One of the first things you have to do when you are newly sober is to choose a sponsor. A sponsor is often your closest friend or mentor in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. He or she is the person you are most likely to turn to in order to ask questions or share your struggles. Your relationship with your sponsor will influence your sobriety and help you grow and change as you learn to live a sober life. There are times when you may find that the relationship you have with your sponsor isn’t working out. At first you may try to pretend that everything is going to get better, but as time passes, you know it’s time to change your sponsor. There are several things that may lead to this decision.
Differences in Approach or Core Beliefs
When you come to AA or NA, you already have certain core beliefs. You may have deep-rooted religious convictions or other personal beliefs that aren’t going to change based on what other people tell you. If your sponsor tries to get you to change your core beliefs, you may feel that he or she has crossed a line into trying to convince you of something that isn’t his or her place and may have nothing to do with recovery. Another problem that may come up is that you aren’t quite comfortable with how your sponsor treats you. As time goes on, you may realize that your sponsor’s approach to showing you how to live a sober life isn’t working for you. For example, some sponsors may approach those they sponsor with tough love. If you are the kind of person who needs a gentler approach, you may start to realize that the tough love approach isn’t comfortable for you. Some people prefer to be told exactly what to do while others would rather make their own mistakes. The wrong approach for you personally isn’t going to help you.
Lack of Progress
Learning to live sober is a process that takes time and sometimes hard work. As you focus on recovery and work the steps, you gradually change. When you work the 12 steps with true dedication, you will be amazed at the dramatic transformation that can occur. But when you are working with a sponsor who has not worked the steps, you may find that your own growth comes to a screeching halt. This often happens when you choose a sponsor who doesn’t have a lot more sobriety than you have. You may be ready to work a fourth and fifth step, but find that your sponsor hasn’t done that. How can he or she answer your questions or offer support for steps that he or she hasn’t taken? It might be a hint that it’s time to move on.
Betrayal of Trust
On rare occasions, you may have an experience with a sponsor who betrays your trust in some way. You may hear that something you shared in confidence was repeated to someone else. Your sponsor may avoid your calls or not return them promptly. When you feel that your trust has been betrayed, it’s probably better to move on and find a new sponsor. You deserve a sponsor who will be there for you and who is worthy of your trust.
When There Is No Choice
Sometimes you have no choice but to find a new sponsor. This could occur due to the illness or death of your sponsor, or you or your sponsor may relocate. This can be a painful experience, because when this happens, you would probably have preferred to continue to work with the same sponsor. When a relationship with a sponsor ends, it can be disappointing and unsettling. Whatever the reason you have to change your sponsor, the good news is that there are plenty of other people in recovery circles who are able and willing to fill that role for you. Be open to the possibility of building new friendships and learning new lessons. Continue to surround yourself with other sober people and trust that the right person to fill the role of your sponsor will be revealed in time.