First sponsor but not going well

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?
Alibaba33
Forums Newcomer
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:04 pm

First sponsor but not going well

Post by Alibaba33 »

Hi everyone,
This is my first post on here. I’m 5months sober. I’ve been awake all night worrying about my sponsorship situation and this is the second time this has happen over the last months. I have a very busy life, mother to young children, high workload and pressure professional job and I’m finding the demands that my sponsor is putting on me is stressing me out and stopping me from enjoying the joys of my sobriety. I’ve been told I’m not getting to enough meetings on countless occasions and that it needs discussing, that I must ring my sponsor everyday without fail, that I’m affecting their sobriety when I don’t call because they’re worrying I’m drinking. I feel fine and haven’t had any cravings and life problems at all. I’ve reassured them that if I felt the need to call for help and support I would.
I’ve got a very supportive family and close circle of friends and my sponsors demands are actually making me feel stressed because they’re not realistic for me. They do not fit around the time I need for my job, children, family. I need to spend time with the people I love but I feel I’m being forced away from them. I work long hours so can’t make meetings all the time. I always do minimum 2 meetings a week. I read the big book at home. And make time to visit sponsor every other weekend. But my sponsor wants more and more.
I’m really not happy with the sponsorship I’ve got. I feel I’m walking on egg shells and being manipulated to the point where now I feel I’m only doing things now just to please my sponsor when actually I should be doing this for myself and my family.
According to the pamphlet a sponsor is for help and support. It doesn’t say anything about calling every single day. I don’t even have time to call my husband every single day at work.
I understand she’s concerned I may slip. I also realise my sobriety comes before everything. But she says she needs to speak to me everyday so she can prevent me relapsing but that just isn’t going to work for me. I’m low maintenance, my friends are low maintenance and calling someone every single day is never going to work for me. And when I do speak to her a lot of the time it turns to her telling me gossip which I seriously don’t have time to listen to and is not why I joined AA. I think she lonely and do feel for her. But I can’t be myself around her and feel I’m trying to just please her all the time.
I was going to text her tomorrow and say I don’t think the sponsorship it’s working out and think we should leave it without any hard feelings.
I don’t want to call because I find her quite manipulative. I’m also worried because she Expletive about others in rooms and no doubt I’ll be the next one and could really put me off going to meeting. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Many thanks

MyNameIsBetsy
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:18 pm
Location: California

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by MyNameIsBetsy »

Hello Allibaba, welcome.

If your relationship with your sponsor is not working out, get a new sponsor. It really is that simple.

Sponsorship does not have to be a lifelong commitment. It is not a marriage. If it is not working, find a new one. This next time, it might be a good lesson learned to find out from a potential sponsor what she expects of you. And discuss with her what your expectations are of her. It would be wonderful if both of you have a clear understanding up front.

Your sobriety is YOUR job. Your sponsor's job is to show you how she did it, and to help you work through the steps. If you two develop a life long relationship, that is a bonus.

The only goal is sobriety. Contented sobriety.

Betsy, an alcoholic
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

Alibaba33
Forums Newcomer
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:04 pm

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by Alibaba33 »

Thank you Betsy for your reply that’s really helpful. I will most certainly ensure I know any future sponsor expectations in the future. However at the minute I can’t even contemplate getting another sponsor as this experience has massively impacted me and put me off completely.
My sponsor actually approached me and said they would sponsor me if I wanted, which I said yes. But since then it’s been a rollercoaster of feeling I’m constantly disappointing them, I’ve been belittled once in meetings in front of everyone, told twice if I don’t start calling I’m going to be dumped and what really bothers me is how she speaks unkindly of other members and gossips. So I’m unable to trust her. She has issues with many people in the rooms and extremely judgmental. She doesn’t appear v popular with others just by little comments I’ve heard others say. I said to another member I’d done some big book with with my sponsor and the reply was... it must of been awful you poor thing! The actual book work is great (when we do it and she is incredibly knowledgable) and just all the other stuff.
But right now this whole thing is making me not want to go to AA at all and just continue reading the big book and start working the steps at home again, which I was doing before I attended my first meeting. It’s putting me off AA meetings completely and creating huge anxiety.
I have social anxiety which is no doubt the root of my problems, and this whole situation is making me worse not better. I’m not sure I want another sponsor after this. I think the whole tough love thing is ridiculous, I work in healthcare and the way I’ve been treated is enough to make anyone drink, it’s bullying, controlling, rigid and unkind. All I ever hear is “my sponsor told me...” and constant guilt tripping. I actually did steps 1,2 and 3 on my own before I attended my first meeting. I’m only on step 1 with my sponsor and we have met 4 times to do book work about a total of 10hrs. I met her last week for 2 1/2 hours desperate to get on with step 3 and then start 4 to be told we had to go back to step one. I’ve completely admitted I’m powerless to alcohol- that my life is unmanageable, I have a strong faith in my higher power and felt a beautiful presence and change when I gave my life and will over. I’ve explained this and we’ve been through step 1 and 2. But now she’s taking me back to step 1, I don’t understand it. For the first hour, we didn’t do any book work and she was just telling me gossip about other people. But on the other hand she says we need to meet more because we’re not getting enough done, that I need to go to more meetings (even though I’m coping very well with my sobriety and happy with the amount of meetings I’m doing and even enjoying it when sponsorship isn’t an issue).
My sponsor did speak to me last week and said she didn’t think it was working out and I kind of panicked (because I desperately want to get through my recovery) and said could we give it another week and I’ll try calling her everyday. But it just isn’t happening. This week has given me time to reflect on the whole situation and as I type it out now I can see the whole thing is completely wrong for me. I wouldn’t feel comfortable about saying this to anyone in AA as the experience is making me feel I can’t trust anyone in the meetings. I’m very independent and didn’t come toAA to become co-dependant. I’m sure if I call her and say I’ve been thinking about what she said last week and understand where she’s coming from, it’s not working it should be ok. Fingers crossed. But my social anxiety has spun out of control and now I’m overthinking it all and it’s making me feel unwell. This whole experience has caused me complete unnecessary anxiety. Also by reading on the forums it doesn’t seem to be a rare problem, which makes me even more reluctant to get another sponsor.
I think she would take offence if I texted her so I probably need to pluck up courage (courage to change the things I can) and ring her and just be honest. She’s given up her time to work through part of big book with me, the least I can do it be honest with her that it’s not going to work. And hopefully it’ll be a mature amicable and a mutual ending. I’ll also pray for her because I don’t think she is very happy.
She is going away tomorrow do you think it’s best I just call her today and get it over and done with? I don’t really want to keep feeling like this and no doubt will feel better after it’s done.

