Problems with my Sponsor

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 Feb 07, 2006 4:36 pm

Problems with my Sponsor

Postby tamburasi » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:34 pm

Hi: I am 5.5+ years sober. I have worked and continue to work the steps and currently serve as sponsor to 1 person who is 8 mo. sober. I am active in my homegroup and for the past two years have met regularly with newbies to bring them through the book.

My question relates to my own sponsor. Recently, he took issue with me regarding planning an event for our two families to get together. He indicated that he was angry with me that I did not include him in part of the event. He told me that "somehow he will be able to get over it (meaning his anger)" and then laid a guilt trip on me by saying he wasn't attending and "no you go ahead and have fun with your own family".

I have gone over my actions repeatedly, and cannot find my part in generating his anger. My wife agrees as she was privy to all of my plans for the event and knows that my plans did include him and his family.

It has been over 1 week since I spoke to him. I am bearing a resentment over being accused of something that I didn't do, and also resent having a guilt trip laid on me. I have written this out in a 4th step and cannot find my part in it. I still feel as though I didn't do anything wrong.

The worst part is that my normal AA resources all know my sponsor and I cannot talk to them without being accused of "rallying the troops" to my cause. I have nobody to talk to regarding this.

Please help.

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Postby tamburasi » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:39 pm

Sorry, I must add that I have prayed on this since it has happened. I have prayed to have God remove my resentment; prayed that my sponsor can find the truth in what happened; prayed that my sponsor finds peace with the situation; prayed to have God take the whole thing from me;

It has worked slowly, but I know it will all bubble to the top when I see him at our homegroup.

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Postby anniemac » Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:05 pm

Hi Tamburasi,

Well, I have no idea if this is a sound suggestion or not....what I might do would be to approach my sponsor and tell her that I am quite uncomfortable with what happened and I have gone over and over the events in my head and I just don't see where I went wrong, so would she please explain to me what has her so upset and what she expected to be different. Sometimes a better understanding of where the other party is coming from helps me to ease my resentment by putting myself in their shoes.

Let us know how this resolves itself for you!

Molly M.
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Postby Molly M. » Mon Mar 12, 2007 9:39 pm

Hey Tamburasi,

Isn't the drama that sometimes goes with the fellowship fun :shock: I remember being so mad at someone in my homegroup that I swore up and down that I wasn't coming back. I don't think it was over anything important, I just felt that she was being condescending.

My sponsor wasn't having any of that, my duty was to the fellowship--principles over personalities (what a pain in the :oops:). The thing is that my sponsor always had a specific take on AA; she called it the bridge to "real life". She believed that the BB is our roadmap, the steps our training, and the fellowship our practice ground to become the best in sobriety that we can be. And because it's a practice ground we have room to mess up and keep coming back and somehow we have to find a way to forgive and support each other; to actually get along (not the easiest thing for a bunch of drunks). I don't know whose in the wrong you or your sponsor or both, but I do know that misunderstandings and hurt feelings are a fact of life and alcoholics are usually pretty bad at dealing with them. If we can't drink to avoid them, we usually hide. So in my mind this is the perfect opportunity to try and practice the love and support that we give our fellow alcoholics. It doesn't mean saying whose right or wrong, it means finding away to move through this so that your relationship, in whatever form can continue to grow. If you have no idea how to approach this and the thought makes your stomach clench as much as these situations can make mine, I would find an old timer and ask him how to move through this situation in a positive way resulting in growth instead of a negative way resulting in more wreckage.

Good Luck :D Let us know what happens. :P

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Postby Dallas » Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:49 am

Wow!!! A really juicy topic here and I almost missed seeing it! :lol:

Well... two of the best one's that I would have sought feedback from have shared here ... Thank you anniemac and Molly ... Great sharing!

And, thank you Tamburasi, for sharing your problem! In this moment it will give me something to think about that doesn't include myself! :oops:

However, for me to feel comfortable about sharing on it... I'm going to create a fake scenario and walk through a Resentment Inventory with it... and since it will be a fake scenario that I've made up... similar to your situation... without actually being the situation... I won't step on anyones toes by taking their inventory! :wink:

So... now assuming a fake scenario like with anonymous fake people involved... and assuming that this is "MY Resentment Inventory" and not yours... here goes:

In my far left column, I would write:

I'm angry and resentful at: "My Sponsor Sensitive Sam"

Next column, I would write:

Why am I angry? : "The sensitive jerk is playing childish games with my head and acting like a child that is pouting and full of self-pity, and it's going to effect my party."

Next column, I would write:

What part of (my) self was hurt or threatened?

Here, I would write:

It's effecting my self-esteem, my pride, my emotional relationships, my social ambitions, it's effecting my pocketbook (because it kept me awake all night thinking about it... and I was late waking up, late getting to work, and I'll miss a half-hour of pay over it) and... it's affecting my sex relations! (Yep! I might have had the chance to get some last night ... if I hadn't been so upset with this!!! I was totally unable to be romantic with my partner... so, now it's affecting my other relationships also!!!).

