably relate. 

Virtual and face-to-face meetings have 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. 

These “programs” as they’re called have similar tools such as having a Sponsor (try a 12 step fellowship for this alone! More below!), attending meetings, and working steps. 

I have had the privilege of having three wonderful women sponsor me for several years or more throughout my 12 step recovery life. 

My first real sponsor was awesome. We were thick as thieves, but also serious about the program, too.  I was still pretty new, having only been coming around meetings for about 2 years when I met her, and hadn’t really worked the steps with anyone. Working the steps involves answering a bunch of questions about that step, and then getting together with your sponsor to go over your “stepwork.” 

Boy was I ready by the time I found her! We flew through steps one, two and three, which are basically surrendering to your disease and accepting that there is a God or something out there to watch over us. 

In Step Four, you do this moral inventory, and boy, writing that up and going over it with her (Step Five) was freeing as hell. And so went our first year together.

I had never had such a good friend and a mother figure unconditionally accept me, and it was an unbelievable experience.

Not to be judged for all the stuff that happened in my past?

To feel unconditionally loved?

To find a surrogate family with people that I probably would have never met and befriended if I hadn’t been willing to admit that I had a problem? 

Sponsor no.1 was older than me and had a beautiful plot in the countryside, and it was always peaceful to visit her there and enjoy the flowers and fauna. She was an incredibly gentle person, loving, and down-to-earth, i.e. exactly what my own bipolar, INFJ, kind hearted and bookish personality needed. 

My second sponsor saw me through two pregnancies and a miscarriage. After having gotten married in my 30s, beginning to work full time and pursuing my Master’s degree, her m.o. was to mostly listen, receive my daily food plan emails, and go over the steps again with me in my second fellowship. 

With her, I went over my 5th step on her patio, and it was nice. Also she was my only sponsor who had had kids herself, and her knowledge as a mother was invaluable. 

The first week of my daughter’s life, I’ll never forget calling her, exhausted, on my back porch, catching my breath and saying how I could get nothing done. Ah, newborns’ schedules! And she was like, first of all, take a breath. Secondly, see if you all have clean underwear. What?

“Does everyone have clean underwear for the next few days?” she asked.  Babies! OMG lol  

She was fantastic with baby advice like that. A few weeks later I called her, still exhausted.

“Rest when the baby rests,” she suggested. 

This was interesting because I had other friends who said that when the baby slept that that was when they got things done. Oh, I had- or let’s be honest- God had- picked the best sponsor for me, again! Gentleness. Easy does it. One day at a time. One hour at a time. And sometimes, one minute at a time. 

Now, my third sponsor, I give her credit for getting me out of teaching. She came in after no. 2 moved away and is kind, quiet, firm, direct, and objective. When I email her my daily food plan, she responds. Gives quick feedback, daily!

This was unlike no.2. Cool, yet unexpected. Again, I was ready. 

So in my daily food emails to her I often will make a comment about what’s going on with my life, or a problem that I’m trying to apply to the program tools, and she will often respond with a suggestion or some comment to make me think about it from a different perspective… Within hours! I can leave them in my inbox and reflect on them later. It’s wonderful. 

All three of these amazing women made long term commitments to sponsor me, and I am so grateful to all of them and their wisdom. I have been fortunate to be willing to listen to them, too. 

My life is better because of 12 Step fellowships and sponsors.

Do not be fooled, though- sponsors will not tell you what to do, they will simply try to help you sift through your problems and apply the program to them. 

Often they simply suggest for me to:

Pray.

Write about it. 

Sleep on it.

And one of my all time favorites: “Put in God’s hands.” 

Amen.  

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