Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my part?

Discussions related to Sponsors, Sponsoring, Working with others,
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Postby Dallas » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:16 am

I was re-reading through the thread and have some questions.


Since the economy tanked in 2007, I have been more or less unemployed, and therefore doing a lot more service work with sponsees.

1. Was the problem w/ sponsees going on before your employment situation changed?

2. "more or less" -- re: unemployed. Not sure exactly what that means. More unemployed or less unemployed?

3. How do you support yourself?

4. What are your personal relations like, "outside" of AA?

5. You mentioned, that because of the heavy traffic in So Cal, that you primarily only attend "late meetings." How late are they?

6. What do you do during the daytime, when the traffic is heavy?

The reason I ask is: Just trying to better understand when the problem started, and also what's going on in your life that may be affecting the sponsor/sponsee relationships.

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Answers to questions:

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:31 pm

Thanks for re-reading. Theres a lot of stuff in there.
Here are the answers, in a nutshell:

1: No, not really. I had a lot less free time, and only sponsored 1 or 2 people at a time because I won't make a commitment to help someone if I'm not available to answer the phone, be there for them, etc. because I'm working.

2: The last actual job I had was working 80 hours a week at a Real Estate law firm. The amount of stress was just not worth it, compared to what money I was making, so I quit. However they still call me when they're busy and want me fill in for someone and edit documents, do Court filings, research, Depositions, writing, etc.
I think its a total waste of time to try and start a business or make money when the economy is the way it is, I'd rather downshift and devote my time to something worthwhile, instead.

3: I moved into a MUCH smaller house, totally cut all expenses, and started a small wholesale business (furniture) in which I can work pretty much whenever I feel like it.

4: They're OK, I guess. I have a mix of long term friendships of people in & out of LA, and also I have a lot of casual acquaintances here. My long term friends are mostly non-AA people. (The ones in AA that I knew 20 years ago didn't make it, but I do have current friends with long term sobriety who I didn't know 20 or 25 years ago.) I've had the same sponsor for about 15 years.

5: They're at 10PM. There are other ones in town that start at Midnight or 1AM, but those are pretty much like the Rocky Horror Picture Show and barely resemble AA meetings!

6: LA is roughly 100 miles on each side, with something like 70,000 miles of side streets. The last car I had, had 560,000 miles on it when I sold it. You have to kind of plan ahead here, what you can do and when. Otherwise you can get stuck in some neighborhood that you either have to spend 2 hours in traffic getting back, or else just wait till 8PM when traffic stops. I limit my work to the LA Basin, from Downtown to about Sta. Monica. Otherwise if I have to go to outlying areas (South Bay, Valley, Inland Empire, Antelope Valley, Victorville, Arrowhead, etc) then I wait until traffic is over.

As far as the sponsees I had back before 2008 when I was working a lot & not going to this meeting hall: One of them is sober & living on the East Coast with his wife & new kid, one of them went off his psych meds and is using & homeless in Downtown LA someplace, one of them is sober & lives in London, and the last one is still sober (I think) but fired me because he'd rather get in a relationship & move in with a girl who pays for everything, than do Step work & other AA stuff. So its kind of a mixed bag, with the older sponsees. The longest I've kept a sponsee is 6 or 7 years, although I still talk to the ones who live out of town now.

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Postby Dallas » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:12 pm

As far as the sponsees I had back before 2008 when I was working a lot & not going to this meeting hall:

I wonder if that could be the answer.

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LOL - You're right...

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:22 pm

Funny, I think you're right.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about this exact same topic last night. He thinks the 10PM people there are too "lightweight" and don't really have anything that he wants. (He only has a year, but is totally relentless about doing his work, showing up, etc...)

Not ALL the newcomers there are trying to get their Court Cards signed or just "along for the ride", but it is pretty close. It does fluctuate wildly from month to month though, depending on who randomly shows up...

BTW -- Thanks for the unbiased advice.
I really appreciate having an internet forum to bounce stuff off of people anonymously, without having it get all around the meeting hall, the next day!


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Postby Dallas » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:21 pm

Some groups and clubs are not very conducive to recovery. When the prevailing environment is like that -- sobriety will be precarious, if any. And, because of the overwhelming peer pressure from those that don't do the deal -- it becomes very difficult to sponsor in those environments.

When I'm sponsoring guys locally, I don't care if they go to a meeting each day. But, I do want to know which meetings they are going to, what kind of meetings they're going to, and to at least be at the ones that I attend. If they're going where there are many constant relapsers, and no structure or discipline in the groups or meetings -- it pretty much tells me what to expect of them next.

When I moved from L.A. to where I'm living now -- I nearly flipped out hearing and seeing some of the stuff that went on in some of the meetings. Had I not already had a solid foundation in AA -- I don't believe I could have stayed sober here. Some really odd-ball crap from some of the people that claimed to have 20, 25 years sober, bragging that they never took the steps, didn't read the book, didn't have sponsors, when it was okay to drink wine, and when it was okay to go ahead and get drunk or smoke pot and that discipline or moral behavior and changes had nothing to do with AA or sobriety. The guy who claimed to be sober the longest -- was the pot dealer in the parking lot selling pot & pills to newcomers. When I'd call to check in w/ my sponsor in L.A., for several years he thought I was making it up and that it couldn't be that bad. :lol: Things are a little bit better now but not enough to write home about. After getting ridiculed and character assassinated and criticized a lot, at least a few of the meetings now have a Big Book in them, and periodically they will be discussing the 12 Steps.

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Holy shlt, dude...

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:38 am

I totally believe that. I got sober in another state, but in a large metropolitan city. I was recently back there for the first time in many years, and I couldn't believe what was considered "normal". I was asked to go over the 4th Step so many times that I actually had a little seminar. It seems they were stopping at the 3rd Column, because that was all that was shown in the book, and nobody could figure out how to do the rest of it, so they pretty much skipped it. But what you describe sounds WAY worse. I'd rather live in a station wagon in LA than have to put up with stuff like that. I thought I had it rough because they get together in a little circle in the parking lot to talk about what a jerk I am for making them do all that work for nothing... LOL :twisted:

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Postby richardwy » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:02 am


Haven't posted until now. Does my heart good to see what takes place in this forum. Keep it up.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:20 pm

Thank you, richardwy. I've been hoping that you'd share. Welcome to the forum!

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Postby Toast » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:45 am

Liked this:

(If it were totally up to God, we wouldn't need a textbook, meetings, peers, or sponsors/sponsees, etc]

Had a rough few weeks with sponsee's. One of them came in a year or so back and was digging ditches for living now thanks to AA he's now the area manager with the company car, phone, shirt, tie you name it and now wont return my calls or go to AA meetings. Called him a few times with no response, after reading the above i'm going to call him today and leave him a message reminding him what his priorities are. :wink:

He was a good sponsee and keen to get well now big shotism seems to have crept in? Like many he suffered from ' Status Anxiety.' You know the type, always angry because they couldnt be what there ego demanded they be. And once they get it they think they done it themselves and now they need no one but themselves. Then they go back to relying on there own thinking and after a few months of that madness its back to the AA drawing board, if they're lucky. :?

Another asked to start going through the programme with me going round to his house after work once a week to discuss the steps. And guess what, at the start of week 1 he fell off the radar? Calls not returned, no message to say where he was or why he didnt show up at his own home? He did call me 2 nights later to discuss the weather or some crap like that, no mention of the programme? Cant figure out if its fear with him or he just said he wanted to go through the programme because he has a sober girlfriend in AA who's life has taken off like a rocket thanks to good sponsorship and an honest desire to get well. She is a great example of what AA can do for your life. :D

And just to throw this in the mix, i had a sponsor who was cheating on his wife and telling her he was meeting up with sponsee's, like me, when he was away meeting his girlfriend. Like everyone who plays that game he got caught and his sober AA wife was distraught. The sad thing was we were all really good friends and my wife and his got on well and always kept in contact. Many times we had dinner together and enjoyed each others company. Now due to the guys selfish behaviour thats all stopped, him and i are still friends but deep down i resent being used as the 'beard' by someone i really trusted. Hope his wife doesnt think i was in on it? I did have my suspicions but kept them to myself, just like i've kept this to myself until now! 8)

Just needed to get that last one off my chest, thanks for letting me ramble :lol:

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Thanks, Toast!

