Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Relationship v. Transaction

Somewhere, early in my sobriety, I got the idea that sponsorship is a relationship. Not a transaction. These relationships may start out with "I need your help." And that is what the relationship is, the sponsee asks for help, and the sponsor provides it.

But in time, these relationships blossom and grow - or change, or end.

I don't see it as a one-way street. In my relationship with my sponsor, we talk as old friends. There are times when I ask her for help or her opinion. Other times, she has asked me for mine. She has been my sponsor since I was sober 10 years, so it is now 17 years. She is now aging - as if I'm not! She is not quite the person she used to be. But she is my beloved sponsor, and always will be.

I sponsor women with whom I have these kinds of relationships. They are priceless.

And then there are others... the relationship never moves beyond the take and take. Or the give and give. The phone calls never move beyond" "hello?" "Hi, I'm miserable, he kicked me out, I don't have a job, my kids hate me, I hate my kids, someone looked at me funny at the meeting yesterday, so and so was chairing and he irritates me, the weather sucks, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum." And I hate to admit, I want to say "I'm fine thanks, I've had a wonderful day, thanks for asking!"

I can tolerate that for a while, but truly, it gets so old.

This is on my mind because I have a sponsee who is writing me long e-mails every day about how miserable she is. We will have to have a serious talk - as soon as I can nail her down to a time to meet. And I might just quote my old friend Ed, who once said to me "Do you want to know why you are so unhappy?" Of course, I wanted to know, so I said YES! He said, "it is because you think about yourself 25 hours a day." And of course, I could argue with that, because we all know there are only 24 hours in a day. But I knew he had me.

And it is a bad sign when you don't even pretend to ask how your sponsor is doing. Even if you don't care how the other person is, you can do lip-service and ask and maybe there will be divine intervention and you will find you DO care. Once you do care about someone else, your problems have just been decreased. Exponentially.

I know I have been blessed with some wonderful people in AA, but some of that has been work. These relationships don't grow themselves. You actually have to invest time and energy into them.

God has blessed us abundantly, but sometimes we just need to say "Thank you."


Syd said...

You have said it all. I call my sponsor just about every day as he is getting older and will soon be moving. I just want to say Hello and let him know that I care. I have sponsees that I don't hear from. Sadly, I still think of them and call them. But seldom do they call me. It is about commitment to another too. Some have it and some don't.

Lou said...

I get so much out of your posts. I have experienced the total selfishness of the addict/alcoholic. I believe it is a hallmark of the disease.

When I see a diminishing of this complete self absorption, I start to believe the person is interested in recovery.

dAAve said...

My "self" still wants to be all-consuming at times. Two steps forward, one back.

And my sponsor and I now have much the same type of relationship that you do with yours.

Ms Jones said...

Well put, Mary. Well put!

Steve E said...

My sponsor (and pigeons) and I meet at least weekly. That is when we 'see' the love God has allowed there. Simply put: Thank you.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Thank you!

I'm grateful that God is bigger than my inability to receive sponsorship at first, I was strong willed but willing, and thank God, the willingness and divine intervention is enough to continually hatchet away at the self-will, I heard and followed the truth through the steps and finally was able to receive sponsorship from another wonderful woman (sparkly rock-star) sponsor who kinda leaves me in awe still frankly (in a good way) cause she is confident, has peace, is INCREDIBLY active in AA and is still so filled with gratitude and spirit that when she shares she often tears up. She's also flawed and continues to admit those flaws, which is extremely helpful! :)

I love that, it happens to me too. Plus I know the foundation she's been raised on... women who have been in recovery for 30-50 years and are still some of the most enthusiastic in AA to this day in their journey. I want that. :) And I admire it enough to be humbly grateful for the power that brought it to me and keeps me in relationship...

God's love and gratitude are so contagious!

Thanks again Mary Christine! Here are some ((((((HUGS))))) of the cyber variety for you and the inner-beauty showing in these words!