The Cure to Addiction

The Cure to Addiction

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time, and I’m excited to have finally done so. A cure to addiction… Is this even possible? Before we explore this, let’s take a snapshot of what addiction is right now.  At this moment in time, 2018, I feel we are at the beginning of what our understanding of what addiction even is, let alone finding a treatment for it. Are we close to a cure at this moment? Unfortunately, I don’t think so, in fact, I don’t believe we are even close. With 83 years passing since the inception of AA in 1935, we still don’t know much about what causes addiction and how to treat it; especially modern science. In 2014, there were 143 med schools in the USA, and only 14 of them had 1 class on addiction even though it’s estimated that 40% of hospital beds are occupied due to alcohol-related issues. This is staggering. It can be said that rehab is a 30+ thousand-dollar introduction to 12 step programs, and the best study that I can find is that AA has a 7-8% success rate according to the Sober Truth by Lance Dodes.  Currently, 85% of rehab facilities are 12 step based. Studies show that 2.5 people out of 1000 make it to 2 years of sobriety. Yikes, but the good news is you can continuously start over. Governments have no idea how to deal with addiction. The 40 years, 1 trillion-dollar war on drugs has primarily been a waste. There are still 21 million Americans, 80% of those with alcohol use disorders, who need treatment with addiction. Estimates show that of these 21 million Americans, only 10% of those get the actual help they need. I don’t want to paint a grim picture for readers, but currently, on this planet, we aren’t doing so hot when it comes to treating addiction. In fact, we’re failing, but it’s a start.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob created a fantastic program called Alcoholics Anonymous that currently has over 2 million members in over 120,000 groups worldwide. There is Smart Recovery, Refuge Recovery, yoga, meditation, Recovery Elevator and more. People are trying their hardest to tackle this planet’s most pressing epidemic; addiction. Despite the bleak snapshot painted above, I feel we are on the right track. I think in 500 years when we look back, we will all be looked at as pioneers for what shaped the way for recovery treatment. Or what we’re doing now may be like bloodletting. Doctors thought for around 800 years that bloodletting was the best way to rid the body of an infectious disease. Turns out, human beings need blood. I don’t think this is the case with how we are currently treating addiction, but you never know.

Let’s discuss what I mean when I say cure to addiction. What I’m proposing should render addiction obsolete. As in it won’t happen, or least not nearly at the level of occurrence that we see today. I guess this wouldn’t really be a cure, because to have a cure, you would need a disease, and what I’ll be covering should essentially create an environment that doesn’t foster the disease. Too much of western medicine emphasizes treating existing illnesses since there isn’t much money to be made in getting at the source. When I say cure to addiction, I don’t mean addiction happens, then insert treatment. I’m saying, addiction doesn’t happen in the first place. This is the more ideal scenario. I’d be more than happy to be out of a job.

Keep in mind, this is all speculative, some of these ideas may seem so far out, so bizarre that it isn’t even a possibility… But if you give it some thought, this may make sense. Some of you will agree with this, some of you might not want what I’m proposing ever to happen. In fact, it scares me too. It’s uncomfortable. Who knows, if MP3’s are still a thing in 500 years, I may get this spot on, or I may have wildly missed the mark.

Where did I get the idea for this post? For the cure to addiction?  Well, it was at my fantasy football draft in Las Vegas this past August. We were having dinner at the Hofbrauhaus House, and I was watching my two buddies argue about the dividing topic of immigration. One of them is a liberal, and the other is a conservative. They’ve had this same conversation or a similar one, the past 5 drafts. I knew I wouldn’t be engaging in this conversation, so I decided just to sit, listen and observe. As they were defending their steadfast positions with eloquent and non-eloquent diatribes based on part fact but mostly conviction, a strange thought arrived. It said the only way to solve the immigration issue is to eliminate all borders. Across the whole planet. And before we go any further, I want to mention, this post is about addiction, not immigration or politics, so please do your best to listen with an open mind. I said to myself, no, that can’t be right. That will never happen. And then the wheels in mind started moving. So much so, that I had to step outside the restaurant and sit on a bench for about 10 minutes. My brain kept connecting the dots until I said, holy shit. That’s the cure to addiction. Yippee!!

You might be saying to yourself episode 199 ended with you thanking planet earth, now you’re talking about a world with no borders. Wow, Paul, I bet you’re wearing Birkenstocks and have distanced yourself from all forms of plastic. Nope, I’m a guy who lives in Montana, a red state, who shoots clays with my shotgun for fun on the weekend, but deep down, even though some of it doesn’t sit well with me either, it feels right.

Okay, let’s explore this. In my opinion, the most profound line in “The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Dr. Gabor Mate, is that anthropologists have no record of addiction in pre-modern times. Contrary to popular belief, Europeans did not bring alcohol to the Native American, Inuit, and Aboriginal populations, or to South America to the Mayans, Incas or Aztecs. Alcohol has been around for 1,000’s of years and records show that all these cultures consumed alcohol. So why is that only within the past 400-500 years has abuse of alcohol and addiction been a problem. Why has is the swath of addiction caused more havoc within some social groups more than others?  Before we discuss this, let’s look at the Rat Park experiment conducted by Bruce Alexander.

I first came across this study in my first year of podcasting, and I’m reluctant to say, I dismissed it. At that time, I was in the camp that addiction is roughly 80% genetics and about 20% environmental, now, I’ve done somewhat of 180. I feel that addiction is about 20% genetics and 80% environmental. Okay, back to Rat Park. The study looks at two different environments for rats. In one cage, it had a single rat. The rat has access to food, water, and cocaine. It was only a matter of time before the lone rat chose a diet of strict cocaine and ended up dying. This process was repeated continuously with the same result. You might say, duh, cocaine is one of the top 4 most addictive drugs on the planet. But what happens when the environment changes. The second environment is called Rat Park which is full of rat families, with toys for the rats to play with, with mates for the rats, and probably Third Eye Blind Playing in the background. In Rat Park, the rats have access to food, water, and an unlimited supply of cocaine. What happened? Nothing. Cocaine/addiction was no longer a problem. Eliminate stress, change the environment, and eliminate addiction. It worked for rats, it should for us right? Well not so simple, but in theory, yes, and it’s gonna take some time.  Johan Hari talks about this in his Ted Talk titled, “The Opposite of Addiction is Connection.” I highly recommend watching this. He continues to say the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection. I would say it’s more of a combo of sobriety and connection.

I am also reluctant to say when I first saw Johan Hari’s Ted Talk 3 years ago, I dismissed it and wasn’t a big fan. Now, I think I think, for the most part, it’s spot on. Johan’s Ted talk is starting to echo a theme that has been presenting itself the more I learn about alcoholism and addiction. That addiction is not about the pleasurable effects of substances, it’s about the user’s inability to connect in healthy ways with other human beings. In other words, addiction is not a substance disorder, it’s a social disorder. Previously, when I first started the Recovery Elevator podcast, early 2015, I was in the camp that the pleasurable effects of alcohol, and drugs, were the primary drivers for addiction but now I feel that the pleasurable effects of alcohol and drugs help soothe inner trauma and our inabilities to connect healthily with other humans. On an individual level, we are not at fault for this. In today’s breakneck fast-paced world, we are living further and further away from other human beings, we falsely connect more and more via social media and our society has a significant problem with accumulating external possessions because we’re taught this is healthy. Unfortunately, much of today’s economy is reliant upon our addictions.

I feel the birth of addiction occurred with the mass displacement of people from their lands, communities, and roots that started with the substantial land grabs of the Spanish, French, Dutch, English, and Americans on our own continent. Some groups of people, who are disproportionately affected by addiction, got the raw end of the stick, and they are still paying the price. What about those who weren’t displaced from their lands, maybe someone like myself and probably several other listeners. Well, life has drastically changed for everyone on the face of the planet in the past 500 years, Especially in the previous 100, and even more so in the past 50. Before the first flight took place in 1902, it was a lot harder to leave a community. Today, I think a lot of us are still trying to figure out “where we belong” and this sense of alienation has affected some more than others. For myself, this has resulted in addiction.

Back to the absence of addiction in pre-modern times. You might be saying to yourself, Paul, I’m relatively certain borders, boundaries, tribe lines, restrictions, precincts, confines, rivers existed in pre-modern times… Yes, this is correct. But when civilizations remained settled for upwards of 500-1,000+ years, and you were lucky to have oxen and wagon, you may have never encountered a border or really knew what one was in your lifetime. If everything you needed was already in your own “rat park,” then why leave?

Now let’s explore a futuristic world without borders. Again, this scares me. Big time, but if you think about it, it’s really the only way things can go. We’ve been doing the conquer, defeat, divide, overthrow, coup, rebellion, revolution, wage war, WWI, WWII, with sticks and clubs and now with nuclear bombs. For ages.  It’s not working, and human beings are starting to wizen up. The EU opened its borders up in 1985, and this has made things easier.

