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?
Lali
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Lali » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:59 pm

BPG wrote: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.
I don't understand this. Why did it take so long? Some of these steps are just making an admission or making a decision. So you were sober but not yet making any amends at nearly one year? What about Step 4? How long before you started working on your character defects?

The steps are how we get well, the sooner we work them, the sooner we become well, thus, making us happily sober versus white knuckling sober.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Lali » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:04 pm

TonyWARMS wrote: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
Oh, sorry, Tony, I misunderstood what you were saying. I didn't realize you meant a year to become a sponsor. I thought you were talking about how long it should take to work through all of the steps.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by DeeLerious » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:52 am

Ah, this is pretty much what I have always heard, too. I don't think you can hold a position or speak for something like nine months, if I'm not mistaken. I think that's what they said at a meeting I went to last week, that if you would like to chair a meeting you needed nine months sober.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Squawking Hawk » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:39 am

I myself was into my second year before I completed the steps and I have continuous sobriety. For the benefit of the newcomer and in respect for those on the forums who have a differing experience, strength, and hope than I, I have to acknowledge that I could have benefited by going through the steps much quicker then I did.

For the original poster and other newcomers, there are many opportunities and mechanisms to go through the steps in much less than a year. There are many here on the forums who can help steer you to online resources. And when you do go to meetings in or near your town, there may well be a Big Book study meeting where they go through the steps in four to six weeks. Or even over a weekend. As a newcomer, or someone coming back after a slip, you are likely to be advised to find a sponsor who can take you through the steps as written in the Big Book, and to get working as soon as possible. It worked for them and it can work for you too.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by avaneesh912 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:29 am

I have to acknowledge that I could have benefited by going through the steps much quicker then I did.
I have heard this repeatedly from people who learned the right way of working the steps over a period of time. The fellowship is so fractured that we can't expect everybody to follow the same instructions that is laid out in the big book. I dont want to create controversy, but the 12 and 12, I believe Bill W wanted to draw the interest of the alcoholics added some essays on the 12 steps but that had an adverse impact on how the fellowship looked at the recovery. And more books like Living Sober and other publications further diluted the message of AA.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Old Rocker » Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:38 am

DeeLerious wrote:Ah, this is pretty much what I have always heard, too. I don't think you can hold a position or speak for something like nine months, if I'm not mistaken. I think that's what they said at a meeting I went to last week, that if you would like to chair a meeting you needed nine months sober.
My home group encourages getting to it on the steps. I know people have chaired meetings at 6 months. We have study meetings where we read and share as we go.

The person chairing is not there to tell us what we read or teach it. So I don't think time matters as much, as long as you know how a meeting goes. And people can help! It is just a meeting.

For me, chairing meetings was scary and awesome at the same time. I definitely had at 6 months. The steps were done once a week. So you could be thru them at weekly group pace and individual time in 12 weeks.

I see us as drowning people at sea. The Big Book says we are survivors of a shipwreck.

I would not want to wait a year before grabbing the life ring. This addition of many books and manuals, long time elaborate processes seems to smell of the recovery industry. There are millions to be made in the recovery industry.
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(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by BPG » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:09 am

Regarding the steps; obviously, sooner is better. More important, however, is readiness. And readiness takes what it takes.

I believe the newcomer is best served with some simple, practical advice:

* Don't drink
* Go to a lot of meetings (90 in 90 is a good start)
* Get a bunch of phone numbers, and use them when necessary
* Choose a sponsor with whom you seem to 'click'
* Begin working the steps, making progress without reference to how long it takes to do so

I believe that for tough customers, especially those who want nothing to do with a spiritual experience, an insistence on completing the steps in a specific time drives away more folks than it saves. That's because it requires some of them to 'fake it til they make it', and that's a poor strategy for a program that 'demands rigorous honesty'.

I thank God my sponsor was willing to let it 'take what it took', because otherwise I wouldn't be in AA.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Lali » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:33 am

Funny how things vary from meeting to meeting. In our group, at each meeting, the chairperson encourages those with 90 days or more to sign up to chair. People who haven't yet chaired think its a big deal and don't feel they could handle it. When I chair I always say, "If you can read, you can chair" because the entire format for the meeting is typed out for the chairperson to follow.

For speaker meetings, where one person speaks for about 40 minutes about their ES&H, one only needs 9 months to 1 year to speak. It depends on the readiness of the speaker whether it is 9 months or one year.

This all seems reasonable to me, but I know it's not the same in every group.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by vintagecurls83 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:13 am

I was 3.5 months in recovery and on my step 4 but not "getting it" at all and had so many mixed messages ie quit my job and go to daycare for a year, do more meetings, do less meetings throw myself into service...I was a mess. I didn't understand the program. I didn't know what to do or not to do. Spiritual malady was rife. I was suicidal again and wanted to drink as I felt so miserable. I mixed up my meetings and changed my sponsor and got a much better understanding of the program and the steps. I got through them all and the obsession was lifted, gone went the spiritual malady. I am 7.5 months now and just started sponsoring a girl. Everyone is different but i could not sit in that spiritual malady, delaying the steps for me was hell.

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by PaigeB » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:18 am

I have heard it many different ways... but then, we pass on what we learned, usually the way we learned it. I went to a BB Workshop by a well know group of 3 guys and they were adamant about working the Steps ASAP.

I have heard one year of sobriety, but more importantly that one has worked the 12 Steps. I have also heard you can sponsor someone as long as you are further ahead in the Steps than they are. I have sponsored gals who have more sober time than I do. Having a sponsor is not a marriage - if it is not working for you get a new sponsor - if it is about someone else, forget about it because you never know what is really going on inside another person.

