Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my part?

Discussions related to 12 Step Sponsors, 12 Step Sponsoring, Working with others using the 12 Steps, for AA's, NA's, Al-Anons, Nar-Anons, OA, and others using the 12 Steps.
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Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:25 am

FINALLY got some kind of closure on this ~ THANKS everybody!

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:08 pm

OK so heres the deal:

Without getting into all the background info (it's all in this 80-page post, lol), I was not working this year & had a lot of time to do whatever I wanted. I got all wrapped up in sponsoring a large group of guys, which was pretty much all I did, all year. 6 of them all got together at the end of a year, and all fired me at the same time. This made me feel truly awful. I felt like I must be the worst sponsor EVER, and could not figure out my part in it. (I did a 4th Step on them, but STILL could not get rid of this.) This was by far my most unsuccessful year, ever. I especially felt bad because I had spent literally HUNDREDS of hours with these guys over the previous year or so, and really could NOT figure out why the end result of all my work & time is that they all hated me. I was devastated that they hated me enough to ALL fire me and then still, months later, ALL absolutely REFUSE to speak to me afterwards, no matter WHAT. (They had actually got together and talked about firing me in the most adversarial way possible, so it would have the most effect.) Well, they did a great job. A couple of them are STILL going around and actually telling people ridiculous stories that make me look awful, just to justify their actions.

I had really loved these guys, prayed for them every night, and felt very protective and close to them. I had imagined that they liked me too. We actually had some very good & close times together, and at one point were making a LOT of progress in their stepwork & sobriety in general. I imagined that we had some type of loyalty and deep bond. I was really proud of them. I could not fathom that they would trash a yearlong, deep relationship simply to avoid doing step work (once a week?!!) and going to meetings, calling me on the phone, and all the other standard-issue type stuff, etc. ~ There must have been some other reason, and it was driving me CRAZY. I'm not trying to "be the victim", I'm really in the solution as much as I can. But this thing is TOTALLY incomprehensible to me, I sincerely did NOT get it.

So 3 months later, I'm still obsessing over this. Whenever I see them at our meeting hall, either they gloat at me like a dog that pooped on the rug & got away with it, or they make a big show of coming up to me in public and shaking hands & stuff (so they look good for the group), but absolutely REFUSE to speak to me in private. All I wanted was some kind of closure. I totally did NOT get any of this.

I have been fired by dozens of other sponsees, over the last 20 years or so ~ this is nothing new. HOWEVER, they ALL got together with me (at different times of course) and announced that they had a year or two sober now, and a new dog, wife, job, etc, now ~ and didn't want to have to work steps, go to meetings, or whatever they thought they no longer had time for. (Or some variation thereof...) Then I'd give them the little speech about how worth it, it is to do the 10 or 15 hours of maintenance a week to keep alcoholism in remission, and that I NEVER back down on doing step work, going to meetings, staying in contact, etc... Then we would "agree to disagree", and part on good terms with some kind of mutual respect intact.

These previous people I've sponsored came from all walks of life ~ but they ALL needed to preserve some kind of mutual bond, obligation, respect, relationship; or whatever you would choose to call it, when we parted ways. (FYI: I have NEVER been fired by a sponsee who did not have a relapse afterwards. EVER.) Then they would call me after their relapse, and I'd help them out in whatever way was appropriate. So it pays to not burn bridges.

Anyway, I was kvetching/obsessing about this new, mystifying situation to a friend of mine who works with rich kids from Calabassas, Woodland Hills, Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, etc. All of these 6 ex-sponsees were rich or VERY upper middle class guys from these exact areas of Los Angeles, even though they dress and think of themselves as little "bad-asses".
My friend told me that the previous people I had worked with in the past, all had the same thing in common: That someone who loves you and gives you UNCONDITIONAL backup is the most rare and precious thing you could EVER have, on this PLANET.
However, she told me that to these suburban rich kids, they look at human relationships VERY differently. As much as they want to seem like a bunch of little "bad asses" to the outside world, their baseline way of thinking is that they have little or no sense of obligation to the world and also a HUGE sense of entitlement. Its just how they were raised & where they are from. There is always a new X-Terra in the driveway if they wreck the old one, they can always afford to check into some fancy $30,000 rehab in Malibu; if they wake up in a blackout in Hawaii their dads will always take off work & come fly out to get them. They know this and therefore don't have to really worry about the same things we do, even if they're 25 or 28 or whatever.

