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No Good or Bad Sponsors

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When I was an OA newcomer, I had no success trying to find a sponsor. I went to three or four meetings a week, and at every meeting, I wrote in the book I was looking for a sponsor. No one offered to sponsor me. Out of desperation I called the intergroup, which provided me with a temporary Step sponsor. If not for this service, I may never have found a sponsor or stayed in OA these thirteen years.

I had an idea of what I wanted in my first sponsor. My temporary sponsor did not look like what I wanted, but she was definitely what I needed. She was plumpish, happy, and loved the Big Book. Our first meeting lasted more than four hours—her talking and me listening. It was a wonderful time, and because of this woman, I bought my first Big Book and returned to the meeting I swore I would never go back to. It is now my home meeting where I do service almost every six months.

Over the years, I have worked with seven different sponsors. My male sponsor was very strong in the Big Book. He passed on AA’s spiritual principles and a precise discipline for sponsoring someone through the Twelve Steps. He taught me how to sponsor, and I have sponsored more than forty women in the same way, modifying my approach to include a Third Step ritual from my first sponsor.

Another woman and I have cosponsored each other for more than six years. Our lives, including our marriages, children, and hobbies, mirror each other’s. At times we have had to confront one another with the truth. We take turns wearing the sponsor hat, and she has taught me more about forgiveness than anyone.

My sponsor reminds me there is no such thing as a good or bad sponsor. All have taught me something and have been examples of what I want or do not want to do. I do not believe in a role model for a sponsor because that would put someone on a pedestal. I need to discover what works best for me. In time, someone will want what I have if I am carrying the message and practicing the Principles of the program.

Sometimes an OA member cannot be both friend and sponsor. I should decide what is more important: having a friend or recovering from my disease. Fortunately, in OA I have experienced love and acceptance without judgment.

— S.S., Sunnyvale, California USA

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