BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

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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No.3
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BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by No.3 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:04 am

As distinct from the sponsor-sponsee relationship you actively engage in, what does "sponsorship" mean with those you don't see, don't talk to, don't interact with on a daily/weekly basis?

When AA was new, and recovering Alcoholics lived great distances from the nearest meeting, the sponsor might have been someone in NYC when you lived in Rhode Island. I wonder how often calls to the spons were made or expected: a month or more?

Today, late 20th C. technology has rendered time/distance almost irrelevant (an Irish sponsee wanted me to spons via FaceTime: in the USA, I declined) and interconnectedness is a given (no-cost telecommunication, the ubiquity of FB, etc.) in many areas of the world. So what does being close to a sponsor mean in 2015? If contact can be instaneous, then what does little or 'no contact' mean?

Several years ago I sponsored a young man who had relapsed and drifted from AA. He texted me over six months later - after moving 1,500 miles away - and more recently, he has maintained periodic contact with updates on his sobriety.

I assumed this was typical AA sober network stuff. It turns out he still considers me his sponsor (+18 months later); I'm "on deck" as it were, now he's home for holidays. Is this a boundary issue, was I expected to remain 'the sponsor' indefinitely, should I clarify or simply communicate what, my expectations? Or say nothing: it's all a figment of their imagination anyway lol? Or just treat him like a needy sober friend?

I've encountered this before - and other AAs have noticed that these (I'd call them "my former") sponsees occasionally reemerge after periods longer than six months. Other old timers say it's just 'whatever they want' anyway. I guess: it seems bizarre to me.

I like honesty & transparency: I say very plainly and directly to all "I don't sponsor people I don't see" ...is that an easily misunderstood or alien concept to people nowadays?
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by ezdzit247 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 5:15 pm

No.3 wrote:As distinct from the sponsor-sponsee relationship you actively engage in, what does "sponsorship" mean with those you don't see, don't talk to, don't interact with on a daily/weekly basis?

When AA was new, and recovering Alcoholics lived great distances from the nearest meeting, the sponsor might have been someone in NYC when you lived in Rhode Island. I wonder how often calls to the spons were made or expected: a month or more?

Today, as late 20th C. technology renders time/distance almost irrelevant (an Irish sponsee wanted me to spons via FaceTime: in the USA, I declined) and interconnectedness is a given (no-cost telecommunication, the ubiquity of FB, etc.) so what does being close to a sponsor mean in 2015? If contact can be instaneous, what does 'no contact' mean?

Several years ago I sponsored a young man who relapsed and drifted from AA. He texted me over six months later - moved 1,500 miles away - and more recently, he has maintained periodic contact with updates on his sobriety.

I just assumed this is typical AA sober network stuff. It turns out he still considers me his sponsor (+18 months later); I'm "on deck" as it were, now he's home for holidays. Is this a boundary issue, was I expected to remain 'the sponsor' indefinitely, should I clarify or simply communicate what, my expectations? Or say nothing: it's all a figment of their imagination anyway lol? Or just treat him like a needy sober friend?

I've encountered this before - and other AAs have noticed that these (I'd call them "my former") sponsees occasionally reemerge after periods longer than six months. Other old timers say it's just 'whatever they want' anyway. I guess: it seems bizarre to me. I like honesty & transparency: I say very plainly and directly to all "I don't sponsor people I don't see" ...is that an easily misunderstood or alien concept to people nowadays?
I vote for say nothing, just be a sober AA friend, and have zero expectations--like Bill wrote in Chapter 7--but I'm not into tight structure or linear goals. Evidently, he wants to maintain some kind of connection with people in recovery and that's a good thing. On some level he wants to get and stay sober even if he's still trying to do it some other way or is not yet ready to fully commit to AA's path to sobriety. Been there and done that. It takes what it takes for all of us, right? When he's had enough, he'll be ready.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by Lali » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:08 pm

No.3 wrote:As distinct from the sponsor-sponsee relationship you actively engage in, what does "sponsorship" mean with those you don't see, don't talk to, don't interact with on a daily/weekly basis?

When AA was new, and recovering Alcoholics lived great distances from the nearest meeting, the sponsor might have been someone in NYC when you lived in Rhode Island. I wonder how often calls to the spons were made or expected: a month or more?

Today, late 20th C. technology has rendered time/distance almost irrelevant (an Irish sponsee wanted me to spons via FaceTime: in the USA, I declined) and interconnectedness is a given (no-cost telecommunication, the ubiquity of FB, etc.) in many areas of the world. So what does being close to a sponsor mean in 2015? If contact can be instaneous, then what does little or 'no contact' mean?

Several years ago I sponsored a young man who had relapsed and drifted from AA. He texted me over six months later - after moving 1,500 miles away - and more recently, he has maintained periodic contact with updates on his sobriety.

I assumed this was typical AA sober network stuff. It turns out he still considers me his sponsor (+18 months later); I'm "on deck" as it were, now he's home for holidays. Is this a boundary issue, was I expected to remain 'the sponsor' indefinitely, should I clarify or simply communicate what, my expectations? Or say nothing: it's all a figment of their imagination anyway lol? Or just treat him like a needy sober friend?

I've encountered this before - and other AAs have noticed that these (I'd call them "my former") sponsees occasionally reemerge after periods longer than six months. Other old timers say it's just 'whatever they want' anyway. I guess: it seems bizarre to me.

I like honesty & transparency: I say very plainly and directly to all "I don't sponsor people I don't see" ...is that an easily misunderstood or alien concept to people nowadays?
Does it matter? Would you respond to them any differently if you didn't consider them to be a sponsee?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by D'oh » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:43 pm

My second Sponsor listed 3 conditions when I asked him to sponsor me.

1 I was To call him at least once a week if for nothing else but to let him know that I was alive.

2, I was to do the steps as they are written out in the BB.

3 I was to call him before I would take the first drink. Give him a try before I try a drink.

So were these conditions for His protection or Mine? Both! and I have used the same conditions for everyone I have sponsored since.

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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by Tosh » Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:43 pm

D'oh wrote: 1 I was To call him at least once a week if for nothing else but to let him know that I was alive.
Fair play to your sponsor, and yourself, but as time goes on and you continue to take guys through the program, doesn't that become a bug-bear?

I understand the importance of developing a trusting relationship while going through the early steps (it seems to make getting honest and a 5th Step easier), but I'm not sure if I'd want my phone going daily with guys just 'checking in' who should be working with others, or developing their conscious contact with God, rather than me.
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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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by ann2 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 5:17 am

I would simply be available, in whatever role works for the person.

Ann
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No.3
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BOUNDARY Issue

Post by No.3 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:05 am

I wonder how many people thinking What does it matter? would honestly be comfortable w/ any near-strangers calling you their "sponsor" ? Hmm.

I'm not nearly so desperate for sponsees or naive to consequences. I had NO DIFFICULTY honestly answering "I have NO IDEA who that is" when called by a parole officer whom I didn't know, if I was sponsoring some random guy who I didn't recall ever meeting. It's only slightly less weird when an AA drifter-acquaintance who lives 1,500 miles away does that. And in this case, it seems delusional: how to address that issue (or not) is my topic.

It was an exhausting afternoon: the guy is doing well on his sobriety (I think) and talked about his 'core issue' (he's multiple diagnosis) dominating others, so there's some awareness what's going on. We met another Friend of Bill in a very busy are of a crowded shop, and he promptly unloads all of this on my friend: I'm glad it wasn't just an acquaintance from the rooms! But it was a very loud public discussion of the kind of stuff I'm rather more discreet about.

otoh, it seems most addict kids today take it for granted they can unload whatever whenever. LOL maybe I'm starting to feel like an 'old person,' but moeurs are obviously shifting and I'm trying to understand how sponsorship is, also. I have no control over what others do or say, but I can define boundaries. I'm not someone's Sobriety doormat. Perhaps I need more 'conditions' - out-of-the-blue, someone else's sponsee just texted me a long apology why he's unable to fulfill his minor service role at tonight's HG. Unnecessary, but exceedingly polite: I was impressed! I don't manage my sponsees that way, but behavior modification obviously works :wink:
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by PaigeB » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:41 am

ann2 wrote:I would simply be available, in whatever role works for the person.

Ann
I like this - we gotta meet them where they are.

But I also see people who want a sponsor in name only. We have a women's treatment center within walking distance of our Home Group and they "must have an AA or NA sponsor before they graduate". Don't get me started on treatment programs, but to the point, I don't sponsor women there until they graduate for many reasons. I don't know how I would be thinking if one came up to me a year later and said, "You are my sponsor..." but I probably would not hear them rant loudly in a public place. Eye contact works to get their attention and I would set a time to speak privately or at least call me to discuss. We would have to see if the relationship would work into current time frames etc.

Either way I would be willing to have one or a few discussions. I think the important part is no expectations ~ like we talked about in yesterday's Daily Reflection.
DECEMBER 20

THE REWARDS OF GIVING

This is indeed the kind of giving that actually demands nothing. He does not expect his brother sufferer to pay him, or even to love him. And then he discovers that by the divine paradox of this kind of giving he has found his own reward, whether his brother has yet received anything or not.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 109

Through experience with Twelfth Step work, I came to understand the rewards of giving that demands nothing in return. At first I expected recovery in others, but I soon learned that this did not happen. Once I acquired the humility to accept the fact that every Twelfth Step call was not going to result in a success, then I was open to receive the rewards of selfless giving.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
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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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by whipping post » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:51 am

Perhaps too much importance is being put on what a sponsor actually is (or should be).

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Well this, actually.

Post by No.3 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:26 pm

whipping post wrote:Perhaps too much importance is being put on what a sponsor actually is (or should be).
I'd suggest that whatever both individuals expect is certainly an important factor in this relation, so it begs careful definition.

Alternately,
It's a dodge, and totally unthinking (mindless) to say "No expectations!" - all relationships have expectations, inherently. But no: we don't have to be others' puppets, doing whatever they want, even if they feel entitled to set up games/ change the rules that way. We are still dealing with sick, unrecovered addicts here, after all :roll:
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by ann2 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:44 pm

Wow. Sorry, I haven't seen it work that way in my marriage, with my children, with my sisters or parents. Any time I try to count on something with any of them I wind up in the expectation - frustration - disappointment spiral.

I really think the steps led me to a place where I didn't have to exert that control. That's been one of the major revelations of recovery for me . . . one of the cherished results of taking the steps.

Not mindless but mindful, in my way of thinking nowadays, and certainly not a dodge, but the whole point.

Ann
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Re: BOUNDARY issue? Sponsees you didn't know you had

Post by avaneesh912 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:55 pm

I have a very simple formula. Pretty quickly I have them start the 4th step inventory after helping them conclude that they are really powerless and believe that a power greater than them could restore them to sanity. At that point, they fade, i move on to ones that are looking for help. At times, I may not sponsor anyone but thats perfectly fine with that position. I dont get depressed.
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)

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