sponsor problems

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?
soberism
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sponsor problems

Post by soberism » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:48 am

Hi all.

Newbie here...

I have skirted around AA before, read the BB and yet that was a long time ago, i am back years later and have got back to AA because i wanted to quit drinking entirely and i knew AA was the way to go.

I have been using online sites, that was in a way what got my backside into going to meetings, i am only 4 weeks sober today but i have a sponsor now and i have worked step 1 with him.

The problem i have is that my sponsor has said he is "rubbish" at sponsoring (he offered though, i did not ask), he´s a really nice guy but that comment did not instill too much hope in me... his last sponsee just vanished.

The guy has over 20 years sobriety and is very dedicated to AA yet he is somewhat vague on questions regarding step work, i am hugely impatient (i feel i have done steps 1,2 and 3), i KNOW i have step one for sure and then i sort of reworked that with him, i am alcoholic and there is no doubt about that, i have accepted it unreservedly which was actually a relief... HOWEVER, my sponsor seems to have the effect on me that the steps are complicated... in MY mind they are not, we just make them that way...

I have told him i am dropping doing research on my own (online) and will work at his pace, after all, i want a sponsor and so it´s only fair on him that i give him a chance...

I asked him if Step 4 was written, i was not jumping the gun but probably gave that impression... then i felt bad and called him up to apologize because i know i am being impatient... yet i merely asked if he could give me some idea how HE was going to take me through the steps... he just seemed wishy washy... the BB states stuff is put on paper on Step 4 so why not just tell me???

He has suggested i do more meetings... i am being impatient but i am also keen to know that he is a "Step" kinda guy... he has talked about AA and how i should represent AA and so on, yet i want to get the steps down... i feel like i am being held back, or that he does not know how to proceed...

I realize the importance of getting the steps done honestly, yet i don´t want to drag this out longer than is necessary... i want to get this stuff out now... i have surrendered 100%, i have my hp (whom i ask for guidance daily) and i believe i have handed my life over to a God of MY understanding... so i have faith but not so much in my sponsor...

I have spoken with him about this and admitted i am being too pushy... what´s the big deal if i have to wait a couple of weeks to get to step 4??? Well, i just feel it has shaken me a bit... i am starting to feel like i am stalling... and i was much happier on a roll... surrendering and having faith in my hp is a great feeling... i just want to get on with the step work... i feel like i am in limbo right now... and yesterday i was feeling resentful.

I have conceded that i ought to trust in him now... but that was hard yesterday... because once i get stuck into something i usually work HARD at it... my sponsor may be great but i may have to change to someone else... i´m giving it more time but if we do not connect, then it´s not going to be easy to do the rest of the steps... he seems devoted to AA as a foundation yet i am more concerned with the PROGRAM right now... i cannot carry the message until i have the steps down.

I am not the most patient person... so i gotta just breathe and take my time but for this newbie, it has felt damaging in a way... now i am aware of the truth, i want to get onto the stuff that solves the problem...

Thanks for letting me post.

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:38 am

Hi Soberism, your post really really reminds me of me and my first sponsor.

I had to change sponsors because I was looking for some clear, firm, direction; I mean my old sponsor would be a brilliant sponsor for someone else, I'm sure; but I knew I needed a bit of leadership to guide, cajole, and prod me through the stuff I didn't really want to do, but knew I needed to do, and my old sponsor didn't seem to hot on the program; he's more of a 'get Step 1, go to meetings, and phone me' kinda guy. I needed more.

So I found a guy who has done the 12 Steps, works a daily program, and was a good example of an AAer. He's a kind and loving bloke, but there's a firm backbone in there too. He's not frightened to hold me accountable.

I can only share my experience, I can't tell you what to do, but for me, changing sponsors was one of my smarter moves. Right now, at every phonecall I make to him, he asks where I am with my amends, and I find myself making amends, or preparing to make them; just so I don't look soft when he asks me, "So, Tosh, how are your amends going?".

He gives me clear advice, works straight from the Big Book (that's the program I wanted; not someone's variation on the theme), and I like his 'leadership style'. That may not work for everyone, but it's what works for this lazy and procrastinating alcoholic.

And welcome to the forum, Soberism (I like the name :mrgreen:), I look forward to hearing how your journey to recovered alcoholic (and you will recover quickly if you keep that good attitude you've got) pans out.

