The Importance Of The Sponsee Daily Two-Minute Check-In Call…

As a sponsor, I have only a few requirements, one of which is a daily thing, that being to call me once a day and do a two-minute check in. Ironically, for as simple as that sounds, it normally is the very thing that often becomes the most difficult to do for many I’ve sponsored.

Why I have this two-minute check-in stems all the way back to the same requirement my first sponsor from AA once gave me. When I questioned why I had to call her each and every day, she simply said, “Andrew, if you can’t take TWO minutes out of your day to call me and let me know how your recovery is doing, then you’re not really concerned about your recovery are you?” And she was right, because any day I ever missed during the time she sponsored me, I truly wasn’t focused on my recovery one bit. But trust me, I made sure to call her more than not over the course of a year and a half and learned the importance of this daily check-in by the end of that period.

The fact is, addicts don’t normally like picking up the phone. Instead, they tend to handle things all on their own, particularly if they’re deeply engaged within the addiction itself. To break that habit, and to create a pattern of reaching out for support, especially for when any temptation comes a-knocking, my sponsor taught me to merely call her once a day and leave a message if she didn’t answer. During that message or call itself, I was to let her know if I had been triggered or not with my addiction and whether I needed any support. And that if I was ever struggling to remember to call, to try placing an alarm reminder on my phone to go off at the same time every day.

Honestly, I must admit that early on these two-minute check-in calls felt like a hassle to my life. Yet as time went on, I began to see the benefits of them on both those challenging days and those not-so-challenging days. And eventually, I actually started looking forward to making those calls if you can believe it.

But it’s funny though, because now I see my early stubborn recovering self in each of my sponsee’s who have struggled with this daily phone assignment. Why it’s funny is because on any day that I used to miss making that two-minute check-in call, I still made plenty of calls to other people, they just weren’t to my sponsor. Which is precisely why the words of my first sponsor continue to ring true for me and are a great reminder that there’s never any good excuse as to why someone can’t take 2 minutes out of 24 hours to call and do a check-in. Because it’s a safe bet, that phone calls were indeed made elsewhere that day and an even safer bet that most of one’s actions on any day missed were probably nothing more than self-serving.

This is why I tend to agree now that the use of the two-minute daily check-in call is a great benchmark to the strength of every sponsee’s recovery. Frequently when multiple days over multiple weeks begin to be missed in checking in with me, I find their days with me are numbered and that’s not because I eventually end the sponsor relationship with them either. It’s more that each of those missed check-ins merely become indicators that the person is beginning to place more and more importance on other things that aren’t recovery related, many of which have often led them directly back into their addiction itself.

So, while the daily two-minute check-in has habitually felt like a hassle to many of those I’ve sponsored, I find it’s truly is an important tool in sobriety to both the health of one’s recovery and the health of the sponsor/sponsee relationship as well.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why I’m Not A Swinger Or Do Open-Relationships Anymore…

Just recently, a new friend inquired if my partner and I would be open to having “fun and pleasure” with them and their partner. I.E. Were my partner and I in an open type of relationship who did things like “swinging”?

While I was actually flattered at the request and how the question was asked in a really nice way that didn’t feel derogatory in any way, my answer was a rather quick no, as much as my ego wanted to say yes.

In the past, when I allowed sex to define who I was, and when an addiction to it ruled my life, I engaged in plenty of extra-curricular sexual-based activities of which I’m not very proud of. Because in the end, they hurt me more than made me feel good. But before that happened, I truly thought I was enjoying each of them immensely. In fact, the search for it pretty much became the focal point of my life.

And as it became that focal point and the more I engaged in that carnal lust, the more I found myself drifting further and further away from God and myself. And the more I drifted further away from God and myself, the more I lost sight of what real love once meant to me.

In turn, I found myself on an endless search for one conquest after another, looking for that next sexual high that might comfort a constantly growing emptiness within me. And with each sexual act, my spirit would only feel lower and lower, until I started to realize I wasn’t liking myself much anymore. That’s when I began to see myself as nothing more than a piece of meat that people seemed to like solely for how I looked on the outside, instead of who I was on the inside. Sex became a tool for a temporary high, instead of something God gave me to experience with someone I unconditionally loved and wanted to spend my life with.

Thankfully, since coming to the rooms of recovery for sex and love addiction, I learned what was healthy for me sexually and what wasn’t. I have since been able to successfully stay away from all of my old sexual behaviors that I once thought were helping me to enjoy my life, yet really never were. In light of that, I do think it’s important to say this though.

