I've had a slight difference of opinion with my 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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Tosh
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Tosh »

In my area we have lots of long timers who just say, "Get step 1 and go to meetings!"

When I was new this confused me, I was thinking, "So how does Step 1 keep me sober? There must be a lot of power in Step 1!"

But the Big Book teaches the various ways we're powerless over alcohol.

We have a mental obsession, a physical craving. A period off the booze does not make a normal drinker; ever. You cannot stay sober by the memory of how bad it was. You cannot stay sober by self knowledge. If you're an alcoholic you need to recover by having a spiritual experience. Etc. Being powerless over alcohol does not only mean that we're powerless once we take the first, it also means that we're powerless NOT to avoid the first. It's what keeps us locked in that vicious circle of taking the first drink, getting drunk, then taking the first drink, getting drunk; day-in-day out.

I don't know how Step 1 keeps anyone sober! You can learn - and accept - all of Step 1, and all you have is a drunk who understands on an intellectual level how we're powerless. In the meantime the spiritual malady is kicking us around towards a drink; we're pushed to drinking by the way we feel. Step 1 doesn't treat the problem; it just explains what it is.
Last edited by Tosh on Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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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Tosh
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Tosh »

My sponsee phoned me just now; he went to his church, did the Step 3 prayer and says he felt a huge weight lift off his shoulders. He said he's been crying (he's a tough builder type), and he sounds very positive. I know that can all change in an hour though!

He's off to a meeting tonight and I suggested he shares his Step 3 experience.
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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PaigeB
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by PaigeB »

My sponsor adds "emotional sobriety" with mental and physical. She gave me Bill's letter on it, which I believe was originally published in the Grapevine.
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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Tosh
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Tosh »

PaigeB wrote:My sponsor adds "emotional sobriety" with mental and physical. She gave me Bill's letter on it, which I believe was originally published in the Grapevine.
I've just read that for the first time, thanks Paige.
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)

becksdad
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by becksdad »

I don't think anyone has been advocating the 1st step as an end in itself to become sober. I believe myself, though, that the 1st step is critical to becoming willing to follow through with the rest of the program. I had step 1 on an intellectual level for a long time. But it was just a "concept", like all the other steps were to me then. But under the lash of alcoholism, step 1 became REAL. I didn't just understand it, I felt it to my core. It was not pleasant. But it put me in a place where I would GLADLY do everything else in those 12 steps. I would GLADLY do anything necessary to get better. Without feeling, knowing, in the deepest sense, the fact that the 1st step was absolutely true for me, I had been unwilling to follow through with any other steps without reservation.

I can read and understand (or think I understand) something, but it is not really REAL until I live it. For a long time I "wasn't that bad". Therefore I didn't have to do what you all have done, go to the lengths you all go to. And I couldn't remain sober. The day that I broke inside, the day step 1 became real, is my sobriety date. It opened the door for me. And I believe that beeing overwhelmed by the truth of the first step is what enabled me to be willing to "completely give myself to this simple program". After many, many years of struggle, it was the beginning of the longest period of sobriety, so far, and the happiest years of my life. I am grateful that the group of drunks I fell in with encouraged me to get right into the rest of the steps, too. Because, as you said, Tosh, nobody stays sober on the first step alone.

Thanks for letting me share here!

Ed

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Tosh
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Tosh »

becksdad wrote:I had step 1 on an intellectual level for a long time. But it was just a "concept", like all the other steps were to me then.
Maybe that's why I struggle with understanding when people put such a heavy emphasis on Step 1? I understood - at a heart level - that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable before I ever set foot into A.A. or even read the first Step. I'd seriously tried to stop drinking with the help of my doctor and an alcohol counsellor two years before coming to A.A. and failed big style. There were many times I resigned myself to an early death or suicide with a "Life is S*** anyway" attitude.

Both my inner and external world was unmanageable; that was obvious to me too.

Step 1 was never a problem for me; I can accept all aspects of it, even the parts that I have to rely on faith (such as never being a normal drinker again after a period - even years - off the booze). I know I'll never be a normal drinker. The thought of two beers is "What's the point?".

I've heard people share that they did 'Step 1' outside of A.A., and I think that was my experience of it.
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)

becksdad
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by becksdad »

Thank God for AA!! The 1 st step leaves us also in a place, I think, where you just feel like "Geez, now what do I do? I am doomed!" But in AA there's a whole bunch of sober drunks who will show us what they do to get sober, stay sober, and recover on all levels. With AA, we are only doomed if we choose to be doomed. Without AA, I know I am doomed. So thank you from the bottom of my selfish little heart!!! :D . You all saved my life!

Thanks, Ed

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AlisonT
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by AlisonT »

I've always liked the Joe and Charlie explanation of steps 1-3. Step one is a statement of the problem, Step two is a statement of the solution, and Step three is a decision to follow the solution. I also like a description I found on the internet - Step one - there is a power that wants me to die, Step two - there is a power that wants me to live, Step three - choose.

If someone has walked into AA of their own volition and has taken the step of asking me to sponsor them I work the first three steps together. I feel it is unfair to tell them all about the problem without telling them about the solution. If someone is court ordered and still has shown a desire by asking me to sponsor them I spend a little more time on step one but I still talk about 1,2,3 as a group.

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ann2
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by ann2 »

AlisonT wrote:Step one - there is a power that wants me to die, Step two - there is a power that wants me to live, Step three - choose.
thanks Alison for passing that along. Hadn't heard that one.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Marc L
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Marc L »

Image
Hi Tosh;
Looks like you've got one of those (V)ascillator(P)igeon(WantsIt/WantsItNot) kind of guys.
My SOP in those cases is to simply give him/her a copy of my written work and let it be.
If the individual is a (R)eal (A)lcoholic then Alcohol will win as it always does.
Chewed up and then Spit out by Alcohol the individual will begin to see the value of what you have to offer.

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

kenyal
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by kenyal »

Going back to your disagreement with your sponsor regarding his suggestion to keep this guy on step one for a while, since he drinks after you both think he's got step 1 down and deeply understands why he can't drink again...I had many differences of opinion with my sponsor regarding my early sponsorship of others. He was great about saying his piece and not saying more.

There were times further down the road when I wished (but at that point forever uselessly) that he'd been more combative or insistent back then, instead of just getting his points said and then shrugging and watching how things played out. Some of the endings were worse than others.

Why not ask him to expand on his reasoning for saying what he said earlier?

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Tosh
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Tosh »

It's too late, Kenyal, we've done Step 3 and he's been shown how to do a Step 4. On my drive up to my sponsee I prayed that I could just be useful to this bloke and I did just what I felt was right.

It's tough to explain, but my sponsee struggles with living alone; I understand that feeling of isolation, it's just a state of mind; I've felt like that when I've had people around me. He's knows he's powerless over alcohol, he understands this intellectually and at a heart level - I have no doubt about that. He knows it will kill him. He has - surprisingly enough - underwent a voluntary course in helping young offenders and works for free, taking them out to the swimming baths, taking them to the gym; that kind of thing; and he has a chance of getting a real paying occupation out of it. He knows his drinking will pull down the roof on his life. But he gets ground down by the spiritual malady and he drinks. He really needs to 'get to God'; the isolation he feels living alone is what is killing him.

I can't understand how doing more Step 1 work with him will help any. Bill W, obsessing for a drink in the hotel lobby didn't get back onto Step 1, he took action and dropped the nickel. Dr Bob, after his last drunk didn't get back on Step 1, he took action (I think most of us would have went "Nooooooooooooo!" with regards what Dr Bob did on his first day sober; I'm pretty sure he went out and made amends). My sponsee understands the way he feels - the spiritual malady - that drives him to the drink. He needs to change the way he feels, and he does that with God and by taking action. Step 1 is ultimately self knowledge and the Big Book rams home the point that we can't stay sober with self knowledge.
His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall.
Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. HE HAD MUCH KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HIMSELF AS AN ALCOHOLIC. YET ALL REASONS FOR NOT DRINKING WERE EASILY PUSHED ASIDE IN FAVOR OF THE FOOLISH IDEA THAT HE COULD TAKE WHISKEY IF ONLY HE MIXED IT WITH MILK!
But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly any exception, will be ABSOLUTELY UNABLE TO STOP DRINKING ON THE BASIS OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.
I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots. I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was the crushing blow.
He understands Step 1 - I do a thorough job. I trust the Big Book and my own experience. Step 1 didn't do a lot for me, it just explained why I was powerless; I knew I was - my drinking history shows me that - but I just didn't understand why I was. Step 1 is just self knowledge.

Still, I know I have much to learn. I hope I've not been combative. Maybe with more experience I'll know better?
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)

becksdad
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by becksdad »

This has been a very good topic! Especially since I am struggling a bit as a fairly new sponsor myself with a very similar situation. I haven't seen step 1 as self-knowledge, I have seen it as a stance, an "attitude" brought about by severe ego-deflation. In an attempt to simplify this for my own new guy, I proposed the following questions:

1)- Do you want what we have?
2)- Are you willing to go to any length to get it?
3)- Are you willing to completely give yourself to this simple program?

If the answers to all 3 questions are "yes", then you are ready to take these steps, and let's crack on.

If the answer to any of these questions is "no", then we would just be fooling ourselves, because we will half-measure it, and half-measures avail us nothing.

I give my guy credit for honesty. He is willing to tell me the "no" answers. I would have BS'ed you and wasted everyone's time and effort. (matter of fact, did that before, and of course, then I concluded "AA don't work". But when the doodoo hit the fan again, as it was destined to do, where did I turn for help? AA of course!!)

It seems to be my observation that those who insist on an "easier, softer way" tend to flock to the "just don't drink and go to meetings" crowd, and those who are willing to go to any length flock to the step proponents.

Thanks, Ed

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Brock
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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by Brock »

As often happens, I have learned a lot from reading these points of view.

While Sally said it took her about two years, to really accept how unmanageable things had become. I think we should remember, that Tosh is dealing with a fellow who has been detoxed four times, surely he should be an expert in unmanageability. And in this case, I don't think anyone can suggest he is rushing step one.

I have seen a great difference in my AA experience, from people who stroll in saying "I might have a problem", to those like myself who have visited hell. Therefore, we surely can't have a one size fits all approach.

Becksdad says he likes the three questions approach, do you want what we have? willing to go to any length? etc. here again, this can backfire. The first meeting I went to, there was one person there I knew from business dealings, never knew he was an alcoholic, but did know he was a gossip monger, and about the most unhappy miserable prick I ever met, and he told me he had been sober six years, want what he had ? no way ! So my feeling is, it takes a while to figure out who's who, before you can find some members who have what you would like.

What I also have a little trouble with, is why does anyone go back to there sponsor, to see if they agree with the approach being taken with the person they are sponsoring. We have evidence right here, of one person saying they wished there sponsor, had done things a little differently. Surely it's a bit like being a parent, we endorse the things we think were good in our own parents, and pass them on to our children, and the things not so good, well we do what we think would be best.

At any rate, the care and concern Tosh takes with sponsorship, any alcoholic would be lucky to have him on there side.

God bless all who contribute here.
Brock.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Re: I've had a slight difference of opinion with my sponsor.

Post by jimbo d »

Tosh wrote:I had a chat with my sponsor this morning about a guy I've been working with.

The background is that this guy has a religion, goes to church every Sunday, and he's an alcoholic. He got six weeks sober and then had two one-day-relapses with about three days sober inbetween. He's now two days sober, I've been through the Big Book with him upto Chapter 3, he's had Chapter 4 (We agnostics) for his homework and my plan was to go around, re-cap what we've went through so far with regards Step 1, ask him if he has a Higher Power (which he has), and then do a formal Step 3 with him, and then get on through to book so I can show him how to do a Step 4.

My sponsor disagrees. He says I should impress upon him the importance of not picking up that first drink, that he's effectively still drinking (that confused me, I should've asked what he meant by that) and that we should cover Step 1 again, and that something's missing if he picked up a drink. He also said that getting a guy to do a Step 4 (a tough step) after just stopping drinking isn't a good idea. He'll be feeling bad enough already, so heaping a Step 4 on top of that wouldn't be helpful.

I take my sponsors last point, but still kinda disagree with my sponsor; I think this guy needs God - he already understands Step 1 (Step 1 doesn't keep us sober otherwise why have we another 11 Steps? To stay sober I needed some measure of inner peace and that doesn't come from Step 1) - so I want to get him moving along with the program. I did mention Dr Bob's story (he didn't mess about going through Step 1 again after his last drunk) and my sponsor suggested I get to some out of area meetings to hear some different takes on sponsorship (sponsorship is weak in my area). I will do that.

But, in the first instance, I'm asking for your experience? What have you done in circumstances such as this?

Thanks in advance. :mrgreen:
First, Pray. ask for some guidance. Second. I do not have an opinion. All I know how to do is what is in "Working with others" Next, I am with you Tosh. My whole life everyone has been pressing upon me the importance of not taking the first drink. and yet there I was. And your right, a lack of power that's your boys dilemma. I think your right about getting busy with those the steps. You can be drunk and believe your an Alkie, you can be drunk and believe god can help you. We need to have a spiritual experience that brings about a personalilty changed sufficient to provide recovery....and we don't get that admitting alcohol is kicking our ass, or even believing god can save it. We have to do some work. I also would suggest to him that if he starts getting the itch that he did what Bill W. did And go find someone to help. It does not matter if he's newly sober or if he has the information. It ain't for the guy he's helping, it's for him. Then when get back with you....you guys do more on those steps. But if he doesn't respond. There is a point where you may have to let him go. Just remember you did not make him a drunk, nor can you get him sober. That's between him and God.

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