Was my sponsor unreasonable?

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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Guy McGarnicle
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Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by Guy McGarnicle » Sat May 11, 2019 9:50 pm

I am a performer and can act like a wild man on stage in front of thousands of people, but when it comes to the rooms, I completely bottle up. I have always had extreme social anxiety. After getting out of rehab almost 5 years ago, I did 90 meetings in 90 days and then drifted from the program after about a year. I felt too self-conscious, like an idiot whenever I shared, like I was pressured to repeat cliches, and I always felt like an outsider, sticking with one AA friend to shield me from people. I stopped going about two years ago, and I still haven't drank.

I have recently come back into the fellowship because of a situation in which I felt my higher power led me back. I got a new sponsor who seemed like someone who would be a great fit. His stipulations were that I do a new 90 in 90, get 3 service positions, call 3 people in recovery every day, and call him every morning at a set time to tell him a) what meeting I was attending that day; and b) the three people I intended to call.

All this seemed fine (in fact I liked the structure b/c otherwise I'd just bail) EXCEPT the prospect of calling 3 people per day seemed downright onerous. I asked if I could start with 1 person per day and work my way up, but my sponsor said No. However, he said I could start by calling people I already know. The thing is, I am a loner, and don't hang out with many people. My social anxiety is a major character defect. But I decided my higher power would guide me through it. For two weeks, I juggled my sober contacts, putting in three calls per day hoping for voicemails, and even called some strangers I had just met in the program ... it was nerve-racking but in a way fulfilling. I rekindled a few friendships including my first sponsor, and felt pretty good about myself. Then after two weeks, I simply ran out of people to call. I felt ridiculous calling the same people, and when my sponsor encouraged me to just get #'s at meetings (as if that is easy), I felt like I was just cruising AA meetings for phone numbers. I started losing sleep, thinking about who I would tell my sponsor I was going to call. I didn't want to lie to him and start making up names of people I planned to call, so I simply asked my sponsor if he would please give me some time to work my way up to 3 calls per day. I told him I'm losing sleep over it and it's occupying way too much headspace. I have massive social phobias and feel weird placing these calls. Instead of making an accommodation for me, he said I could call two of the same people every day, but one person per day had to be someone I had never called before ... an even greater onus. That night I slept 2 hours. I called him the next day and told him I'm sorry, I can't call one person per day I don't know. That does not come naturally to me. How am I supposed to call people like this if I've only done two weeks of my 90 in 90? How am I supposed to do this if we haven't even worked a step wherein I could address my character defects? He wouldn't even let me just tell him later in the day retroactively who I had called, though he said he'd be "flexible" and let me call the same three people every day. I was basically right back where I started, and then I went into "dig in" mode and insisted the call quota be eliminated altogether. Of course, he said No. So I respectfully withdrew from the sponsorship.

We parted on good terms, but I still feel wrecked inside over this. Any thoughts?

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avaneesh912
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by avaneesh912 » Sun May 12, 2019 5:25 am

I see no talk of steps. Will find a sponsor for who will help work the 12 steps so you will experience th power the book talks about. If you can’t find one. Submit a request at e-aa.org and ask the assigned to walk you through the steps.
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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Brock
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by Brock » Sun May 12, 2019 6:52 am

Welcome here and thanks for your question.

This forum gets a fair amount of sponsor questions like these, probably because we can’t usually ask these things in meetings, other members would be reluctant to say what the sponsor was asking you to do was wrong, because they probably know who he is, or possibly just believe sponsors can’t criticize each other. Surprisingly, I find members here also reluctant to speak out much on these things, but I do, and might sometimes sound like being anti sponsor, but I am only anti ridiculous instructions, which have no basis in written AA.

We have had some whoppers, like sponsor makes sponsee drop and do 20 push ups in front of everyone else because of something sponsor feels he did wrong, another fellow had to sweep the car park at the meeting place every night, something about a lesson in humility, even though the car park was not the responsibility of the meeting. I saw a lady cry at a meeting last week over this 90 in 90 business, the only meeting on Wednesday is in a rough part of town, and she has been hit on by ‘undesirables,’ and is generally petrified about going, but the sponsor says she must. If for no better reason, we should get to know the literature of AA well, so we can ask our sponsor ‘where does it say that.’ I am afraid the answer may be along the lines that it may not say it, but ‘that’s the way my sponsor showed me,’ or the dreaded, ‘it worked for me, it can work for you,’ the old one size fits all approach.

We had a thread here - http://www.e-aa.org/forum/viewtopic.php ... rt#p162468 the person is scared of speaking, sponsor says something like no you must speak and sit up front to boot. We can read there that the person is an introvert, and this is not a character defect like the sponsor thinks it is. And I wonder if your own sponsor thinks he can force you out of this perceived ‘character defect,’ with this ridiculous idea of calling people when it goes against everything you, (and probably many others), feel is necessary, and dread to the point of losing sleep over, and also having three service positions, when one is just fine.