User avatar
Jojo2
Trusted Servant
Posts: 1464
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:25 am

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by Jojo2 »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:04 pm
Hi everyone,

This is my first post on here. I’m 5months sober. I’ve been awake all night worrying about my sponsorship situation and this is the second time this has happen over the last months.
I’ve been told I’m not getting to enough meetings on countless occasions and that it needs discussing, that I must ring my sponsor everyday without fail, that I’m affecting their sobriety when I don’t call because they’re worrying I’m drinking. I feel fine and haven’t had any cravings and life problems at all. I’ve reassured them that if I felt the need to call for help and support I would.

I always do minimum 2 meetings a week. I read the big book at home. And make time to visit sponsor every other weekend. But my sponsor wants more and more.

I understand she’s concerned I may slip. I also realise my sobriety comes before everything. But she says she needs to speak to me everyday so she can prevent me relapsing but that just isn’t going to work for me.
I was going to text her tomorrow and say I don’t think the sponsorship is working out and think we should leave it without any hard feelings.
I don’t want to call because I find her quite manipulative.
The GSO pamphlet does have some very useful information regarding the sponsorship relationship:

https://aa.org/assets/en_US/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf

I have selected two of the relevant Questions and Answers from the pamphlet and posted below.

Essentially, the process of sponsorship is this: An alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery programme shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A.
Ideally, they will have worked the Steps and have a sponsor themselves.


Can a sponsor be overprotective?

In their enthusiasm to help a newcomer achieve sobriety, some sponsors may tend to be overprotective.
They worry unduly about the persons they sponsor and tend to smother them with attention.
In doing so, they may run the risk of having a newcomer depend on an individual member, rather than on the A.A. program.
The most effective sponsors recognise that alcoholics who join A.A. must eventually stand on their own feet and make their own decisions —
and that there is a difference between helping people to their feet and insisting on holding them up thereafter.
Another danger of overprotectiveness is that it may annoy the newcomer to the point of resenting the attempts to help — and expressing that resentment by turning away from A.A.

May a newcomer change sponsors?

We are always free to select another sponsor with whom we feel more comfortable, particularly if we believe this member will be more helpful to our growth in A.A.

With a sponsor’s help, we can use the programme to the full, change our attitudes, and, in the process, come to enjoy our sobriety

User avatar
avaneesh912
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5312
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by avaneesh912 »

that I must ring my sponsor everyday without fail, that I’m affecting their sobriety when I don’t call because they’re worrying I’m drinking.
They need to realize that the alcoholic has gone beyond human aid. They are not the one that is keeping you sober. The God within you is. Like any relationship its difficult to be in it with issues. Action is the best way out. As others pointed out, sponsorship is a temporary one, feel free to find another one. There are great workshops on youtube that imparted better information about the relationship between unmanageability and powerlessness than the meetings. So while you are in transition to find another sponsor, you can continue to use that resource. And if you are convinced you can also move forward. You can do the fifth step with the new sponsor. I always tell the people I work with, they set the pace not me. How soon do they want the power? I will help them reach a conclusion whether they need that power or not? How soon do you want to experience the 10th step promise? And then leave it to their HP.
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)

tomsteve
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 564
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:25 am

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by tomsteve »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:04 pm
, that I’m affecting their sobriety when I don’t call because they’re worrying I’m drinking.
Ali, that alone says the sponsor isnt good sponsor material. That,imo, is someone with untreated co-dependency and trying to take a hostage rather than help an alcoholic recovery.
If you are affecting her sobriety then so is every newcomer.
NO-ONE affects her sobriety unless she allows it.

tomsteve
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 564
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:25 am

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by tomsteve »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:38 am
And hopefully it’ll be a mature amicable and a mutual ending.
keep it that way on your side of the street. her side of the street is her problem and you arent part of her problem.