Then, I would start another column, and write down all of my "exact nature of my character defects" as it applied to this situation.

Here is what my list would include:

I would write: I was selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and afraid!

(why I would end up noticing those character defects about myself)

I was selfish... because this is my party, I want everyone to act right, and this party is about me! :oops:

I was self-seeking... because I wanted Sensitive Sam to be like Mature Mark! And, Sensitive Sam is acting like Sensitive Sam!!! I wanted him to be caring and sensitive about my needs and wants... rather than him being like he is... himself!

How was I dishonest? First, I've been dishonest with myself about this. I've been making up excuses for Sam to try and quiet my head, and I've been telling myself that "well, this doesn't bother me". I've had to twist the scenario with others without telling them the real deal -- because I'm afraid they'll react unfavorably towards me and they'll say that I'm a trouble maker, that I'm not accepting and that I'm taking Sam's Inventory instead of my own! :oops:

What is it that I was afraid of? "I was afraid that Sam wouldn't be my friend, he would stop being my sponsor, he might go tell my Home Group all kinds of lies and junk about me, and then my whole Home Group and all my AA friends would abandon me!!! And, no one would understand my side of the story!"

So... now I would ask myself "What is the exact nature of MY wrongs?"

The exact nature of my wrongs are: Selfish, self-seeking, dishonesty, and my fears in regards to this situation.

Now, the fun part... "Where was I to blame?" :wink: (It's about taking responsibility for myself, my actions, my decisions, and my results... so that I can change the things that I need to change... and accept the things that I cannot change) Here goes:

Where was I to blame? (Remember... this column is not about finding fault... it's about owning our stuff, owning our experience, and taking responsibility... rather than being a victim. If I remain a victim in the situation... I'll always be a victim... and there is nothing I can do to change this situation ... or for situations in the future!)

1. I'm the one who decided that Sam was to be my sponsor.
2. I did ask Sam to be my sponsor.
3. I've seen some insecure and unpredictable incidents with Sam in the past... (red flags), and I've been the one who has continued our relationship... rather than searching for a different sponsor (or trying to work it out with him before this situation).
4. I made the decision as to who would be coming to my party.
5. I was the one who asked Sam to come to the party.

So... I'm able to accept responsibility for "my actions and my decisions and my participation in the situation" no one forced me into it! I'm able to accept responsibility for my experience... the way this situation has effected me emotionally and materially.

By owning my stuff, I can now ask myself....

"What could I do differently?" (These are options... not "musts")

1. I could try to work this out with Sam, or....
2. I could find a new sponsor.
3. I could try to work with Sam to improve our relationship and communications with each other... or, I can consider it as finished, and move on with my life.

That's how I would do it in my fake situation... and how I do it for my real-life situations.

I would also want to be complete... and go ahead and make a list of my fears that I discovered that I had... and get rid of those, while I was getting rid of my resentments.

I would be sure to talk this over with another human being.... (so that I could admit to myself, to another human being and to God, the exact nature of my wrongs) Step 5.... Then I would definitely move right into the principles of Steps 6-9 with it.

I would want to make a list of anyone who had been harmed by "the situation that I had a part in making happen" and become entirely willing to make amends to them all.... and make direct amends to them. Since this deals with other Steps... I won't write about it here... However, for me... this is the part where I get set free!!! And, this is the part that helps me to grow in effectiveness and helps me to make better decisions in the future.

Sorry if this took so long... It's the only way I know how to do it. :oops:

I realize I left out a bunch... and that's because I didn't want to feel the guilt of making it longer!!! :lol:


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Dallas are you my sponsor?

Postby tamburasi » Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:37 pm

Thank you Dallas as well as anniemac and molly. Your responses are much appreciated.

Dallas you sound much like my sponsor!

You are dead on with most of what you wrote. I know that because as I read it my resentment creeped up my throat. We call that the "rub" ie "what's the rub" what ticks you off and quietly makes you seeth with anger.

My 4th step on this wasn't written out quite as eloquently as yours, but I arrived at the same options. I just don't like any of them. I need to continue to pray on this. You know even that is an excuse - I need to take action and am just afraid. As another AA friend said "it's not about whoever calls who first is wrong... it's about being the bigger person asking how we can restore our relationship, shut up, listen to the answer then decide upon the options".

Please explain your last sentence. I don't understand why you would feel guilty.

I should see my sponsor at homegroup tonight. I'm fighting every instinct to run away, isolate, and not go to homegroup as molly alluded to. I still need some help here.

Any help before 8 pm EST homegroup is much appreciated.

Molly M.
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:20 pm

Postby Molly M. » Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:51 pm

Hey Tamburasi;

I'm so impressed with your sobriety in this situation :D

Of course you're going to go to the meeting, because no matter what you're not going to give your seat in AA up for anybody or anything.

Whenever, I'm in these awful interpersonal entanglements, I pray for the strength to act like the sober woman I want to be. The wonderful thing about sobriety is that we get to become the kind of people that we would want to be. We do that through practising the steps, reading the BB, going to meetings and trusting our HP's.

