The other day I broke up with a Sponsee.
I knew it was probably coming. I did not feel I was meeting her needs.
Sometimes it is just not a match.
Still, it was really, really hard.
It is Thursday morning. I wake up early. I am still tired. I lie back down.
Rarely do I pick up the iPhone in between the get up, lie down maneuver. But today I do. Philly is already awake and I do not know where he is.
I text: Where you?
I think: He is probably working on his music.
I notice I have a message from one of my Sponsees. Sponsee is one of my more difficult Sponsees. I believe there are issues other than addiction here. There is much spiraling. There is the occasional hurtling shame. Many red raving flags appear. I ignore them.
When we first meet, Sponsee tells me, “I push all my Sponsors away eventually.”
Somehow, I think I am exempt from this pushing away. I tell Sponsee, “Ok. I will be your Sponsor.”
Reader, I could stop this story right here. I bet you could write the ending.
When someone tells you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.
And so, on Thursday morning I open the message.
I start to read. I do not know why I keep reading. I read the whole thing. Line after line of blame and accusations and random attacks on my character.
I think: This after all the work I have done with her, all the messages listened to, holding space for her recovery.
Then I think: I do not know what to think.
I know this is the work of THE SPONSOR.
I know I am far, far from perfect. Yet at the end of this message she asks if we can still work together. In the way SHE wants to work together.
I sit there staring at the iPhone. I try reading the message again. I see message mish-mash.
The mish-mash message jumps from here to there and here to there turning and twisting and contradicting itself into a little mish-mash tornado.
I start to type a point-by-point response, picking apart each accusation. And then I stop. Actually, Higher Power stops me. Recovery stops me. Because OLD ME would have hurled that response right at Sponsee’s babbling head.
I REALLY want to send my inventory-taking of Sponsee message right off to Sponsee.
But OK I do not.
I do not because in recovery I have been taught to PAUSE.
I call out to the house to find where Philly is. I come out of the bedroom and I find him working on his music. I shove the iPhone in front of him. “Look!” I say. “Look at this!” I snatch the iPhone back before he can begin the reading of the message.
Instead, I read it out loud to him.
I finish reading.
Philly is just sitting there.
“WELL?” I say.
Do I have to tell him reader? Do I have to tell him? There are no words, there are no feelings allowed right here right now besides RAGE.
Clearly Philly is not mad enough. I go hunting around for someone who will share my outrage. In a brief moment of clarity, I pause to consider who the appropriate person would be.
“My Sponsor!” I say out loud to myself.
And I send her a text.
I do not hear back from Sponsor.
Ok. I cannot wait. I message Program Friend. I tell her the whole story. Program Friend appropriately responds completely outraged.
“Can you believe it?” I ask.
Later I talk to Philly. I outline the damage. Philly is just shaking his head. He is ramping up. I can tell soon he too will be demonstrating the appropriate level of outrage.
I text Therapist. Since she is Therapist she tells me, “I could not get halfway through this. You need to disengage from this person.”
As you might notice by this point in our story, I require a lot of input in these kind of situations. This is to help make sure my head is actually screwed on straight.
Finally Sponsor texts: There is a lot to unpack here. Let me call you later.
Ok. Even though I hate it when people say UNPACK.
Meanwhile I figure: Hey, why not reach out to Very First Program Friend. VFPF has sponsored lots and lots of people in multiple programs. PLUS, she is a social worker! I send her a text. I tell her: I have a Sponsee situation. Call me if you can.
VFPF calls me and I pick right up. “Thank GOD!” I say. “I NEED you!” Since VFPF has amazing recovery, she gets quiet right away so I can go ahead and start letting my stuff leak out all over the place.
I tell her the WHOLE story.
Ok, I TRY to tell her the whole story. But when I get to line three, she stops me.
She says, “Why did you even read beyond here?”
“Ummm. I don’t know.” I say.
“Ok.” she says. “What if I were to speak to you this way?”
Before I can answer she asks, “Does this feel like abuse to you?”
“Yes.” I say.
“Do you think you deserve this abuse?”
“No.” I say.
“Does this have anything to do with the 12 Steps?” she asks.
“Not really.” I say.
Is she good or what? She is sooooo good.
Soon all my outreach efforts begin to come in. Sponsor calls. We go over Sponsee message. Sponsor asks me, “Why did this upset you so much?”
However, I know how Sponsor operates. We go line by line. She asks me to look for things that are actually TRUE. She asks me to honestly look at what I could have done differently. She asks me to look at what character defects of my own might be in operation here. I write a whole page of notes. I am starting to become exhausted.
I take a little break. I think: VFPF would not be spending this much energy on THE MESSAGE.
I begin to write the actual response I am intending to send. When I am done, Philly looks it over to give it THE PHILLY EYE.
This is always interesting because Philly and I have two very different styles of writing and response. I write. He re-arranges. This is also sometimes known as editing. But mostly it feels like completely re-arranging my writing.
He leans in and takes control of the mouse. Have you ever had this happen reader? You are just sitting there at your desk and suddenly your mouse is not your own.
It has been hijacked by HELPFUL PERSON.
Helpful Person is always very helpful. Helpful Person brings much clarity to messaging mish-mash. However, one must become comfortable with whole paragraphs being moved around.
FINALLY, with the help of all these people, finally, I am ready to send THE MESSAGE.
I do what I have been told to do by my Sponsor before taking ANY action.
I go upstairs to the SPIRITUAL ROOM. I light a candle on my altar. I sit quietly. I do a little cleansing ritual. I say a prayer to ask Higher Power to help me. I ask all my Goddesses and Guides and Ancestors to help me to take the next right action.
I am ready to send the message. I BOOKEND. This is when one calls or texts another person right before taking a difficult action. In this case SENDING.
I text Sponsor: Ok. I am sending the message.
She texts: Ok!
After I send the message, I pray to be able to turn it over and not try to snatch it back.
I have to let her go.
She was never mine to begin with.
I turn her over to her Higher Power.
The Sponsor/Sponsee relationship is not easy.
Sometimes it does not work out.
Even though I know this, I feel a little sad.
I have learned so much from being her Sponsor.
I hope she finds exactly what she needs.
I hope she finds exactly what she needs.