I am just so grateful for my sponsor. When looking for a sponsor, I looked for someone unconventional, like myself. I looked for someone I thought might not judge me for being a weird person with an unusual family. This turned out to be the case entirely, and she understands me in even more ways than I thought she would, but that’s only one of the big benefits.

My sponsor, as it turned out, was herself sponsored in such a way as to have a firm foundation in the AA program. We began studying the steps with a thorough study of Alcoholics Anonymous, the book. I’m talkin’ The Big Book. I thought this was incredibly odd at the time, maybe even heretical. Isn’t this supposed to be Al-Anon?

But the thing is, in order to take the first step and know completely my powerlessness, I need to know alcoholism. Completely. I need to know it as deeply as I can without being an alcoholic myself. Coming to understand the deadly effect of the disease on its acute sufferer is instrumental to understanding the chronic family disease of alcoholism, how the illness spreads, harming everyone and distorting everything. Until I could put myself in their shoes, I couldn’t really understand the scope of my own powerlessness. And of the beautiful but fragile humanity of all us sufferers.

I feel this approach makes me a kinder and more serene person than I might have been otherwise. This approach helps me use part of the Fourth Step Prayer, when confronted with some behavior that tempts me to judge someone:

This is a sick man, how can I be helpful to him? God save me from anger. Thy will be done. Alcoholics Anonymous, p75

I also feel a special kinship with AA people as I am working the steps, knowing that I am working them in almost identical fashion that they do. Because the disease manifests differently, my Fourth Step may take a different shape, and my sponsorship family may do these things much, much more slowly (I’m about 70% through the Fourth Step, and I had my second year anniversary this summer.) but the basics are very much the same.

The people I find challenging to deal with today are not alcoholics, but the things I am learning now help me incredibly in interacting with them. Again, a thing to be hugely grateful for.

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