It was MY fault because my error of perception made me think that just because (for a minute, when they were desperate) they were working their asses off, were TOTALLY all about "doing the deal", were making GREAT progress, etc ~ that it would never wear off. But as soon as they gained some weight, got girlfriends, jobs, nice vehicles to drive & all that ~ THAT was when they didn't want to do the work anymore and told me to step the fock off. That in and of itself is NOT very shocking.
Its just the WAY they did it, that had NEVER happened to me before. I could not imagine why anyone would all get together in a group and just turn their backs on me like that. It was a total mystery to me. In my little dog-brain: loyalty, honor, respect, obligation and all that stuff are the most important and valuable things EVER. On my planet, where I come from, their kind of behavior makes NO sense. That is why it took me so long to figure this out.

All of these guys are reasonably smart, good looking, popular, and the like. If they want, they can get a new sponsor every Tuesday and Thursday. There are plenty of inexperienced sober guys in our area who want to look good and have sponsees to bolster them, ESPECIALLY if they don't have to do any work with them.
Its simply easier for these rich kids to get together and bail on me and do whatever they want, once they get back on their feet ~ than to sit me down and have ONE simple conversation, like everybody else did. Thats why they ALL hang up on me, avoid me in person if I ask the "wrong" questions, but all make a big show of shaking my hand & stuff when other people are around!
They have no sense of guilt, remorse, duty, or obligation to me whatsoever. Its just that simple. They can go to the mall and get a new sponsor!

My friend told me that all these guys ~ despite the motorcycles, tattoos, skateboards, surfer stuff, borderline "gangster" stuff, etc ~ the bottom line is that they all expect to be catered to, and will NOT do anything they don't feel like doing. She works in recovery, and says its almost impossible for her to get people like that to actually do anything. But they DO make a lot of money off of them, as they tend to check into cushy rehabs a lot!

It sounds like really strong language, and it kind of makes me look bad if I say this ~ because it sounds like I'm coming from anger or resentment. But the TRUTH is, they're just really a bunch of spoiled little twerps. THAT is their actual baseline for behavior, the other stuff is just an act.

Thats the bottom line ~ I misjudged the situation and wasted a whole year on these guys, when I should have been working with people who actually appreciated and/or were affected by my help.
I could NOT understand that the guys who fired me feel no more obligation or affection towards me, than I would feel if I were to discard my old sneakers and get new ones for no other reason than I felt like it.
Bottom line, people - MY mistake in perception.



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Postby Toast » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:49 am

Hi Trailer, great post.

I 'lost' 2 sponees a few months back, they just disapeared off the planet. I wasted lots of time and energy trying to track them down until i realised they don't want to be found. They took what they thought was the easier softer way out rather than go through the programme.

Its now out of my hands but then again it always was.

God bless them :lol:

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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:41 pm

Postby Camel » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:20 pm

Live and learn there, TrailerTrashDood. I disagree with you in that you said you wasted your time. You're still sober ain't 'ya? You can't go wrong trying to help people. Makes no difference if they accept it or not. YOU STAYED SOBER! Thank God and move on.

Merry Christmas!

Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:25 am

Yes & no. Actually, NO.

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:40 pm


I would have stayed sober anyway.
I would much rather help someone who needs it & deserves it, rather than someone who is just bored & trying something new ~ or whatever. Trust me, this is a city filled with desperate people.
Frankly, I'd rather get shot in the leg than go through that again.
I didn't stay sober because of this experience, I stayed sober despite it.

I have some new stuff going on which is MUCH more rewarding, both for myself and the other people involved ~ Its totally not necessary to put myself through that kind of ####, just to be of service to others. :twisted:

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Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:20 pm

Postby sparklek » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:04 am

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!

So true! I just read this whole thread and got so much from it all. I am grateful for another program that gives me lots of tools for dealing with alcoholics (which mostly involves minding my own business and only helping when asked...I have a rocky program but a program none the less).

Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:25 am

7 Months later ~ Update...

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:35 am

OK, so a couple of weeks ago one of the main guys who fired me, finally decided to stoop to my level and speak to me! I'm sure it was a bit hard for him to approach me at first ~ he actually apologized nicely for firing me (along with his 6 friends) and then not speaking to me for 6 1/2 months. He then flatly informed me that it was my fault that he had refused to speak to me afterward! I could list the actual reason(s), but it (they) changed at least 4 or 5 times, and didn't really quite make sense. Therefore, I'd really have a hard time to accurately write it (them) down. However, he did at least finally quit avoiding me, and actually talked to me in person.

It seems that this whole thing happened because of my own error in perception. I mistakenly had thought we had some type of bond, which had actually never existed in the first place. (This has never happened to me before, but I guess there is a first time for everything...) I felt awful over this, for months. I agonized over what I did to make 7 sponsees all fire me and never want to speak to me again. (Obviously something like that is NOT going to happen, unless I had some kind of MAJOR role in it. Only the worst sponsor, EVER would get fired by ALL his sponsees, at the SAME time!) I'm really still trying to get rid of this resentment, I've worked really hard at it. The more time passes, the worse it gets! I've never experienced this before.

It turns out that he just didn't want to "do the deal", and it was less work to just get together with all the other sponsees & ditch me and not speak to me again, then have to have one simple conversation about it! He seemed to have a real sense of entitlement about the whole thing. He really couldn't seem to understand how I could have a resentment over being treated like disposable garbage ~ it never seemed to cross his mind how or why this could or would affect another person. He seemed mostly concerned with trying to just forget about the whole thing without having to think about it, or talk about it ~ and was very puzzled as to why I kept asking him all kind of different questions about all this. Shortly thereafter, he went on a big 10-day Cake Tour of all his meetings. It never occurred to him, to ask me to present him with a cake. Somehow this did not surprise me, in the least.

Tonight I spoke to the 2nd one ~ he said he heard I had talked to the 1st one. It was pretty much the same thing, for him as well. It was just easier for him to simply refuse to have anything to do with me. They all knew what they were doing at the time, and they all knew how bad it made me feel ~ but somehow this was just not important enough for them to talk to me, even for 5 minutes. They just couldn't be bothered, it was too much work or something!
Mind you, these are guys that I spent literally hundreds of hours with, over the course of a year. These were not sponsees that you just sit down with a Big Book, and go over it like a math tutor or something. (I've had those kind of sponsees, as well...) These were guys that needed major, major work and time.
But to them, just take what you need and then throw it out ~ whats the big deal??

The 3rd one has been going around our meeting hall, making up ridiculous stories about me. (Its actually kind of a compliment that he is still doing this, months later...!) The general consensus at the meeting hall is that he has completely lost it, and nobody takes him seriously or listens to him. He seems to be rapidly getting worse. Its not just all about me, though ~ there are several other people whom he is trying to stir up drama with. Some people kind of feel sorry for him, but most of them think he's a pathetic as3hole. So I'm not taking that one seriously. Also, some of the stories he comes up with are actually kind of amusing, in an obtuse way...

The other 4 sponsees (all more or less newcomers at the time) all went out, and never came back. I bumped into one of them, he refused to speak to me. I'm pretty sure they all got together on this ~ I don't think this is normal human behavior (whatever that is, at this point...)

I'm really stunned about this whole thing, but at least I now have some type of "closure" that I really needed. It totally would never occur to me, that people are capable of being this disloyal, fickle, and (dare I say it?) self-centered & not grateful. I guess its an upper middle class, suburban "noblesse oblige" kind of thing. I'm not experienced with people like that. It really freaks me out. Everything I thought I knew about these guys, was wrong. I really thought I was doing a good job, sponsoring these guys ~ but they were actually pretty far gone, so far as their behavior goes.
Its impossible for me to sponsor anyone else, any more. I feel like I just can't judge anyone's intentions, anymore.
I really took this way too seriously, and it has been bad for me. I hope I don't come off as being too self-indulgent or codependent ~ it really seems that way if you don't know what happened during the year I had them.
I know for a fact that none of these guys would be sober now if I had not jumped in & put in so much work ~ but now I truly wish I hadn't. I know that nobody else could have done this, but so what? It cost me WAY too much.

