Sponsorship query.

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?
Mike O
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Sponsorship query.

Post by Mike O »

I have never had a "sponsor" as such. I worked through the steps initially on my own using the directions in the book. I had a friend, a member here, who helped me and continues to help me with 4 and 5, for which I am always grateful. So, I'm not terribly familiar with the whole sponsorship thing.

I hear about sponsors giving homework. I hear about sponsors holding folk at a step, because they don't feel they are ready to move on, sometimes for months at a time. I hear about sponsors making sponsees return to a step and start from that point again, if they feel it necessary, even if they don't drink. Unfortunately, I very often hear of people drinking again during the sometimes long months taken to move through the steps.

My question is when did this all start? How did the programme become that? I do not want an argument - far from it. I simply have a huge disconnect, or a gap in my knowledge, which is getting bigger, in my mind between what the programme is in the book and what some (more and more, it seems) sponsors are doing. If I can close this gap, I feel it may help me as I try to help others.

:D

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Jojo2
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Jojo2 »

No definitive answers or arguments, just observations really..
Different sponsors have different approaches to how they offer guidance. Some newcomers want to work with sponsors who tell them exactly what to do and when, while others need a gentler, more flexible approach.
The sponsor you choose should be someone you can relate to and that you feel you can trust.

Personally, I have never felt the need to be joined at the hip to anyone on a daily basis, yet I know people who are never seen at a meeting without their sponsor. Indeed, I know people who can barely utter a sentence without reference to 'my sponsor' or the need to consult 'my sponsor' before making a decision.
Some appear to need an entourage ~ with sponsor and all involved forming separate cliques... much that I have seen strikes me as decidedly unhealthy. Sadly, the 'clinginess' and desperate need for a 'friend' seems to me to be sometimes encouraged and exploited.

For me, a sponsor is simply a guide to working the Steps~ not an 'expert', just someone like me with more experience of the Steps.

It is not uncommon, however, to refer to the previous Step in any sequential progress, particularly if it is felt that something missed is acting as a stumbling block and impeding further progress.

Similarly, with time being of the essence for so many of us, it is not too outlandish to expect some preparation in readiness for meetings with sponsor weekly or even longer in some cases depending on circumstances.


I ensure that all are conversant with the GSO pamphlet.

An excellent introduction on sponsorship, permanent or temporary, with questions and answers, is this pamphlet
from GSO :

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


What can you expect from your sponsor?

A sponsor can be thought of as part of your support system, but shouldn’t be your only source of support.
Most sponsors offer several types of help including:
Willingness to listen
Introduction to others in recovery
Introduction to the 12 steps and assistance in understanding them
Introduction to recovery literature
Pointing out things that may trigger a relapse

What sponsors are not:
Some people think they can’t function without the sponsor’s constant advice or presence.
A sponsor is not a parent. 
Your sponsor may not always be there when you call. They have a life too.
A sponsor is not a higher power.
Sponsors are human and don’t have all the answers.
A sponsor is not a spouse. You have not entered into a binding legal agreement. If things are not working out, it’s OK to change sponsors.
A sponsor is not perfect. Sponsors can and do make mistakes. They may give you the wrong advice, and they may be unavailable to you at times.
Because sponsors likely won’t be able to be there for you all the time, it’s important to join a group and look for answers in recovery literature.
A sponsor is simply a trusted AA friend who is a few steps ahead of you on the recovery journey.
The sponsor will make suggestions.
We have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

DaveP1951
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by DaveP1951 »

Allow me to add one statement to jojo2's post above. That statement is this. " Very, very, well put."
Last edited by DaveP1951 on Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

tomsteve
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by tomsteve »

Mike O wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:21 am


My question is when did this all start? How did the programme become that?
:D
thats a very good question. when i came into AA 15 years ago i heard it happening. i heard many people say they stopped at step____ then got drunk. i heard some chronic relapsers say their sponsor wouldnt let them go past step ___until____________. i have even heard sponsors saying they wouldnt let their sponsees go past step___ because of_________.
imo, there are sponsors that go beyond guiding and try to control.

D'oh
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by D'oh »

My question is when did this all start? How did the programme become that? I do not want an argument - far from it. I simply have a huge disconnect, or a gap in my knowledge, which is getting bigger, in my mind between what the programme is in the book and what some (more and more, it seems) sponsors are doing. If I can close this gap, I feel it may help me as I try to help others.
I think of a Sponsor as Jumper Cables. Maybe a Step Ladder. Just someone to show the way, listen when I complicate things, get me back to the Beam. If that means going over a Step I believed I have already completed, well that's probably what I need.

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PaigeB
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by PaigeB »

Mike O wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:21 am
I hear about sponsors giving homework. I hear about sponsors holding folk at a step, because they don't feel they are ready to move on, sometimes for months at a time. I hear about sponsors making sponsees return to a step and start from that point again, if they feel it necessary, even if they don't drink. Unfortunately, I very often hear of people drinking again during the sometimes long months taken to move through the steps.

My question is when did this all start?
:D
We tend to sponsor the way we were sponsored, but each individual learns things at different times in different ways. Inevitably, I was sponsored and though I use A LOT of how I went through the book from my sponsor, I cannot help but have my personal experience to share which is different from hers. The Homework... like what we call the "Bedevilments exercise" is the same, but my experience I pass on is different. When the BB says to write something, we write, but the bedevilments exercise is not required in the BB so my "sponsorship line" mostly does it - and some down the line might skip it if they found it to be of no help to them or if they decide since it is not requested to be written out they might just talk about it rather than write it out.

Personally I WANTED the homework. This is an ACTION program and I can't always call someone to chat it out. I think it is good that I learn to work through things different ways - broadens the experience with different tools.

