Sponsor woes...

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?

Sponsor woes...

Postby SoberBWs » Mon Feb 29, 2016 8:49 pm

Hi everyone. I'm still a newcomer - been sober 137 days today, by the grace of God.

I did what everyone said to do and got a sponsor. I didnt really know him but had seen him at a couple meetings, he was the only one raising his hand and I liked what he had to say. He has helped me immensely. I dont want to trash him in any way, which is why I'm here. Everyone seems to know everyone and I know if I say anything about "my sponsor" a lot of people are going to know who that is, whether I like it or not.

As Ive gotten to know him, I've realized that hes a very sarcastic SoB and that's ok. However, I think its bordering on being passive-aggressive when I say that I'll get some 4th step typed up by next time we meet and he rolls his eyes and says "yeah... I'm looking forward to getting a real work of art" very sarcastically. It feels off to me.

The other thing, that is now bothering me more than that, is that I've noticed that he'll talk to me about his other sponsee, who is a friend of mine that I talk to out of meetings on a regular basis. I also know that he's taking a situation that I have (its a long term marriage thing, kids involved, divorce or not kind of thing which is out in the open now. Thanks 4th step!) with other people: his sponsor, his wife (who has 13yrs sober and is an active sponsor herself) and I'm thinking that's not all. Two things for me here: 1 - is this a breach of trust? 2 - Is it normal for a sponsor to get to the point of saying "Ive never had this experience because I got divorced quickly when I got sober and I can't help you with that so I'm trying to find someone you can talk to". and - is it normal for a sponsor to try to give relationship advice at all? Is that part of that deal? I really appreciate having someone to talk to but I guess I dont understand how/where the role of sponsor is supposed to show itself.

This is the first time I've been in AA and am not quite sure how to interpret some of this information with my sponsor. I appreciate any advice. Seems like all my RL closed mouth friends know him, so its really hard to get an objective opinion in my little circles... Hoping this is a good idea! Thanks in advance!
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Re: Sponsor woes...

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:27 am

Our book asks us to look for close-mouthed, understanding friend. By gones be by gones. Find another one or if it does not work, find an on-line sponsor who will help you see the selfish, self-centered attitudes of yours and help you overcome that.

I used the "Bar Rescue" analogy last time I spoke but warned the audience that its not meant to trigger their drinking ideas. You know the show I am talking about? His job is to see what is working and what is not. Firing people with bad attitude and bringing in new people, discarding old apparatus, re-designing the floors..etc etc. Thats what the sponsors role is. To help us have an attitude shift.
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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Re: Sponsor woes...

Postby Brock » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:09 am

Welcome to e-AA SoberBWs, and congratulations on 137 days.

We get a fair amount of these complaints here, which is understandable, because new members can't really complain or question what a sponsor is doing to others in their group, so forums like these are a good place to ask.

Speaking to you about his other sponsee, unless just to say how well they are doing is not a good thing at all, and in another current topic here we have said this to someone who has done the same thing. Also involving anyone else in your relationship troubles without first asking you I don't like that either, his motives of trying to find help are good, but if he doesn’t have experience himself in a particular matter he should just say so and let it go. A sponsor is there to help take someone through the steps, they are not professional counselors and it gets dangerous when they try to be, the AA pamphlet on sponsorship makes this quite clear.

I say that I'll get some 4th step typed up by next time we meet and he rolls his eyes and says "yeah... I'm looking forward to getting a real work of art" very sarcastically. It feels off to me.

This may have just been a poor attempt at a joke, but I am also a person who has very little room for sarcasm. Maybe the work of art and the 'typing' are what he is talking about, most of us just write it out longhand. Also doing “some 4th step” is not really what you want, to my mind you do the whole thing then sit and speak it out in the 5th, and just do the best you can, the major things that may hold you back from getting the relief this program offers.

Perhaps have a read by Goggling 'Barefoots World step 4,' you will also see printable work sheets for each inventory, you may print these or just use the outline for further guidance. Keep in mind that if this sponsor is not a good fit, it is quite normal and acceptable to thank him for helping to this point, and either find someone else for the rest or just a close mouthed person for the 5th, and do the rest without an 'official' sponsor, something which myself and others have done quite successfully. Wishing you the best of luck with the steps, it's really where the answer lies.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Sponsor woes...

Postby whipping post » Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:10 am

If you can't find someone you trust in AA to do your fifth step with you could probably find a priest, therapist, etc... who is familiar with the process. It doesn't have to be an AA member. As Brock said, all a sponsors job is supposed to do is show you how to work the steps. Some try to take it further than that. A sponsor is not a banker, taxi driver, doctor, or therapist.
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Re: Sponsor woes...

Postby clouds » Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:18 am

Good for you that you ar discussing this here and not with a member of your group who would know your sponsor. That way you aren't betraying anyone, that only adds to the heaviness of the burden. Character building starts with acts of kindness and grows from there, good job.

It takes a little time to find out who, in the groups, can be trusted. Looks like you have learned that your sponsor and a few others can't be trusted. Give it time and get aquainted with some others in AA.

I try to remember to preface anything I want kept in confidence by asking the person; "Can you keep something I need to talk about from going any further? I don't want what I am about to say to be told to anyone else." I have had people honestly admit to me that they can't keep things to themselves. I had no bad feelings toward them for it. I just found someone else. Now that doesn't mean that if you ever forget to ask for confidence you are wrong. On the contrary, sponsors should know they are to keep everything from the sponsee confidential. I myself would get another sponsor if I had experienced what you have with yours. I have seen this happen in AA and it can be very heartbreaking sometimes. Especially if spouses come to meetings or they were to sober up someday. In coming years children may even get sober in AA, so its better that personal and family problems are discussed with someone who is prepared to keep those things completely to themselves.

In regard to 'looking for someone else that had that particular experience', the principles of AA are fairly universal in that they can be applied to any situation. Honesty, openmindedness, faith etc. are principles that work in any relationship or situation, there isn't a whole lot of uniqueness in most of these dilemmas. Or at least there is less than we originally thought there was.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Sponsor woes...

Postby Larryp713 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:27 am

Hi and welcome. This is a very important topic, because sponsorship really helped me work the steps more thoroughly than I ever would have on my own. It provided me clarity and accountability which helped me stay on task, and I definitely felt the spiritual blessings from working the steps moreso than I ever did on my own.
After working the steps, my sponsor and I were more friends than sponsor/sponsee, and I really needed to do more work. I was about 7 months sober at this time. Eventually, I realized that we were no longer talking about recovery, and the advice that he did offer me was not related to recovery at all. I felt like I wasn't growing, and I did not want to talk to him about my issues anymore. That prompted me to get a new sponsor.

My new sponsor is completely different and his "suggestions" are more direct. But he stays focused on recovery, and working the steps with him (starting from step 1 again), I have really felt further growth, which I really needed.

Both guys are great and really active in their recovery, but I have personality conflicts with both of them. I accept these as part of my personal growth. I need to put principles before personalities, but I also need to be honest with my own feelings and spiritual fitness, and continue to seek that growth in this program.

If you feel like you can't share openly with your sponsor, you might want to take your 5th step with another trusted person, such as a clergy person or online sponsor. If you feel like you are no longer growing with your current sponsor, or no longer "want what he has", it might be time to move on. Either way, understand that dealing with people is a big part of recovery, and sometimes learning to accept personality quirks is a big part of our growth. I have found that has been true with me. Best wishes, and I hope you continue to share. Larry
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Re: Sponsor woes...

Postby Db1105 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:58 am

A good guide to sponsorship can be found in AAWS pamphlet "Questions and Answers on Sponsorship." You can read it online at:

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf
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