Do you really need a sponsor?

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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Ken_the_Geordie
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Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Ken_the_Geordie »

Well, my sponsor with 28 years of sobriety has left my homegroup because we forgot his 28th birthday; I was only made aware of this by a mutual friend. I've spoken to my sponsor about it - atempting to make amends - and he admits that us forgetting his birthday has something to do with it, but says there's no resentment against any individuals or the group and its just he wants to change homegroups. That's fair enough; he's also undergoing some changes in his life such as nearing retirement and he's just moved house; so maybe that plays a part too.

Anyway, I've tried to speak to him twice thus far, once just for a chat and another to invite him to our homegroup's Christmas meal, but he never replied to either (I left messages with his wife), so I think he's cut me loose as his sponsee too. On the one hand I'd like to discuss it with him, but on the other I don't want to for fear of making him feel uncomfortable; maybe there's an element of not wanting myself to feel uncomfortable either.

Now I have a good circle of AA friends I can call upon for advice; which I do usually when I'm at a difficult place when working with others. I chair one meeting, make coffee at another, I sponsor a guy, and I'm always receptive to advice or suggestions which I think are good ones, and I feel secure - daily repreive withstanding - of my sobriety.

So do I really need a sponsor? There is a guy I'd like to ask to be my sponsor, I did my Step 5 with him (my sponsor was on holiday for three weeks when I wanted to do it) but he already sponsors a lot of guys, but even when I have a sponsor - to be honest - I didn't really call on them for any help. I'm not saying I'm self sufficient, better than others in anyway; I do phone AA friends and ask advice about AA stuff; but I really don't feel to need to have a sponsor. Is this wrong?

I'm a little bit hesitant about pushing the submit button, since if someone asked me if they should have a sponsor, to stay on the right side of safe I would probably advise them to get one; and I'd not like to put a bad idea into someone's head that they don't need a sponsor when possibly its the best thing for that particular individual, but I'd like to hear your views.

Regards,

Ken
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

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mebill
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by mebill »

Hey Ken,

Good to read your post this morning. Hope you had a good Christmas Day.

I'm sure each one of us is different in how we perceive sponsorship. My first try at AA, I chose the person with the most sobriety in our meeting (which is pretty large as meetings go). I called him a whopping 2 times in one year. I did not even call him when I was planning to go back out and start drinking and drugging again. I guess my point is, having a sponsor and knowing the fundamentals of sponsorship can be totally different things. This go round, I chose someone that I can really open up to and I speak with him about every other day. He's a huge help to me, and really compliments everything else that I've tried to absorb in the AA program. To me, it is just another piece of the puzzle. If I were missing that piece, the puzzle would not be able to become complete. There would be a lot more trial and error. Who knows where the missing part would fit in? It could be the key to the whole puzzle. I may never assemble the entire puzzle, but I sure need all the pieces!

Like I said, everyone is different, that's just my ESH. My answer to your question is that "I" am glad to have a sponsor.

Bill
Last edited by mebill on Sat Dec 26, 2009 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Karl R
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Karl R »

I. Like a good parent, a wise sponsor can let the newcomer alone when
necessary; can let the newcomer make his or her own mistakes, can see the
newcomer rejecting advice and still not get angry or feel spurned. A sharp sponsor
tries hard to keep vanity and hurt feelings out of the way in sponsorship.
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!
from chapter 11 of Living Sober
Very good topic Ken. One that I've pondered over.

A warning to all who read what I am about to share...I write here, not as a member of AA or as a mod in this forum nor as a trusted servant of this group; I merely share my personal experience.

The pamphlet "Questions and Answers on Sponsorship" has a lot of great information on sponsorship. Chapter 11 of living sober also has some great information. They point out the value to a newcomer-or someone coming back to the AA program of having a sponsor to share experience with them. There is no question that sponsorship is of extreme value to the newcomer or those coming back to the AA program. The question you ask is a different question ken.

