How a Sponsor Strengthened My Early Recovery

In the days and weeks after leaving Cumberland Heights for a new adventure in early recovery, I discovered I was painfully shy when it came to meeting new people in the rooms.

Initially this made it difficult for me to make the meaningful connections so necessary for someone in early recovery to achieve and maintain sobriety.

I was afraid of them. I was afraid of me. I was afraid to be vulnerable enough to let anyone see how much I was hurting over what I’d done and how I’d hurt others and myself through my actions.

So, I went to the meetings, kept to myself and left immediately after for many weeks isolating myself in the crowds of recovering people. I warmed up slowly to the people in the AA groups I attended. I paid attention in particular to the women who demonstrated the kind of recovery I wanted to emulate.

One day, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and walked up to a woman I had grown to admire very much for the way she worked the program. I asked her to be my sponsor. Although she was not able to accommodate me, she connected me with a lady who became my sponsor and devoted friend for more than six years. Although she is not my sponsor now, she remains one of my most trusted friends in recovery.

Katrina Cornwell with members of her recovery community.

Katrina Cornwell with members of her recovery community.

Finding a sponsor who I could trust with my deepest darkest secrets, someone whom I could count upon to be my spiritual guide through the 12 Steps was another way I grew in recovery.

Working the steps with my sponsor solidified our commitment to each other, helping each other stay sober one day at a time, spending time together and staying in the literature.

I remember so clearly sitting down with her for my fifth step, not knowing how long it would take or what her reaction to all of my heinous sins would be. Never did she wince or cast a judging glance, she just loved me. She helped me grow until I became strong enough to reach out my hand to help someone else.

My sponsor took me to AA meetings, went to dinner with me and to the movies. She wrote a letter to the judge in my case. She even testified on my behalf at court twice. It was a connection like no other in the program, and it is vital to the successful recovery of the newly recovering alcoholic or addict.

Establishing this relationship in recovery helped make me the woman I am today.


K HeadshotKatrina Cornwell is a case manager at Cumberland Heights, a motivational speaker, blogger and three-time, first-place award winner in the annual Tennessee Press Association contest.

In her presentations, she speaks about her addiction to drugs and alcohol and how those habits led to a drunk driving accident which killed a man in October 2009.

Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?

Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.

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