As a new 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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PaigeB
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As a new sponsor...

Post by PaigeB » Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:05 pm

I had a new gal ask me to sponsor her and I think she is doing well. I have some questions - just in general stuff, you know - your ES&H.

I asked her to call me everyday for a while and try to get to a meeting everyday for 90 days. What do I do if she doesn't call me - should I call her?

Also, she said she had tried the marijuana maintenance plan in other times where she tried to get sober and her husband smokes too... I tried that once for about a week. I was never a pot-head, so it wasn't something I even liked as a substitute. She asked and I told her that I thought smoking pot WOULD be a relapse and require a new sobriety date. Should I ask her if she has been smoking?

We plan to get together next week to start reading the Big Book starting at the beginning, like my sponsor did with me.

What else can I be doing to help her - or am I already over-thinking this?
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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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by happycamper » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:35 am

If she's smokin dope, then in my opinion, she is definately NOT sober. And you will be able to detect this via her actions.

I ask new gals to stay in touch with me every few days simply to get them use to pickin up the phone when needed. If I dont hear from them ... and the Spirit moves me, then I will pick up the phone and call them. I do not believe that it is only the sponsee's responsibility to make contact. I believe that Sponsorship is a 2 way street, and in all reality, they are helping me much more than I am helping them some days.

I have been instructed by my own sponsor to not trust new ppl wholly in the beginning cuz' in all reality these ppl are just comin off the streets so to speak and for the most part dont have a clue as to what is in front of them. The best thing I can do for a new sponsee is to pray for them and be as honest as possible with them.

I have also been instructed by my own sponsor to always refer to chapter 7 Working with Others if I have concerns/questions. All the answers are in the book.
Faith without works is dead

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leejosepho
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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by leejosepho » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:44 am

PaigeB wrote:I asked her to call me everyday for a while and try to get to a meeting everyday for 90 days. What do I do if she doesn't call me - should I call her?
Try to decide that by looking at the overall process: Has she been Twelfth-Stepped? No matter how well she might seem to be doing and/or whether she attends any meetings, she needs to be brought up to Step Three in a one-on-one setting as quickly as possible, if even possible.
PaigeB wrote:Also, she said she had tried the marijuana maintenance plan in other times where she tried to get sober ...
You might consider asking her how well that worked for her, and then encourage her to "follow her own conscience", so to speak, if she still might believe it will.
PaigeB wrote:She asked and I told her that I thought smoking pot WOULD be a relapse ...
For you, or for her? We have no position on that kind of thing, and she needs to be allowed to draw her own conclusion (even if it is wrong even for her for a while).
PaigeB wrote:Should I ask her if she has been smoking?
I would not. Just "... lay out the kit of spiritual tools for her inspection. Show her how they worked with you. Offer her friendship and fellowship. Tell her that if she (ever believes she needs and then also) wants to get well you will do anything to help." (page 95)
PaigeB wrote:What else can I be doing to help her - or am I already over-thinking this?
You can never go wrong by sharing your personal experience (while withholding opinions) and answering questions.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Duke
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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by Duke » Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:07 am

My basic rule is I'll do just about anything for someone who's working it, and just about nothing for someone who's not. I usually find out in the first couple of weeks whether they're bs-ing or not.

I always offer to call daily, weekly, whatever works for them, for some period of time. That's usually 30-60 days. If they're avoiding my calls, never have time to talk, etc., I tell them to call me when they'd like to talk. Usually, I don't hear from them again.

If we've been talking regularly, the amount and time of contact develops on its own. I have one fellow who, after several years, still wants to get breakfast once a week to access where he is. I have another guy who wants daily contact as he struggles with the obsession.

It's hard for me to imagine a recovery program that involves daily maintenance with another mood-altering drug, but maybe that's just me. I used a lot of other drugs in addition to alcohol, all with the same goal.

I agree with regular review of the BB on the topic. I also think it's really helpful to have regular times you assess how things are going with your sponsee. Just a "how are we doing, what could we do better" conversation.

The one thing I know for certain Paige, is you will do a great job.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by Lali » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:10 pm

I have been reading your posts for a while now Paige, and I think you'd be a great sponsor!! The pot thing bothers me. I have never liked pot but have dealt with exes who were pot smokers and theres nothing less motivating than a pot high. They basically lost any ambition they had. I think it would be okay to check with her now and then to see if she's smoking. As for calling sponsees, here the sponsors let the sponsees do most of the calling. I guess the motivation there is that they want the sponsee to show how interested they are in their own recovery. Yes, you may be over thinking a tad. Just trust your own instincts and I think it will go great!
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by PaigeB » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:06 pm

I told her that I would certainly consider it a relapse if I smoked pot - or if I took my prescriptions for other than the uses and times intended. I do not think she is smoking pot on the side and I think she does not want too (agreeing that it would constitute a relapse) She is pretty good about calling me and is getting to a lot of meetings too.

I am thinking "So far so good." The same way I think of myself. ODAAT! :)

I know that I can only offer ES&H and the rest is up to her! Good Job Sandy! If you are reading this!
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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Tosh
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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by Tosh » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:28 am

I'm far from being an experienced sponsor, but I follow my own sponsor's lead, which includes 'ground rules'. He asked me to attend at least three meetings per week, phone him twice a week, and meet up with him on a weekly basis - just while we're going through the steps. I baulked at the two phone calls a week, saying "That's not in the Big Book" - 'cos I didn't like picking up the phone and phoning people. He explained that we have to build up a relationship, which would make it easier on myself at Step 5.

So I do the above, and I also ask that my potential sponsees find a homegroup and fill a service position. If someone's not committed enough to do that, then I doubt they'd be committed enough to do the 12 Steps.

So, when I'm asked to sponsor, at our first formal meeting, I lay down the same ground rules and ask if the guy still wants me to sponsor him. If he smoked pot, I would ask that they stop that also, as part of the 'ground rules', otherwise I wouldn't want to sponsor them. I've been working with a guy who was still drinking, and I refused to sponsor him even though he asked me; I just said, "I can't be your sponsor till you've stopped drinking!"

But that didn't stop me being his sober friend.

I find sponsoring someone a real commitment, which I'm more than willing to undertake, but only if the potential sponsee is willing to make the same commitment.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by Steven F » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:10 am

PaigeB wrote:What else can I be doing to help her (...)
One seriously important thing, from experience: stick with your experience, make sure you don't mix that up with what you (think you) know about the programme. I tried it different once, and it didn't work for me or for the person I tried to help. If there is a situation you don't know about, ask yourself if it really matters in terms of the programme. If it does, arrange for your sponsee to have a chat about that aspect with someone who does have an experience with it.

That also applies to the calls and the meetings. Why do you want her to call you every day? Why do you want her to be in meetings every day? If the answer is that it worked for you or that you feel it is something you had really missed, than it's probably ok. If the answer is because that is what you heard others say, then it is probably not so ok. If she wants what you have, it doesn't make sense to let her do what others do.

There are two more things I picked up along the way which may be interesting to you.

Quite often when I doubted if I should do or not do something, my sponsor would ask "how free do you want to be?". There is a whole lot behind that phrase, but it has helped me a lot to keep it in mind.

And, a soundbite I have remembered from someone in the fellowship: if you feel the need to justify what you are doing, you are probably doing something wrong. I add to that: in that case, stop doing it. So, if the pot comes up a bit too often, there is something there that takes up her time and energy - time and energy better spent getting a report with that higher power. All you can do then is make her aware of that. After that, the same remark - how free does she want to be?

Have fun sponsoring! ;-)

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by 57blues » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:52 pm

Hello
Paige
Congrats on being willing to give it away ,,do the best you can ,be honest ,) It work in 1935 and still works today. 8)

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by leejosepho » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:05 am

I remember wanting so badly to try to help others, but I had no idea where, when or how to begin. I had heard plenty of people talking about their "ground rules" and/or what they either will or will not tolerate either with or from a sponsee ... but all of that sounded far too much like cult activity for me. So, I just asked my sponsor what is the best way to sponsor, and he answered, "Just answer questions." For example:

"If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking - 'What do I have to do?'
"It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done."
(page 20)

Required meeting attendance? Required phone calls? Required "service positions"? Required candor? Required abstinence? Required commitment/s?

Any sponsor who places those kinds of conditions upon trying to be helpful to others has nothing really worth having in the first place.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by Tosh » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:10 am

leejosepho wrote: but all of that sounded far too much like cult activity for me.
Nope! A strong indicator of a cult is to isolate their members from worldly people and information; AA does quite the opposite.
leejosepho wrote: So, I just asked my sponsor what is the best way to sponsor, and he answered, "Just answer questions." For example:

"If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking - 'What do I have to do?'
"It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done."
(page 20)
You phrased that as if those who set ground rules don't answer questions. This is quite absurd.
leejosepho wrote:
Required meeting attendance? Required phone calls? Required "service positions"? Required candor? Required abstinence? Required commitment/s?

Any sponsor who places those kinds of conditions upon trying to be helpful to others has nothing really worth having in the first place.
My sponsor sets those conditions (not 'candour'; I'm not sure what that means?), and he helps an awful lot of guys. He has been best man at two of his sponsees weddings (one of these guys recovered from living on the streets), he does a lot of service, he runs 12 Step workshops, he has a good family life, a successful job, has outside interests, and has a lot to offer; he's a deeply spiritual man.

Page 90 says:
...if he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so.
Page 58 says:
If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps.
So, I guess the ground rules is a start to filtering out those who don't want it enough. And there are good reasons for regular phone contact, doing service, going to meetings, finding a homegroup; and if someone isn't prepared to do those things - and let's face it; they're not huge requests to make in return for a solution to all of their problems - then I'm not prepared to sponsor them. I have a family, I work, I do service, I have recently went through the steps with a guy and I'm going through the process with another; and I only want to sponsor those who're serious about their recovery. If they're not, they can find another sponsor, and this is from having experience of trying to work with guys who put conditions on what they will do, and what they won't. These just tend to relapse and not come back; in my limited experience.

I do, however, work with guys who're still drinking; I'm keeping in contact with two at the moment (one whose going on a detox next month); but I won't/can't sponsor them till they stop drinking. I actually like wet drunks; they don't frighten me in the least; and I get a lot of satisfaction seeing them get sober.

I also realise that you have a wealth of experience, far more than I, at being sober; and therefore I assume with working with others, so I am open to other schools of thought than that of my own sponsor. I understand that there's horses for courses and more than one way to skin a rabbit (to use a few cliches).
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by PaigeB » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:15 am

Pleased to say that I have done what my sponsor did with me & unless it was ES&H or in the BB - I said I don't know! For the most part these are things that were suggested here, but I did learn some things that worked for me and may work for her! We did discuss what situations she might consider getting a surrender chip for & then moved on.

I am happy to point out to her that everything I say is a mere suggestion and that this is her path - to take what she wishes to build with and leave the rest alone. She did not fire me after our first meeting where we read the beginning of The Doctor's Opinion.
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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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by leejosepho » Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:54 am

@PaigeB: Please know I am not questioning anything you are doing. Rather, I just thought this might be a good opportunity to talk a bit about sponsorship overall.
Tosh wrote:A strong indicator of a cult is to isolate their members from worldly people and information ...
Yes, and that falls within their having "'ground rules' and/or what they either will or will not tolerate either with or from" someone.
Tosh wrote:
leejosepho wrote:So, I just asked my sponsor what is the best way to sponsor, and he answered, "Just answer questions." For example:

"If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking - 'What do I have to do?'
"It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done."
(page 20)
You phrased that as if those who set ground rules don't answer questions.
No, I phrased that to indicate they presume to go *beyond* answering questions and actually impose/demand some kind of compliance.
Tosh wrote:... I guess the ground rules is a start to filtering out those who ...
That is my point, and that is unnecessary. When we just do what those before us have done, such matters take care of themselves.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by Tosh » Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:40 am

leejosepho wrote: Yes, and that falls within their having "'ground rules' and/or what they either will or will not tolerate either with or from" someone.
Nope, that doesn't fall within any definition of a cult; wiki has a good definition; look it up. Language is a convention, and it's important that we use the correct words in the correct context; otherwise misunderstandings occur.