Regards,

Ken

PS. If you don't already know, have a google for 'XA Speakers'; it's a top site for speaker tapes.
Last edited by Ken_the_Geordie on Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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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avaneesh912
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by avaneesh912 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:17 pm

if we are powerless over alcohol and our life is unmanageable and we need a power that would restore us to Sanity, Why would you want to wait? Like Ken suggested, look around for BB meetings where you live and visit one of those. Usually you will find a good sponsor who would walk you through the steps like the Big Book wants you to.

If you have sometime today, read the story 'He sold himself short' starting page 262. Its shows how Dr. Bob walked this guy thru one afternoon. And shows how he went on to start AA in Chicago... Of course after 9 months are so he got into some resentment and got drunk but immediately he knew where to go. If you don't find any one around your area this site offers on-line sponsors that would glad to walk you through.
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)

soberism
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by soberism » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:28 pm

Thanks for your reply Ken, really appreciate hearing from someone who has had the same.

I have a LOT of self will, although i may not portray it because i am pretty shy and i get overwhelmed easily, but as far as AA step work goes, if i was overwhelmed by what i was going through, or failed to grasp, i would definitely ask, there is NO WAY i would even hesitate... being the perfect and perfectionist that i am... (kidding but this alcoholic tries to do it right).

I am also a huge procrastinator, i either do not bother, throw in the towel if i get bored OR i go the opposite and work my butt off at something... as this is my recovery, i am giving this 110% of my attention, THAT is why i get overwhelmed because i am processing so much, listening so much, i am starting from scratch.

My sponsor means well of course but i guess i wanted a guy that had a "leader" type streak... i respect being pushed, or i become the pushy one... i want i want i want because i am an alcoholic, you cannot argue with me, especially when i am right... you know how we are...

Seriously, he´s a great guy, just wanting to do it Step>Meetings>Phone and that in itself is FINE but i had hoped to be thrown into the deep end... i DO get a bit freaked out at some meetings and have a LONG way to go before they feel a part of life... i have people to meet and my confidence in that area will automatically improve with time... but i feel i will be better at that with more emphasis on the STEPS and not so much on the meetings... the slowly slowly approach is not for every one...

I am giving it up to my hp to guide me... i can be hasty and i know this is serious stuff, i am grateful for what i have... a sponsor is a sponsor at the end of the day, if i am not drinking and i get through the steps then what do i really have to complain about??? Not a great deal... i think i just hoped for the PERFECT sponsor and that is unrealistic... i hear of some that LOVE their sponsor in every way they work but i am going to go with the flow... he may surprise me... it IS important i get it right and for once i will not be resistant, he may be perfect for me, i may just not know it yet... the poor guy has hardly had a chance to show me so i will keep him for now... and be grateful for what is given so freely... but i will listen and if it feels lacking, i will look elsewhere... i wanted someone with a bit of backbone... not sure i need it, there is a difference...

Glad you did what was right for you though Ken.

Thanks avaneesh912 also.

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Karl R
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Karl R » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:41 pm

Hello Soberism,

Glad to meet you and have you among us.

A question?

Does your current sponsor include a careful systematic examination of our basic textbook "Alcoholics Anonymous" in his toolkit when working with sponsees?

best wishes,
Karl

soberism
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by soberism » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:58 pm

Karl R wrote:Hello Soberism,

Glad to meet you and have you among us.

A question?

Does your current sponsor include a careful systematic examination of our basic textbook "Alcoholics Anonymous" in his toolkit when working with sponsees?

best wishes,
Karl
I have yet to find that out... so far but to what degree remains to be seen.

Oh my, we sponsees can be a demanding lot but then we want to get well so...

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Karl R
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Karl R » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:14 pm

we sponsees can be a demanding lot
It's your sobriety...perhaps the most important thing to you now. You are allowed to be demanding of your sponsor. I expect it from my sponsees. Just as I demand that they spend time with me in our basic textbook for sobriety-"alcoholics anonymous".

BTW....The forwards, the preface, the Dr's Opinion, Bill's Story, There is a Solution, and More about Alcoholism are the basic study material for step 1. Please look through them for yourself. You owe it to yourself.

An opinion from me.....without the program of AA as layed out the Big Book...one does not have the program of AA.

Another opinion from me....find yourself a sponsor who utilizes our basic textbook for sobriety in his work with you.

cheers,
Karl

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ann2
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by ann2 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:15 am

Hi! Congratulations on your impatience!

The Big Book does lay out the process fairly plainly but of course when i read it first it was all greek to me . . . :-)

But honestly -- you can do this thing yourself. The Big Book was written to reach those out of touch with groups, or sponsors or anyone. And having been one of those people, except of course blessed with the gift of online fellowship, I can report that it worked for me.

Just follow the guidelines. Use your sponsor for what he is. Ask here and elsewhere, and trust your higher power to give you direction. if you don't get an answer right away remember that your HP is probably setting up the answer for you to discover at exactly the right time :-)

You can use your sponsor for your 5th step or, even better, you can find someone otherwise recommended in the BB, a confidential resource.

Of course, finding someone to lead you through the way they were led is always great, but not all of us have that option. And frankly, I wonder if all of us would benefit from it. There's a reason we are where we are, I believe.

So glad you are sharing here, please make use of us!

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

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Re: sponsor problems

Post by John Z » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:30 pm

Here's my experience with sponsors, make what you will of it.

My first sponsor was energetic leader, and he took me through the first three steps by intensive Big Book study and numerous assignments that I had to complete. It was perfect for me because I like to consider myself a man of letters, so reading, writing, and lots of discussion made me feel like i was really DOING something about my sobriety - I felt that I was truly working the program. He would call ME everyday and arrange to go to meetings etc. - a "go getter" if I ever met one, a warrior for AA, who had several sponsees and did a lot of service work.

But I moved three states away because of work, and since then I haven't found a similar sponsor. I've gone through two that were of the "go to meetings, don't drink, and call me if you're tempted" variety, neither of which I've bothered calling since I haven't felt tempted. I see them at meetings and that's about it. When I ask them about doing step work by way of the Big Book, they both put me off. Curiously, they're both old-timers whereas my first sponsor had 18 months.

So I gave up and took matters in my own hands. I had been told to wait a year to start the 4th step, but I see now that that was rubbish. In fact, the people that told me that were putting my sobriety at risk. I made a list of a few of my character defects without going into great detail, and then I started exercising the next steps on those defects. I confessed them to myself, to a few confidantes (my wife, AA friends), I asked God for the willingness to be free of them, and I humbly asked Him to remove them. And you know what? it's working. I feel it working day by day, I feel myself acquiring a stronger character through the admission of my faults and the grace of God.

One side note to all this: I object to the language I often hear when people say they've "done" the steps, as if you only need to work them once and you're finished. I've learned that they are a life-long process. I DO step three every day in my morning prayer when I recommit my life and will to God as I understand Him. I will ALWAYS be admitting my faults and asking God to remove them etc.

If I'm totally amiss in trying to do some of this work by myself, someone please tell me so...

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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Lali » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:39 pm

Soberism, I’m not going to mince words here. I would get another sponsor. Your sponsor is not giving enough of his time with you and you are finding yourself apologizing to him? You owe him no apology. Lots of newcomers come in and half heartedly get a sponsor and halfheartedly work the program. They end up drunk. But you want help and you aren’t getting it. Just to give you an idea, my sponsor set aside 2 hours a week for me. I worked my other things around that meeting so that I never missed it. We read and discussed about one step per week. The Big Book is very important as was stated above, but we would work the steps together first as most sponsors here do. What bothered me most about your post is that you said you had felt resentful. Read from the Big Book, page 64, “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.” I would not try to do the steps on my own. Listen to the men in the meetings who have what you want and ask him to sponsor you. You stated, "...my sponsor seems to have the effect on me that the steps are complicated... in MY mind they are not, we just make them that way..." You are right. The steps aren't complicated. People who tend to complicate things may feel that way.

You also stated, "...what´s the big deal if i have to wait a couple of weeks to get to step 4???" It's not really a big deal. A couple of weeks is not unusual.

Keep us posted on what you decide to do.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:55 pm

John Z wrote: If I'm totally amiss in trying to do some of this work by myself, someone please tell me so...
Hi John,

I've done the work by myself; I just asked an Old Timer to listen to my Step 5. I did it using speaker tapes and this forum for guidance; but I had problems around the 'rigorous honesty' part of the program, which meant there were many amends I couldn't make (those who've not done an honest Step 5 will understand) and at over a year sober I found myself hitting a 'sober bottom', where I just wasn't happy with the way I was feeling, I was still full of remorse, guilt and I regretted my past and when the pain got bad enough, instead of drinking, I found a sponsor who I'd heard share his experience of THE program. He's a 'straight out of the Big Book' kinda guy, so I plucked up the courage (it wasn't easy, I'd only met the guy once when he shared at my homegroup) and phoned him.

For me, it worked far far better with a sponsor; mine has been invaluable to me in many ways. For example, he saw me busting my butt, dashing off everywhere, trying to save the World (his words), and knew I was taking this "making myself useful" too far. I was. It was causing resentments and problems with my family life. He slowed me down and set parameters on who I help (I can only help those within the area I live; so I'm not driving miles and miles, helping drunks where other recovered alcoholics live can be just as effective). He's also been invaluable to help me with my amends process. Oh, and just general AA matters on service, resentments about other AAers; you name it, he's shared his experience on it.

