It seems it’s been at least three years since I published a blog post. I’ve had tremendous writer’s block. I know that some people consider “writer’s block” to be an excuse, but I’m not sure what else to call it. I’ve been staring at a blank page for the better part of three years. If you were a regular reader of my blog, I apologize, I’ll try to do better. It seems I feel better able to write new content.
But I digress….
Both of my sponsees hate AA and are not fond of working the steps. My sense is that it doesn’t really matter what people do as long as they do something. My sponsees do a lot of volunteer work, they have found ways to correct their behavior, they make amends when needed, they are good to their S/O, they continue to remain sober, and they are open to feedback about various aspects of their life.
I really cannot blame my sponsees for their dislike of the program as I have long had a very strong love/hate relationship with AA and NA. Some of the things that bothered me when I got sober still bother me 39 years later. My grandmother was my first sponsor and she had difficulty with certain parts of the program. I don’t think that matters as she was able to help me in spite of what she didn’t like.
One of my sponsees is a believer, although she rarely if ever talks about that. She found a connection to something that works for her. My other sponsee is an atheist like me. His path largely involves the martial arts and the practice of mathematics. He finds benefit in his practice, and both people derive great value in participating in their respective activities.
When I began sponsoring the “atheist dude” he told me he didn’t believe in God and wondered if he could be successful. I let him know that a belief in God or a higher power isn’t necessary, but what is important is that you have a “place” you can go to and people you can consult when you feel stuck. I told him of a study that was done in the Scandinavian countries where people were asked what they believed in, and over 95% of those folks said “ME”. I reminded him he was in good company.
Many years ago I sponsored a dude who in the course of his day job was attacked and was blinded by a dude that stabbed him in the eye with a screwdriver. He never relapsed and he never thought of drinking. He never attended meetings and he didn’t work the steps. He found peace and solace from time spent with his family. When he died he died sober with over 30 years of recovery. I thought about various program people I know who I respect and cannot find any differences in the quality of sobriety with this guy versus people who attend meetings and work the steps. When this man died, he died a life well-lived.
One of my sponsors was a guy that never worked a step, never picked up the Big Book let alone any program literature, and never attended school past the 8th grade. He attended meetings infrequently, although he was one of the finest people I have ever met. When I received any of my graduate degrees he was the first person to congratulate me and through the course our relationship he became like the father I never had. He passed away from Cancer, but he continues to remain one of the most legit human beings I know.
I am also reminded of a guy I sponsored that never attended a meeting and never picked up the BB and never worked a step. He stayed sober as he found a new group of friends at the gym. He replaced his negative self-defeating behaviors with pro-social activities and surrounded himself with people who didn’t drink, but had a life committed to health. Twenty years later this same dude is sober and has the same group of friends from the gym. He is married and his kids are in college – all three of his kids neither drink or use drugs. He has set an awesome example. I continue to remain proud of him.
One of my friends spent 35 years in prison. He was surrounded by dysfunction and violence and addiction. He overcame all of that through meditation. I love this guy as he is centered and focused and calm, and has a heart bigger than the world. He recently started dating and he will send me text messages (he never had a cellphone so listening to him talk about his amazement with technology is totes awesome) about what he did with his new sweetie and how they spent the day and his volunteer gigs. I LOVE getting those texts! Because of his record he has had significant difficulty finding a job. I had a brainstorm that as he used to steal cars, A LOT of cars, he would likely be very successful working as a guy that repossessed cars. I never imagined that would be “such an awesome thing” but he is doing well and that job suits him. He also teaches meditation classes. I sat in on one of his classes and I can absolutely see why he is successful. He has what other people want.
I have always believed that recovery looks different for everybody. I’m not so sure it matters what people do as long as they do something.
Whatever you decide, good luck on your path.