And it's not a case of 'tolerating'; it's more of a case of "If you wish me to be your sponsor, then these are the ground rules...". As Clancy I says, at any stage the sponsee can just say, "You're fired"; there's no AA Police to enforce anything (knock knock. "This is the AA Police! Did you call your sponsor an idiot today?").

It's all done by spiritual consensual agreement.

I have a family, I work, I have service commitments, I'm doing a course which involves lots of studying, I sponsor others - time is sometimes in short supply - so do I really want to sponsor someone who doesn't want to do three-meetings-per-week for the duration that we go through the steps, or find a homegroup, or get a service commitment? Yes of course I'll sponsor them, if there's a valid reason why they can't do any of those things, but if they're just not prepared to make those (in my eyes) small commitments, then I don't want to be their sponsor. I try to be a good sponsor - I take the time to do a proper and thorough job - and I will adjust myself to any sponsees needs, but in return, I wish to see some commitment in the form of action; and it's the sponsee who'll benefit from going to meetings, finding a homegroup, and doing service; not me; I already do that stuff.

And it should go without saying that you can set ground rules, yet still treat the guys you're working with, with the utmost respect. Giving tough love doesn't come easy to me; I'm a people pleaser by nature; even in the army as a Senior NCO I was a softy; but my sponsor just tells me to tell my guys the truth.
leejosepho wrote:
Tosh wrote:... I guess the ground rules is a start to filtering out those who ...
That is my point, and that is unnecessary. When we just do what those before us have done, such matters take care of themselves.
That sounds 'cute', but I think you'll find that historically, there was no set pattern of what those before us did. If you look at the first AA Sponsorship leaflet printed in 1944, it says as much in that each case is different and should be treated as such.

I am also extremely grateful to my sponsor for the guidance he's given me; he's an experienced AAer (I think the man is an enigma - though he wouldn't like me calling him that); he's an effective sponsor, he has helped a shed-load of guys over the years; I'm always meeting guys he has sponsored - he takes us through the steps - connects us to that power - and then the relationship changes and he cuts us loose; it's not a 'nannying' type of sponsorship. Once we finished Chapter 7, he declared me a recovered alcoholic, told me I've got the same information as himself, and it was now my job to grow through Steps 10, 11, and 12. He asks that I phone him once-per-week; just to 'touch base', and explained that it was important to maintain some sort of contact, just in case (or rather 'for when') something bad happens. That way, it won't be difficult for me to talk to him about it.

Do you really think that the above sounds like a cult? I think it sounds like common sense and a wish to be helpful and effective.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: As a new sponsor...

Post by leejosepho » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:47 am

Tosh wrote:
leejosepho wrote: Yes, and that falls within their having "'ground rules' and/or what they either will or will not tolerate either with or from" someone.
Nope, that doesn't fall within any definition of a cult
I am trying to follow your thoughts here, and all I can see is an effort to defend sponsors placing demands upon sponsees ... and I happen to know that to be cultish when people believe such actions are necessary for the protection of one thing or another.

Have you ever read "AA: Cult or Cure?"
Link removed - Please do read our link policy here: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=8
Tosh wrote:... it's not a case of 'tolerating'; it's more of a case of "If you wish me to be your sponsor, then these are the ground rules...". As Clancy I says, at any stage the sponsee can just say, "You're fired" ...
Giving someone the option of walking away does not negate or justify having first made demands.
Tosh wrote:It's all done by spiritual consensual agreement.
When/where that actually exists, no demands ever need be made.
Tosh wrote:
Tosh wrote:... I guess the ground rules is a start to filtering out those who ...
leejosepho wrote:That is my point, and that is unnecessary. When we just do what those before us have done, such matters take care of themselves.
That sounds 'cute', but ...
Nothing "cute" about it -- that is the very essence of certain spiritual dynamics.
Tosh wrote:I am also extremely grateful to my sponsor for the guidance he's given me ...

Do you really think that the above sounds like a cult?
I am not here to judge your sponsor. I only know I have never had anyone place any demand upon me and that I have never found it necessary or beneficial to place any demand upon anyone else.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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