Anyway, that is the rest of the story.
Hope this helps someone.
I finally got to find out the answers to my questions ~ for what its worth...

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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:41 pm

Re: Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my pa

Postby Camel » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:20 pm

Yeah, 'er 'uh, TrailerTrashDood,
You're still sober, ain't ya'? Pray that those yo-yos have what you want, and release them with love. It is most definitely NOT impossible for you to Sponsor anyone, anymore. Search out another drunk. It ain't like their hard to find.


Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:25 am

Re: Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my pa

Postby TrailerTrashDood » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:50 pm

I think you totally misunderstood my post.
Its not that I'm not trying to take on anymore sponsees because I can't find them. On the contrary, I've already recently turned down 10 or 15 of them.
I just don't think I'm fit to do this anymore. I really can not gauge peoples' motives or intentions for what they really want, the way I used to be able to.
As for your other point, those guys most definitely did NOT keep me sober ~ in fact they made it harder. I'm not blaming them, its actually my own fault for wasting all that time on people who really just don't give a 3hit. My error in judgment.

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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:28 am

Re: Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my pa

Postby Myinitialsareaasigh » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:14 am

Hi trailor. First i commend you on doing your best to help others.
Thats what this program is about. One lesson ive learned is that as alcoholics we should
never shut our minds off from change. I need to keep the same openmindedness that allowed me
To have a spiritual experience. Our spiritual growth should continue throughout our sobriety.
Sometimes we can take experience and use it as a shield to block off this growth. Ive already done it many
times. But through that ive learned that when i think i really understand this thing and open my mind to change
I grow spiritually and then look back and see how blind i was.
Im very blessed that in my area theres a group of 300 or so alcoholics that form a fellowship based on the big book
And the original way this was intended so theres not the huge problem you face of two fellowships and newconers
of course choosing the easier softer one over what you offer. Ill offer a suggestion after all this.
from what ive seen so far in aa theres 4 paths people take
1)get to aa in bad shape. Attach to whatever fellowship and blindly think it will keep them sober. Usually relapsing
or just getting their life back together and thinking they fixed the problem.
2)get into aa do the steps with a spnser. Stall somewhere usually step 4 9 or 12 sometimes beginning to have
a spiritual experience usually life gets good enough and they rest on their laurels.
3)get into aa have spiritual exp. Do all steps sponsor others. They never fully surrender
to god. And when years go by their life is pretty good specially.
Compared to the past. God keeps them from drinking sometimes the rest of their
Lives. Alot of character defects remain but thats normal they say.
4) get into aa do the steps sponsor others. Have a spiritual exp.
At some point realize that surrender works. They try it and learn
what the 4th dimension is. That god can and will really work
tangibly in their lives. And get everything the bb promises.

God works in mysterious ways. I came online to find an answer
For something and through your post i remembered what the answer
Was and always is.
I pray your humble enough to see maybe what god was trying
to say to you. I know nothing really. Ill post what i would say
to a sponsee in your position.

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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:28 am

Re: Mysterious recurring problem with sponsees - Whats my pa

Postby Myinitialsareaasigh » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:49 am

The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self will can hardly be a success.
On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or some body even though are motives are
good. Most people try to live by self propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole
Show. Is forever trying to arrange the lights the ballet the scenery and the rest of his players in his own way.

If his arrangements would only stay put. If only people would do as he wished the show would be great.
Everbody including himself would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements
our actor may sometimes be quite virtous. He may be kind considerate patient generous even modest
And self sacrificing.

What usually happens? The show doesnt come off very well. He begins to think life doesnt treat him right.
He decides to exert himself more. He becomes on the next occasion still more demanding or gracious as the
case may be. Still the play does not suit him.

Admitting he may be somewhat at fault he is sure the other people are more to blame.
He becomes angry indignant selfpitying. What is his basic trouble. Is he not a self
Seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest
Satisfaction and happiness out of the world if he only manages well? Is it not evident
to all the other sponsees that these are the things he wants. And do not his actions make
each of them wish to retaliate

When i read this entire post the above is what i see.
but now a solution.

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