Clifford T: Sponsorship

EPISODE 5

Clifford T

Welcome to Chilliwack AA. I’m your host Ted S, sober since October 17th, 1996, one day at a time. I’m glad you can join us for our podcast on Chilliwack AA. Before I introduce our fabulous guest today, let me tell you a little bit about the podcast. Chilliwack AA explores the lives of people who have recovered from alcohol through Alcoholics Anonymous.

In each of my interviews, my guests will share their experience, strength, and hope with us through a lively discussion of what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now. We will talk about their struggles, successes and how they remain sober. This podcast strictly adheres to AAS 12 Traditions and all General Service Board guidelines for safeguarding anonymity.

No advertising is allowed no one receives financial gain from the show. My guests do not speak or represent a at-large. This podcast is simply my way of giving back to the world was free to give it to me. And now, let me introduce you, my guest for today’s show. My guest today is Clifford T, speaking at the sponsorship workshop on March 19th, 2022.

Welcome Clifford. 

Well, good afternoon, everybody. My name is Clifford T and I am an alcoholic and it’s good to see everybody today. Thank you for this privilege to be able to share with you about something that’s very passionate and personal for myself as it probably is for a lot of you. And that is sponsorship.

I once got a one-year cake where I didn’t do anything. Didn’t get a sponsor. It didn’t do the steps and whatever. I had nothing. With unresolved optimism, I did what any alcoholic would do? I went back drinking again. So, when I came in this time I changed it up and I did get myself a sponsor. And so, what I’d like to share with you today is how sponsorship has helped and shaped me into who I am today.

A lot of the experience that I have with sponsorship is, is a lot of the details of my life. I shared with my sponsor, and he helped me sort out a lot of stuff. That’s kind of interesting that in AA it’s we’re filled with paradoxes and one of the paradoxes is I needed to surrender to win. Like how opposite is that hey, but I needed to reach a point of total desperation before, you could talk to me.  I was like a ham radio. The center worked just fantastic, but the receiver was broken. You know, and I was like a cement head, a block-out. It was hard to talk to me because I had all the answers. Right. And I didn’t really have any, I just, I just had a hard time hearing. So. Anyway. So today you’re going to hear some things that you, you maybe like, and maybe you don’t like whatever, take what you like and leave the rest?

Ah, don’t throw it away, put in on the mantle because one day you may want to have a look at it. And actually, what I found is the things that irked me were the things I needed to learn a little bit more about. Or the words that I didn’t know, I like pride or actually the first one was procrastination. I didn’t know what that word meant.

And it took me a while to kind of get in there and find out what it meant. But anyway Yeah. And it’s important to note that sponsors they may physically pass away, but their words carry on. And they carry on to me even today, right. I liken it to a new job where, you know, when you get a new job, it takes two years to kind of get, figure out what the heck’s going on there.

And by, and then a lot of that stuff after that is just repetition or building on that. And with a sponsor, there’s also the concept of throwing a pebble into the pond. And the ripples, they just keep going. Right? And so, my sponsor fed me and then I feed some people and who knows where those ripples go. Right.?

And alcoholics anonymous is one alcoholic talking to another. That’s what we are. We’re not a whole bunch of pie in the sky stuff with just one, one Alcky talking to another. So, the first sponsor that I got, well when I, when I reached that point of total desperation, I knew what I had to do was get myself a sponsor and I knew I’d come back to AA again. Right?

And, and what I was working, my easy does it program, which to me meant don’t do it at all. I just showed up at meetings was called meetings-based sobriety. It was called, I call it white knuckle sobriety. Call it whatever you like. And not to beat anybody up. Cause that’s, that was me. Right. And so In may long weekend, they’re going to have a round-up and Kamloops 75th anniversary. Well, that was where I reached my, my bottom in AA was I just couldn’t pretend to be so well anymore. And so in simple terms, I knew what I had to do after that Roundup. I had to get myself a sponsor and this guy had been calling me from time to time.

His name was Big Barry, and I was a ticket agent at the bus Depot for Greyhound in Vancouver. And he was one of the bus drivers. And anyway, I got back to the coast, and I called him up and I knew if I asked him over the phone, he’d say, no. Because I’m so smart, right? And so, I said, hey, can I come over and see you? He said, sure Cliff. So, I went over to see him, and I said, hey, would you be my sponsor? And he said, Cliff, I’d be glad to be your sponsor.

And he was the man who loved me into sobriety. He said, you know, he, he got up and read how it works out of the big book and he read it to me and what it meant to him. And I don’t know about the, the technical stuff. I just knew that he was talking to my heart. You know, he was talking to my soul. My spirit.

And anyway.

He said, you know, Cliff the steps are starting up in a couple weeks. It might be an idea, an idea if you got into them. And this was in North Vancouver, and they had Nevelcro steps happening there. Nevelcro is just one of the many ways to go through the steps. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it right.

And yeah. And so, I do have a belief that when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. And because I had reached that point of total desperation, I was soaking it up. Shall we say the sea water seeks its own level. While I was like a great big cavern inside and going to lots of meetings was, was filling me up and, and working with my sponsor now and going through the steps I had to go and ask for help.

You know, I had to go and do a fourth step as an example. And I didn’t know how to do that. And then they showed me, we went to a restaurant up on Lonsdale there in North Vancouver and we got out a, a napkin and he, he said I began every paragraph with, I can remember when. You won’t find that in the big book.

But that’s what he did. And that’s what I ended up doing. Because otherwise I tried to do it my way. And my way was like, you know, reading graffiti off the wall. My fourth step didn’t make any sense to me. I couldn’t take ownership of it, but the way he showed me was the key. Anyway.

He taught me an awful lot of things. You know, I said, why me? Why me, you know, I love being the victim. That was my, that was my claim to glory was being a victim. Right? And he said, well, why not me? I’m no better than or less than anybody else?

I remember another thing that was disturbing for myself was I used to ride the city buses to work. And I used to be afraid to sit next to somebody. If they were going to touch me. And a couple of experiences that I had was I went to a meeting, a Highland, actually. Here’s a good one.

He says Let’s go to the Highland meeting. It’s in North Vancouver. I said, I don’t want to go to the Highland meeting because the time I’d gone before this guy at the door gave me a hug. I’m going, oh my God. Right.? And it was the best of intentions, right? And so, I said, well, I don’t want to go to the habit of it. And he said, why.?

I said, because sick people go there. He said, that’s okay, Cliff. They got, they got room for one more.

You know he knew how to talk to a knucklehead like me. And yeah. I remember I wanted to go on a I was like I say, ticket agent and I wanted to go on this trip to Europe. My brother had gotten a degree in engineering, and he was over there working at the diamond guns factory. And he wanted me to come over and I’m going, oh man, I, I was trying to get time off work that no one would do that and whatever. And so, I’m whining to my sponsor about this.

And he said, Clifford, whether you go to Europe or not is not a big deal.  Having coffee with a friend. Now that’s a big deal. And so, when I, when I just gave up the ghost, whatever, I was able to get the time off and go to Europe and spend some time with my brother or whatever, but. And.

Yeah. And one of the neat things that happened to me as I traveled around Europe, like even today I can, I can be somewhere and I’ll look across the room and I’ll see somebody, and this is what happened in Europe. They would remind me of someone from my group back home, or somebody that I knew back home.

And made me feel a part of, you know, we talk about spirituality in AA. And a strong thing that comes to my mind is the first time I met my grandson. He was seven months old. He was born in Nova Scotia.

And my son walked up you know, the back steps and handed me this little boy.

And I was immediately in love with this child.

And, you know, still until this day, but had, I’ve not gotten into AA. I wouldn’t be able to experience a lot of that stuff. Right. Cause. My uncle ism is me, me, me, me, me, me, me. Right. And that’s where I sponsored really helped me out an awful lot. You know, the biggest problem I’m ever going to have is this person sitting right here in this chair.

