Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sponsor's Birthday

On the 24th of June my sponsor celebrated 37 years of sobriety and received a wonderful surprise when his doorbell rang at 7 AM. When he opened the door, standing outside were 17 members of various twelve-step groups with which he is affiliated. They had stopped to surprise him with a happy birthday song.

People like my sponsor are a treasure. When we see people who have decades of sobriety it proves the program works. People with 37 years have seen loss, success, and hundreds of alcoholics and addicts go in and out. They are living repositories of experience who help us when times are tough.

People outside the program sometimes ask me why, at 20 years sober, I still need a sponsor. And my answer is always the same: a sponsor is more than just a sounding board or a guide through the steps. A sponsor is also a friend, a fellow traveler through the sometimes perilous waters of sobriety.

So what questions do I take to my sponsor? A good example of issues I took to him was the emotions I went through during my divorce. Often I would bring him my anger. He would soothe my feelings and explain that separating from someone with whom you’ve been in a long-term relationship is never easy. Other times he would listen to my ramblings, then give me a quiet smile and nod his head. He’d tell me to get into acceptance of my emotions and feelings. He’d tell me I knew the answers.

Other occasions I would take issues to him about my relationship with my children and grandchildren. The discussions in these cases were about them using drugs and alcohol. He and I have something in common in this area as he has three sons in recovery, all of them now sober.

Happy birthday Ralph; I appreciate what you do in my life.