These words in your post jumped out when I read - “I felt my higher power led me back,” that’s great stuff. In my opinion the whole program revolves around ‘listening out’ for guidance such as this, improving out spiritual experience to ensure such guidance, by reading books or using you tube to listen to spiritual teachers who appeal to us, not what X Y or Z says we should listen to or do. I hope you soon get over feeling badly about quitting the sponsor, he left you no choice. We follow a big book and program, which goes out of it’s way to explain that the written words are suggestions, the founders and writers of the program felt suggestions were the most effective way, but we unfortunately have certain ‘sponsors’ who feel they know better, and come up with ridiculous unbending instructions instead of suggestions.

I have rambled on a bit long and reverted to my somewhat ‘soapbox’ style of speaking, but this is a subject close to my heart.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

Guy McGarnicle
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by Guy McGarnicle » Sun May 12, 2019 10:05 am

Thanks Brock! I appreciate your input and I read the thread on whether introversion is a character defect ... helpful stuff. Yeah, I am definitely not alone and some of those examples you gave seem ridiculous if not downright cruel and unfair.

You nailed it ... my (ex)-sponsor says "this is the way I was sponsored so it's the only way I can sponsor." Which is bull. I went to hear him speak the day after we parted ways, if for no other reason than to stay on good terms. During his qualification, I learned that he got his current sponsor -- who put the "3 call per day" rule on him -- after he had been attending meetings for several years w/ other sponsors. ie, He had already built up a sober network so calling people would be easy. I wanted to ask him about that after the meeting, but he was hitting on some chick visiting from Canada, so I just said I'd call him and left.

Another one of his sponsor's sponsees then called me yesterday and started screeching at me about how silly I'm being for not wanting to make calls, how he "doesn't understand" why it is difficult, how I "shouldn't be telling my sponsor how to sponsor me." He was being demeaning and insulting, so I simply hung up on him.

Thanks again for your input.

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PaigeB
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by PaigeB » Sun May 12, 2019 10:57 am

the prospect of calling 3 people
I have heard of this but since I had no problems with chatting (no one can shut me up) I was not requested to do this. My 1st contact with AA was by calling the Hotline!!! So my new action was to do random acts of kindness and TELL no one that I did them! It worked for me and I loved it. But I often get calls from gals who are doing their homework of "calling others everyday or every week". It helps me ALOT but it helps you make contacts and when times are rough, the phone won't weigh as much. You will know who answers their phone at noon and who won't answer until after 5 and also people like me who stay up late... same as knowing what meetings are around by going to 90 in 90.

I would think talking on the phone would be easier than 90 in 90, but then I am a chatterbox! I did 90 meetings and it was a real blessing when I had a total mental blow out and when things calmed down, I looked at the clock and my brain said, "You still have time to get to the Nooners meeting at the Gratitude Club." I think it saved my life.

I hope that helps. You are not alone! Call someone today!
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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Spirit Flower
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by Spirit Flower » Sun May 12, 2019 5:33 pm

Your sponsor sounds a bit controlling IMO.

However, my first sponsor did pressure me into calling at least one person and becoming friends. The point was to get a friend, of which I didn't have any. Just random calling would be annoying. And anyway, many people don't like talking on the phone anymore.
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innermost
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by innermost » Sun May 19, 2019 2:40 pm

Hey Guy Mcgarnicle.

Get an Alcoholics Anonymous Book (Big Book)

Read working with others and then you will have somewhat of an idea what the program says about working with others.

Then read the rest of the first 164 pages. Which is the program. Then you can have an understanding if someone is speaking from inside the program or outside the program.

Of course you can read doctors opinion first.

Also this is a suggestive program so I am only giving you a suggestion.
The first 164 pg. is the program!

Billcanojr
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by Billcanojr » Sun May 26, 2019 8:13 am

YES ! For your information look at the back of the Big Book there you will find all the literature that is AA Conference approved . In the Pamphlet thats put out theres one that is named " Question and Answers of AA Sponsorship . Study it and go by what it says . Your so called Sponsor is trying to make you Co-dependent on him and thst is bad !

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Jojo2
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by Jojo2 » Sun May 26, 2019 11:54 pm

I recommend the GSO pamphlet on Sponsorship. This is also available to read online.

Here is the link for the pdf version >

Questions and Answers on Sponsorship:
http://aa.org/pdf/products/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf

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PaigeB
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Re: Was my sponsor unreasonable?

Post by PaigeB » Mon May 27, 2019 11:39 am

...the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours.
Read the Big Book There Is A Solution, p.18 & 19. It tells you what to look for in a sponsor.
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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