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