Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my part?

Discussions related to Sponsors, Sponsoring, Working with others,
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Somebody forgot their "Gratitude List"

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:55 pm

From your post: "One that stuck with me was a distraught young guy who got drunk, grabbed a knife and decided to go home and kill his alcoholic dad. Unfortunately his life long friend tried to stop him so he ended up getting what was meant for the dad. And like a typical alcoholic the dad still cant figure out what it was all about, 'who me?'"

A few years back, my friend Uriel got shot to death by one of his own sponsees!
The guy killed him right in an AA meeting, down in Long Beach someplace.
From what I heard later, he was mad at Uriel for not letting him have his own way about something, and couldn't understand why Uriel wouldn't cosign his BS.
So he wanted to make a big scene in front of the group & get everyone to feel sorry for him.
My friend was really a great guy. He had been a champion swimmer at College, but got some kind of horrible spine injury in a car accident & wound up getting all strung out on drinking & pain pills. He depressed for many years before he finally got sober. Once he got sober, he was constantly being of service & always out doing something even when he was in pain.
Of course, later on in Court the Defense Attorneys tried to turn the Trial into a total circus and make up any kind of awful stuff they could, about Uriel. (Anything they say is fair game if they think it would sway the Jury into getting the guy out of it, so they basically tried to blame Uriel for getting shot...)
Fortunately, nobody believed them. The Prosecutor had an endless supply of character witnesses for Uriel, thanks to his AA service over the years. ... ssage/5348

So come to think of it now, I'm lucky that all my (ex) sponsees ever do is talk shlt in the parking lot & just threaten to beat me up every once & a while... lol


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Postby Toast » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:46 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:
Last edited by Toast on Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

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AA is no longer the answer for me...

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:36 pm

After 23 years of continuous sobriety, AA is no longer the answer for me.

The reason for this, is that it is impossible for me to rely on being able to give back to the newcomer, in order to maintain my own sobriety.
There is just NO way for me to be able to base my own sobriety on working with newcomers. Period.

I finally realized that its just impossible for me to find any more newcomers in the rooms (at least the ones I go to), who are serious about recovery (as per Big Book, step work, etc). The standard formula for "recovery" here that everyone uses for newcomers has devolved into mass socializing, "fellowshipping" at dances & other non-AA events, and the occasional attendance of lightweight "group therapy" format AA meetings - but only if someone makes them go, and IF it fits into their busy newcomers' schedule.

When I pick up newcomer sponsees, they always wind up using these others as an example, and become totally unwilling to do the deal (if you know what I mean & I think you do -- if you've taken the time to read all 80 pages of this thread). No matter what I tell them about the Big Book, Promises, relapse, etc - they think I'm lying, or crazy, or both -- I dunno. They really think they can sit in "fun" meetings, (when they're in the mood) never do anything else, and it will somehow keep them sober.

In the last month or so since I've started this thread, I've completely changed the meetings I go to. Dallas is right -- the late meeting at the meeting hall I was going to has a very permissive and transitory culture to it, therefore its very difficult to get any kind of lasting sobriety there; either for myself or anyone else. I thought if I stuck to my guns and was an example for people, it might be good to have someone with more than 6 months or a year sober around. I was wrong.

In any case, I've started going to a couple of very basic, strictly Big Book meetings that don't have all the "group therapy" type stuff in them; plus the usual Mens' group and a big speaker meeting. I've met an amazing 82 year old man who has been sober since 1970, he's been giving me a lot of perspective that comes from having 18 more years sober than I do. My sponsor lives 2 Counties over, but I've taken to making the 3 hour trip out there more often to spend more time with him, and go to his Step Study meeting. I think I'm getting all I need, for myself.

As far as giving back to others to keep what I have, I simply can't rely on AA to be the place to do this anymore. The whole culture of AA has disintegrated to the point where it is no longer possible, or even worth the frustration, to work with newcomers. I hesitate to use the phrase "pearls before swine", but thats the best way to describe what its like trying to get these guys to even CONSIDER being willing to absorb the Big Book and do some Step work!

No matter what I do, these newcomer guys I find all want the "red carpet" treatment, and won't do the work. At first, they act like they're all desperate and willing, but as soon as they get the least bit comfortable, it all changes. They get MAD at me if I either 1: offer them suggestions, 2: give them a gentle "hint", or 3: just go ahead and tell them to shut the fock up & do the godd@mn work.
Even the ones who pretend to be all "badass" have the most incredible sense of entitlement, and over the years I've noticed it getting worse. (I used to think grumpy old people were kind of funny, now I know what they meant...) I don't believe this sense of entitlement and self-indulgence is a trait especially or uniquely common to alcoholics, I really believe that its something that can only be the recent result of being raised in suburban American TV culture.

Therefore, I'm now putting my "giving back to others" energy into other, non-AA places and different, non-AA people.
I know this comes off as being a bit bitter and unrealistic, but its the truth. I'm not a control freak, I'm not unusually rigid or demanding, people I work with think I've got a good sense of humor and deal with situations effectively & creatively, and I'm pretty good at motivating people (outside of AA) to do work.

I'm just totally unwilling to compromise when it comes to sponsorship, which means I have obviously created a lose-lose situation. I've burned through 2 more sponsees in the last month - same old story, blah blah blah ad nauseum. Nobody coming in to the Rooms takes this seriously anymore, and I can't afford to pick up any more frustrating resentments!

So this is an epic thread, but at least its helped me work through this - perhaps it will eventually also help someone else.
Please let me know what you think, if anyone cares to slog through all this... :twisted:

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Postby Toast » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:08 am

Trailers comment about ‘lightweight "group therapy" format AA meetings’ hits the mark with me. :D

We have this new craze here for Step 11 meetings where folks sit in the dark for 20-30 minutes and focus on a sweat smelling candle in the middle of the table. They seem to be run my aspiring middle class alcoholics who are trying to make contact with their ‘inner child’ while nothing is mentioned about the mayhem caused by the ‘outer adult?’ :?

And as for today’s batch of sponsees I think they’ve heard too many old timers share how they had to pay back lots of money to folks when they got sober. This is something they are not prepared to do. ‘Big shotism’ has made society sick ‘greed is good’ and ripping off your fellow man is what life is all about these days. And if your sick head lives in that world then the bigger the conman the higher the status. So when they finally come into AA that delusion that they could’ve been the next big thing ‘if only’ is all they have left. And they aint gonna give that one up without a real fight. To me that’s why so many AA’s don’t even start the programme, because they know that by the time they finish it all those myths they have about themselves will be shattered. 8)

Its no coincidence Frank Sinatra’s ‘ My Way’ is the alcoholics’ national anthem! :lol:

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thanks for your response

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:41 am

Thanks for your response.
Personally, if I could track down my "inner child" I'd probably beat the crap out of it with a car antenna.

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Postby Dallas » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:51 am

AA saved my life. No doubts about it. And, it has given me a new life that is way beyond better than anything I could have imagined happening to me -- especially considering the condition that my condition ended up in.

I feel a sense of debt and duty to repay, by offering to share what I've been given -- and to pass it on to the next person that will be willing to have anything to do w/ it.

It's not my job to care about whether they want it or not.
It's not my job to care about what they do with it.
It's not my job to care about how they do it.

My job is simple: to share, to offer, and be willing to give it, and to do it myself -- no matter what.

During my first couple of years I was often reminded that I had made a commitment to "go to any lengths." And, my sponsor often asked me, when I'd have a bitch or a complaint, "does that fall under the category of ANY -- or is it something else?" :lol:

I think we all go through certain phases of development -- as SOBER members of AA. As I see some of those guys still around -- very few of them -- that got sober in the 50's, 60's and 70's -- they made it from the phase they were in -- to the next phase.

Sometimes, the phase that I have been in is wonderful! I feel elated. And, it's rather easy to continue to do the things that got me into that phase.

Then, I'll hit a phase of development that absolutely SUCKED! :lol: EVERYTHING -- ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING -- went WRONG! :lol: :lol: But, I stuck it out long enough to get to the next phase. I don't give myself too much credit for it -- and I don't give God a whole lot of credit for it -- I was just pretty much too dumb to come up w/ a better alternative. :lol:

Then, other times, I've gone through some phases -- that started out good -- then seemed to go sour. I'd end up angry, depressed, resentful, judgement, feeling justified -- by my own self-righteousness in my decisions and actions -- I just kept digging my hole in that phase -- deeper and deeper and deeper.

To the point where I really had to do some self-examination and ask myself "OK. I got me here. Now, what do I have to do to get me out of here -- and my butt back in gear, and on to the next phase?"

I either do that -- or, I become one of the statistics -- of those that didn't make it to the finish line.

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Postby TrailerTrashDood » Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:55 am

Thank you for the good advice, you're completely right on all counts.