And as an alcoholic, I thought you were the problem. No, you were never the problem. You know, and so in AA, we talk about where we are in a disciplined lot. So, we, we get tools to deal with disciplining myself, right. And so, one of the things that he taught me how to do was I needed to learn to fire myself on a regular basis.

My best thinking is what got me here. If I’m so. And I sit and I first. I go into corrections. Now that I moved here at the end of 2016, and that’s one of the things I say to the guys, hey, you know I have a little secret. I’m not going to tell you that secret is I am the most. I’m the smartest person in the room.

Right. And, but I’m not going to tell you. And I guarantee a half the room. That really You to? , right. It was like when I did my, my my first fifth step with my sponsor. He said, oh my God, that you know, going to doing the fourth step of doing the fifth, I was like, man, that, that hole that I must squeeze, there’s going to be a so small. I’m not going to make it right.?

And he said, you know, Cliff. I made it through it with room to spare. And also, when we did the fifth step he said, you know, there’s that one thing that if I tell you you’re going to fall right off your chair. And he said he, he talked, it didn’t even, it doesn’t matter about the one thing, but, and the other guy goes, yeah, you too.?

Right. The neat part about it because I suffer from terminal uniqueness. Right. And and I thought I was the only one, but I’m not going to share this with you because, well then what good is that? Right.? My sponsor taught me about the perspectives. You know, the seemingly good and the seemingly bad, you know, we look at these things that happened in my life and that’s good. That’s, you know,

And my second fifth step I did with an Anglican priest. And he said, you know, Clifford, you’re a pigeonhole or you like to it’s either black or white for you. He said, I like to think of things in Teck Na color. Anyway. Off the sponsorship thing of it, but

Yeah. And also, my sponsor. He had me we were talking about somebody. Who irked me. And I said, okay, that. Let’s write down their name. Okay. Her name is Margaret. And why does she hurt you? Oh, wow. I thought now this guy is, now this is a good sponsor to have. Right. Let’s write down all the things I don’t like about Margaret, right.

And I’m there for about five or 10 minutes and write it all down. And he said, and I said, here you go. And he said, now didn’t you forget him? Oh, wait, there’s another one. She’s got a dry sense of humor and, you know, and, and he said, okay, now, Cliff, what we’re going to do is we’re going to cross her name off the top. I’m going to write your name on there because those are the things you can accept in yourself. Right?

Whoops. And. Anyway.

Yeah, I would call up my sponsor and I would say, this is what’s going on in my life. And he would say, that’s not what’s going on in your life. He says you’ve taken control of your life again. So, I want you to get the big book and get the third step prayer right out of the big book. I read it right out of the book should get it right this time. God, please free me from the bondage of self.

Right. And I could read the whole thing. We don’t have a lot of time, but Yeah. And So my sponsor didn’t kill me with kindness. In fact, at the end of the conversation, when we talked over the phone, which was most of, most of how we communicated. He said the person that got the most out of this conversation is me.

If you got anything out of it, it’s your own damn fault. Keeping in mind that alcoholics were one alcoholic talking to another. And this has worked for me. Maybe it’ll work for you and maybe it won’t and that’s okay. Like how free is that? Like, I even say that when. I did a bunch of 12 step calls at Kent max before Christmas, and I tell them, Hey this will work. Maybe it worked for you. Maybe it won’t. And it doesn’t matter to me. Right. It doesn’t matter if you want to go left or right. It doesn’t matter. How free is that? Right. Because, you know, anyway So, and also in corrections I was able to do a lot of fifth steps with the guys in there, like before COVID, where we’d go through the steps. Right.

And I’m able to sponsor some guys in there. And one of the guys that I sponsored, he kept having hissy fits from time to time and, and and, and, and, and create for verbal arguments with his surrounding people and whatever. And so we got talking about, okay. I said, now, listen. I want you to just picture in your mind, holding a plate out at arms length.

