Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It Takes a Village, Part One

I was planning on writing this post later in the month, but since I gave my sponsor his 15-year cake tonight, I think it's appropriate to do it tonight. In the just under five years I've been sober, I've actually had five sponsors. I know people who have had the same sponsor for eight, nine, ten years. I also know people who have gone through sponsors like Kleenex. I guess I'm somewhere in between. But I feel really blessed to have had (and still have) each of these relationships. So, tonight is dedicated to thanking them and letting you know a little bit about what each one of them gave me. In the interest of anonymity (and because I don't feel like coming up with five suitable pseudonyms), I'm just going to call them by their first initials (with a number to distinguish between the three Cs) – C1, B, C2, C3 and T.

[About the song: I think this one is self-explanatory.]

My first sponsor got me on day one. Poor guy. C1 barely had a year sober himself and he had the craziest guy in the room to deal with. He was amazing. I didn't have normal addict problems like craving drugs or living across the street from my dealer. Instead, I was terrified to get on the subway to go home at night because “they” were all mocking me and threatening me. And he just sat with me and problem solved until we came up with a solution that would get me home safely. And then we got to work. C1 didn't have all the answers, but he had more patience and kindness than anyone I had ever met before. And so generous. He knew I was completely broke, so every week when we met we went to Boston Market and ate dinner either before we read the book or after. I called him every day for about a year and he gave me the foundation that has kept me sober this whole time. Unfortunately, he began to struggle himself right after I turned one and he relapsed when I had about 15 or 16 months. The good news is he is back and now has two years sober. So C1, if you're reading this, I just want you to know that I'm pretty certain I'd be dead if not for you. Maybe someone else could have helped me, but I don't think anyone could have helped me the way you did. I love you and will be grateful to you forever.

Once I realized I had to find a new sponsor, I decided I was going to ask this guy E who I always talked to in meetings. E was always so sweet to me and I thought he would make a perfect sponsor. The only problem was that the day I was going to ask him, he came into the meeting and announced he was moving to the west coast. Goddammit. It took weeks for me to work up the nerve to even decide to ask him. Now I was shot down before I even got the chance. So, what I did was I told him that I was going to ask him to sponsor me and asked if he had any suggestions. He suggested B, who was his best friend. I wasn't so sure about that. I liked B, but I'd hardly ever spoken to him. We traded hellos when we saw each other, but I wasn't sure he even knew my name. But E was insistent that I should ask him. So I did.

I went up to B after a meeting and hemmed and hawed for about five minutes before I said something like, “Ummm E said I should ask you to be my sponsor. Is that something you'd consider?” What happened next was maybe the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. B talked for about five minutes about how similar we were and how much he liked getting to know me in meetings. And while he was doing it, he kept referencing things he knew about me. Now, keep in mind that I wasn't sure this guy even knew my name AND I still wasn't so clear on whether the voices had been broadcasting things about me. So I gave him a very suspicious look and asked how the hell he knew all of this shit about me. “Honey, you've been sharing it in meetings for more than a year now.” So, this guy that I'd barely ever spoken to not only had been listening to what I was saying in meetings, but he related to it. Talk about God working in your life.

B and I only had one official sponsor/sponsee meeting before the company he worked for transferred him out of state. But our bond was so instant and so permanent that I continued to call him once a week for the next year. I kept him as my “check in” sponsor and went about looking for a sponsor to work the steps with (we'll get to him in a bit). B was the guy who got me to believe I didn't have to be trapped in the ghetto in Brooklyn for the rest of my life. I was certain that I was stuck there and I would never be able to get out. He encouraged me, challenged me, supported me and counseled me for a full year until the moving truck pulled up in front of my apartment in March of 2010. In AA there is a saying, “Let us love you until you love yourself.” Well, B believed in me until I believed in myself. I still call him my sponsor emeritus. He's the guy that I go to whenever I need someone to know exactly what I'm talking about when I don't know what I'm talking about. I wouldn't be in California if not for him. Of all the guys I'm writing about tonight, B is the one I'm certain knows exactly how much I love him and am happy to call him my friend. It would be hard to miss the way I light up when I'm anywhere near him.

OK, I'm exhausted and this post is not even half over. So, you know what that means. There will be a part two. However, unlike most of the part twos, I promise to write this one tomorrow night and not at some non-specific time in the future. (I still owe you all a COPS! Part Two so don't think I've forgotten. Well, I haven't forgotten that I need to write it, but in the first part I wrote about having three stories to tell and I don't have any idea what the third one was supposed to be. That's the reason I haven't written it yet. I keep hoping it will come to me.)

So, tune in tomorrow for part two.

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