Can a sponsor be an extended relative who attends AA and has been clean for over 10 years?
Most recovering people and recovery professionals consider it unwise for us to choose sponsors with whom we have anything other than a casual relationship. Relatives (even distant ones), co-workers, and friends are generally thought to be off limits. Put simply, it’s not a good plan to have a sponsor with whom we have a past.
Relatives, even distant ones, have ties to our families. Friends often do too, and the opinions of both friends and co-workers are important to us. Because they share our histories to a degree, all of these people will have their relationships, opinions, resentments and so forth — perhaps even involving some of the same people. In most cases, that would hinder their listening to us objectively, and would most likely affect our ability to be open and honest with them as well.
Sponsorship, when it works properly, involves sharing many things that we would not necessarily want a family member to know, from things about the rest of the family to our own circumstances. The same could well turn out to be true of co-workers and friends. Generally speaking, a sponsor who is completely uninvolved with our outside history is best. While we might be more comfortable with people we know in the beginning, it is likely that down the line our previous association will become an obstacle, especially when we are being guided through the steps. That, of course, is a sponsor’s primary purpose.
In addition to all of the above, by choosing someone we already know we are depriving ourselves of the experience of reaching beyond our safe space for help — a skill that most addicts and alcoholics need to learn.
My sponsor makes has me spend two weeks or more on every step. I don’t feel that I need that much time to complete a step. Is this typical, and why?
It is not unusual for sponsors to move us through the steps even more slowly than that. When I thought things were going too slowly, it usually meant that I didn’t want to look at issues as closely as I needed to.
The purpose of the steps is to help reshape our ways of thinking about life. They are not simply items to be ticked off a list, but are meant to be put to use. In early recovery, most of us didn’t have a grasp of our denial, the ways our behavior had hurt others, or how to go about dealing with those things. Taking our time over the steps allows us to absorb the ideas behind them, and to begin putting them into action in our daily lives.
Another reason for not hurrying is that, as time passes, we inevitably remember other things — other issues to which the step’s principles can be applied. If we rush through the steps without giving those things time to happen, we greatly lessen the impact of the work we are doing, both immediately and as we move on in our recovering life.