On being a male OA sponsor

by Jerry

We are all different in so many ways--our ages, our eating compulsions, our reasons (and excuses) for problems with food, just to name a few. OA in its wisdom recommends we keep complications to a minimum, and so it is common practice to sponsor others of the same sex. Are men and women different as sponsors, or different as sponsees? I have no idea, but what I know about guys is that we tend to want to be our own higher power. And we guys recognize that in each other. We also have a tendency to think that if we exercise more, we won’t have to curtail our eating so much. (That’s so not true).

Fortunately, OA advises us to seek someone who has what we want. And on occasion, men have asked me to sponsor them.

Because people approach OA with different agendas, it is important for me to understand what they wish to gain. Since we come to OA for very different reasons (in my case, to be relieved of the obsession with food, particularly carbs), I ask them what they are looking for in a sponsor, and what they would like to accomplish. It is important that their expectations are realistic, and that the requested help is within my skill-set. I know I can be more helpful to some than to others, depending on their agenda. For example, I am not the best 12-step guy. I would also hesitate to sponsor someone who was more interested in their appearance than their health.

  On the other hand, I am pretty available to sponsees who want/need to be in touch, or those needing help with a food plan. There is also a wonderful self-selection process—if it’s not working, people move on. That’s a good thing. So in my case, sponsees talk, I listen (sometimes that’s enough), and together we can formulate a plan of action.  Above all, I am pragmatic. We’ll see if your idea works, and in either case we will have learned something, and that will inform future decisions. And the beauty of it all, is that I don’t have to be an expert—only to know and represent what has worked for me, and if the shoe fits….

Finally, surrender is not a guy thing. It is a process that needs to be worked on. I believe it helps to be a fellow “bozo on the bus.”

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