Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

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?
DeeLerious
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Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by DeeLerious » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:52 am

Hello, All, this morning is the beginning of my 10th day. I was at a meeting the other night and heard somebody share something that left me feeling a little unsettled, like it wasn't quite right. Here's what happened:

A woman with less than 4 months shared that she was about 3 days sober when she got her sponsor. This sponsor immediately set her upon a path of "working" a step per week. She said that it was like keeping up with a tornado, but she did it. When she "completed" the steps-all of them-her sponsor then told her that she was now prepared to work with newcomers, as a sponsor to them. If my math is correct, this woman had less than 90 days and was still a newcomer to the program herself. I have a couple of questions that you may be able to clarify for me, if you care to:

1. I don't see how the steps can be forced upon somebody like this. Don't you have to actually feel, experience and incorporate them into your life? It isn't like you are studying for an exam at school. To me, it would seem more like being enlightened by them, understanding them and being able to live them. How can somebody believe that one week is enough to build an understanding of them? This seems totally off the mark to me.

2. It seems to me, at least, a pretty dangerous prospect for a newcomer to have what is substantially a sponsor with a bare knowledge of the steps and the program themselves. I could be wrong, but this appears to be the blind leading the blind.

Have any of you heard of such a thing as this? I'm pretty sure that working the steps does not demand a 7-day deadline. I was really unsettled by this and thought that this sponsor was irresponsible in their demands.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, Dee

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avaneesh912
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by avaneesh912 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:59 am

I have the people working with me onto the 4th step within 2 weeks. There is no point in wasting time once you realize that you are a real-alcoholic.
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: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by TonyWARMS » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:16 am

Hello, Dee
A person can start working the steps immediately with a sponsor, or without.
However, I agree that a week is too soon to think you have enough knowledge to sponsor someone else.
You could have more insight than you did a week ago, but you wouldn't have a lot of time to practice the steps in your everyday life.
The year timeline just seems like a good, round number that gives a person time to "live" the program, but it isn't a true hard, and fast rule.
Just my opinion.

Peace, Tony
"Nothing comes to stay. Everything comes to pass".
(I don't know where I heard this)

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by DeeLerious » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:22 am

Hi, Tony, yes, I guess my point was that I, myself, would not be comfortable with a sponsor with no time or real experience under their belt. to me, they would be another newcomer.

Thank you for your response, avaneesh, you've cleared up the question that there are more ways to sponsor than just one.

Thank you, both!

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by kenyal » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:10 am

I find this unsettling too. If there is mention of some weird "one step a week" timeline in our material I've never run across it to this point. New members occasionally get their own good ideas about how AA could be improved which is fine until they implement their various inspirations with new people who deserve better.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Tosh » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:17 am

DeeLerious wrote:Hi, Tony, yes, I guess my point was that I, myself, would not be comfortable with a sponsor with no time or real experience under their belt. to me, they would be another newcomer.
I think a lot of the problems stem from our understanding of what a sponsor is. A sponsor isn't someone who knows the answers - heck I bet most of us don't know what the questions are - all sponsors are (unless we choose to be otherwise) is someone who helps us through the 12 Steps. I've sponsored people who're a lot smarter than myself in many ways; and I'm sure some of them beat me hands down in a spiritual way now too.

Sponsoring is a bit like knowing how to put up a shelf; I know how to do that, and if you want to learn how to also - I can guide you through the Big Big so that you too can learn how to put up a shelf. I know how to put up a shelf because I've been shown how to. But ask me what you should be doing with specific complex problems and I'll just shrug my shoulders and say "I don't know!" if I've not got any experience on that item.

And read some of A.A.'s history; Not-God by Ernest Kurtz is a top read (he's a Harvard educated historian and not a member of A.A.; so you're not getting a sanitised version of our history). He describes how early A.A. members were expected to carry this message; pretty much straight away.

Also (I'm guilty of this) some of us 'big up' our own sponsors - describing how spiritually tough they are, how wise they are and how much sober time they have - but this is really just egoic bullpoo. No-one can do our spiritual growth for us and no-one can force us to be honest, willing and open; to grow spiritually and to do the tough stuff. That's our responsibility.

I'd say someone with a few weeks sobriety who has been through the 12 Steps is more than able to sponsor. Bill 'n' Bob with very little sober time 12 Stepped Bill D in hospital, and Bill D died sober. It's lucky for us that people didn't hang around smoking and drinking coffee; they carried the message.

