Sponsor.....or not?

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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SDB
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Sponsor.....or not?

Post by SDB » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:49 pm

I'm asking opinion here... here's me: sober for 2 years 9 months, at first it was horrendous, then gradually it got easier and easier, until it stopped... getting easier that is. It did not get more difficult but simply plateaued. I had stopped going to meetings, my work/career was improving rapidly since I had stopped drinking (gee..... who'd have thought it?) the long hours meant I would rather get home and enjoy the dusk of a day with my family rather than rush to a meeting. Not an excuse, just a choice. I read and tried to stay connected to what I had learned so far, but at no point did I think the nut was cracked or worry about it. I did not complete the steps and am now taking action to remedy that.

This forum has been an insight and an education on the steps and how to approach them. I do not have a sponsor, I have never had a sponsor and do not feel like I have missed out having a sponsor. When I hear others talk about their sponsors, it is mostly in the early days when a phone call was needed when tempted to pick up, that the sponsor seemed of assistance. Please ignore my ignorance if there are supporting, educating, effective and dedicated sponsors reading this, having never had one my opinion is redundant of course... but the question, in a round about way is, What's your opinion of doing the steps without a sponsor? I feel like I can try and if I struggle I can try and find a sponsor, but really, am I kidding myself? I also feel you (I, anyone) is more likely to cut corners, if you're not keen on one course of action required in a step, you could be at half hearted. Having a sponsor might..... check your workings out.... so to speak.

One part of me feels having a sponsor validates your completion of the steps.

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PaigeB
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by PaigeB » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:19 pm

We can only ever offer our experience, strength & hope with each other.

I sponsor the way I was sponsored. Face to face with the Big Book between us, hit a few meetings together, meet once a week (or later once a month) and keep in touch by phone or text or email.

When I discovered online AA, I thought I could try to sponsor online and gave it a shot, but I do not feel like I was very effective. I really had no experience with sponsorship online and therefore had no experience to share. I am used to eye to eye contact & tone of voice & body language and laughs and hugs and well, instant reactions that are just not possible online... well I could not spot them because I had no experience. I had to withdraw from online sponsoring after about 2 weeks.

I do not know how effective of a sponsor I would be if I did not myself have a sponsor. She took me through the first 164 pages of the book, helped me complete my 4th Step & heard my 5th Step. She holds my hand when needed and holds me accountable too. She is an inspiration about how this program works in tough going.

I heard once that "You cannot fix a broken tool with a broken tool" talking about my brain... Her insight into what the words in the Big Book meant has been priceless.
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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Niagara
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by Niagara » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:20 am

My own experience was I've had and continue to have sponsorship.

Initially my sponsor was very controlling, and honestly I felt more stressed out and like I was in recovery to please her. There's a difference between taking no crap and running someones life for them, if you know what I mean.

My current sponsor I spend a lot of time with, as in, hours a week. He has a group of us all doing book study, and what an eye opener it is. Although I got a basic knowledge of the steps and how they work (for which I will be forever thankful to my first sponsor) the experience I have had with my current one has really enriched the experience, and I am gaining understanding not only of what my real problem is (and it has little to do with alchohol beyond the physical craving aspect) but am building a real connection to my higher power, with my sponsors guidance.

Would I have gotten the same experience going it alone, and perhaps using a therapist or some such for my fifth step? No, honestly I couldn't, for I found, and still find it difficult at times to spot my own defects. If I don't know they're at work, it's real hard to change them.
The book read with someone who knows what they're talking about is......amazing. So much richer than reading alone.
He was also instrumental in smashing a lot of denial I had about the way my mind works, my actions and behaviour - all done with loving guidance in mind, even though it's been really hard to hear a lot of it.
I would go so far as to say, I was running blind prior to this guy helping me out. I was still okish but hadn't had enough change or access to a higher power to sustain me for very long.
The work we have done thus far.....the only way I can describe it is I feel as if I've been given a new pair of glasses. It's a really strange thing and I don't know if others will identify with this. I see everything from a different perspective, have a strength that I never dreamed I could have. A knowing that it's all going to be ok, the future no longer terrifies me, and much of the past which used to have me scared of my own shadow is now merely a stepping stone that got me where I am today.
All of this has happened gradually, but I didn't get this with my first sponsor, and I really don't believe I would have come anywhere near it on my own.

My sponsor would say his job is to foster a connection between me and God through the 12 steps, guide me to build this connection, until It is secure enough that I can maintain it on my own, via the work I put in on myself and with other alcoholics. Wow. What a gift.
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month -
Theodore Roosevelt

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positrac
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by positrac » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:34 am

Experience and suggestions because I can make excuses on anything anytime and I am darn good at it! But if you go back out it is a matter of time before you lose what little control you thought you had/have because alcohol will take it all back and not ask you for permission.

If you have a flat line issue today then I suggest that you re-evaluate priorities because you aren't worth a penny to anyone drunk and using or whatever your drug(s) of choices have been in the past.

It is no more than 1-2 hours a day to go to a meeting and find another person like minded to talk with about life in recovery. Go to a new meeting, area and or all of the above because this gift we have been given is one we have few resets with and we might not make it back next time.

Just consider providing pros and cons on your thoughts and then number these items in which are most and least important. As I mentioned if we drink we lose it all in time...... Something to consider as you are very new to recovery and not sure how long you drank. But this I know is old habits die hard and you have/had the desire to find AA and stop drinking and if you've worked the steps into or past step 4&5 then you know what you left behind.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
George Allen, Sr.

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tyg
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by tyg » Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:46 am

Alcoholics Anonymous would not exist if we didn't need a sponsor.

Experience shows, most "Real Alcoholic" can not recover from alcoholism on their own knowledge and willpower. It is necessary to have a recovered alcoholic (aka sponsor) guide us through the process to get a spiritual awakening. The first 164 pages of Alcoholics Anonymous, outlines what is involved to recover. Nowhere in those pages will you find the word "sponsor(ship)" but, sponsorship is talked about heavily throughout those pages. How vital it is to work 1 on 1 with another alcoholic and, there is an entire chapter dedicated to "Working with others."

The alcoholic mind is a dangerous neighborhood, don't go there alone
Please get a sponsor
Please study the book, Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcohol is only a symptom...we must have help to uncover and discover the real problem
A Non-Alcoholic doesn't understand alcoholic thinking and the queer mental conditions surrounding that first drink that prevents normal functioning of the will power.


Chapter INTO ACTION
We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with an­ other person when we see good reasons why we should do so. The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time new­ comers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods.(like trying to take the steps without a sponsor and figuring it out with our own knowledge)

Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story. (BB pg 72-73)
~The secret to the AA program is the first three words on page 112~

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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by Lali » Wed Apr 01, 2015 5:06 am

tyg wrote:Alcoholics Anonymous would not exist if we didn't need a sponsor.
I have to disagree with this statement. In fact, the Big Book does not even talk about sponsorship. I believe the more correct statement may be "Alcoholics Anonymous would not exist if we didn't have the fellowship of other alcoholics."

In response to the OP, my experience was that having a sponsor in early sobriety kept me accountable. Whereas, I might not have been as diligent working the steps on my own. I also wanted to hear the experience of someone who has "been there" if there was anything in the Big Book that I didn't quite "get".
Having a sponsor does not have to be a life long commitment. Many AAs feel comfortable without a sponsor after they have been guided through the steps.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 5:09 am

What's your opinion of doing the steps without a sponsor? I feel like I can try and if I struggle I can try and find a sponsor, but really, am I kidding myself?
You could without a sponsor. But for the fifth step, you would need a "Tight Lipped Person" to help you highlight the character defects. As others pointed the few pages in the chapter "Into Action" is a great section of the book to understand why that action is important.
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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positrac
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by positrac » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:15 am

Lali wrote:
tyg wrote:Alcoholics Anonymous would not exist if we didn't need a sponsor.
I have to disagree with this statement. In fact, the Big Book does not even talk about sponsorship. I believe the more correct statement may be "Alcoholics Anonymous would not exist if we didn't have the fellowship of other alcoholics."

In response to the OP, my experience was that having a sponsor in early sobriety kept me accountable. Whereas, I might not have been as diligent working the steps on my own. I also wanted to hear the experience of someone who has "been there" if there was anything in the Big Book that I didn't quite "get".
Having a sponsor does not have to be a life long commitment. Many AAs feel comfortable without a sponsor after they have been guided through the steps.

I agree with the ^^^above^^^ points. I like to push hard although I believe that willingness is first and foremost part of the desire to go into the next phase of our recovery.

Sponsor finding is easy and so easy one could be mislead if the timing and if that person is really being sponsored. Old saying is junk in and junk out kind of deal. If you want what we have then emulate the group and sadly fall in line like a herd does. Self reflection, honesty and purging of old ways via step 4 and 5 will reveal much about the condition of the person. Normally it reflects efforts and also it may lead to more work outside the rooms because of past things.

Bottom line is as people we make our mark and it is our destiny of sorts. And once you have some time you can keep or break off the sponsor theory. Part of this journey is keeping some connection with another who is like us and by doing this we will not lose sight of our defects of character. It is continued education even when you don't think it is.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
George Allen, Sr.

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Tosh
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by Tosh » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:28 am

SDB wrote: One part of me feels having a sponsor validates your completion of the steps.
Really, a spiritual awakening validates the steps, which really are never completed. Apologies for being a bit of a bore. :oops:

But one great thing about being sponsored - and I mean the BEST - is that we learn how to sponsor others. I've found that my life just isn't about me and my happiness. When I made it all about me and my happiness, I ended up miserable, contemplating suicide, and at my first A.A. meeting. Selfishness - self centredness does that to us.

So by being sponsored, we learn how to sponsor, and this opens up a whole different ball-game. I'm sure A.A. must get boring after a few years for people who aren't active in sponsoring. After a while, we hear all the same kind of stuff at meetings, often see the same faces, drink the same coffee, eat the same biscuits, but what makes it all really fun is helping another alkie recovery; sponsoring them.

I've made some great friends through sponsoring. I'm fairly laid back, it's always a friendly affair with the guys I sponsor, and we do it shoulder-to-shoulder. There's no 'authority' in sponsorship and quite often the guys I sponsor are better educated or have more material wealth than myself. That kind of stuff doesn't really matter. I am funnier than all my sponsees though; I've not sponsored anyone funnier than myself. Well apart from Michael, but he's funny for a whole lot of different reasons.

Anyway, I digress, for that reason alone I'd say get a sponsor. They're can also be good for lots of other stuff too, like motivation, someone we trust to do our Step 5 with, advice when it comes to amends and how best to approach them. Just find a guy you like who has been through the steps, and ask.

Them's my thoughts.
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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Brock
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by Brock » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:45 pm

Good subject which has come up in the past, always interesting. avaneesh gave the answer as it’s presented in the book, but there was a little discussion about what the book says between tyg, (welcome to e-AA), and Lali. I agree with Lali that the book doesn’t speak about it, and disagree with what tyg put forward to make his point. The into action passages he quoted speaks only about having someone to hear your fourth step, nothing about the rest of the steps. To me where the book speaks in chapter seven “working with others,” I believe we have to assume where they instruct us to assist newcomers, even by bringing them into our homes; which for obvious reasons doesn’t happen much anymore, well part of assisting newcomers must have been instruction, no point bringing someone to live with us if we didn’t tell him how to get well. I can’t remember seeing much if anything about going to meetings in the book either, some things I believe Bill just didn’t see the need to speak much about.

For me Niagara’s post spoke volumes, her first sponsor not so good controlling type, current one great progress especially spiritually. Picking one I guess is not a complete crap shoot, you look for someone who seems to know what they are talking about, and for me most importantly looks happy and contented with life, I would even look for the one who mentions the spiritual side of things often. For exactly the reason that she mentioned, it says “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps,” if you take someone through the steps and they don’t have the spiritual experience, you couldn’t have been much of a sponsor. Tosh said the best thing about being sponsored is that we learn how to sponsor others, I believe this to be true, but we have had many stories given here about crappy sponsors, so it also sometimes shows us how not to do it.

I had no sponsor, for my fifth I asked a person I liked from the local NA meeting, he sometimes came to AA and seemed better fitted to me than the AA members, I live in a third world country and race was a factor. There is little doubt I could have done things faster with a sponsor, but there is no belief in my mind whatever, that a sponsor could have done a better job than I have done on my own. Rather than asking certain questions I had to dig deep for the answers myself, but those answers stuck, very many “ah-ha” moments when I found the solution. I think this gave me a much closer relationship with the one to whom I asked the most questions, my higher power was and is my sponsor.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by TonyWARMS » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:23 pm

I agree with Brock on this.
I don't have an actual sponsor, but have so many people to call, if needed, that I don't feel I'm missing out.
If you use the numbers you get at meetings, maybe no actual sponsor is necessary for you.
Whatever it takes for you, go right on with it.

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

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whipping post
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by whipping post » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:08 pm

I tend to overcomplicate and overanalyze things so having a sponsor kept things moving and saved me time.

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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by SDB » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:39 am

Thank you for the feedback, I wouldn't consider an online sponsor, I would want a face to face. Most of the views on here simply confirm what I was thinking. Ok, ever onward, find a sponsor.

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tyg
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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by tyg » Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:04 pm

There is a wealth of information about where the term, "sponsor(ship)" came from, how important it is to work 1 on 1 with others, find a God and take the steps with another alcoholic in our literature:
A.A. Comes of Age
Pass it On
Doctor Bob and the Good Old Timers
Alcoholics Anonymous
Questions & Answers on Sponsorship http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/aa-liter ... ponsorship
~The secret to the AA program is the first three words on page 112~

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Re: Sponsor.....or not?

Post by clouds » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:01 pm

My experience:

My first sponser was the woman who did the 12 step call on me, she was really wise, answered all my questions and supported me to read the BB, get to as many meetings as possible, and she drove me to plenty. She was effective on the spiritual aspect and most of her guidance was toward finding a power greater than myself by which I could live without drinking.

She moved to Texas two months later, so I panicked, looked around and chose someone who was in the middle of a psychiatric crisis. Looked around again with the idea of finding someone balanced and at peace with themselves, a happy person, calm and stable who had worked the steps. Its great to find someone like that and that woman shall ever be called The Sponsor. Although she relocated after a year and a half, we kept in touch for several years, and I got other sponsers as I was moving from place to place, but The Sponsor shared with me and showed my by example, strength and hope how to do the steps and to sort out the whole inventory thing. I was not familiar with spiritual things and I didnt even understand what words like, pride, self pity, resentment really meant. She was big on writting things down and phoning her every couple of days with mini inventories so that I could get familiar with what it meant to take a hard honest look at myself. I have to say she was a very strong person and didn't mince words if she had any inkling I was off track or being dishonest with myself.

Well, I'm still sober. Its amazing.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.

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