I knew when I landed in Hollywood something had to happen in me… I had no place left to go! My oceanfront condo and 7,500 square foot home in Florida were tangled in the shit storm I walked away from earlier in the year. My Mercedes, housing, furniture and even clothes were gone! I showed up in Los Angeles with a suitcase and $300.00 in my pocket. The spoiled, entitled Rob was dead. This was a make it or break it moment. Thank God I still had a source of income to survive on or I would have been selling old blood plasma somewhere. I’d finally accepted what I’d created and was determined to crawl out of the pile of dog crap that was my life! Dude…. scary times!
Before I left Betty Ford, I googled sober living facilities in Los Angeles… no reason to return to Florida… I’d thrown a match on that life along time ago… why return to a pile of ashes… I’m no phoenix! I was 90 days sober and completely lost in life, fortunately, I found La Fuenta Hollywood Recovery Center, a small safe place for me to get focused on living like the rest of the world. The place was great… I wasn’t… I was the same entitled, snot nosed guy I’d always been but they put up with me!
A requirement at La Feunta Hollywood Recovery Center is that every one must attend an AA meeting everyday. I didn’t want to do it but I did… I couldn’t get thrown out or I was totally screwed!
I found my way to the West Hollywood Hayworth (as in Rita) meeting and hated it! There were about 200 muscle bound gay men sitting everywhere laughing and hugging and happy. This experience sucked…. but I stayed… I listened and I returned every week. Eventually, I met an older black man with the biggest smile I’d ever seen and a laugh like a voice from the Lion King…. his name is Don…. I liked this guy… he has been sober 1000 years and everyone at the meeting loved him.
Don and I went to dinner in Chinatown one night and I asked him to be my AA sponsor. He was everything I thought I needed in a sober guide. Fortunately, Don turned me down. He said he had a better person for me and would introduce us at the next meeting. He was completely right! He was able to find a person who matched my needs exactly. I’d found a custom fitted sponsor and at no cost to me!
Don introduced me to Eugene at the next meeting and at that moment my life was beginning to change. Eugene is a white haired guy with latin skin and dark eyes in perfect shape… sorta like a shorter version of George Hamilton. Perfect hair, tan and smile. He was willing to help me work the 12 Steps of AA at a pace I could handle and explain things I’d never bothered to understand in the past. His only requirements were that I call him everyday and meet with him prior to each meeting to discuss how my sobriety was going. This was finally going to work!
First thing he explained to me was a sponsor is an A.A. member. A Sponsor is not a Guru. A Sponsor is not a Savior. A Sponsor is not a Higher Power. A Sponsor is not-God. The Sponsor is not a spiritual guide, spiritual advisor, psychologist, therapist, doctor, psychiatrist, banker, investor, occupational adviser, relationship counselor, pharmacist, drug counselor, and not a recovery counselor — or anything other than an A.A. Member who has found the solution of Alcoholics Anonymous – as a solution to their own problem with alcoholism. The only thing the Sponsor is an expert in – is the Sponsors own alcoholism and the Sponsors personal recovery of alcoholism, using the program of recovery in the book and in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
What he was and continues to be is an anchor for me when I need one.
Watered down, modern AA has spawned all sorts of new ideas and norms about what sponsorship is. Hollywood has well-defined the slew of AA cliches – the meeting room, the sob stories, the group prayer, and the sponsor who calls you when you’re in trouble. Sorry to say that none of these things have much to do with Alcoholics Anonymous, which was originally nothing more than a series of spiritual actions designed to restore the addict to sanity by accessing the power of God, or Spiritual Power, if you like. It is a way to God – nothing more, or rather, nothing less.
The 12 Steps was the sole program of AA – a rigorous and life-changing set of actions to heal ourselves from deep within. An enormous amount of work is necessary to extract the life-destroying character defects that sabotage all good things in life. The work continues as we make amends to all who we have harmed. We take Steps to prepare us for our new life of purpose, the purpose of helping others who still suffer. If all we did was to sit there in meetings, make some coffee, be the treasurer and pass out sobriety coins, we remain untreated, insane, and a threat to every newcomer who walks through the door. Why suffer? Why struggle through each day when there is a solution?
Sponsorship is very simple. It is one person who has taken Steps and recovered taking another addict through the Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book. That person must be willing to change and grow along spiritual lines. His job as sponsor is to hook me up to God and then get out of the way. Nothing more.
It is not his job to be my friend or to listen to me blab on all night about my feelings or struggles, allowing me to validate myself as some sort of victim. It is definitely not his job to call me. If I want to get better, then it is on me to call him and he’ll tell me what he did. And by the way, my feelings don’t matter. He don’t really care how I feel. Sound harsh? Well, it’s really not so harsh when you think that our pathological focus on ourselves and our feelings, our constant engagement with self-pity is the exact thing preventing us from getting better.