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...