When I was asked to sponsor the first time, my initial reaction was NO, NO, NO, I am not ready!! Please, no! On paper, I fit the criteria for being a sponsor. I had finished my Steps and continued to work them, I attended meetings regularly, I was familiar with much of the CoDA literature, I was doing other service work and was clear on what sponsors do and do NOT do. I knew that whoever I was sponsoring, their recovery was their own responsibility not mine. Yup, ticked all the boxes. But it was clear by my feelings of fear and panic there was something else.
I reread the first 5 Chapters of Co-Dependence Anonymous, I looked over The Workbook that I had worn to a frazzle, along with at least two more notebooks with additional journaling. I read the brochure, Sponsorship: What’s in it For Me? and the pamphlet Establishing Boundaries in Recovery. Between those last two booklets, I realized I still struggle with setting boundaries.
I grew up in a home with few emotional boundaries. Children were not protected from adult issues, and in fact, I ended up being a “sounding board” as a child. I don’t believe it was meant to be presented that way, but it happened regularly, and I grew to believe that if I didn’t listen to the complaining, blaming, whining and things fell apart, it was my fault. I learned that listening was saving my family from destruction. That was what I came to believe, and it was a powerful position to be in. I took it seriously, and it seriously made me a fine Codependent. My lack of setting boundaries runs deep in me.
For decades I have believed that if I just listen LONG enough, the other person will be healed. How often I was told “I just need someone to understand”. I know now that is not true, and I recognize the damage that I do to myself for believing it. I am aware of it, but addressing this particular aspect of my codependency is hard. Boundaries are hard, especially emotional ones.
So, yup, sponsoring scares me to death. But this will also be an opportunity for me to set clear boundaries at the beginning. To make sure I am honoring ME in the process. Then I can say with confidence, the second Promise . . .
“I am no longer controlled by my fears. I overcome my fears and act with courage, integrity, and dignity.” CoDA Promises