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:24 pm

I'm amazed that things are pretty much the same here in Los Angeles, as they are in Scotland! Its nice to know that others go through the same stuff that I do. I was just thinking about all this, this morning. (obsessing? perhaps... lol)

RE: Your sponsee with a year sober -- In New York, that situation is known as "Receiving the Holy Trinity of AA". In other words, it happens when they finally get a job, a vehicle, and something to f*ck, all at the same time. (Usually happens between 4-8 months sober.) After that, they're clearly "cured", and as far as they're concerned you can just go shove it. (Or worse. This message board won't let me print the actual direct quote from one of my lovely protegees, from earlier this month... lol) This is a very common stumbling block to long term sobriety, it happens a LOT. I even warn newcomers about it, in advance -- but once they stop doing the maintenance work, and all the denial and excuses start to kick in, you may as well be talking to a dead chipmunk.

Your 2nd guy, he seems like he's obviously just looking for someone to go through the motions with, but not actually do anything. A lot of people are like that. I got "fired" a couple of weeks ago by a sponsee who wanted to do everything but work on the Steps. When I insisted that he actually show up and honor his Step appointments (after missing 6 or 7 in a row), he said I was "overstepping my boundaries" (I love that one.. lol), and fired me. Your man wants to look like he's doing the work to hold on to his girlfriend, but God help you, if you actually try and make him do anything.

As far as the sponsor thing -- we've all got our favorite crappy sponsor stories. I went through a few, before I finally got the one I've had for the last 15 years. The first one I had broke my nose because he didn't want to "fire" me, so went around telling people I started a fight with him (nobody believed it, turns out he had done the same thing to someone else as well, beforehand). The second one kept borrowing money from me, then split town without telling me first. He later went on to run for Manhattan, New York City Council (He lost, due to some past "transgressions" that the press dug up -- maybe 9th Step issues??).
Hopefully you all can patch up the differences with your friends & your wives. I find that if I keep my side of the street clean, people eventually come round and see things for what they really are.

The thing that really kills me -- that I can't figure out for the life of me, is this: When I spend almost a year in close contact with a sponsee, seeing him daily, spending all kinds of time with him, helping out with all kind of things I probably shouldn't be doing because they're outside the "scope" of AA (Court cases, personal & financial stuff, car drama, outside interests, etc...); then we usually develop some kind of bond. Call it trust, friendship, camaraderie, honour, respect, love, whatever. As soon as I get "fired", all that goes out the window. It seems like they totally forgot everything we've done together, and the bond we've created counts for NOTHING.
Of course, the trade-off is that after that, the ex-sponsee gets to sponsor himself, does not have anyone around that is going to call him on his shlt (and/or denial, behavior, etc.), and does not have to work Steps or do anything else he doesn't feel like doing.
Or if he wants to look good, he can simply choose a different sponsor who can't be bothered with any of the above - because he wants numerous sponsees without having to do any of the work, either! Its a "win-win" situation (so long as actually staying sober isn't important...).
So maybe I just answered my own question?

It just never fails to amaze me that sponsees are so willing to trash an extremely valuable long term relationship, just so they can avoid doing relatively simple AA work.
Its truly astonishing to see what can happen to someone's mindset once a little delayed maintenance has kicked in, enabling that "stinking thinking" to once again take over.
Whats even worse is that the sponsee can't see it coming, and whatever irrational, kooky behavior he's doing, seems perfectly rational to himself, no matter how kooky the justification & rationalizations seem to others.
This shlt never ceases to amaze me...
\m/ :twisted:

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