I told my sponsee that they day she came back from a slip that she needed to stand at the door and shake hands. She needed to welcome the person who was new and more scared than she was.

This is a program of hope. Often it is the person who has one week that offers more hope than the person who has 30 years - - cause who can even imagine having 30 years!

My message would be that the recovery is in the Steps. There is no "danger" as long as one is working the Steps.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by ann2 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:37 am

Welcome vintagecurls! Congratulations and so glad you are here!

Some people are just good at this sponsoring thing. Take the steps in 12 weeks, that's 3 months, 90 days, why wouldn't this person be ready to reach out to the next suffering alcoholic and show'em how it's done?

My favorite quote lately is, "it's not brain surgery".
image.jpg
Instead of perfection, what sponsoring rely depends on is interest and caring in action. A new person determined to start on our new way of living seems ideal to me for more outreach. As long as he or she has taken the steps as described in the Big Book.

The biggest problem I hear regarding sponsors is that there are not enough of them. Maybe you folk live in a place where you have willing sponsors up the whazoo. As a somewhat over stretched and grateful sponsor I say, jump in! Best way to learn how to do it is do it.

I would however recommend a tradition study concurrent with sponsoring for those just beginning their AA association, to be followed by a study of the concepts and the guidelines.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by chefchip » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:48 pm

Hey Dee. Wow. You certainly got some interesting conversation going here! Thanks for the questions. Here's my experience.
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.
I am nearly a year from my last drink. The obsession to drink is gone and I haven't felt it in quite a few months. I have now worked the steps 3 times. The first was quickly, in a matter of 4 weeks. I did this with the help of a group that focuses on that approach. They emphasized that I was not to try to work the steps perfectly. What I was to do was to work them honestly and diligently, so that I could get some relief from the drinking problem that I had. Did I get it all that first time through? Did I cover everything? Not on your life. But, during those four weeks the foundation was laid on which I have been building ever since. And, most importantly, I found relief from my overwhelming obsessions to drink during those four weeks. Then I went back and started working on the things that were not so important the first time around, including more amends.
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.
I don't think that is the case at all. The genius of AA is recognition of the fact that an alcoholic will listen to and identify with another alcoholic before he/she will do the same with another person. As ex-problem alcoholics, we can speak to the heart and soul of someone still struggling in a way they will identify with. This is not dangerous at all. It is genius. One does not have to have a perfect knowledge of the steps to show someone else how they have worked in our lives. Besides, there IS no perfect knowledge of the steps, only our personal experience. That is all we can, and should, pass on.

What IS dangerous, to my way of thinking and something that I have seen too many times this past year, is not stressing the importance of working the steps without delay, thoroughly, as quickly as possible. It is only by doing this that the miracle of the steps can occur. And, by not stressing this, we AAs have probably helped contribute to a fellowship that is not as successful as the early fellowship was.

But, of course, that is my opinion.
Chip

PS -- As for "rules" about when one can speak in meetings, or lead meetings, or anything else, I know of only one rule in all of AA -- that is Rule 62. It covers any others we might dream up, thankfully. Unfortunately, most groups have never heard of Rule 62 and, if they had, well....... :roll:
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Brock » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:33 pm

With respect to length of time before chairing, the AA pamphlet “The AA Group – Where It All Begins” suggests one year as appropriate, but in accordance with Tradition 4 an individual group may do as they please.
Avaneesh said - I have heard this repeatedly from people who learned the right way of working the steps over a period of time. The fellowship is so fractured that we can't expect everybody to follow the same instructions that is laid out in the big book.

I agree about following the instructions in how the steps are done, but since we are talking about how long we might take in doing them, can’t recall seeing a time frame mentioned in the book !
PaigeB said - I have heard it many different ways... but then, we pass on what we learned, usually the way we learned it
And herein lies the biggest problem of all, my sponsor taught me this way and we took X amount of months, years whatever, it worked fine for me so this is what I pass on. I have no doubt Paige is a good sponsor, but look at what happened to vintagecurls83 in her post above, her first sponsor had her in a mess, and I bet they were showing her the same way it worked for them. This is perhaps why some people are speaking so highly of the Back to Basics book and the method it proposes, do it by the book, and save people from the possible danger of failure using “what worked for you.” Unless of course you have the ability to analyse another persons needs, and modify what worked for you to suit their individual personality.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by harry71 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:06 pm

Here is a thought-in rehab you are expected to do a 4th and 5th step within 28 days. Why do we question some one doing that with a sponsor? After 42 years sober I don't think we have improved the process. It worked for old timers, why not now. I encourage all to listen to Tom I tapes.
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Re: Sponsorship-Very Unsettling!

Post by Lali » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:26 pm

There's lots of good stuff here that I would like to comment on:

Paige: I love to read your posts regarding sponsorship. Love the idea of having your sponsor greeting newcomers at the door. Very clever! And I like that you pointed out that if we are not happy with our sponsors, there is nothing wrong with finding another.

Vintagecurls - I'm sorry for your bad experience. It was like that for me when I first started attending AA meetings in another state. My "sponsor" was more interested in the social aspect of AA than guiding a sponsee through the program. She gave me an assignment but never had time to talk to me about it though I pestered her for a couple of weeks to make time for me. I wound up dropping out :? This time in I was very fortunate to find a really good sponsor.

Chip - If the BB doesn't tell us how long it should take to work the steps, the way I see it, we are left to use our common sense and/or to go by what we have seen work for others. Was it you that spoke of the book "Back to Basics"? Do you recommend it as a guide to sponsorship? If so, I'd like to find a copy of it.

Ann - Love the picture and your message :lol: Brilliant!!

Thank you everyone for your shares!
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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