One of the gifts of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is that I get the opportunity to sponsor other women who are walking the same path that I am. It’s truly what they say, one alcoholic helping another. I knew from the beginning, way before I thought I was ready to be a sponsor, that sponsorship is one of the things that keeps us sober. My own sponsor has told me many times that being my sponsor, working the steps with me, and seeing me grow, is a big part of her recovery. Yesterday, I got to learn that lesson first hand.
I had a rotten day yesterday. I was grumpy and tired and frustrated over inconsequential things, and everyone around me knew it! The stress that comes with new classes starting at the school where I am the registrar was getting to me, I drank way too much caffeine and that amped me up, and I was restless, irritable, and discontent. I whined my way through the day to my closest friend at work feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on every single negative thing, both real and imagined. I got home from work, my stepson told me some upsetting news, and I was done for the night. That was the last straw for my crappy day. I laid on the couch doing nothing but playing Words with Friends and Candy Crush, and did absolutely nothing productive.
Then my sponsee called, as she does every evening. Her day was a lot like mine, full of irritability and grumpiness. As we talked and she told me about her day, I put my sponsor hat on and gave her feedback on what I was hearing and reminded her that a bad day doesn’t make a bad life, and that when we have days like this we need to practice patience with ourselves and have gratitude for all of the things that we are doing right. We talked about staying mindful and remembering that right now, in this moment, we are ok. And we talked about the fact that any day that we stay sober is a good day when we look back at where we came from. Sounds pretty good, right? Kind of sponsor-ish. It’s the stuff that I learned from my own sponsor and I know that it works because I’ve tried it. The funny thing is, it took me until about halfway through the phone call to realize that these were all things that I needed to hear myself! I even said the words, “I’m saying this to myself as much as I’m saying it to you” a couple of times. And guess what? After we hung up, I felt better. I was thankful that what she needed to hear from me was exactly what I needed to hear from me.
Today I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation and how I felt after. I’ve been wondering why it is that taking my own advice, or even knowing where to begin when it comes to myself, is so much more difficult than offering advice and help to others. In recovery I think we learn a lot about self-awareness. We work on our defects of character, share our feelings, and really learn who we are – many of us for the first time ever. And yet, yesterday, in the thick of things, I didn’t remember what to say to myself. I realized that what I needed to do was practice what I preach, or in AA lingo, I needed to walk the talk. So today when I journaled, I wrote a gratitude list. Tonight I made a list of the things that I did well today, I talked with my own sponsor, and voila! my mood has improved.
I guess the moral of this little story is that many times we know what we need to hear, and what we need to do to make things better, but sometimes we need someone else to help us recognize those things. I am so grateful that recovery has given me the gift having those “someones” in my life. Whether it’s my husband, best friend, sponsor, sponsee, other bloggers, or other close friends, I know that I can count on them to show me how to walk the talk.