Help with sponsee?

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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Help with sponsee?

Post by Ken_the_Geordie »

I've been sponsoring someone for the past four months who refuses to do his Step 4! He's a few years older than I, which isn't a problem and he's also had some mental health problems which landed him into a few short stays at a mental health hospital, and he's now been sober for four months. He goes to a lot of meetings, at least once a day, and his meetings range from middle of the road fellowship type, to strong BB meetings, yet the guy at first told me he didn't feel ready to do his Step 4 and now he tells me straight that he doesn't want to do it.

On the one hand it worries me since I don't believe I could've stayed sober without jumping feet first into the programme, but on the other he seems to be doing fine. I have even suggested that he does his Step 4 and then does his Step 5 with the guy who I did my Step 5 with (a wise 'Gandalf like' AAer with 38 years sobriety), just in case it was because he felt awkward doing it with me; but he won't budge.

I could, I suppose, cut him loose (I have heard other sponsors refusing to sponsor when a sponsee won't follow their 'suggestions'); but that's not me. I'm not the sort of person to say, "Do this, otherwise I'll retract my friendship". I suspect if I did stop sponsoring him, he'd be okay with that and just keep going to meetings. And if I'm to be honest, I guess my ego is slightly hurt because I can't find the 'words' to encourage him to do what I honestly think is in his best interests.

So has anyone any experience to share?
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: Help with sponsee?

Post by Karl R »

Wow Ken,

What a topic. Something I've thought about. I started writing my 4th pretty quickly in the program. Aside from a couple weeks which I spent generating willingness in the middle of the thing I wrote right through. But that was my experience. Through careful reading of the pages in the BB right up through page 63 I had done what it says to do on page 60
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.
Because of the experience I listened to I took for a fact the statement on the bottom of page 63-64 to be true. I had ample demonstration of people around me in meetings who were dry but not sober. People who had done a little stepwork but had never gotten through the steps.
Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning,
which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.
And so I plunged on. I wanted the return to sanity which I had experienced to that time to be permanant. Again---that was my experience.

Which leads us to the question of why we have sponsees who stall at various places in the steps. Specifically to your point-the fourth step. I have a theory and it's only a theory based on personal observation. They haven't hurt enough. They haven't truly become convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. They may say that they fear the 4th step(fear is self willed based....). They may have a remarkably improved life just as the product of abstinence and attendance at a bunch of meetings.(Life based on self-will rather then surrender to a higher power). They think they can do it themselves. (self will).
They may feel that their stock in trade(inventory) is quite all right thank you.....(self will). You may get the picture by now. :D

If they are hard drinkers rather then alcoholics. If they still have the power of choice over drink......they may be able to stay sober indefinitely with attendance at a bunch of meetings and staying close to the wagon. If however they are alcoholics like us Ken then at some point the mental obsession to drink will catch up with them because they haven't evaluated and gotten rid of the stock in trade which rests at the core of why they will drink again.

I run into this a lot. Sponsees who stall at this point. Sure-they keep coming to me with their stock in trade-their inventory. I keep reminding them to set it down on paper. I keep giving them the directions over and over. They go away unsatisfied with my answer. The cycle continues until they do a step four, they disappear, they find a sponsor who will take their inventory for them, or they get angry with me for sounding like a broken record, or they get drunk and hurt some more. I've come to the conclusion that having presented the facts to them concerning step 4 that the big book and the 12 and 12 has to offer and having presented my own ES and H to them regarding the miracle that the 4th step is....their is nothing I can do or say to convince them to continue with inventory. I merely continue to make myself available with the directions if they wish to "be convinced" and make a decision.

The very cool thing is when someone does do a 4th step. It's like watching a flower unfold or a light bulb go on in their life. That's the miracle I watch for because it affirms that a HP exists in this universe. So....I keep taking people through the book. Some make a decision. Some become convinced. So pray for the man who is still sick and keep planting seeds Ken.

great topic Ken.


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Karl R
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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by Karl R »

Just read today's daily reflecion. Part of your answer may be there.


Rescued by Surrendering

Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic
egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent
on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity.... Inwardly the alcoholic
brooks no control from man or God. He, the alcoholic, is and must be
the master of his destiny. He will fight to the end to preserve that
A.A. COMES OF AGE, p.311

The great mystery is: "Why do some of us die alcoholic deaths,
fighting to preserve the 'independence' of our ego, while others seem
to sober up effortlessly in A.A.?" Help from a Higher Power, the gift of
sobriety, came to me when an otherwise unexplained desire to stop
drinking coincided with my willingness to accept the suggestions of
the men and women of A.A. I had to surrender, for only by reaching
out to God and my fellows could I be rescued.

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Blue Moon
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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by Blue Moon »

Ken_the_Geordie wrote:So has anyone any experience to share?
If he hasn't started Step 4, he hasn't taken Step 3, therefore he is still at Step 1.

You can remain on friendly terms with him. But unless he wants what you have and is willing to go to any lengths to get it, he won't pick up that pen.

The book suggests it is a waste of time to keep chasing a man who can't or won't work with you. So stay friendly, but see if you can move on to someone who wants your help, rather than stay frustrated with someone who doesn't.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by ann2 »

Hi Ken! I used the nagging approach -- that's what others did for me. They constantly reminded me that the answer to my problems was to be found in a simple exercise. Sometimes they told me they wouldn't listen to me until I'd taken step 4.

I wanted to keep whining so this was good motivation.

I nagged my sponsee who had many good reasons for not continuing. I just kept bringing it up with her. With many ladies, that meant they went elsewhere. With her, she finally took up pen and paper, as we say . . . and yes, the miracle was amazing. Now she is sponsoring others and being just as determined about the need for this step.

Maybe you'll be the only one he hears from who continues to advocate taking this step. There's no reason to stop doing it, whether you are his sponsor or not. Your experience, strength and hope lies in the meaningfulness of this action. Don't hide your light under a bushel -- and don't pat his hand and say it will be alright without this step, as he wants you to do.

I agree with Karl about the reason for avoiding the step, based on my own history. I just couldn't accept that my self-will wasn't enough. Until push came to shove and thank God I was in a place where people were more than happy to bludgeon me with their opinion.

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

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Dean C
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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by Dean C »

Ken_the_Geordie wrote:I guess my ego is slightly hurt because I can't find the 'words' to encourage him to do what I honestly think is in his best interests.
Sounds as if you already have found the words, and let him know. Just my opinion and experience, but these sponsoring opportunities are as much about our own growth as the other person's. See Dr. Bob's words (pp. 180-181, Alcoholics Anonymous):

"I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:

"1. Sense of duty.

"2. It is a pleasure.

"3. Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.

"4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip."
"Whatever can be said can be said clearly."
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by Steven F »

Ken, I can't really make up from your question if you have asked him *why* he doesn't want to do a fourth step. Any ideas?

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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by wwc920 »

I try not to forget the 5 C's of being a sponsor...........

also this was posted above here. by steve f

4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip."

Honestly, do people actually believe there is such thing as a slip, if i drink again the premeditated thought of drinking happened way before a so called slip.
Put God first in all of our affairs, day after day.....and keep making progress on and on.

Trust in God and Clean house...................

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Re: Help with sponsee?

Post by tasman »

Hi Wwc920!
I'm Kerie, good to meet ya :D
What are the 5 C's of being a sponsor?

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