Now to the personal experience. I have a distant sponsor on the other side of the country from me. I will be ever grateful for this gentleman sharing his personal experience regarding the steps to recovery which the Big Book offers. His experience was and will remain valuable to me for the rest of my life. At a certain point he told me to fly away and carry the message. He remains available to me should I need his experience-especially in matters of carrying the message. I don't call him every day nor do I consult him on daily living. I've not needed to consult him on matters of the steps nor on day to day life problems for quite some time.

I do, however, seek and surround myself with trusted friends in the fellowship. I reference sponsorship and 12 step experiences with these people. It's not uncommon for us to learn from each other. It's not uncommon for us to discuss life experiences with each other. We have coffee together. I know that, with my permission, these gentlemen would be more then happy to point out places in my life where selfishness/self centeredness is creating issues in my sober life. I practice the "tell someone" part of step 10 with these gentlemen and they with me. We are a small community of friends. This is part of the fellowship I seek.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps I no longer need a sponsor to share their experience with me as to "how it worked" for them. Instead, I've moved on to sharing with others "how it works" for me and practicing these principles in all my affairs. The recovery program of the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous as presented in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" is a great help in all of this. I've not yet determined what a new face to face sponsor would add to the mix. Those who would be candidates for the role are already my fast friends and part of my fellowship. I see each of them at least weekly as I travel through life. I've not yet figured out what placing the title of sponsor on one or the other these few gentlemen would add to our relationship.

I would, however, love to hear other's views on the question Ken posed. Thanks for a great topic Ken. One I've considered posing myself.

In peace and harmony everyone,

Karl

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avaneesh912
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by avaneesh912 »

my sponsor with 28 years of sobriety has left my home-group because we forgot his 28th birthday
This is exactly we need a sponsor until we die. Hopefully you sponsor has a sponsor and is working his resentments with him. If he is, this will come out of his working of the 10th step.

It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Ken_the_Geordie »

avaneesh912 wrote:
my sponsor with 28 years of sobriety has left my home-group because we forgot his 28th birthday
This is exactly we need a sponsor until we die. Hopefully you sponsor has a sponsor and is working his resentments with him. If he is, this will come out of his working of the 10th step.

It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.
That's a good point, Avaneesh, but you can still have a sponsor and not do a 10th Step with him/her; in fact 9 out of 10 times, its my wife whom I discuss this sort of thing with.

So I think Step 10s and sponsorship can be seperate issues. I mean you can do a 10th Step with anybody whom you feel is suitable, can't you?
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

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Karl R
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Karl R »

We discuss them with someone immediately
Agreed Avanneesh. "The someone" to whom I speak about fear, resentment, dishonesty, and/or selfishness varies depending on the circumstances. For instance, my wife knows me better then anyone on the face of the earth. A thirty year relationship and marriage plus almost 18 months of my recovery have placed us in the unique position of being best friends and allies once again. When I speak to her about fear she often engages in discourse with me and points to things I would swear come straight from the Big Book although she has never looked at it or read it. Other trusted friends in and out of the fellowship serve as sounding boards for the occassional odd resentment. I ask other trusted friends in and out of the fellowship to help me think through honesty and selfishness.

I'm not sure that I see the tie in step 10 to speaking with a specific sponsor about fear, resentment, dishonesty, or selfishness. Different trusted friends in my life have different strengths and weaknesses. It speaks of telling "someone". The important elements are watching for(this takes practice), asking God at once to remove, discussing them with someone immediately(I'm not sure a specific sponsor would always be immediately available), and making ammends for harms done quickly.

Once again---a sponsor is certainly an almost essential tool for the newcomer or someone coming back to the AA program. The sharing of specific experience with the recovery program presented in the big book and the availability to the newcomer of a trusted friend in the program are almost essential. Most of us move forward to developing other trusted friends in and out of the program who aid us in sober living and the application of this design for living that we have found. Developing this network, along with dependence on a higher power frees our sponsor to spend time working with the next man who comes along and developing this fellowship we crave enriches our own sobriety.

just an humble opinion-but still remaining teachable concerning a very very good topic which has passed through my own mind.

again....thanks Ken and avaneesh.

cheers,
Karl

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ann2
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by ann2 »

I'm of the Trusted Friends preference. I've had some awesome sponsors but for me the relationship is always about growing away from the format of sponsor/sponsee. I sponsor people and through them I become humber seeing how much they teach me. I go with the Q&A on Sponsorship pamphlet where it talks about our sponsees ending up sponsoring us sometimes.

Be honest with your trusted friends. Let them call on you on stuff; let them laugh at your misery sometimes. And be as helpful to them as they are with you. I hope you get a sponsor, I've heard it can be a wonderful relationship. But for me there are so many people who have such an important place in my sobriety, I wouldn't feel comfortable setting one "above" the others with the title "sponsor." Of course, that's just right now :-)

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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avaneesh912
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by avaneesh912 »

its better to build a relationship with somebody who will look at our side in a un-biased manner. Involving family in certain circumstances may not bode well and then we start justifying and rationalizing. I know with outside person the same could happen but a person who has the knowledge of what what we are trying to do is more beneficial. But there are no rules in AA just suggestion. As long as you are honest and are able to communicate with the other person the exact nature of the wrong and the other person is able to highlight the selfishness and the self-centeredness, one is going to lead a serene life otherwise the results will be obvious. So i guess honesty attribute here.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

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Being accountable to someone is vital. Call/Label that person what you may. Don't just think it's going to be you and God and that's it. Alcohol is a subtle foe!

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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Joleen »

Hi Ken,

I'm sorry to hear about your difficult experience with your sponsor at the moment.
With regards to your question: I needed a sponsor to take me through the steps. So yes, when new to the program, I certainly did need a sponsor.
Seeing as you have already gone through the program, I guess now its's a different matter. For me, my sponsor serves as part of my conscience. She can subtly point out the difference between God's will and my ego's will when, at times, it isn't all that clear to me. In that sence she has become more like my spiritual adviser. The benefit of having one particular person to discuss these things with is that she knows me really well (I can't fool her - partly because she is in recovery herself and has had similar experiences) and I don't have to spend a lot of time explaining backgrounds and stuff.
I don't know what I would do if my sponsor were to turn her back on me - it's a good one to thingk about. Like you, I know someone I might want to ask, but she already has a lot of sponsees. Now I'm not sure if I'd hesitate to ask her for fear that she might say 'no'. My gut feeling is that it is indeed my fear of rejection that plays a role here.
I guess the important thing for me is to keep in mind why I would want her as a sponsor. Frankly it is because she has something that I want for myself. I can see and hear her Higher Power shining through her by the twinkle in her eyes and the tone of her voice. And - and this important for me - she herself still has a sponsor, even after 20+ years in the program and despite her husband being a very active AA member as well. (Come to think of it, it seems that almost all the people I see and hear in the fellowship who have something that I want for myself still have a sponsor.)
I don't know about letting a partner or close friend outside the program take on the role that my sponsor fulfills now. What if my struggles include him or her? And how would they be able to share their experience of facing life's challenges through applying the steps?
I was given a God box by my sponsor after I did my third step. She suggested that whenever I was faced with a dilemma, I write down my question on a peace of paper, put it in my God box and pray for guidance on the issue at hand. I guess that is what I would do if I were in a similar situation like the one you are in now.
Nevertheless it sounds like you have made sure you're in a safe position with a number of people you can rely on for feedback and spiritual guidance. So, if for now, there does not seem to be one particular person that could be your sponsor, I'd say have faith that God will put that person in your path if and when you need him.

All the best
Joleen

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Ken_the_Geordie »

Hey, thanks all for all your views. I guess I've always treated this forum as my sponsor; I've whined, whinged, asked and listened here; and I'm grateful to the lot of you and its been interesting reading your replies. But I've got my mobile phone beside me and I must have about 50 AA members numbers in there; there's people in there I can't remember who they are, I mean whose 'Long haired Dave'? :mrgreen: But out of that 50 I've about 3 people whom I could phone and spill my guts too if I felt the need, and one of them is a strong elderly woman who lives about 400 meters from where I live (I taxi her to two meetings a week, so we spend a lot of time together).