When will this no border fantasy world occur? I don’t know, it might not. Artificial Intelligence might have something to say about it first. With the proliferation of social media, which isn’t a genuine human connection, things may get a lot worse before they get better. But barring nuclear war, ending everything for everyone, I think this will happen in the next 300-500 years. If you’re saying to yourself, I don’t want to live next to a white person, or I don’t want to live next to a black person, well, in the next 200 years, we’re all going to be the same color anyways so please get over yourself. I think, when everyone can move about this planet freely, when we can accept all human beings as equal when we are able to establish roots and communities wherever we’d like, then I think we’ll wake up one day and see the problem of addiction slowly fade away.

 

 

 

 

 

Feel Better

Feel Better

I am approaching three years of sobriety. Recently, I have been distracted enough to not consider the convoluted emotions which typically accompany my sobriety date.

Not a day goes by when I am not authentically grateful for the disease of alcoholism; along with the unexpected gifts in recovery.

Lately my world has been in a constant state of cerebral dysfunction, with the long overdue separation of my youngest daughter and the societal expectation of public school.

Meanwhile, I feel I cannot possibly take on another role, yet find myself with three new sponsees. What in THE hell is my HP thinking? Does the universe not SEE that I am falling on my ass on a daily basis? My OWN ass. How do I have the mental capacity to guide three adult-type people through the early stages of recovery?

Seriously.

One night, while lonesome, I found myself momentarily missing a remarkably unhealthy relationship, for the mere fact that it offered companionship. Lost in thought, I found myself romanticizing that toxic union just as I would a glass of merlot; the familiar allure of poison.

Phone rings.

A newcomer calling for guidance. I had just met her at her very first AA meeting.

The triumphant laughter of the universe, cloaked in a shout, when a suggestive whisper didn’t resonate. Jolting me back to reality and out of the very unnecessary abyss of that maladjusted union.

I recently also offered to sponsor another young woman. She shared some thoughts with me that made our short time together completely worthwhile.

We were reading the big book together, accompanied by a few pages of dreaded, yet reliable, homework.  I suggested that she try to settle on a task and with humble willingness, she would start to feel better.

Feel better.

She concurred with insight of a different view, as she woefully spoke:

“I feel fear better.

I feel anger better.

I feel anxiety better.

I feel sadness better.

I feel everything fucking better.”

Truth. This is reality of sobriety.

I shared with this newcomer some of my ongoing struggles, and the recent ebb and flow of grief. Recounted the moment I was crying to my doctor, hoping for some Xanax, admitting to my new naturopath, “I don’t want to feel this…” Prior to hitting my bottom, I had been over-medicated in the care of an over-zealous practitioner with Xanax, Klonopin, and Celexa.

What was my new doctor’s remedy, instead of firing off a cryptic prescription or two?  

She alerted me to my words that day, ” I don’t want to feel…” and reminded me that I haven’t allowed myself to feel anything except detachment for the past 20 years.

She recommended I sit through these damned emotions, wallow through the despair, allow the waves of grief to flow, until I could…

…feel better.

Written by Kellie Ideson from Pure Life Recovery

Undread

Undread

I suddenly find myself three years sober. I’ve been contemplating how to write about this milestone for weeks. Recently distracted and shamelessly overwhelmed with life events, to a degree that I actually did not over analyze this past year in recovery. It just “happened.” Odd how the days amass when conducting myself like a palpable, functioning adult.

Life evolved this year. My godmother died. I said my final farewell to my amazing dad. I went through a tumultuous and extended break up; my first one sober. My eldest daughter graduated from high school, while we opted to pull my youngest daughter out of public school to embark on a home school scenario. Most recently, I resigned from a reliable job to engage in this new, unfamiliar path of educating my child.

That’s a lot of shit. A whole lot.

My therapist asked me to imagine a scenario: What if you had been told one year ago, or even six months ago, that all of these life events would materialize? Leading me into absolutely uncharted territory, a real transformation in my sobriety.

I would not have believed it. Nor would I have welcomed it. Any of it.

However, my gratitude abounds. Exhausted and somewhat anxious? Unquestionably. Waiting for the next move to be revealed,  I do so without any evident amount of dread.

Three years ago I was paralyzed by dread on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. For me, dread is not fear. It is an emotion characterized by boredom, lethargy, laziness, selfishness, non existent self esteem, and yes…fear. Dread was the contrived outcome of my lack of human authenticity. An unrealistic, inner dialog with myself, that I would be “found out.” That I was an emotional adolescent, masquerading as an adult.