I don’t judge my new friend for asking me if I’d be interested in their proposition nor do I judge them for the fact they still find enjoyment in something I don’t anymore. To each their own I say and frankly, I’m not Christ and haven’t been able to walk on water, so I really have no right to judge anyone for what they do, especially when I once did those very things myself.

With that being said, while the temptation is still there to engage in things like “swinging” and “open relationships” and may always be on an ego level, I give credit to the strength of my recovery life and my relationship with God to help me continue on a spiritual path that feels far healthier than when a quest for sexual-based activities ruled my existence.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Showing A Little Humility By Making A List Of Shortcomings…

One of the homework assignments I give each of my sponsees when they reach the 6th and 7th step part of the process in recovery from an addiction is to make a list of their defects of character, or put in another way, an honest report of their shortcomings.

We all have them, but not everyone is always forthcoming when it comes to listing them. That’s because the ego often fights this task, solely because it’s an exercise in practicing humility, which is a trait that most addicts tend to struggle showing.

That being said, I truly believe it’s just as important for a sponsor to remain humble when working with others in the steps, which is why I decided to make a list of my own shortcomings.

So here are the top ten I’m still working diligently on in my own program of recovery:

    1. Doubting God’s will for me.
    2. Struggling to trust in my body’s ability to heal itself.
    3. Controlling others mostly when I am feeling unsafe.
    4. Obsessing about things that haven’t happened yet.
    5. Yelling at my partner when my pain levels are high.
    6. Thinking I’m still dealing with a punishing God.
    7. Taking another person’s inventory.
    8. Taking ownership of someone else’s judgments of me.
    9. Blaming myself for things that aren’t my fault.
    10. Worrying what other people think about me.

While I’m sure there are plenty of other defects of character I could come up with, I’m grateful I can show humility today in admitting to at these, as there was a good stretch of my life where I thought I had no shortcomings at all, or to put it rather bluntly, that my shit didn’t stink.

Thank goodness, I don’t believe that anymore and am able to demonstrate a little more humility in life these days, just like I ask of each of my sponsees. It really is a vital part in their spiritual growths, but it’s also a vital part as well for anyone else in this world who’s on a journey to becoming One with the Light…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

One Reason Why It’s Sometimes Really Hard Having An Open Heart…

Sometimes it’s really hard having an open heart, especially in the recovery realm where many are still sick and suffering from an addict mentality, even if they are sober.

I say this because I’ve run into it quite often like I did a few weeks ago when I received an extremely negative Facebook message from someone I once helped early on in their recovery work just after they got sober from alcohol and drugs.

I had been trying for a number of months to reach out to this person through phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages because I truly cared about them and was concerned whether they were ok or not. Up until the beginning of the summer this year we had spoken over the phone at least once a month or so for almost four years, and as far as I could tell, they had always been great conversations that ended with us giving each other friendly “love you’s. But then one day they stopped initiating any contact with me and also weren’t returning any of my own attempts to reach out to them, which definitely wasn’t like them at all. In the recovery realm, when something like this happens, it’s often a sign that the person might have relapsed, as I’ve seen the pattern happen way too often. Yet, I still had some hope that maybe it was due to something else going on in this individual’s life.

Eventually, after several months went by like this, I noticed they had unfriended me on Facebook and that’s when I came to acceptance that they didn’t want to maintain contact with me anymore. I opted to send them a final message that simply said that although I was sad they didn’t want to connect with me anymore, I still wanted to wish them and their family a Happy Holiday and blessings for all their years ahead. Ironically, they responded to that and not at all pleasantly. In fact, some of their words stung pretty hard and came out of left field, which I’m sure if my heart had been closed like it used to be more than not, I wouldn’t have cared.

But, my heart is very much open these days, and I do care about people, especially those I’ve helped in the recovery realm. I enjoy being able to share in those deeper emotions with another, yet it is extremely hard to accept when anger and negativity come my way like it did from this individual.

Nevertheless, while I may never know the true reason why this person I once helped in sobriety threw so much anger my way, I still plan on keeping an open heart towards them and everyone else. Because I find it’s far easier to practice forgiveness having an open heart, rather than when having a closed one.

I know there are plenty who are way more guarded with their hearts than I am, but I look at many of the famous spiritual teachers who too had open hearts and constantly kept themselves in the line of fire, like Mother Theresa or Gandhi or Jesus, to name a few. And it’s those people I aspire to be more like in this life.

So, whether it’s better to have an open heart or not, is really not something I’m considering. Instead, it’s learning how to accept that when one has an open heart like I’m trying to maintain, that there’s always going to be those who lash out against me and when they do, I just need to seek my Higher Power for support. And that alone is what I find helps to keep having an open heart no matter what negativity may ever come my way…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson