Perspective Switch or The Day I Met My Sponsor

There is a story of a hiker walking through the woods. He carelessly knocked over a beehive. The bees were very angry and began to chase the man down the path. He came to a mud puddle and jumped in. He sank into the mud, clear to his ankles. That may not sound very deep to you, but you don’t know which end went in first. This joke depends on a perspective shift for its humor. I am thinking of it, because few things in my life have provided me a more dramatic perspective shift than the day I met my sponsor.

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Elsa was a beautiful, silver haired, dynamic woman who had decades in the program. She was at a meeting I attended for the first time very early in my program. As I sat in the meeting, I was fear dominated and desperate.I had arrived at the meeting late because I didn’t want to meet anyone. I wasn’t there to socialize. I was there to learn and leave.

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I could see that the program had really helped people. To me, that meant they knew things I needed to know. My plan was as soon as I had the information I needed, I would quit the program. My entire life was built around helping other people. I had taken care of my family growing up. I worked at a rescue mission. The idea that I needed help beyond just getting more information was completely outside of my frame of reference.

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There were about fifty people in attendance at the meeting that day. The leader of the meeting shared and then asked others in attendance to share. One person was to share, then the next person would be skipped, then the next person would talk. I quickly counted the people off and discovered that I was going to be skipped over. The person on either side of me would be asked to share, but not me.

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After a while, a woman got up and left the room in order to use the restroom. I thought that meant I would have to share. I was furious. I said to myself, “It seems like a grown woman could control her bladder for ninety minutes. Maybe I should just leave”. In a few minutes the absent woman returned.

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I relaxed again. I was glad I didn’t have to leave because the sharing was comforting me. I continued listening hoping to discover the secret that had changed the lives of these people.Sure enough, when the sharing reached my table, I was skipped over. Then I thought of another problem. I was seated way back in the room, in the left hand corner. There was only one person scheduled to share after the sharing skipped over me. Would the leader reverse the direction of the sharing? If so, I would be next. Now I was really nervous.

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However, the sharing procedure went up to the front of the room. I felt safe. There was no way the sharing was going to get clear back to me again.The second person to share, once the sharing shifted to the front of the room, was my soon to be sponsor Elsa. She said, I don’t think my higher power wants me to share today, because there are people in this room that need to share, like that man back there.

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She pointed straight at me. I was shocked and stunned. It did not occur to me to tell Elsa I didn’t want to share. She had the kind of personal authority that comes to a person with forty plus years in the program. I shared. I haven’t the vaguest memory of what I said.

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After the meeting I went up and talked to Elsa. I felt a love in her for me that was powerful. I asked her to be my sponsor. I think part of the reason I asked her to sponsor me was her appearance. She was small,  older and looked so sweet.
I said to myself, How hard could she be to handle?. In saying that, I was not taking into account the deep strength her program gave her. Elsa has proven herself to be strong enough to deal with me anytime, anyplace.

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When I came to the’ program I didn’t trust anyone. I was exhausted and angry. For quite awhile, my Higher Power only asked me to trust Elsa, and no one else. He gave me the strength to do that. A few months later, I noticed that the first word of The Twelve Steps was We?. I realized that recovery for me depended on me trusting other people and accepting their help. I have continued to learn that lesson all these intervening years. I now I am a wealthy man, when it comes to having friends.

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Talk about a perspective shift. I went from a lonely life where I existed only to help others, to a life as a part of a caring community. Thanks Elsa and thanks also to all the rest of my friends.


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