I sat in group in the outpatient treatment center. When it was my turn to share I complained about not having any luck in my job search. The five or six other newbies in the circle had heard this complaint before. I had been sober for three weeks now. I was feeling good. I figured I had this little alcohol problem solved and it was time to get on with my life. The bowling ball-shaped woman who ran the program — an ex-heroine addict from New York (who had a sign on her desk that read, “Be careful! I go from zero to total bitch in 2.0 seconds.) stared at me for a moment and said, “You are so full of crap, Jeff. Instead of wasting our time whining about not having a job, why don’t you make your recovery your job?” I clammed up. I had been around long enough to know better than to challenge anything this woman said, but looking back I can see that’s exactly what happened. Recovery became my job almost twenty one years ago and remains so today.
It would be more than a year before I rejoined the work force. During this time I served my apprenticeship in Alcoholics Anonymous. I loved the meetings and the people so I went every day. I took all twelve steps with my sponsor, allowed the folks in my groups to get to know me and took on service positions. I began putting my hand out to newcomers. I was firmly in the center of Alcoholics Anonymous when a man asked me to sponsor him. Sponsorship added a whole new dimension to my job in recovery.
I was three years sober when I moved overseas to China for work. During my first few years in Shanghai there were very few qualified sponsors. So I became the go-to guy by default. I had the remarkable opportunity to sponsor many men that I would not have had here in San Diego where there are tons of qualified sponsors. Many fell by the wayside, but I continue to work with a couple of these men today. I have history with these men and it is precious to me.
I was new to North County San Diego when I arrived here with Lola at the end of 2013. Then she became ill and I never got connected to the groups here. In the middle of February HP gave me a shove and I committed myself to 90 meetings in 90 days. I am a little more than half-way through and I can really feel the difference. I’ve taken a few service positions and I’m getting to know people by name. I have new sober friends and I call newcomers regularly.
Sponsorship is the most rewarding part of my job in recovery. The opportunity to give to others what was so freely given to me, is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I know by now that being active in AA and sponsoring others is the key for a useful and contented life. I am grateful to have this job.