The Fear of Finding an AA Sponsor.


“I wish there was a Tinder style app for finding a sponsor.” I exclaimed with restrained frustration to my roommate last week. I lay on my bed, she sat on the other side of the room.

“It’s genius! Each person would have their photos, a short recovery bio, their daily routine and a list of hobbies. You could swipe right (to say yes) on the ones that seem like a good fit, left (to opt out) on the ones that obviously aren’t. Then, after some chatting, see it it’s worth meeting up to work on the steps!”

It felt silly to stack recovery up against a dating phone app. But I was getting desperate.

To my surprise, my roommate recoiled at the thought. “That’s too easy. Half the growth comes from overcoming that fear of asking someone in person. I’m sure it’s just the first of many awkward steps you have to go through in early recovery.”

Dammit. She was right.

And she wasn’t even in recovery. Just a wise soul capable of looking straight through my BS.

The fact of the matter was, I was in need of a sponsor. I had been in need of a sponsor. However, I felt as though I was facing an impenetrable wall of both external and internal obstacles. No women in my AA group. My busy schedule. My upcoming move to a new city.

But the most daunting obstacle was overcoming my sense of self-worth, or lack thereof.

I’ve always been one of those oh-I’m-sorry-to-bother-you types, often going out of my way to avoid being a nuisance to others. It’s a quality I generally mask with independence. I act like I have it all under control and don’t need anyone’s help when, really, I’m simply grappling with an overwhelming sense of unworthiness—too scared to be a bother to someone.

So, of course, the thought of having to approach someone I barely knew and ask them to help me navigate the darkest, ugliest, most shameful parts of my psyche left me feeling vulnerable. I wasn’t ready to spiritually disrobe in front of a stranger. What would they think of my soul’s lumps, wrinkles, and cellulite?

Early recovery is like being a teenager again. We’re all just a couple of pimply-faced kids awkwardly wandering through the school halls of life. Asking someone to be our sponsor kind of feels like asking someone to the prom. What if they say no? What if it gets weird? What I fart during the first meeting?

And then there’s figuring out how to go about asking.

Maybe I’ll do it like I’m asking someone to prom. How about I craft a sign that says “Will you be my sponsor” in rose petals , and hold it up in front of the seemingly wisest woman in the room. Too much?

At the end of the day, there’s really no right or wrong way to go about it. The lesson here is stepping outside of our comfort zone and learning how to ask for help.

I decided I would do what was in my control, and leave the rest up to the universe.

Whenever I got selected to speak, I would casually mention I was looking for a sponsor. I would chat people up after meetings, even when I didn’t know what the ‘eff to say (usually a “Oh hey, I really like what you said about blah blah blah” makes a great ice-breaker.)

Anyways, I found a sponsor. Yep. It happened. After my last meeting, a lovely young woman floated over to me and casually said, “Hey! You really need a sponsor? I really need a sponsee!”

What? You really need a sponsee?

And then it dawned on me.

When it comes to sponsors, we are just as much a part of their recovery as they are to ours. And all this time I was worried about being a burden to someone, when it turns out, that someone needed me just as much as I needed them. All my fears, my doubts, my weirdness evaporated at the realization.

It was match!

Finding a sponsor—intimidating? Yes. Uncomfortable? Absolutely.

Worth it? Hell to the yes.

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