My list of dread was as follows:

Financial instability

Financial responsibility

Loneliness

Companionship

Hurting my children

Loving my children

Illness

Health

Failure

Success

Lies

Truth

Death

Life

Love

Hate

I recognize a plethora of self imposed imbalance on that list (accompanied by a dozen more blog ideas). Dread of pain and joy. Just and unjust. I once suggested that my addiction eased some of this dread; pain. A suggestion of delusion.

Drinking obliterated legitimate coping skills. It diluted raw and pure emotions, and diverted my responsiveness to life.

In the past year I have embraced the “undread.”  Welcoming the concept that feeling anxious and occasionally fearful is typical. To truly live is to let go of dread and the unrealistic expectation that life is painless. Realizing that our best laid plans are not truly of our making at all. There is a power greater than ourselves that releases us from the responsibility of dread and morose repercussions.

Life for me is not easier in recovery, not by a long shot. Yet I am amazingly content, mostly serene, and able to accept that my worst day sober is far more acceptable than my best day drunk.

Embracing the journey. One day, one moment, one new trail at a time.  

Written by Kellie Ideson from Pure Recovery

Powerless Over Alcohol

Powerless Over Alcohol

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a local women’s group, the subject was “Overcoming Our Struggles.”

For three weeks prior to this event, I wrote and rewrote countless versions of what I would say. I have told my story before, always to a group of other recovering alcoholics; never to a room full of “normies.” I vacillated with being 100% transparent about my addiction, or toning it down.

Finally, the night prior to the event, as I started yet another vain attempt at writing my thoughts on paper, I realized I was using an old notebook as a sturdy surface to write upon. When I opened this tablet, the first few pages were filled with the words that follow, written at 6 months of sobriety.

It was exactly what I had been longing to find, to share with this group of local moms. It was an exercise I had done during my first of 12 steps for my AA sponsor: How I came to realize I was powerless over alcohol.

“How did alcohol, my addiction, render me powerless? When exactly did it take over?

It is odd, the irony. Initially the drink gave me pseudo power when I never felt I was enough. Power to gain popularity. Power to use my often intimidated voice. Power to boldly walk in front of my peers; not filled with fear. Alcohol truly served as my personal wolf in sheep’s clothing. This magic elixir, a cure all for my plentiful emotional ailments. My perceived social faux pas and devoted mask to face my biggest foe; self-imposed social scrutiny.

In time, through trial, error and immense pain, this myth of power (lending itself to miscalculated confidence) became my terrifying reality; spiritual chaos.

  • I denied myself any amount of genuine success through self-sabotaging; jobs, relationships, and life in general.
  • I was full of self-loathing and self-deception.
  • My desire to drink overcame and replaced my ideals of love and personal well-being.
  • Deprivation of self-care became apparent; directly affecting my self-esteem, my children, jobs, and love relationships.
  • Preoccupation with my addiction misguided me through all of my life experiences; hobbies, social interactions, and employment all had to adjust to suit my needs to drink. I would only dine out where there was a diverse selection of beer and wine on the menu.
  • Neglect of my children and their life experiences, due to my lack of honest engagement, consistency, and meaningful family moments.
  • I became reckless, mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. Ignored my declining liver function and high blood pressure, and began to drive while intoxicated.
  • Inconsistent thinking led to irrational decisions about my declining marriage and subsequent failed partnerships post-divorce.

I experienced the death of my life power when I ceased to enjoy my relationships; familial, spiritual, and romantic. When I started not giving a damn if I could recall and celebrate important milestones. When I simply would rather “sleep” under a blanket, behind closed blinds, all day rather than behave like a functioning adult.

The most profound loss of power happened during the last two years of my drinking. When I continued to indulge my addiction, realizing that I would likely die if I didn’t stop. I continued to validate my reasons for doing so. Each day, I would gaze at my reflection, through yellow watering eyes, longing to see someone I recognized. I would often pray for God to just take me, as I would have welcomed death over the lifeless existence I was suffering through.  With each morning sunbeam, I realized the disappointment of having to endure another day with the bottle.

Finally, I relinquished all of my life power when I admitted to my own children that I didn’t want to live anymore. In a terrifying moment, they saved me. The two loves of my life, thrust into a situation only the worst nightmares can offer. I made my intentions clear as I held a bottle of pills in my hand.

This was the final surrender; my rock bottom.

