A few month’s ago a member from the local AA group ask if he could give my contact to a new comer in case she had any questions. I said sure and not knowing what was expected of me. We texted a little back and forth, she disappeared for months, resurfaced, elusively checked in and then dodged questions and we chatted on the phone a couple of times. The last time I couldn’t tell if she was drunk or not, hadn’t communicated in weeks then wanted to get on the phone immediately, non-committal about meeting up, what she was doing to take care and was despondent about her lonely life. At some point she called me her sponsor and thanked me for all the support I have been giving her. What? All of it made me panic a little bit: I don’t feel equipped to be anyone’s sponsor, was I really helping her or enabling her to dwell in her dramas by being a sympathetic ear and not calling her on the bullshit of her stories?
Distressed, I called my sponsor and told her some of the above points about the situation, and how I don’t have at my finger tips to guide this woman down the path of AA and I waver from feeling helpful and doing a little service to feeling exploited and what should I do? She said, “welcome to the world of new comers!” And went on to say that this woman wants help but probably has not surrendered and isn’t ready to take the actual steps to be sober yet. But my job isn’t necessarily keep this woman sober and I will be one of the many people on her journey until she’s ready to actually commit to what it takes to be sober.
I did not go through being a new comer in AA, and I haven’t been around any new comers really myself to know the “characteristics” of new comers: lonely, slippery, self-centered, desperate, volatile. I’m so glad my sponsor was able to support me to help this woman when she asks while having some terms that make it about getting sober and not being audience to her drama, how to redirect things back to her getting the help that she needs.
Most importantly, my sponsor brought up that maybe that this woman serves me as a reminder of just how far I have come on my own journey. I brushed this off in conversation, but she is so good at slipping in those reminders that I need to be kinder to myself and appreciate the growth and the work I have done in my sobriety-I’m still new to this part of my living, but not as new as a new comer who still wallowing in her addiction. I need to remember this tomorrow, as I will be back at work after spring break. I ready to continue my practice to see the best in people, not harbor resentments and be forgiving of my own and others' humanness.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp