What is a Sponsor?
As soon as we enter the Fellowship of NA, we hear this word Sponsor being bandied around in meetings. So first, let’s go over what is a Sponsor?
The official NA literature describes a Sponsor as the following:
an NA sponsor is a member of Narcotics Anonymous, living our program of recovery, who is willing to build a special, supportive, one-on-one relationship with us.
With a bit more understanding on that, you might have some questions:
Where do we start?
How do we find a sponsor?
What makes a good sponsor?
You’re not alone!
These are all questions we ask ourselves when first starting out to find that connection with another recovering addict in the Fellowship.
My quest for a Sponsor
I’ve had a rocky journey finding a sponsor who was right for me – a good Sponsor! I delated a bit and only started looking for a Sponsor about 2 months after joining NA. I waited this long because the very idea of approaching another female terrified me to the core! And NA want me to divulge my life story to this person?
I repeatedly and beseechingly asked fellow members all the questions I could think of to try and find a loophole that would allow me to ask a member of the opposite sex. Because I couldn’t see myself in any universe getting that close to another female!
I went through 4 just-ok Sponsors before I got a good one. In the process of finding your Sponsor, this is ok!
My first Sponsor was much younger than I was. I have a lot of respect for young people in the Fellowship, but I needed someone who aligned a bit more with my stage of life. It just made sharing life stories easier for me for some reason. I’d ask her questions, and she would brush them off and instead push authority. In hindsight, they were just questions she herself didn’t have the answers to and that’s ok.
My next two Sponsors were both older than me, which I definately preferred. I met one at a local meeting. She had been invited to share as the main Speaker for that meeting on that night.
Why I chose her for my Sponsor?
- Her story was similar to mine in terms of her childhood and drug using.
- Her demeanor was much like my own, and I felt that if we were to partner up, then I could see myself getting along with her in conversation.
- And best of all, she spoke that deep recovery I had been searching for!
I asked her just as she was leaving and she said yes. Together we worked the first two steps, but unfortunately for me she got engaged and dropped her sponsees. Her focus was now elsewhere, and I appreciated her honesty.
I wont talk much about the other one. She ghosted me as soon as COVID-19 Lockdown started in our country. I still haven’t heard from her, but her focus at the time of being my Sponsor was on her autobiography, so perhaps that was it.
Eventually I was about to give up when I shared (at an NA business meeting of all places) about my Sponsor struggles. A friend in recovery who I had been working closely with while I was GSR for my homegroup offered to be my Sponsor. I couldn’t say yes quick enough, I tell you! She has 9 years recovery and her and I match well together in so many ways. This was exactly the type of good Sponsor I was looking for!
So, do not be discouraged!!
The partnership, when you find the right Sponsor, is so worth the effort you put in to making that connection. And putting yourself out there, and experiencing being vulnerable will help you feel humble, which in turn will do wonders for your recovery in ways you’re yet to even realise!
How do I find a Sponsor?
Go to a meeting. It’s that simple. Find a group and make it your home group. Go regularly. Stay for Fellowshipping afterwards, or arrive early and help set up. Meet other members. Share. And most importantly, listen. Listen to what other addicts share and when you connect with someone’s story, ask them to sponsor you.
What’s the worst that can happen? They say no. Okay, then you just ask the next person who’s story you connect with.
It’s really that simple.
Don’t give up.
And with COVID-19 happening around the globe, we have even less excuses because there are NA Zoom meetings you can join happening all over the world in the current climate.
No excuses, y’hear!
What Makes a Good Sponsor?
I found the best list of qualities over on this site, but I’ll list some of them here with my interpretation as well.
They have what you want!
The easiest suggestion to finding a sponsor is to find someone with who’s story you connect. Take the time in your first few meetings just to listen to what the other, more experienced members have to say.
When you find someone who’s story is like your own, or see values in that you wish to have in yourself, then they have what you want and it’s a good idea to ask them.
They’re living the solution (and not the problem).
What does that mean? Well, there are members who are living the program in all their affairs, and those who aren’t. Learning to distinguish between them early on will be to your benefit.
Connect with those who talk about their time in recovery as it affects their daily life, and avoid those who enjoy reminiscing about their active addiction days.
They have their own Sponsor!
This is important! Choose a Sponsor who has a Sponsor and is still working the Steps.
Without guidance, we all have the ability to fall back into complacent thinking. A sponsor who is no longer deeply connected to the program and Fellowship will be of a detriment to your own recovery.
Someone who emphasizes Stepwork and the Traditions:
I have been to too many meetings where longer standing members have brushed off the stepwork we’re asked to do, but Stepwork and our Traditions are part of the foundation of our recovery and should not be dismissed.
Find a sponsor who is knowledgeable on the Steps, Principles, and Traditions of NA and holds values in each.
Someone who can be consistantly available:
A good Sponsor will readily avail themselves to you. Some meet weekly (like myself), some maybe fortnightly, or even just once a month.
Whatever the schedule, it should be respected and they should definately not brush you off. I get it, Life happens. But it’s how we respond to life shows what kind of a program we’re working.
Your Sponsor should be your first point of call when you’re having a rough time in recovery, but if they’re not, keep messaging fellow recovering addicts until someone answers.