The bittersweet dichotomy:

While I felt powerless, finally giving in with a suicidal admission, I gained a miniscule amount of power back with the exhausted abandonment of my addiction.”

I am grateful today to have survived that bottoming out over two years ago; life is amazing. Sobriety is certainly not perfect, without struggle or void of pain. Life is real. I feel everything, as a living human should. Now worthy of experiencing situations in a lucid state of mind and sitting through feelings I pushed into a corner for far too many years.

My reflection now seems more familiar; I appreciate the person looking back at me with hopeful eyes and frequent serenity in her heart.

My presentation went well. There were moments of old self-doubt, when I was positive I was not connecting with any of these new faces looking back at me. After the event, four women approached me with stories of their own; each with varying degrees of struggle, recovery, and hope.

Use your voice, keep your life power.

 

 

Dealing With Emotions in Sobriety

Dealing With Emotions in Sobriety

Grief: The Most Sobering Emotion of My Sobriety
By Kellie Ideson

 
My dad died. On December 20th, 2016 he passed away peacefully in the care of his wife, my sister, and my brother, three short weeks after I left him in a Las Vegas hospital with a hug and “I love you” as I made my way back to Montana.

 
That day, I knew he was going to leave us soon. I could see it in his eyes and felt that sinking feeling of grief, already settling into my stomach. This shift in perspective, as I boarded a plane, knowing in my heart that last embrace, truly was the final contact of our relationship here on earth.

 
I wrote down my thoughts, as follow, as soon as I buckled in and tuned out the flight attendant’s redundant emergency training dialog. These feelings raw and of the purest form, the true grit of sobriety; feeling everything. I experienced emotions on a level that is at once uncomfortable, yet so necessary to move through the rest of my life on these new and still obscure terms:

 
“His jovial eyes are nearing a void, twinkling only with the prospect of a nap or of going home.
Yet, he barely remembers home. For 49 years he has been my home. Without his memories of us, I feel like an orphan fumbling to find my way through the welcoming threshold of all that is pure and true.

I have faltered through the years, yet he remains my truth. Never judging me. Or maybe he has, but in a patient silence, allowing me growth through my errors.

Truth. Where is that now? Truth for him is in 5 minute increments, as that is as much capacity this wretched disease allows.

God loving and honest, he has lived within the golden rule. Today he swears, flips the finger, stomps his feet, his eyes often brim with tears, as he apologizes. For he knows, he is behaving out of character. Knows he is being stripped of his existence, and is still thankful after he completes a dreaded task. The goodness of this man lies deep within. Along with the knowledge that he makes mistakes, asks questions, and feels senseless.

I told him stories of my youth and the things we did. All that he has afforded us with his sensible and generous spirit. Lessons in all realms; emotional, physical, and spiritual.

On my knees today at the base of his wheelchair, I promised him he is going home in two hours as I board a flight to Montana and the life I have been unable to show him. I told him he is a good man. The best father a girl/woman can ask for, thanked him for all he’s done for me, how he raised me to be a good person, how he affected my life and how thankful I am and will always be. I asked him not to forget that…he said he would not forget it. In one last gesture, I showed him a photo of us from 6 years ago, his response, “You are beautiful, pretty, pretty, pretty…I love you honey.”

He, with one foot in this world we know, and a reluctant toe in the next.”

These thoughts of mine still seem random and scattered as my grief is in the mode of ebb and flow. There is a blessing here, enclosed in my sadness. I see the gift of my sobriety. It allowed me to be 100% present for those concluding moments with him. It gave me the capacity to devote a last week with him; this once would not have been a possibility. It gave my family the confidence to ask me to join them, to aid in the strategy to make his last days here as calm as possible. They WANTED me there. I WANTED to be there. And, I was THERE.

Not with my gaze in the bottom of a carafe, the obsession of my ensuing drink. The inertia of yet another hangover. The selfishness of wanting the symptoms of my own progressive disease to be nullified with another glass of something…anything. I was patient, present, and able to be…just be.

Be still with my dad, with sincerity in his presence. Retelling him the tales of my youth, now that my memories are uncluttered; real. Our time together, during his near final decline, are now some of my most beloved moments. I am sober; what a gift.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I had a mental list of reasons I would allow myself to again imbibe, no matter what. The top of that list; the death of a parent. I mean, really…who WOULDN’T expect me to drink over this? No one could possibly judge me for it. This was definitely a reason to find solace with that old friend of mine, shiraz or merlot. In fact, my dad and I shared many glasses of wine together, many cheers over beers. He certainly wouldn’t be ashamed of me…

Truth: I haven’t had a drink. I haven’t had a craving. I haven’t wanted to disappear from this despair.