I have complete faith that with the help of your higher power you are going to handle yourself just fine and I look forward to reading your post when you back tonight. Remember we all believe in you :D

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Postby Dallas » Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:11 pm

Oh no!!! I didn't want to sound like your sponsor!!! I don't want you upset with me! :wink:

When I wrote: "I realize I left out a bunch... and that's because I didn't want to feel the guilt of making it longer!!! " ... I just meant that I could write a bunch more about it... and I'd feel guilty for making my message so long. I'm trying to make progress at writing shorter messages. :oops:

My suggestion is......... Go to your meeting tonight. My sponsor, and many others were always telling me that "never stay away from a meeting because someone else is going to be there."

In my home group... there is only three reasons for not being at a home group meeting... 1. I'm dead. 2. I'm in the hospital. Or, 3. I'm in jail and can't get out! And, if the reason is #2 or 3, I better be on the phone to my sponsor and home group members!!! :lol: (It's not really that strict in my home group... but, it needs to be that strict for me, personally!).

Sorry if my example nerved you up! :oops: I was trying to go to any lengths to keep the example about me... and no one else.

I try hard... not to give anyone else advice or direction unless I am sponsoring them and/or, they've asked and agreed that they want it from me. Even then, I'm hesitant.... because I'm human. I'm sensitive, too, and... it's never any fun getting someone upset with me.

With my sponsor..... (and I realize that the way I do with my sponsor isn't a "one-size-fits-all" that would be recommended for everyone)... is -- I've learned to never be mad at my sponsor. There have been many times that my feelings have gotten hurt with something he said to me... I used to wonder if he was intentionally hurting my feelings. However, the longer I stayed sober... my perception of what he was saying and doing changed. And, I learned that "if I'm upset... there is something wrong inside me."

Bill W., wrote about this extensively in the section on Step Ten, in the 12 & 12.... The entire chapter is a great read... but, I'll just quote from page 90: "It is a spiritual axiom, that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us."

Since I "think" that what you are actually doing... is a "Step 10" inventory on the situation with your sponsor... and not really a 4th Step Inventory on it... you might want to read what Bill wrote about Step 10 in the 12 & 12. It has helped me greatly........ and that's why I pass it on.

In Step 4, we were in a process to discover what had been blocking us, and preparing us to clean up the wreckage of our past. It was ego smashing and deflation time for us. In Step 10, the inventories are the same... but, the purpose is different. The Step 10 inventories are to move us forward... to become more effective... (in addition to keeping our house clean)... and, I've come to understand my Step 10 inventories as a tool that's to move me from my childish emotional immaturity... into emotional maturity. So, Step 4 is about cleaning house... while Step 10 is about growing up.

It seems to be only in AA (or perhaps only with alcoholics) that we can go to puberty to senility.... without ever passing through maturity! :lol:

Tamburasi, please do not take anything that I've written to "be about you"... it really is "all about me!" when it comes from me! :wink:

Oldtimers used to say to me "One day in the future you'll look back on this stuff that's a big deal to you today... and you'll laugh about it." They weren't minimizing my feelings and situations... they were simply passing on their experience.

Enjoy your meeting tonight! And, keep us posted on the events!

Best regards to you!


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Squirrel cage is slowing down

Postby tamburasi » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:31 pm

This forum has been so helpful.

I got down on my knees in my office this afternoon around 2 or 3 pm today 3/15/07 and prayed briefly on this. Then after reading and printing out Dallas reply (I wanted to share it with anyone who would listen) I recognized that not once did Dallas get into "the actual disagreement".

I knew then that I had to call 1st. I didn't want to but picked up the phone and was able to leave a voicemail asking if my sponsor wanted to meet before the homegroup. He hasn't called back yet but I know it was the right thing to do.

Here's where I am at. I don't need him to apologize to me. If he does great if he doesn't who cares. I think our relationship is strong enough to get past this and we can continue to grow and learn from each other. If it isn't then it is time to move on. I don't want that to happen, and that brings with it all kinds of fears but so be it.

I know that this is correct as I am content with whatever the outcome is. That's what i prayed for. For God to take this from me.

I read Dallas' reply to my sponsee to illustrate the depth to which we are all relatively the same and are plagued by much of the same issues. I already made amends with my wife for having this take up so much space in my head that I wasn't attentive to her and verbally snappy and grouchy. I need to apologize to the kids too. That helps them see that Dad can be wrong too. Although Daddy was upset about something it was not an excuse to get snappy and grumpy with them.

I am going to homegroup, I hope I see him there and I hope we get past all of this.

Dallas, please no guilt I already have a MOM. Ha Ha! Your response was very inciteful.

Thanks all, I will keep you posted.

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Continuing Saga

Postby tamburasi » Fri Mar 16, 2007 3:18 pm

Well he wasn't at homegroup. I did thank the person that advised me that "to call 1st doesn't mean you lose" for pushing me in the right direction. I also had a chat with another friend who gave some clarity into why my sponsor and I bump heads every once in awhile.

My sponsor has not called back and I must admit it is renting alot of space in my head right now.[/quote]

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