We recently talked about sponsorship within the confines of the 12 steps: particularly what a sponsor is and what a sponsor is not and the necessity of having that position filled in your life. This is particularly true in the beginning years of your recovery, where everything seems so muddy and untenable. Having someone in your corner (a guide, if you will) who has their “ducks in a row” is a necessity. This imperative is part of what informs our recovery path: it’s spoken about at every meeting, in treatment, and often times in therapy. The relationship of sponsor/sponsee is one that will follow you through your sobriety and recovery.
What happens to someone who needs a program, is in recovery, but sincerely struggles to relate to the theistic practices of the 12 steps? Can the 12 steps work if the theism is removed? Yes, but with some modification. I’ve had the honor of working with a couple of women who required the use of alternative language. The steps are still applied and used to create a foundation of recovery, but the use of intentions and meditation, breath and body awareness is also used to enhance recovery support. Over the last several years, there has been a groundswell of people in recovery seeking non-theistic and/or alternative recovery tools. Against the Stream responded to this with Refuge Recovery meetings and yearly inventory workshops. Their model “is a community of people who are using the practices of mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness and generosity to heal the pain and suffering that addiction has caused in our lives and the lives of their loved ones.” Individuals who have and are continuing to work the steps of that process are referred to as “mentors” and are asked to help others new to recovery begin their own process.
The act of looking at ourselves honestly and learning to sit in the discomfort of our feelings and emotions is powerful. We can learn to have faith in the energy of our fellowship communities and begin to look at faith as an act of letting go: letting go of our need to control anything and everything around us, letting go of our fears, letting go of our egos. The movement toward a spiritual foundation of recovery and learning to embrace our somatic responses to our addiction and trauma is spreading like wildfire. We need the help and direction of others who have gone before us. We need sponsors or mentors to guide us on this path. We cannot do this alone.
“An alcoholic without a sponsor is like leaving Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”