And because we built a relationship, when it came to me doing my Step 5, I found it easier to be totally honest with the guy. I've even cried in front of him (after my Step 5; it was because of the relief I felt I think) and that's something I've not done in front of anyone.

So, I find having a good sponsor is invaluable and based on my own experience, I'd always advise someone to get a sponsor whose Big Book orientated.

Oh, and if YOU want to be a good effective sponsor, the best way to learn is by getting yourself a good effective sponsor and learning from him. Good sponsorship breeds good sponsorship IMO.
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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Blue Moon
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Blue Moon » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:14 am

soberism wrote: I asked him if Step 4 was written, i was not jumping the gun but probably gave that impression... then i felt bad and called him up to apologize because i know i am being impatient...
Many of us are people-pleasers. Not always a positive trait when our own ass is on the line.
yet i merely asked if he could give me some idea how HE was going to take me through the steps... he just seemed wishy washy... the BB states stuff is put on paper on Step 4 so why not just tell me???
You had every right to ask, and to expect a clear and concise answer.

Some of us haven't worked the Steps. Some of us just aren't very good at teaching others. If you're not getting what you need, you can move on... there's no contract written in blood (although some "sponsors" seem to believe there is).

Here's the very best thing my first sponsor did for me: Got drunk.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

happycamper
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by happycamper » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:07 am

Without knowing for sure, Id guess your sponsor has NOT worked the steps. And I must admit that in my short 6+ yrs sober I have found that there are unfortuneately many who have not worked the steps, but still manage to stay sober.

Yes, the 4th step is written, it is a grudge list. And if One reads the BB it also says that step 3 is suppose to be taken with someone.

Your concerns are valid. And after all .. this is a matter of life and death. Booze kills ppl and its no joke. If I dont take my sobriety seriously Im in trouble.

My sponsor guided me thru the steps via the BB and I do the same with sponsee's.
and yes, I continue to work several of the steps each and every day that I have been granted another day.
Faith without works is dead

soberism
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by soberism » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:55 am

Thanks for all the responses.

Yes, i called my sponsor and when we got together i told him i was aware that i was being impatient and said that i was starting to feel resentful, he listened and that was OK, i am not in this to BS to him or please him, i am trying to get this stuff done with a guide, not in a hurry but with honesty and someone that has done the steps before that can GUIDE me along...

My sponsor was great, spent 3 and a half hours with me yesterday, step 2 and 3 i had already done so we went over them and i was satisfied with where i was at and he could see i was ready for step 4 so we commenced to take turns in reading BB and it went well.

I had resistance to this step until today, i put some stuff down last night and this morning i kind of woke up to the fact that despite the fact i was wronged often when i was younger, i harbored resentments, i carried them all my life along with other traits that are not attractive... unforgiveness, jealousy, anger and lots of selfs...

Once this dawned upon me, i was actually really upset for ME in as much as i pitied me for having that load all my life, no wonder i was unhappy... i thought i had given these things up when in fact they are the very things i live by... resentful? You bet i am... even if i have forgiven from childhood, i have simply transferred unforgiveness in adult life so it´s rehashing the same stuff that keeps me from finding happiness in life.

I am kinda scared to do step 4 but i am going to take my time, even if painful, i am REALLY going to acknowledge my grudges and despite not liking what i see, if i can shed this rot from my inner core, i´ll be able to live a happier life whereby i don´t punish myself with resentment and anger... because i will have asked God to remove these and will finally be free of guilt and shame and self... no longer MY will but His/her/It´s will... with tolerance and the ability to let AA, hp and God teach me a new way to live...

This is serious stuff, i will be relieved when step 4 is over, i think this one is going to take me a month if i am to be thorough, i need to be... the bigger the dump, the lighter i´ll feel is how i see it... it will be good to see where i have been malfunctioning in life... but i´m going easy on myself... i feel i gotta be kind to me whilst doing this step...

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: sponsor problems

Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:14 am

Step 4 isn't too bad if you WORK DOWN THE COLUMNS; DO NOT WORK ACROSS THEM one-by-one. Doing it down the columns kind of distances you from the hurt; a Step 4 isn't an exercise in self-flagellation; it's an honest look at your stuff; so really, work down each column and not across. That is a top tip from someone whose done it both ways.

And you know you've 'done' Step 3 when you're working on Step 4.
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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