I, for one, am already on to my "next stage", as you put it so well...
Which, (so glad you asked) is helping people who actually have the capability of being somewhat grateful, and therefore perhaps passing it on to someone else and not just sitting there sucking up resources.

I'm sure you don't agree with this for obvious reasons, but on a cosmic (or even regional, lol) scale, its so much better to help people in need where there is the best chance of putting the help to work - instead of helping people who always accept the help, then get mad at me because I can't or won't do whatever else MORE that they want me to do for them (at my own great expense in time/money/emotional energy/etc).
Once or twice a year is OK, but the constant uniformity & regularity of this happening is now just getting too unhealthy for me. Getting rid of these resentments is also quite a bit of work.

As you probably know, the original 12th Step as written by Bill Wilson in the original, unedited 1938 version of "How it Works" was as follows: "12: Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

I think Old Bill understood (from personal experience) that in order for AA to work, the alcoholic has to be at least WILLING to be receptive to this Program. Otherwise, the obvious thing to do is apply one's resources elsewhere.

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Postby Dallas » Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:49 pm

I totally understand -- and also understand the frustration that comes with it. :wink: Several times I have quit AA -- and then a few minutes or hours after that -- I realize, I can't do that! :lol: Others may be able to do it. But, personally -- I can't. It's my weakness. And, in this case, it could be, that my weakness is my strength. I never could figure that out before now.

I'm not sure if you realize it or not -- there ARE thousands of AA's just like you out here. That's one of the reasons that I come to this site. I need something to supplement my AA in the physical realm, face to face meetings and fellowship. I need to fellowship w/ AA's that are really trying to do the deal. Using the book. Living the life. Trying to help others. And... to hook up w/ those like yourself -- that experiences the same things that I experience in regards to sponsoring. I need the talking to another alcoholic that experiences the same stuff -- and it helps me to keep trucking on that Highway of Happy Destiny.

And, something else, you may not have considered is: Each time you come here to the site and share -- it not only helps me -- and you -- but it's helping thousands of alcoholics that come to this forum regularly looking for help. Trying to sort it out. The read the book and see the program in the book and then go to meetings that are starving for the book -- and they don't know what to do. So, you're helping others each time you come here and post something.

It's funny how things work here, too. Someone happens to post something that only has meaning for them. Someone else, stumbles in here, or googled a problem and were led here -- because what someone else was sharing was precisely what they were looking for.

Maybe, that's the God, or Force, or Higher Power, or X-Factor -- that does something to bring something good and productive out of something that we only perceived to be a problem for us.

I have to keep my head attached to the floor instead of in the clouds.... via my feet. I have to keep it real for me and remind myself -- "I didn't end up here because I was a Saint, or a Good Guy with a Wonderful Mission Statement on Living and Helping Others..." I got here because I'm alcoholic. I stay here because -- I'm alcoholic. I do this stuff... ALL this stuff -- because I'm alcoholic. And, this stuff may not help anyone other than ME. It keeps ME sober.

I got some friends in AA, that tell me how spiritual and how close they are to God. They tell me they do this stuff because "it's God's will." Well. Maybe it is. It is for THEM. And, that's okay w/ me. I do it because I HAVE TO do it. Sometimes, I want to do it. Many times -- I don't want to do it. Sobriety for me, has been learning and doing the things that I don't want to do. And, going ahead and doing the things that I'm not willing to do. And, nearly ALWAYS doing things that I don't believe in and I don't believe will help me -- or believe that it has anything to do w/ anything -- but, I just do it and try not to think about it.

On trash day -- if I think about taking out the trash -- I'll come up w/ a thousand reasons why I don't want to do it. Only one reason for me to do it makes sense to me. And, that is -- so I don't have two times as much trash to take out next week. :lol:

So, on the day before trash day -- it's always easier to just go ahead and take the trash cans to the street -- because I KNOW that on trash day, I'll HATE taking the trash out to the street!

It's crazy! Why is it that one day before trash day makes all the difference? I think it's because I can fool myself into thinking "Oh... I don't have to do this today!" And, it makes it easier for me. :lol:

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Postby TrailerTrashDood » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:40 pm


Funny, I was just thinking about how this whole time, I've forgotten to thank you for putting up this great message board and taking your time to maintain it, all this while. With all the different topics you have, I haven't gotten around to reading but 20% of it. Its easy to start a message board, the hard part is maintaining it day after day, year after year. Thanks again.

