This post is dedicated to Kate…my first Sponsor.

 

In case you don’t know what a Sponsor is (and yes, I mean to capitalize the term), a Sponsor is a person that acts as a mentor or guide through the 12 Steps of any Anonymous program of recovery (e.g.-Alcoholics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Al-Anon, etc,) 

 

By now, you may know that I have been a part of the 12-Step programs listed above over the last 27+ years of my recovery (and more). As a result, I have had several Sponsors.

 

Kate was my first.

 

Today I got a call from Kate… She is going into hospice. She has less than 2 weeks to live. She is in Illinois. I am in Washington state. There is a pandemic going on. I cannot go see her before she dies. This is the last time I will talk to her. She has 2 more calls to make today, then she is done talking on the the phone. 2 more people to notify. She told me her husband will call me when she has passed. 

She said she would see me on the other side.

 

When I made the decision to get sober I was a 22 year-old suicidal, alcoholic, anorexic mess. This was the woman Kate met. No. This was the GIRL Kate met. It takes a certain kind of person to deal with that kind of GIRL. Many Sponsors would have not stuck with me for SEVEN YEARS. She did. She fed me. Let me do my laundry at her house. Talked to me every day (sometimes several times a day). Held me while I cried. Taught me how to be around women, love women, let them love me, and BE A WOMAN. And…she walked me through the 12 Steps.

On my 23rd birthday I was so terrified that I was going to drink I asked if I could come over and stay at her house. This married woman with 2 small children said yes. I never left the recliner (chair) in her living room that night because I was so afraid that if I did, I would walk out the door and do something stupid/drink. She woke up in the morning, looked at me, laughed, and said, “Come and help me make breakfast for the kids.”

She trusted me around her kids!

She was the TRUE embodiment of “We’ll love you until you love yourself”.

She was the mom that I never had.

I’m going to say that again. She was the mom I never had.

She was even the maid-of-honor in my wedding (after 5 years of sobriety).

At a certain point in my sobriety, I didn’t want a mom anymore. I “outgrew” Kate. I tried to tell her. I handled it badly. I wrote a letter. I walked away. It broke my heart. It hurt her very much. I absolutely hate writing about it…especially now.

It’s the truth though. Horrible things happen in beautiful relationships. That’s the truth. People make mistakes. Hurt each other. Love stories are about forgiving and coming back together. Abuse stories are about forgiving and letting go.

Ours is a Love story.

Kate came back to me.

We weren’t the same. And that was good. This time we were on equal footing. I had grown into a WOMAN and was living in Washington. Kate no longer had ANY desire to take care of me and was living a FABULOUS life. She wrote a story for my website (“Kate B’s Story, World Traveling Didn’t Stop Sobriety”)…SEE, SHE STILL SUPPORTED MY SOBRIETY!

During the last few years, we talked about our continuing sobriety, our families, our professions. We laughed together, and cried together. We talked about the 12 Steps and how our lives had changed. We talked about the people we were Sponsoring and our current Sponsors.

Today, when I knew it was the last time I was ever going to talk to Kate, I was able to say all of the things I ever wanted to say to her.

WHAT A GIFT!

I was able to say “thank you” for every single thing she ever did for me. I was able to say I was sorry for every pain I ever caused her. I was able to tell her I love her. I was able to tell her how much she changed my life – that she SAVED my life – and that she was the only MOM I’ve ever truly known. I was able to tell her how much I admire her, especially today, for her courage and strength to think of others – me – during her hardest, darkest times. She was my teacher. My mentor.

My Sponsor.

The 12th Step of all the Anonymous programs says: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Kate is NOT a perfect person. She would be the first to tell you that…while laughing VERY hard! And yet I know – first hand – that she absolutely carries the message to MORE than just alcoholics and definitely practices the spiritual principles of recovery in all of her affairs.

Honestly…can any of us get any better than that in this lifetime?

Thank you, Kate. Forever.

 

16 Comments

  1. Carole

    Beautiful Liz, what a tribute to sponsorship. And the lives we get once we work a twelve step program. Love you!

    Reply
    • Liz

      Thank you for your support, Carole! Kate definitely taught by example. I am blessed to have her and you in my life. I love you too.

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful passage. What a blessing to have such wonderful people in our lives and how challenging it is when the next chapter comes. Grief is complex and beyond challenging/complicated.. The lessons you have learned from Kate you have incorporated into your existence. You have also impacted many in the same way she has impacted you.

