Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On Long-Distance Sponsorship

I was asked recently to be someone's sponsor who lives out of state. This wasn't the kind of situation where I already knew this person and they knew me. That might work, if they had no one else to turn to. But this case is someone I don't know but who reads my blog.

I'm usually willing to reach out, like the Al-Anon Declaration says: When anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, let the hand of Al-Anon and Alateen always be there, and let it begin with me. But that doesn't mean it has to be me. Perhaps my sharing here in my blog is where it began, but the hand of Al-Anon is almost everywhere.

And even when it isn't, the WSO has something called Lone Members. I recall when I was a state convention chair that the speaker I chose was one of these members (because of the very small town she lived in). She had not stayed isolated, however, going to District meetings and then Area assemblies and finally to the World Service Conference as a delegate.

She reached out to get the help she needed, just like my friend out there in blogland has reached out. But after a few days of prayer, I just don't feel I am the best sponsor for her. For one thing, I'd have to break my online anonymity, which would go against the Traditions. And I have to protect myself - I've learned that in Al-Anon meetings.

I am so grateful that I live where there are a lot of meetings. Even then, though, I sometimes struggle with finding the right fit. I know it took me a while to find a sponsor who would stick with me, who loves me no matter what. I also have a new service sponsor, who by the way lives in another state. But I know her and she knows me. We have met and talk face-to-face.

Likewise, I have a service sponsee who lives in another country. But again, we've met in person and talk via Skype quite a bit. It's a one-on-one relationship, something you just can't get via email. I used to think I could sponsor by email, saving me from having to talk on the phone or get together with others. But it just isn't the same. It doesn't replace that give-and-take that every relationship needs.

So I had to say no to this person who was reaching out and pray that she finds a sponsor, hoping she can find a good meeting with those attending who have gone before her. If not, there are also online meetings through the WSO. You can call 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm ET to find a meeting or ask about a Lone Membership.

May all of you out there be as blessed as I have been with not only sobriety in my home but the opportunity to get and give back the lessons and love of Al-Anon through sponsorship.


At Wednesday, October 08, 2008 5:48:00 PM, Blogger Syd said...

It sounds as if you made a wise decision. I think that working one on one with a sponsee is important. Even then there are times when it isn't a good fit.


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