My own mentor, Lynn, is steeped in the history of the Twelve Steps.
Not only does Lynn have thirteen strong years of sobriety under her belt, but she has made a point of learning the history of her community so she can understand for herself the bigger picture of what she has received in the gift of being sponsored, and what she has to give by becoming a sponsor herself.
I find this awe-inspiring, so respectful, and utterly essential to getting the most out of what a supportive community like a Twelve Step or a mentoring community can offer to our recovery.
For instance, she told me the other day that the original “job description” of a sponsor was more along the lines of a person from that alcoholic’s Twelve Step group who expressed willingness to go to the hospital, and if necessary the morgue, to identify the body, sign the death certificate, and assist the family in those first few critical moments.
Talk about an organization that understood the life-or-death struggle its members waged when they took on the challenge of sobriety.
They weren’t messing around. Neither were their sponsees – they knew exactly what they were asking for when they approached that sponsor and asked them to sponsor them!
It was only over time that the role of the sponsor evolved into that of an individual who had worked through eleven of the twelve steps with their own sponsor, and for completion of their twelfth step, they were required to turn around and “pass it on” to a sponsee of their own.
My own appreciation for what my mentor has offered me has grown exponentially as I have learned more about her own history and the history of those courageous sponsors and mentors who came before her.
Knowing what I know now, I will also never again be tempted to treat the gift of a mentor’s time lightly, to take for granted my right to receive a mentor, or to underestimate the potential I have as a mentor myself to be a positive guide in the life of my mentees.
Today, mentoring in the context of eating disorders recovery sits at the feet of its big sister (or brother) Alcoholics Anonymous, learning with humility, respect, and eagerness all the lessons that what is arguably the world’s most successful sobriety-maintenance organization has to teach us.
We have the same potential. But we also have the same mountain to climb and the same work to do as individuals, and as a mentoring community, to get there.
Today’s Takeaway: Today, take a few moments to contemplate someone who has been influential in your own life – it could be a sponsor, a mentor, a coach, a teacher, a boss, or a loved one who has in some way held up a light of hope and insight so you could make your way one step closer to your goals. Think about their own path – how did they get to the place where you first met them? Who met them when they stood in your shoes? What rich history surrounds the gift of support they were able to extend to you by the time you met them?