    Sending lots of love and peaceful thoughts around transitions.

    Reply
    • Liz

      Your words are very powerful and moving. Thank you so much. I hope she gets to read what you wrote. I believe she would appreciate your kindness. I can only hope to give as much to others as Kate has given. She is a testament to how service works. I am grateful for your support, Michelle. Take care.

      Reply
  3. Mela

    Wow – what a gift indeed to be able to say all those things to your dear one. May you find peace in these coming days, sweetheart.

    Reply
    • Liz

      As always, I am grateful for your love and support. How blessed am I to have my first sponsor and current sponsor in my life at the same time. It pains me beyond words to let one of you go. Thank you for walking with me through this. Your help gives me the strength to keep the prayers and Love flowing to her family. They need the support the most.

      Reply
  4. Em

    Thank you for sharing this. I love how you honestly talk about the relationship changing and how you were able to continue your connection after that break. It gives me hope in many ways.
    So beautiful to see how you’ve taken what Kate shared with you and given it to others.
    Sending LOVE and a huge hug from the Midwest

    Reply
    • Liz

      Thank you so much, Em! I feel bad saying I “outgrew” Kate. That makes it sound like I was “more mature” than her. That wasn’t the case, at all! It was more a case of me needing to “leave the nest” because she was such a mom figure to me. I needed to grow up and spread my wings. I needed to stop depending on her so much. I took advantage of her. She had a husband and children who needed her. It was time for me to get out on my own and figure out my own shit. I didn’t know how to do that WITH HER still in my life. BIG MISTAKE. I fucked up. I HATE THAT! I hurt her so badly. I am grateful she found me, called me, took me back. That’s the kind of person she was. She didn’t let me go…when I deserved to be dropped like a hot potato. She saw something in me that most others didn’t. How could I ever make that up to her?

      She forgave me.

      That’s Love.

      I am glad telling this story has helped you in some way, Em. You and I have connected in a similar way to Kate and I. I can’t quite explain it. There’s a bond. All I can tell you is that time heals and all is possible…with Love.

      Reply
  5. steven r

    Aw liz, beautiful tribute x

    Reply
    • Liz

      Thank you, Steven. She is worth it.

      Reply
  6. DAVID DUNSMORE

    This story brought me to tears. It demonstrates the true love that can happen in this program. I can relate as well. My sponsor is like the Father I never had. Sobriety is the best gift I could ever have. Tonight as a family we were watching Television, I made a pallet on the floor for myself to stretch out. My daughter on one side and my son on the other. They are 12 and 16. I was filled with gratitude being there with them. When I was in the madness I would have been worrying about my next beer and if I should ask my son or daughter to get it for me. Today I can enjoy the moments that are in front of me. Thanks Liz for sharing that beautiful story. I’m truly sorry to hear about your Mom’s health.

    Reply
    • Liz

      Thank you so much for sharing that beautiful moment with me/us, David, and for your kind words of support. I am grateful that you have such a supportive Sponsor in your life/sobriety. It really does make all the difference when you can find someone that “fits”. I know that this is a rare and precious thing.

      Not only are you blessed to have your children and your sobriety; I think the TRUE magic in your life is that you are AWAKE enough to be GRATEFUL for both. You stop. You look. You appreciate. So few can do that in their sobriety. If you can hang onto that, you can hang onto your sobriety. I wish you all the best. Take care.

      Reply
  7. Lisa Harris

    Wow – just wow!
    Beautiful, Powerful. Heartfelt.
    Love you Liz!❤️

    Reply
    • Liz

      Thank you so much, Lisa.
      I am so grateful you are in my life. I have TRULY adored getting to know you. Your support means so much to me.
      I love you right back!
      Take care,

      Reply
  8. Jessica Faltot

    She’s proud. She also feels your I share your story…you got this…love.❤

    Reply
    • Liz

      REALLY JESSICA?!?! You were able to share it with her?!?! I’ve wanted to know if she read/heard it, but didn’t want to intrude. I’M SO GRATEFUL!!!

      Your/her reply is all I could ever ask. Well, that’s not ALL I could ever ask. What I REALLY want is for her to stay…

      Thank you so much, Jessica. Thank you forever…

      Reply

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