Your "trash" analogy is perfect. Why keep taking out the trash if they always just throw it back over the fence when I'm not around, and make yet another mess for me to clean up?
There is plenty of other work I can do. I didn't say I'm not doing anything -- what I said is that I'm not going to work with sponsoring AA's anymore. Its just not worth it -- neither for me, nor for them. They universally have NO problem BEGGING for help when they need it, then unceremoniously dumping me when they decide they are "cured" and don't need it.

Last month I had 5 guys all get together and all fire me in the same week, just to be cute. (My friend calls it the "Newcomers' Union"... lol). Now they all can't stand having me around, don't want to speak to me in person or on the phone, or even acknowledge my presence when I say "hi" to them. They won't even LOOK at me. They all agree I'm a crappy sponsor. They get together with OTHER past sponsees of mine, and have little bull sessions in the parking lot about what a jerk I am for "making" them do Step work, read the book, call me daily, go to meetings, etc..
This is after giving up all my free evenings for them, working with a different guy every night of the week doing Step work, spending hours & hours working with them individually in person, at meetings, on the phone, helping them with all kind of other personal stuff, etc., ad nauseum. But its not just these 5 guys. They ALL act like spoiled little punks, once they get the least bit comfortable. This makes me sound incredibly bitter and resentful, but its simply true. There is no way around it. Do I have a resentment? (In the immortal words of one Sarah Palin: "You Betcha!")

The point is that they'd rather completely bail on close relationships based on mutual trust & hundreds of hours spent together over the last year or so, than stick around and do the work. OK, so be it. Does all this have something to do with anything I've done? Almost certainly. Does all this have something to do with my own behavior? Obviously -- or I wouldn't be universally regarded as such a bad sponsor.

But I don't ever get this kind of reaction from non-AAs. It just never happens. My former jobs call me back once & a while if they need some extra help. I'm on good terms with old friends, relations, etc. People who bought things from me 10 years ago (I'm a salesman) are happy to do business with me in my new line of work (normal people seem to like it if you just tell the truth & help them get whats best for them, that seems to encourage loyalty with my customers).. But not in AA.
Its just not worth it.

Sorry, I've made up my mind. I'm not very smart, but how many people have to do this, before I figure out the big picture? 10? 20? 30? Its already been that. I really don't think I'm going to Karmic-ly shoot myself in the foot by helping other people, instead. :twisted:

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Postby Dallas » Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:54 pm

Again, I relate to you. :lol:

I do a lot of 12 Step calls. Crisis calls where someone is at the jumping off place. I rarely volunteer suggestions or directions. The reason? They're not going to do it anyway. :lol: So, I just share w/ them something out of my past experience. If they can get something out of that -- great. If not, great. :wink:

I take a lot of men and women through the 12 Steps. We get together and over a couple of days we do 1 through 12 out of the Big Book. I give them a little guidance for daily 10, 11 & 12 and then tell them to go find a sponsor if they want one. And, to show their sponsor how to take the steps -- just in case they get a sponsor that doesn't know how to take the steps. Then, I'm just an AA friend. Some will say that I'm their sponsor. Some don't. And, all is good and I stay friends with most all of them and the one's that I've taken through the steps -- most nearly all of them stay sober. A few may relapse -- but, if they do -- I've already showed them all I know in what to do about it. Pick yourself up. Clean yourself off. And, get back to doing the deal.

Some of the other stuff that I do and some other tools -- I most often share w/ non-alcoholics. Non-AA's. Sometimes, they go to Other A's and sometimes they don't. Doesn't matter to me. It's their life, their actions, their choices and decisions. What they do isn't going to change my life -- it can only change theirs. I stay happy, joyous and free -- regardless of how much pissing in the wind that they do. :lol:

That's how I do it. I don't really care what they say amongst themselves. I'm just kind of like the Energizer Alkie -- and I stay sober & happy regardless of how long they talk. When they relapse a few times amongst their talking buddies, I just smile at them. :lol:

We can't get chickens to be turkeys and we can't get the cats to stop eating the turkeys. We can only throw out some Kibbles & Bits, and then sit back and watch and see what they do w/ it. I kind of watch it like it's entertainment. When they come back bruised and banged up and want to talk -- I have them buy me a cup of coffee and some popcorn or ice cream and listen to their song & dance. If they need more than that -- I'm open to a cheese burger. :lol:

I do make sure that they get the message that what they do only affects their life and doesn't change mine. Then, what do they have to talk about?

Hey -- I'm going to be out in LA for a few weeks real soon -- around the first of November. We should hook up for some coffee!

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