Indianapolis
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:42 am

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by Indianapolis »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:38 am
But right now this whole thing is making me not want to go to AA at all and just continue reading the big book and start working the steps at home again, which I was doing before I attended my first meeting. It’s putting me off AA meetings completely and creating huge anxiety.
I couldn't have done the steps alone with nearly the same level of nuance as working them with a qualified sponsor. My sponsor had invaluable advice on each step, built from years of experience and watching lots of sponsees succeed or fail. I promise there is value here with the right relationship.

That said, it sounds like this particular relationship is all wrong for you. Find another sponsor, level set expectations ... but I'd encourage you to try again. Don't give up on meetings just because you found yourself in a sponsor relationship with someone who didn't work out.

Personally, I do communicate with my sponsor daily. But it's usually just a text checking in, saying all is well or explaining a challenge. Once in awhile I call him or vice versa, but it's not typical. If we're at a meeting together (usually 3 or so per week that we both end up at), I'll walk him home (he lives a few blocks from the meeting) and we talk. About once every other week we actually sit down and have a coffee or lunch together and do step work. I'm a lawyer with 3 kids and live a busy life, and it's a manageable amount of expected contact.

And yes, my sponsor has never gossiped about anyone in the program. In fact, the one time I reached out to him complaining about someone in our meetings who bothers me, he just wrote a text back ignoring my gripe and saying "Betty (not her name) does an amazing job making everyone feel welcome." LOL. Put me RIGHT in my place. Good sponsors offer great perspective.

Don't give up -- stay strong, and stay sober. You're on the right path for your family.

User avatar
PaigeB
Trusted Servant
Posts: 8762
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by PaigeB »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:04 pm
I think she lonely and do feel for her. But I can’t be myself around her and feel I’m trying to just please her all the time.
We have to give it away to keep it... Maybe you could change your mind about WHY you call her. Turn your thought to the idea that you can be helpful to her WHEN you call. Of course you can get a new sponsor and maybe you should, but we help others in this program with no expectation that we will get something in return. Calling a lonely woman often is a good lesson that is possible in this situation. Maybe even just texting could be a thing that is helpful.
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

DaveP1951
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:08 pm
Location: WhiteRock British Columbia Canada

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by DaveP1951 »

You sure do sound like you have a solid foundation for your sobriety and a good head on your shoulders. I have read all the responses to your post and everyone of the sounds solid. They all basically point to the fact that you should most definitely relieve her of her "ASSUMED" duties. As far as getting a new sponsor perhaps you could find a temporary one by asking a gal on this group to help you out via messenger or the like. That is if it is allowed.

Alibaba33
Forums Newcomer
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:04 pm

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by Alibaba33 »

Thank you all for your advice. A temporary sponsor would be great if that is an option on here please.

DaveP1951
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:08 pm
Location: WhiteRock British Columbia Canada

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by DaveP1951 »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:24 pm
Thank you all for your advice. A temporary sponsor would be great if that is an option on here please.
May I suggest if no one offers to sponsor you on-line on this thread in the next while try starting a new thread with that specific question and request. Good luck ,

User avatar
avaneesh912
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5312
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by avaneesh912 »

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)

User avatar
PaigeB
Trusted Servant
Posts: 8762
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by PaigeB »

avaneesh912 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 8:17 pm
Here you go:
http://www.e-aa.org/form_sponsors.php
Alibaba33 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:24 pm
Thank you all for your advice. A temporary sponsor would be great if that is an option on here please.
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

User avatar
Jojo2
Trusted Servant
Posts: 1464
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:25 am

Re: First sponsor but not going well

Post by Jojo2 »

Alibaba33 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:24 pm
Thank you all for your advice. A temporary sponsor would be great if that is an option on here please.
The e-AA Group offers a Temporary Sponsor Facility.

To request a temporary sponsor to get you started with the AA programme, please complete our form here:

http://www.e-aa.org/form_sponsors.php


Demand is very high at present and our resources are limited, but you should have a response within 24/48 hours. Do let me know if not.
We advise checking spam mail until you have added the address for your assigned sponsor to your safe contacts.

A temporary sponsor is a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous who is willing to share their experience, strength, and hope with another alcoholic as a way of service to help insure their own sobriety.

Their main function is to help guide the new person towards the 12 Steps, and also, where appropriate, to help guide the new person to face to face meetings and a f2f sponsor in their local AA community.

We assign women for women and men for men.

An excellent introduction on sponsorship, permanent or temporary, with questions and answers, is this pamphlet
from GSO :

Questions and Answers on Sponsorship:
http://aa.org/pdf/products/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf

Post Reply