A shamanic crisis occurs when a member of a tribe is stricken with an illness that can’t be cured by physical means. The afflicted individual is taken to a shaman, who puts him/her through an initiatory ordeal: Should the individual pass the test, he/she is healed and becomes a shaman him/herself, vested with the ability to guide others through said crisis.
The relationship between sponsor and sponsee in 12-Step recovery mirrors the shamanic process, in that the sponsor has gone through the Steps and has (hopefully) had a spiritual awakening, thereby gaining the wisdom and experience to lead by example and show his/her sponsee(s) how to navigate the same path. With this in mind, here’s a list of things my own sponsor has said to me since we started working together:
“I want you to relapse so that I can talk about it in meetings and get sympathy.”
“I’m in New York for a little Gucci, a little Barneys; you know, the essentials.”
“What are you going to do? Whore at me?”
“That thing you do–what’s it called, compassion? I don’t do that.”
“You need to change your profile to say, ‘Seeking active alcoholic with no interest in recovery,’ because that’s all you’re ever going to get.”
“Do you have any idea how many people have touched the cheese samples at Whole Foods? And you ate one? You’re going to die.”
“Are you feeding the good dog? You’re not feeding the good dog. Feed the good dog.”
“You are a terrible person. I love it.”
“I just want to control your life.”
“I probably shouldn’t be encouraging you to act like this, huh?”
“I don’t know whether I should apologize, or if you should thank me.”
“I’m the Worst. Sponsor. Ever.”
People who don’t know me will see this and naturally assume I’m going to smoke crack at any moment. Regular readers, on the other hand, will recognize why we make a simply fabulous shamanic pairing.