I hope as soon as you're through the steps that you sponsor too. Chapter 7 says:
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.
And if you've a sponsor, if there's a situation or question you don't know the answer of from a sponsee, you ask your sponsee if you can run it through your sponsor; and hopefully an answer can be found that way. Or ask him to pray and meditate on it.

Sometimes I think - as sponsors - we're expected to know it all (which we don't), and this ethos kinda puts off people from sponsoring and they miss out on a heck of a lot of fun and spiritual growth.
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: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by DeeLerious » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:27 am

Hi, Tosh, Of course I love being with people who are new like me! I just wouldn't depend on them as my sponsor. I've become very close to a woman who is newer than me and we have a great time discussing the program, our experiences and just life in general - it's wonderful building a support group and belonging to something finally.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by avaneesh912 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:51 am

There are great examples within the book that you may refer to. Bills' story is a great example, where on his 3rd visit, he works the steps in the hospital and quickly starts working with drunks. Another story is the Bill D, where he does the 3rd step on the 3rd day and he is out of the hospital immediatly. Then the story "He sold himself short" talks about how Dr. Bob helped this person in one afternoon.

An alcoholic needs relief and it comes by working the steps quickly.
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: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Layne » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:09 am

DeeLerious wrote: 1. I don't see how the steps can be forced upon somebody like this. Don't you have to actually feel, experience and incorporate them into your life? It isn't like you are studying for an exam at school. To me, it would seem more like being enlightened by them, understanding them and being able to live them. How can somebody believe that one week is enough to build an understanding of them? This seems totally off the mark to me.
Dr. Bob (AA#2) got into the steps after day one. Bill Dotson (AA#3) got into them after a few days.

DeeLerious wrote: 2. It seems to me, at least, a pretty dangerous prospect for a newcomer to have what is substantially a sponsor with a bare knowledge of the steps and the program themselves. I could be wrong, but this appears to be the blind leading the blind.
When I first came into the rooms the guy seating next to me with 24 hours of sobriety knew a lot more than I did. Thankfully he, as well as all the members who knew a lot more than me, were willing to share. Also see above response.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Lali » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:20 am

I can understand what you are saying, Dee. Can a sponsee be thorough, especially with the 4th step, after only a few days or a week or so? Personally, I don't think so. We are told to follow the BB in all we do. Why, then, are sponsees led through the steps at so many varying times. Have we found over the last 78 years that the fast track is not effective for everyone and that the time taken should be figured out for each individual? Often when someone sponsors, they sponsor exactly the same way they were sponsored. Can we really say that the timetable used back in the day is the best way? I don't know the answer to that.

As for the steps taking a year, I cannot understand or think of any good reason why a sponsor would take one year to help their sponsee with the steps. I feel like one year leads to the big possibility of relapse. Regardless, what on earth is taking so long to complete? My sponsor met with me once a week and if memory serves me right, we were finished in about maybe 2 months. There was a lot of reading together involved. As for the one year thing - are these sponsors so busy with too many sponsees that they are slack in helping a sponsee get through them. Or are the sponsors using the attitude of quantity vs. quality assistance. One year - really?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by DeeLerious » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:49 pm

Hi, Lali, I don't know if you were talking to me or not. Forgive me if you weren't, but I never said anything about one year to do the steps. Lord, that would drag on forever and you'd lose interest and dedication ... at least I think I would.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Lali » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:23 pm

No, Dee, the first paragphraph of my post about fasttracking the steps was in response to your original post. The second paragraph I wrote was in response to what Tony said where he references a "one year timeline"(below):
TonyWARMS wrote:However, I agree thatThe year timeline just seems like a good, round number that gives a person time to "live" the program, but it isn't a true hard, and fast rule.
Just my opinion.
Peace, Tony
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by TonyWARMS » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:54 pm

What I was referring to is what I have always heard people say in meetings in my neck of the woods.
Don't start sponsoring until you have a solid year of working the steps.
Again, like most everything I post, it is merely an opinion.

Peace, Tony
"Nothing comes to stay. Everything comes to pass".
(I don't know where I heard this)

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by lifeline2 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:19 pm

I've once attended a "Back to Basics" workshop. They do the steps within usually a weekend. It wasn't a bad experience going through all of them in such a short amount of time. It felt like practicing applying the tools I need to stay sober. Probably, it wouldn't have been thorough enough for me to call them done. But then, I don't know since I attended that workshop after I'd done the program the conventional way.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by BPG » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:27 pm

My sponsor had been sober a long while. We took about a year and a half to work through the steps, at which time I sponsored my first newcomer. After about 3 years I gave my first open talk. This approach worked for me. My sponsor and I remained close friends until his death.

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