Getting Past the Loss of a Sponsor
For many alcoholics and addicts in recovery, a sponsor is a lifeline to sanity and sobriety. Whether you are feeling sad, angry, elated or on edge, the first person you typically call is your sponsor. A sponsor is probably your most trusted friend in sobriety.
The relationship between you and your sponsor can be a very important one. Your sponsor often helps you understand exactly how to work the program, including what tools to use in order to stay away from a drink or a drug. He or she is a power of example, a shoulder to cry on in bad times and a teacher in times of confusion.
But sometimes relationships with sponsors come to an end. How do you get past the loss of this significant lifeline?
When Your Sponsor Becomes Unavailable
For one reason or another, your sponsor may become unable to be available to you on a regular basis. He or she may have work or family obligations that get in the way of being there for you when you most need a friend, or he or she may physically move away to another area. The unavailability may be temporary or permanent.
It’s important to have more than one person whom you can turn to when you are feeling vulnerable. If you have a network of multiple sober friends, you may not need a big time commitment from your sponsor. But if you are newly sober or going through a particularly rough time, a sponsor who isn’t available when you need him or her most may not be the right person to fill this role in your life. You may need to consider finding a second sponsor or a different sponsor altogether. Most of all, you need to hang in there one day at a time and ask for help from other people if you need to.
When Your Sponsor Isn’t Right for You
A sponsor is not a spouse, and you are not necessarily in a lifetime relationship. One day you may realize that the person you asked to sponsor you isn’t a good fit. He or she may be too gruff or too gentle. You may feel that your sponsor doesn’t really understand the things you are going through. You may resent being told what to do, or you may feel your sponsor isn’t giving you enough guidance.
If your relationship with your sponsor deteriorates or doesn’t feel right, there’s nothing wrong with ending the relationship. A sponsor should be someone whom you can count on to sort things out, and if you don’t feel your sponsor is meeting your needs, you may want to replace him or her. Don’t keep someone as a sponsor whom you don’t feel comfortable with or whom you don’t trust.
The Death of a Sponsor
Some people have to face losing their sponsors through death. This could happen unexpectedly, or it may happen gradually after your sponsor is ill for a while.
If your sponsor dies, you may feel overcome with grief. You may feel that no one else you have met meets your needs the way your sponsor did. For a while, you may feel lost and sad.
Sobriety and serenity depend on accepting people, places and things as being exactly the way they are supposed to be. It’s perfectly natural to feel sad when you suffer a major loss, but it’s not OK to stay stuck in sadness or anger over things you can’t change. Reach out to other people. Ask someone to be a temporary sponsor or talk about your feelings to a counselor.
Whatever the reason for having to start over without your sponsor, trust and believe that you will survive. You will get through the hurt and disappointment and you will form new friendships.
You will learn new lessons and be able to start over without picking up a drink or a drug. Remember that you only have to get through one day at a time. There are many other people in recovery whom you might talk to, and even though it may not seem like it at this moment, you are not alone.