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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Picking a Sponsor

The speaker at a 12 step meeting was explaining how to pick a sponsor.

"You wouldn't go to the gym and pick the skinniest guy there for advice on bodybuilding. Instead, you'd go to the person who appeared the most fit. That's who can help you get in shape"

Then he extended the analogy to other areas: like finding a mechanic, a plumber, a bookkeeper, or anyone else who has expertise to get the job done. Too often, in an effort to make recovery comfortable, we pick a sponsor who's too much like us. Someone who won't lean on us too hard. Someone who won't make us read the book. Or work our way through the steps.

Because a requirement of the TLC halfway house program is to have a sponsor, most clients find one. But not all follow through and work with the person they choose. If the manager asks if he has a sponsor, they can readily provide a name and phone number. But for many it stops there. They've complied with the rules of the program – but sometimes not the spirit.

At TLC we look at recovery as a life-and-death struggle. Once we get sober everything on the surface might look great. The misery has receded.  But lurking in the background is the potential for us to return to exactly the state of demoralization we were in prior to coming to TLC.

And for many, when the pain leaves the urgency to change subsides. Only when a client has had serious issues over drinking or drugging do they stay steady on the path of recovery.

A good, no-nonsense sponsor helps keep us there.