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Election Day; Step One with a Sponsee.

6 November 2012

Tomorrow, regardless of who wins, I am fleeing my country. But I voted. It took about an hour in a church basement that is a serious, ominous fire hazard. One personal point of pride was to help a Hmong (I’m reasonably sure based on the name…) family get to the right line when impatient people were giving them bad instructions because they thought they were being cut. They did not speak English well, and were clearly unfamiliar with our alphabet. When I stepped up and asked for their registration cards so that I could direct them to the right place, the people who’d been sniping at them were a bit cowed. The world works better when we help each other. Or at least, voting in south St. Louis does.

My mind is totally checked out. I want to be gone already. But I have a grant to write and a paper to revise. But I’m very excited to simply get out again. It’s been nine months since I traveled, and that’s a good length of time. I do worry that if I take a new job I’ll get less vacation time. Professorship jobs of course are very flexible. But healthcare engineering jobs may be less so. But in the negotiation portion of the job I’ll work things out. If I got 15 paid days a year I’d be more than happy. And I’d be willing to take less money to have that. Having only 10 days a year feels like far too little.

I had a lovely sit down with my sponsee yesterday. I went to his home and talked to him about step one. He’s getting it, I think. I also gave him his 90 day coin. He’s engaged to be married, and his fiancée is working three jobs to pay the mortgage while he’s unemployed. I told him he needs to get a job, even just seasonal retail. He needs to start making a contribution to his little family’s finances (they don’t have children). He needs to get out of his head. I told him he can advance to step two as soon as he finished a few more pages of writing.

Writing matters, when doing the steps. I’m not sure what I’d do if I had an illiterate sponsee. Teach him to read and write, maybe. But writing is crucial because it gets us invested. When we’ve got skin in the game, when we’ve done work, it’s harder to turn our backs on sobriety. One thing that helps to keep me centered in my sobriety is knowing that I have worked so hard at it. And while my own hard work was never enough to get me sober, my hard work in a community of people dedicated to progression in sobriety together has been enough to keep me sober. And that’s an incredible thing.

So, my sponsee is going to have to do the work. I can’t do it for him. But I can be part of the bedrock of his community, leading him to stable ground.

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