I’ve gone from sponsoring four people in my OA 12-Step program to two, and one of them only e-mails once in awhile. I’m perfectly fine with that.
But people in program came to me for help. I couldn’t say no.
Let me tell you a bit about these folks. To preserve their anonymity, no names are mentioned.
The first guy I sponsor never calls. Once in awhile he e-mails me his food plan for the day. He’s never really listened to me, but having me on standby makes him feel better.
The second sponsee has become a dear friend. He can be a real pain in my ass, but he’s worth it. He was 400 pounds when we met and, because of diabetes, goo oozed from his legs like tree sap. He’s down 20 pounds and just reached 90 days of back-to-back abstinence from binge eating. He works the program hard and I’m proud of him.
He’s also taught me a lot about some of the people in AA. Every 12-Step group has it’s fair share of dysfunction. We wouldn’t need a program in the first place if we weren’t fuck-ups. But when someone who has been sober for a few years turns to OA because they’ve developed a binge-eating addiction, it can be a bitch.
We have the big things in common. We developed addictions that made our lives unmanageable. Having found recovery, we latch onto each other pretty tight.
But something’s different.
In OA, there’s a tight fellowship in meetings and on the telephone. But the AA crowd really sticks together. It’s more like a gang. Recovering addicts often live together, several in a house. Not a halfway house. They just live together, watching out for each other.
It’s cool to see. But I’ve also found that there are some real animosities among the AA crowd. This brings me to the next sponsee:
She’s an OA drop-out for now. She spent a lot of time telling me about how I shouldn’t trust this person or that person because one likes to tell lies and the other likes to steal money. The lying part didn’t shock me. All addicts lie. She is a battle-scarred AA veteran who has had a tough life. She would call me throughout the day, each call a crisis. She finally decided she couldn’t handle OA.
The next sponsee dropped out of OA for the same reasons. He couldn’t handle the honesty and discipline required. I don’t knock him for that. Clean living is very hard. He also has some severe mental illness going on. Our phone calls would consist of me listening as he spilled out all his pain. Controlling the addiction had little to do with it.
So now there are two, and it’s a much more manageable load for me to handle.
I didn’t want to cut anyone loose because I felt like I’d be doing something cruel. But the truth is that when you sponsor people who don’t want to put their full faith in the program, it can put your own recovery in danger.
If you let them slide a little, you start thinking it’s OK to loosen up your own program.
I can see how it’s hard for someone to go from AA to OA. In AA you have your sponsor and go to meetings, but once you’re sober you can use those tools on a more as-needed basis. In OA, because food is the problem, you have to talk to your sponsor every day and tell that person what you plan to eat for the day. We have to do it that way because food is everywhere and we need it to survive. It’s not like drugs and alcohol, which you don’t need for daily existence.
The extra discipline of OA can be a shocker. It certainly was for me, and I didn’t come to the program from AA.
The OA crowd looks freaky to those who go to that first meeting. I thought everyone in the room was crazy and that they had a little cult going on.
Now I know better.
This stuff is hard. But God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
I guess He was helping me out by sending two sponsees away.
This stuff is hard. But it’s worth it.