How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Most of us who recovered with AA's program did so with the help of a "sponsor". But what is sponsorship? How do I get one? Who can be a sponsor? What makes a good sponsor?
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SoberSophia
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How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by SoberSophia » Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:14 pm

Hi,

I've been sober for 18 months, and have had the same sponsor since my 3rd month. We have had a good relationship, but over the last month or two, I've had a couple situations where I've thought I don't know if she's right for me anymore. The latest thing was she was on a work trip a few weeks ago and she said she wasn't available to me by phone but I could text. I was disappointed because we had been talking on the phone daily because I am going through a divorce and have been struggling, but I totally understand her being busy with work. However, my texts went unanswered and then I found out she had talked to another person, not a sponsee and not a friend, just giving sober support.

I'm not sure if I'm just being overly sensitive, or if she's purposely distancing herself. I don't know what the typical reasons for switching sponsors is either. I'm starting to feel like I'm developing a resentment, but anytime this has happened in the past, it was put back on me for me to "see my part in it."

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Tosh
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by Tosh » Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:41 pm

Hi Sophia, my sponsor is often 'out of reach' because his work regularly takes him to some far flung places around the world, which used to sound glamorous, but it's often relentless on him.

And I remember complaining to him about 'something' (I can't remember what now) and he just told me, "Look, Tosh, I can't do your growing for you!" On another occasion I was complaining about something and his suggestion was 'to get out of self', and the only way I know of doing that is by doing service for others (i.e. intensive work with other alcoholics).

If your sponsor has taken you through the 12 Steps and you've been connected to 'that power', well that's what we rely upon. If we place our dependence upon people, like our sponsors, we'll be let down at some point. They're human too.

And though I have for short periods of time, I'm not sure I want to take phone calls everyday from a sponsee and I have sponsored guys going through tough times like divorces, or their mother dying of cancer. My suggestion to them is always the same, go to a meeting and find someone to help; get some newcomers in your car. It's counter-intuitive, but it really does work.

Another thing I do with guys I sponsor is that once we get through the steps, I do try to distance myself from them. I'll do this usually by meeting up less. If we've met once-a-week, I'll change the meetings to fornightly, then to monthly, then to pretty much not at all. I'll be working with someone else by then. I have a family, I work, I like to run and do photography; time is limited and my focus is on the next new guy, not someone who I've already been through the steps with.

I think a minority of guys do struggle with this kind of sponsorship (most seem fine with it), but really, it's about dependence on our Higher Powers, not our sponsors. There's also a whole fellowship of us out there; and here; we've a lot of support we can draw upon if needed.

I hope I haven't sounded to hard; I really don't mean to be.

Can I ask you if your sponsor has taken you through the steps? If the answer to that is 'No', then in that instance I would strongly suggest you swop sponsors. My only job as a sponsor is to take someone through the steps.

Welcome to the forum,

Tosh
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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avaneesh912
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by avaneesh912 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 3:29 pm

I'm starting to feel like I'm developing a resentment, but anytime this has happened in the past, it was put back on me for me to "see my part in it."
Looks like you have worked on the resentments before. Why do you think you need your sponsors advice on the current situation. Is he/she going to tell you anything new? Why can't you apply the same principle. This program is about putting your dependence on your higher power right?

If you do think you need a new sponsor, feel free to find one. In our area we always assign the term "Temporary Sponsor" meaning its temporary. You are free to drop and find a compatible and a competant one anytime you want.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

SoberSophia
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by SoberSophia » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:12 pm

Thank you so much for both of the replies! It was very insightful and helpful, I think you're both absolutely right, I need to place more reliance on my higher power, rather than my sponsor.

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PaigeB
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by PaigeB » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:07 pm

I have a sponsor AND a home group. My sponsor is a teacher, so all her life summer were off and running & busy and distant. I still have my home group gals. Every Monday night at 8 PM at Hope Church. They will be there - every time. I need to foster that bond too - relationships beyond one on one.

But work the Steps. with this sponsor or the next one. The recovery is in working the Steps with another person.
Step 6 is "AA's way of stating, the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job... with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement." 12&12 Step Six, p.65

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whipping post
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by whipping post » Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:54 am

I've heard more than once from old timers "I'm not a therapist, banker, or taxi driver. All I can do is show you how I've stayed sober using the twelve steps."

Going to a meeting and focusing on others always seems like good therapy. Perhaps try that?

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johnd
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by johnd » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:36 pm

Welcome Sophia,

Good advice given so far, I only had one sponsor. I also sponsored a few... When the Sponsee has progressed in the steps the only thing the Sponsor can do is move on to the next one.. It doesn't mean that she doesn't care she may feel that she has done all she could.. When she gets back from her trip give her a day or so to regroup then give her a call... I am hoping that all will be fine between you 2.. Meanwhile, stay active with a home group and build a network of members if you can . That helps me even to this day.... Best of Luck.. hope you keep us updated. We are all here to help you.
John D.
Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans- Anonymous

2cravings
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by 2cravings » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:12 pm

A sponsor who takes you through all the steps?? Wow. My first thought is, he must be male. I've never known this level of care among the women I have had as sponsors; they're usually very flaky and come and go, just like their sobriety. Or they are too busy with family stuff.

Now that I am +10 years straight and sober, it's getting very hard to find a sponsor. And the one I've had for 5 years has gone flaky, so I may have to end that (but I need to give this lots of time, and talk to my Higher Power, before I do anything--to ensure that this isn't just a reaction on my part to what I might have perceived as unfair treatment. That's the AA way to handling most interpersonal issues).

I'm thinking of dropping the whole sponsorship thing from now on. It's just too unreliable. I have lots of men friends in the fellowship that I can turn to for advice, and my best friend is also in the program (I was her first sponsor!). My program is solid, I attend 2+ meetings a week, and have done all the Steps. So right now I am thinking of dropping something that isn't working for me. Just saying...

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Tosh
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by Tosh » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:57 pm

Hi 2Cravings,

Welcome to the forum. You sound experienced and insightful, so can I ask you what your concept of a sponsor is over the course of long term sobriety?

I mean initially, sponsors are good at settling us into A.A., teaching us A.A. etiquette, encouraging us into finding a homegroup, doing some service and taking us through the 12 Steps.

But with a decade worth of program orientated sobriety behind you, what do you think they have to offer? Or what would you like them to be able to offer?

Regards

Tosh
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

2cravings
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Re: How do you know if you should switch sponsors?

Post by 2cravings » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:28 pm

Hi Tosh,

Sometimes we encounter a situation that either tests our sobriety (a crisis) or that we want to handle properly...in good AA fashion. That's when it's good to have someone with more experience to turn to. But other than such situations, trusted members of the fellowship can provide guidance and support for a long-timer's program...as long as he or she is going to meetings and practising the steps, etc.

My opinion.

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