I would know. I would be ashamed. I expect more of me.

And this is the gift of sobriety.

I was on the floor in my closet, inconsolable, two nights after he died. Crouched in the dark, crying like I never fathomed was possible.

I have raged at my family. Angry with God, not with them. I apologized.

Almost immediately.

I sat through Christmas morning, sad. Sober. Present.

Almost immediately, I found solace in putting the holiday décor in storage.

I am feeling all of this in its entirety. There is no heartbreak that compares. There is no way to prepare for this. I’m not handling grief flawlessly.

I am doing it.

I want to feel this now. I need to know how to grieve. And, grieve I am. Every sadness that has been sheepishly pushed in a corner for my entire life, is now reintroduced for me to handle. Sort it out. Talk it out. Pray. Meditate.

Learn.

Much of my life as a child, adolescent, and young adult is now bubbling to the surface for me to evaluate, absorb, and let go.

It’s time. Thank God.

I miss my dad and wish I had many more years with him. If there are gifts to be had in the longing for someone and the natural and convoluted process of grief, it is that I have a new opportunity to do this thing called life.

The Fear of Finding an AA Sponsor | Navigating Alcoholics Anonymous

The Fear of Finding an AA Sponsor | Navigating Alcoholics Anonymous

“I wish there was a Tinder style app for finding a sponsor.” I exclaimed with frustration to my roommate last week.

“It’s genius! Each person would have their photos, a short recovery bio, their daily routine and a list of hobbies. You could swipe right (to say yes) on the ones that seem like a good fit, left (to opt out) on the ones that obviously aren’t. Then, after some texting, see it it’s worth meeting up to work on the steps!”

It felt silly to stack recovery up against the popular dating phone app. But I was getting desperate.

To my surprise, my roommate recoiled at the thought. “That’s too easy. Half the growth comes from overcoming that fear of asking someone in person. I’m sure it’s just the first of many awkward steps you have to go through in early recovery.”

Dammit. She was right.

And she wasn’t even in recovery. Just a wise soul capable of looking right through my BS.

The fact of the matter was, I was in need of a sponsor. I had been in need of a sponsor. However, I felt as though I was facing an impenetrable wall of both external and internal obstacles. No women in my AA group. An insanely busy schedule. My upcoming move to a new city.

But the most daunting obstacle was overcoming my sense of self-worth, or lack thereof.

I’ve always been one of those oh-I’m-sorry-to-bother-you types, often going out of my way to avoid being a nuisance to others. It’s a quality I generally mask behind ostensible independence. I act like I have it all under control without the need for anyone’s help when, really, I’m simply grappling with an overwhelming sense of unworthiness.

So, of course, the thought of having to approach someone I barely knew and ask them to help me navigate the darkest, ugliest, most shameful parts of my psyche left me feeling vulnerable. I didn’t feel ready to spiritually disrobe in front of a stranger. What would they think of my soul’s lumps, wrinkles, and cellulite?

Early recovery is like being a teenager again. We’re all just a couple of pimply-faced kids awkwardly wandering through the school halls of life. Asking someone to be our sponsor is basically the equivalent of asking someone to the prom. What if they say no? What if it gets weird? What I fart during the first meeting?

And then there’s figuring out how to go about asking.

Maybe I’ll do it like I’m asking someone to prom. How about I craft a sign that says “Will you be my sponsor” in rose petals , and hold it up in front of the seemingly wisest woman in the room. Too much?

At the end of the day, there’s really no right or wrong way to go about it. The lesson here is stepping outside of our comfort zone and learning how to ask for help.

It didn’t take long after I decided to stop stressing about finding a sponsor that one came to me. I decided I would do what was in my control, and leave the rest up to the universe.

Whenever I got selected to speak, I would casually mention I was looking for a sponsor. I would chat people up after meetings, even when I didn’t know what the ‘eff to say (usually a “Oh hey, I really like what you said about blah blah blah” makes a great ice-breaker.)

Anyways, I found a sponsor. Yep. It happened. After my last meeting, a lovely young woman floated over to me and casually said, “Hey! You really need a sponsor? I really need a sponsee!”

What? You really need a sponsee?

And then it dawned on me. When it comes to sponsors, we are just as much a part of their recovery as they are to ours. And all this time I was worried about being a burden to someone, when it turns out, that someone needed me just as much as I needed them. All my fears, my doubts, my weirdness evaporated at the realization.

It was match!

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