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When I Give, I Get

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It took every ounce of courage I had to ask someone to be my sponsor. The first two people I asked had to refuse; they were sponsoring others and didn’t feel they could give me the time they thought I deserved. The third agreed—and my life changed.

She was very strict: I would do what she told me to do, and that was that! I fondly referred to her as “Commandant.” In six months, I lost 50 pounds (23 kg) and worked through all Twelve Steps with her. I was told to sponsor, so I said yes to two people who asked. I felt happy and fulfilled; I had a purpose. Then I lost my abstinence. Since I never lied to my sponsor about anything, I told her about it. She fired me. I was devastated! “What am I going to do?” I asked myself.

I continued to attend meetings, but it felt like half measures to me. I had not yet figured out the full meaning of surrender or the concept of giving away what I wanted most. I was too inexperienced to realize this is not a “by myself” program; recovery depends upon love, acceptance, and support.

I found my way back, thanks to someone who was “God with skin on”—a very supportive friend who understood my struggles. I found myself at a meeting with new faces, and when I asked someone to be my sponsor, she agreed, but only on a temporary basis. It didn’t matter. I was going to lose some weight and get back the sanity I had felt.

I found this new sponsor to be strict too, but she was also so accepting, loving, and supportive that I felt I could move mountains. She guided me through the Steps, encouraged outside writing, and showed me how to work my program in every aspect of my life. When I moved to yet another new city, she continued to sponsor me in our “temporary” arrangement until she lost her abstinence and had to release me.

Once again I found myself floundering—but I knew if I wanted to keep what I’d been given, I must reach out to others. I found another sponsor who offered a different type of relationship, one that is working well for me to this day. I now have a daily action plan: I commit to physical exercise and do a task related to program. I sponsor others as part of my giving-it-away plan. I also pick one person from my weekly meeting and send him or her an email or text during the week; if I get a response, it feels wonderful—almost as wonderful as it feels when I first reach out. This is how I support others who are recovering in this program; in doing so, I support myself. Whether it is love, acceptance, experience, or support, I know that my purpose is to spread it around as much as possible. It’s a true bonus that it brings me so much pleasure!

— Liz B., Chicago, Illinois USA

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