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.
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.