I have not heard of people "getting held back". I have been referred (suggested) back to Steps 1 - 9 on focused issues that ailed me - I mean I AM powerless & trying to manage if I am feeling ailed... But we don't go back and re-read if we didn't slip. I don't think I would be forced to do it or get fired or anything. Mostly I hear - "You might want to look at the bedevilments" or "you might want to write some inventory" or 'that person needs to be on your 8 & 9th Step work". Directions. Suggestions. Experience, strength and hope. I have found that sponsorship has been priceless in my road of recovery.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Spirit Flower
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Spirit Flower »

To work the steps, my first sponsor gave me "homework." Like, "read this and write this for two weeks," and then we moved on to the next step. Made sense to me.
...a score card reading zero...

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Brock
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Brock »

Like the original poster Mike O I too never had a sponsor, seen here and heard in meetings all the little sayings like being a ship without a rudder etc, a lady shouted in a meeting that since I didn’t have one I shouldn’t be allowed to speak, someone else suggested that I wasn’t a ‘real’ alcoholic, since a real one can’t do the program without one. But I have also seen here some horror stories about so called sponsors, like anything in life there is good and bad, and I would much rather go it alone than have a bad sponsor.

A bad sponsors favorite sayings are things like, ‘this is the way my sponsor showed me, so I will do the same with you, worked for me so will work for you.’ No thought given to the fact that the sponsee may be different than they were coming in, while they may have been OK being held back on a certain step; my favorite is someone asking here if it’s OK for her to take a year on step four, as her sponsor suggests she should. And I will bet a million that sponsor came from some so called ‘sponsorship line,’ a line of wine sippers who haven’t a clue about what the alcoholic the book describes needs.

Our literature goes to lengths to warn about the pitfalls of over dependence on people, yet some folks still believe even after years of ‘recovery’ that AA is a support group, I bet another million those same folks need sponsors and sponsees as part of their own emotional support circle. If you have done the steps and still depend on people for all the answers and support, and need others also asking you for answers and support, I humbly suggest you have missed the message in step eleven. If on the other hand you help and care for others, whether someone in AA or on the street, without any thought whatever of a possible reward now or in the hereafter, Bill and Bob are waiting to shake your hand.

Sorry about the soapbox type rant, if you have a sponsor who is not over controlling or dropping their own troubles on you, but rather taking you through the steps as suggested in the book, good for you, you have a good one, and having a good sponsor beats going it alone anyday.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Jojo2
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Jojo2 »

Having a good sponsor beats going it alone anyday.

Absolutely.

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Spirit Flower
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Spirit Flower »

this is the way my sponsor showed me, so I will do the same with you, worked for me so will work for you
This is exactly why I don't sponsor anyone. I can only tell you how I did it and you should go find someone else to be your sponsor if you don't want to do what I did. Most people don't want to do what I did, and I have little patience with them. After a few tries, I quit sponsoring anyone.
...a score card reading zero...

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Brock
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Brock »

 
I can only tell you how I did it and you should go find someone else to be your sponsor if you don't want to do what I did.
I don’t think I really said you shouldn’t do that, especially since you said earlier that your sponsor went through a step each two weeks, doing it that way a sponsee would have completed #4 after eight weeks, which is fine. If they are to lazy to do it the way you had, I agree they should find someone else with an easier softer way, which as we know doesn’t usually work too well. The example I gave is of someone taking long on a step, assuming that because they could take a long time on the steps then anyone they sponsored also could, I wrote -
No thought given to the fact that the sponsee may be different than they were coming in, while they may have been OK being held back on a certain step; my favorite is someone asking here if it’s OK for her to take a year on step four, as her sponsor suggests she should. 
I don’t sponsor anyone either.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

Mike O
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Mike O »

Thanks folks, for your responses.
I guess there’s no “one way” to do the steps. It just frustrates me to hear of so many people taking so long to do the steps and consequently going back out. I often read stories such as “ I drank again. I had four years, I had gotten as far as Step 5”, etc. My question remains, how did this happen? Do we (A.A.) need to take ownership of this at some point?
Like Brock and Spirit, I don’t sponsor. Hopefully, I serve in other ways.

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PaigeB
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by PaigeB »

I am very open in sponsorship. I never insist that a person "do it my way or the highway". In fact, quite the opposite. If a sponsee says, "I'd rather just write it in my book and tell someone later". I tell them that my secrets kept me sick and that even though I told my sponsor, they could tell anyone... maybe a priest or a doctor who is bound by ethics to keep the secret. I hope they keep me updated on their spiritual help so that I can be effective, but I am just a Channel (like the 11 Step, Prayer of St. Francis).

I don't know much. I share my ES&H and let the results be up to their HP. That's how my sponsor helps me too.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Spirit Flower
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Spirit Flower »

I often read stories such as “ I drank again. I had four years, I had gotten as far as Step 5”,
This situation is usually not the sponsor but a sponsee who doesn't want to do that step. Some sponsors don't push people.
...a score card reading zero...

Mike O
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Re: Sponsorship query.

Post by Mike O »

Spirit Flower wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:21 pm
I often read stories such as “ I drank again. I had four years, I had gotten as far as Step 5”,
This situation is usually not the sponsor but a sponsee who doesn't want to do that step. Some sponsors don't push people.
Good point, and I'm sure that's often the case.
However, my experience is also with many whose sponsor retarded their progression, when they themselves wanted to move ahead.

I suppose we all use our own experience. I used the book, literally. I did nothing more or less than was asked in the book and this didn't include sponsors or homework or anything like that. Perhaps this is why I'm having difficulty understanding it.
:)

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