And dropping it. And it smashes. I said, now you go put it back together again. So now we have this, this, this humorous conversation. He calls me up. Yeah. And it happened that this week.  Is this Clifford? I broke a few dishes, right? And we laugh about it because we’re on, we’re striving for spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection, right.?

And anyway. And another thing, someone we were at at the noon meeting here, and someone was talking about. You know, about prayer and an higher power stuff, and I’m able to go into Kwikwexwelph village. And then of some of the things. The, the, they hold up their hands, and say all my relations.

I bet that’s for people saying, Amen. And and that was very rich for me because I work on my genealogy and I think of all my relations as Ancestors, grandmas, grandpas, all that kind of stuff. And first nations, all my relationships, my relationship to everything. Our relationship to the, to the air, the water.

Whatever. And so in, in sponsorship, you know, I’m, I’m learning, I’m getting help. And I just a minor little sidestep is into we talked about some sponsorship for alcoholics, but also hopefully someone may enlarge on service sponsorship. Because. Sponsorship was a whole new language.

You know, And and service sponsorship is another whole new language. And luckily for me getting involved in, in service it taught me about this program that I belonged to like AA, is more than just coming to a one meeting a week or whatever, spending an hour with people. And by being involved in service, I can say I started, and I had to learn about what this part was that I belong to.

Because how am I going to tell somebody else about the solution? If I don’t do the solution, right? We’re saying, Hey, you know, learn to trust God clean house and then help others. You know, when all else fails work with another alcoholic is going to help to keep me sober. And that’s what I say to the corrections guys.

Hey, I’m going to. You know, I’m going to be well today. You know And Yeah. Another part in here is that I went, I call it my sponsor one day and I said, oh man, I’m really hurting. I must really be growing. Well, he almost took my head off. He said nowhere in that book, that the say you have to grow up.

And if, if pain lasts longer than maximum of five seconds, it’s called self-indulgence right. Love to indulge myself. And And I don’t have to do that anymore. Right. And I don’t know if I said it or not, but you know, he said Cliff the greatest gift that I give you his thoughts other than your home.

We talked about perception. So if you think that. You know, Chilliwack  is the best place in the world or that it sucks. You’re right. You know, It’s my perception. I was the one that was twisted. I was the one who had to give him, you know, Change, you know, if everything remains the same, there’ll be no change. And if there’s no change, then everything will remain the same.

And so I’m really lucky that I had some really good people. In my life, my parents were in the program. My dad passed away in 2013 with 40, some odd years of sobriety. But the most important thing he ever bought. She said a lot of important things, especially to me, but. One of the things that he said was that we should be preaching everywhere we go.

And only if necessary. Use words. And he lived that. He lived at, and that’s the neat thing about AA is if we’re not telling me people were showing me people. You know, I heard something in corrections the other day, you know, we, we, I hear with my eyes. You know, and I think with my feelings. And yeah.

Anyway, I’ve been blessed with a lot of really good sponsors along the way. But. A bit of humor. My grandma Buronson from Northern Alberta was a farmer. And she had at one, she had a really good saying true cabbage heads are better than one.

And anyway. But yeah.

That’s about it for me. I run out of time. I could keep going on for double the time, but thanks for letting me share.

Well, my friends, that’s it. For this episode of Chilliwack AA podcast. I want to thank my friend Clifford T for sharing his story. And thank you for tuning in. This podcast can be heard on Spotify, anchor, Amazon music, Google play, and SoundCloud, or visit our website at www.chilliwackaa.com. Listen to every interview, share your thoughts and comment on our website. Sign up on our website and receive notifications the minute a new podcast is posted. By the way this podcast strictly adheres to AAS 12 traditions  all general service guidelines for safeguarding anonymity online. If you want more information about AA, go to www.aa.org .

The next episode of Chilliwack AA podcast is coming soon. Please keep coming back.

2 responses to “Clifford T: Sponsorship”

  1. Great talk on sponsorship

    Like

  2. It was a privelege to be able to share some of my valued memories of recovery with you.
    These are truly a few precious highlights of my life, that I was blessed enough to not have to tackle them alone.

    Like

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