Carrying the Message

by Kathleen C.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
~Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 60

No wonder the next line in How It Works is: “Many of us exclaimed, ‘What an order! I can’t go through with it.’” I mean really? Are you kidding me? Carry the message? Practice these principles? When I first got sober, my idea of Step Twelve was that once I stopped drinking I would carry the message to everybody I knew who ever drank a drop of alcohol that they were probably alcoholics. I mean, if I was, they were too, right?

I was dancing the alcoholic two-step–Step One and Step Twelve–“I’m an alcoholic and so are you.” Not surprisingly, nobody agreed with me that they were alcoholic. But I kept going to my one grudging meeting a week–as close as I was willing to get to Step Twelve. I finally asked Bonnie to sponsor me, after almost two years of being dry.

I was dancing the alcoholic two-step

I had worked the steps in another program, but it was time for A.A. Bonnie is a Stealth Sponsor. Not bossy, not super-directive. Just There. She was at our home group meeting, Hilldwellers’ Monday Night Big Book, every Monday.

She always returned my phone calls. She always arranged to meet with me, even though she was commuting to work in San Francisco while taking care of her very ill mother in San Jose. Bonnie is still my sponsor today. We are both retired and have a lot of fun, in the midst of the stuff that happens in sobriety. She has 29 years sober, I have 28, and she is probably my best friend. She is blazing the trail of life ahead of me, calling back over her shoulder, “Watch out! There is a big resentment over here!” She doesn’t TELL me how to be a good A.A., how to practice these principles in all our affairs. She SHOWS me.

Watch out! Big resentment over here …

I try to do the same for the women I sponsor, not perfectly, oh hell no, but doing the best I can. Today my sponsees keep me sober. I give them advice and then realize I need to walk my talk. One night I was on the phone with one of the women I work with. As I hung up, I heard my husband’s voice, “How many people do you sponsor? Isn’t that a burden?”

My reply was quick: “Honey, you just don’t understand. It takes a village. It takes a lot of sober women to keep me sober.”

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