So, I think I'll continue to use all of you lot as my sponsor; if that's okay with you; its pretty much what I've done so far; and its working for me.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Joleen »

Allamerican wrote:Yes if you never been to A.A.
No if you are already here
Maybe if you are constitutionally incapable of being honest with yourself.
This sounds a lot like the ‘black and white’ thinking that I am all to familiar with, and why I’m glad I still have a sponsor who could subtly point out that there may be a grey area to consider.

In my belief there is a scale between being constitutionally incapable of being honest with myself and being a Saint. As long as I haven’t reached sainthood, I run the risk of confusing God’s will and my ego’s will. That’s how I sometimes need to run my thoughts and ambitions by someone else. In fact, I believe there is some AA writing on this issue where it is pointed out that even the spiritually evolved still seek second opinions.

Anyway, my experience is that the person whom I most often run things by is someone I happen to call my sponsor. She is honest with me and genuinely has the maintenance and growth of my spiritual experience as her prime objective when giving feedback. I run the risk of asking people for feedback who will most likely say what I want to hear, not what I need to hear. Sticking to the one person diminishes this risk for me.

And like Ken, I believe posting on this board also to be a great option: using group conscience as the way to let God express Himself.
(Perhaps we could introduce voting buttons..?! :D )

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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Joe H »

I have deleted a post on this thread.

I am of the opinion that a spiritual recovery does not include name calling and insults.

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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by happycamper »

Wow, what a great topic/thread !! thanks everyone for sharing, cuz I can always use good esh.

My sponsor Mary is an internet sponsor to me. We have met a few times f2f and visited each other. A very good portion of our contact is via the internet and instant messenger. I remember being about 2 yrs sober and had not seen Mary on line for several weeks or maybe we were just missing each other . When I finallly did hook up with her, I told her how much I missed her and that we had not talked in so long. Her response was , " Lori, Ive been letting go of you for quite some time now ". I was like ... WHAT ?? She knew that It was time to sorta turn me loose and we would not need each other as much as we did in the beginning of our sponsor/sponsee relationship. She explained everything to me and I understood completely. I was still a little sad, cuz it almost seemed like something was dying or something was gone that I had been accustomed to for a long time.

Mary and I still talk ,via the internet or phone , but its pretty scattered. Id have to say about every 1-3 months now. I still go to her for advice or help.
She and I developed a very personal relationship and I hope and pray it continues, even if it is on a different basis then it was when it first began. I have never had this kind/type of relationship with any other woman in my life. It is special and I am so very thankful for Her. :-)

I do hope Ken that you and your sponsor are able to come to some type of understanding as to what it is that is actually going on with each of you.

And in answer to your original question .. do I really need a sponsor ? Yes, I do. And Im going to try and call her right now .....
Faith without works is dead

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Re: Do you really need a sponsor?

Post by Allamerican »

Joleen wrote:
Allamerican wrote:Yes if you never been to A.A.
No if you are already here
Maybe if you are constitutionally incapable of being honest with yourself.
This sounds a lot like the ‘black and white’ thinking that I am all to familiar with, and why I’m glad I still have a sponsor who could subtly point out that there may be a grey area to consider.

In my belief there is a scale between being constitutionally incapable of being honest with myself and being a Saint. As long as I haven’t reached sainthood, I run the risk of confusing God’s will and my ego’s will.

And like Ken, I believe posting on this board also to be a great option: using group conscience as the way to let God express Himself.
(Perhaps we could introduce voting buttons..?! :D )
A.A. is a great place to develop "wisdom to know the difference"
Truth and Honesty are two opposites
Truth is only about the past - (tell the truth)
Honesty is about the present - (when one does not have to worry about telling the truth)
Some seek relief by running to others and telling them the truth
Some can intuitively handle situations that "use to" baffle them - In the promises in A.A.

A,B,C's of A.A. is simple and clear people are not - not anyone of us that's why we only know a little and more will be disclosed not through a sponsor but through morning meditation if we ask.
What one relies on is what one believes not what one says, a group will is also much different than a group conscience one of them does not posse fear. A.A. "BEGS US" (not suggests) to be fearless from the very START.

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