Sponsor Shopping

by Bill Brenner on December 2, 2010

The changes I need to make to take my recovery to the next level are well  underway. But an important piece of the puzzle might prove more challenging than I first thought.

Mood music (I’m on a deep Smashing Pumkins kick this week):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4gFpiRD2PI&fs=1&hl=en_US]

I’m shopping around for a new sponsor. I need a male sponsor, and I need to change focus to a deeper study of the 12 Steps.

Seems simple, right? Well, it’s turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Sponsorship is a tricky beast. Some sponsors are way too controlling of their sponsees, in my opinion. You’re to do everything they say without debate. I know why this happens. There’s a saying in OA that when you seek out a sponsor you want what they have and want them to show you how to get it. A lot of sponsors take that to mean they should make sponsees do everything 100 percent the way they do or take a hike.

I don’t believe in that. In fact, I think it’s possible to get so obsessed with the mechanics of the program that it becomes another addictive behavior. A more healthy addictive behavior than binge eating, drinking and drugging, of course; but it’s addictive behavior nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong. I think a sponsor has to have rules and enforce them. Otherwise the person they try to help will always go looking for the easier softer ways that lead to failure.

At the same time, no two people are exactly alike. Our needs are unique, and I think it’s a stretch for a sponsor to think a sponsee can do everything exactly like they do. Some people have medical conditions that mean they can’t follow the same exact food plan as a sponsor.

Some sponsors won’t take on someone like that because, in their mind, they are in no position to guide someone who has to eat differently.

For example, I don’t eat flour or sugar, and so some sponsors might say I shouldn’t sponsor someone who does eat flour and sugar.

I understand the logic, but I don’t necessarily agree with it.

There’s no specific playbook for an OA plan of eating. There IS NO playbook, actually. There’s no specific diet plan. The only requirement to be here is that you badly want to stop compulsively overeating. There are a lot of ways to get there. Discipline is a must, but discipline comes with a lot of moving parts.

As long as a sponsee badly wants to stop and is willing to be honest and open-minded, a sponsor should be willing to work with them. But that’s just my view. Sponsors have a choice in the end, too. And if they choose not to sponsor someone because that person doesn’t want to be a carbon copy of them, that’s their right.

It’s just not what I want in a sponsor right now.

I’m also a firm believer that everyone in this program should take their food plan to a nutritionist for adjustments. Sponsors are not nutritionists, though some like to think they are.

I have Crohn’s Disease, so I had to make adjustments that weren’t fully in line with what my first sponsor wanted me to do. I had to dial back on the raw vegetables, for one thing. I also had to add a couple ounces of potato or rice to lunch and dinner. My sponsor wasn’t comfortable with that, but went along with it.

Sponsors also have differing opinions on how many meetings to attend each week. Some demand three a week. I do two live meetings and one phone meeting a week. Some sponsors might call that too little. But then they probably don’t have children below the age of 10 and a full-time job. 

If that sounds mean, I apologize.

I want a sponsor who will guide me and help me stay clean without trying to outright control me. I want someone who doesn’t subscribe to the belief that I’ve failed if I don’t live my program exactly as they do.

Of course, we can’t always have what we want.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: