Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

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?

Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

Postby Jmb426 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:50 pm

A few months ago I was asked by a woman to be her sponsor. She's my first sponsee, and I was surprised she asked me because she has more sober time than me (10 yrs versus 4). That isn't necessarily an obstacle to effective sponsorship, I realize, but I think it's worth noting. I was hesitant at first to agree, not because she had more sober time than me but because to be honest I found her personality problematic. Basically I'm trying to nicely say that I just didn't really like her. But everyone has always told me that when someone asks you to be of service if you can safely do it you should say yes, so I did.

Since then it's been a learning experience for me, but I've come to be more patient with her. She's still not someone whose company I would seek out otherwise, but I know that doesn't matter.

The problem is, I have some resentments towards her that I'm having trouble letting go of. I can explain more if needed, but I don't want to trash someone I am working with. Suffice it to say I just don't like how she treats other people. This is MY problem, I realize, and not hers. The trouble is I don't know how to get past it to be an effective sponsor. I dread it when she calls, I don't look forward to our meetings, and I am glad when she has a conflict and isn't at our home group. But that's HORRIBLE of me! I'm her sponsor, after all - I know that she's a fellow traveler is sick and suffering etc but I haven't been able to get past my disdain for her.

If anyone has any experience sponsoring someone they aren't exactly fond of, I'd love to hear how you put your feelings aside to effectively be of service. My own sponsor is sympathetic to my issues and had me do a 4th step about her, and just keeps telling me to be patient and try to be understanding, which is fine advice and I'll keep working on it, but I figured it couldn't hurt to get more advice.

Thanks for your input!
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Re: Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

Postby Blue Moon » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:48 pm

Why did she ask you to be her sponsor? What do you have that she doesn't have, or that people around her with more time don't have?

Perhaps you should re-evaluate your role as a sponsor. Our task as a sponsor is to act as a guide. This means to know and understand the path we're guiding someone along. It's not our task to be accountable for someone else's behaviour, although we may be in a position to call them out on it. Particularly so if that behaviour is causing them unhappiness or other problems, and therefore their actions need to change if they're to get what they say they want.

Bottom line: if I'm guiding you somewhere and you decide to wander off in your own direction, that's fine, but just know that I'm no longer guiding you.
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Re: Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

Postby positrac » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:55 am

Honestly I think you've answered your situation with your post:
1) Serenity Pray, the message it has and or,
2) Be upfront and honest that preventing a resentment means stepping away. I will say the ^^above post ^^ and my #1 listed is God as we have come to understand puts things in our lives for growth and maybe this individual needs you more than you need her. In saying this you may have what she wanted and just can't seem to find. I figured you'd rather hear that you should boot her and makes sense and yet you need a challenge that toughens you for the future and you just don't know that yet and when that day comes you'll be like: I could of had a V-8! Seriously something is in play here I believe and patience might be the under lying thing and again it is growth.

Don't feel terrible, feel empowered and find out what you can do to get progress going.

be well
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Re: Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

Postby Brock » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:25 am

Welcome to e-AA Jmb. When it comes to matters like this I tend to go off on one of my soap box rants. I nearly did yesterday when I first saw your post, but instead waited to let others answer, in case I put you off completely.

I believe that going back a bit, say into the seventies, AA took the position that sponsorship was only for the newcomer, they printed this under sponsorship in their book “Living Sober.”
And the best sponsors are really delighted when the newcomer is able to step out past the stage of being sponsored. Not that we ever have to go it altogether alone. But the time does come when even a young bird must use its own wings and start its own family. Happy flying!

As time passed, more members seemed to maintain a sponsor even after recovery, (after the steps were done). Based on the very unscientific method, of gauging responses when we discuss sponsorship here, it appears this is far more common in ladies than in men. Most responses from men indicate that they maintain 'friendship' with their sponsor, and may ask them or any other member, a question regarding sobriety from time to time, but certainly not the sort of thing you are speaking about, phone calls and so forth. The more modern AA pamphlet explaining sponsorship, starts by saying - “What is sponsorship?” and answers like this -
Essentially, the process of sponsorship is this: An alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A.

When we first begin to attend A.A. meetings, we may feel confused and sick and apprehensive. Although people at meetings respond to our questions willingly, that alone isn’t enough. Many other questions occur to us between meetings; we find that we need constant, close support as we begin learning how to “live sober.” So we select an A.A. member with whom we can feel comfortable, someone with whom we can talk freely and confidentially, and we ask that person to be our sponsor.

In this leaflet the word “newcomer” is used more times than I wish to count, but the folks who write this literature are notorious for sitting on the fence, not taking a firm stand on any matter, and noticing the trend of sponsorship in later sobriety write this -
Even if we have many dry years behind us, we can often benefit by asking an A.A. friend to be our sponsor. We may have been feeling discontentment or real emotional pain because we forgot that the A.A. program offers a whole new way of life, not just freedom from alcohol. With a sponsor’s help, we can use the program to the full, change our attitudes and, in the process, come to enjoy our sobriety.

To me that says, that maybe a person has forgotten, or never grasped, the basic principles. It does not say we must try to convert some dry drunk, who acts in ways we dislike, whose calls we dread, the words in the big book “we are not saints” come to mind.

The pamphlet goes on to list 20 things that a sponsor might do, every one of them related to AA steps, or just common sense like not imposing personal views. To me the problem comes in with this single item among the 20 - “Is available to the newcomer when the latter has special problems,” and even here they say “newcomer.” But somehow in today's AA, some members feel it is appropriate, even after years of sobriety, to have a sponsor, to call every time a 'life' problem comes up, a shoulder to cry on. Nowhere in AA literature is this suggested or endorsed, and in places it is stated quite clearly, that we should stand on our own feet, in time of trouble we look inward as directed in steps 10 & 11, sort of 'the throne before the phone.'

I understand and respect what others have said, particularly regarding growth experiences. But in my opinion, we have very many growth experiences, without having to shoulder the burden of someone we don't like, who has been in the program ten years, and should instead be helping newcomers. We grow with having patience and understanding for the bad driver and impolite sales clerk, life these days is constant opportunities to practice the principles of AA and grow with them.

In my opinion this lady can do more harm than good to your own sobriety, and I would politely tell her you are unable to continue, we are not here to be martyrs and suffer helping others, enjoy your own contentment is the message, best of luck in doing so.
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Re: Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

Postby Patsy© » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:21 pm

I understand and respect what others have said, particularly regarding growth experiences. But in my opinion, we have very many growth experiences, without having to shoulder the burden of someone we don't like, who has been in the program ten years, and should instead be helping newcomers. We grow with having patience and understanding for the bad driver and impolite sales clerk, life these days is constant opportunities to practice the principles of AA and grow with them.

In my opinion this lady can do more harm than good to your own sobriety, and I would politely tell her you are unable to continue, we are not here to be martyrs and suffer helping others, enjoy your own contentment is the message, best of luck in doing so



I agree completely with the above, nice share Brock! :)
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Re: Help! I don't like my sponsee & I feel terrible about it

Postby Cristy99 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:46 pm

Brock posted from "Living Sober":

But the time does come when even a young bird must use its own wings and start its own family. Happy flying!


I hear over and over at speaker meetings, "I found a sponsor who has a sponsor who has a sponsor..." It has always kind of puzzled me, but I have not researched because I have had much bigger fish to fry in my short sobriety. I just accepted it and assumed this was how it is done. Hmmmmm. Interesting.

Brock's post makes very good sense to me. This 10 year sober woman sounds like she has some symptoms of a dry drunk judging from the post. Maybe she realizes she has not done a thorough job working the steps and wants to start over? What if that's the case? should she find a sponsor to walk her through again???

I think our main job is to help newcomers work the steps. They are the life-blood. If we keep sponsees for the rest of their life it seems like we will only be able to help very few people in the long run. :roll:

One more thing.....we are all different. We can't possibly "like" everyone, and I don't feel like we are obligated to force ourselves to like someone. That's different from being respectful and having love and tolerance...in my opinion. If I just don't like someone, I am not going to do my best as her sponsor, no matter how hard I try. That's just me.......not saying others are wrong, we just have different opinions.

Thanks!!
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