Sponsorship - whats in it for me?

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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Sponsorship - whats in it for me?

Postby GeoffS » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:37 am

Would be interested to hear peoples opinions on a question I was recently asked. Would be good to hear from those who do sponsor, those who do not, and those who have only been around AA a short time.

The question was- As a sponsor what do I get?


Rex R.
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Postby Rex R. » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:45 pm

stronger sobriety is the short answer , for me atleast. i get to go back thru the instructions over and over as each new willig sponsee comes along. i am reminded over and over about the obsession of the mind and the allergy that is there waiting for me if i let up on the spiritual program of action. sponsoring helps me see areas in my life where there is still unmanageability....... i get to come to belive all over again........ i am reminded of the need to turn my will and my life to the care of God as i understand him......... i get to help another alcoholic work thru our number 1 offender and see his part in it. i am reminded of the fact that i can still let Fear creep in to my life as well as help the sponsee find the forces that have been driving his life............ i get to develope an open and honest friendship to the point where i can help another man poor out all the garbage to himself,God and another human being....... if i have done my part up to now he should be ready to have god remove all these defects of charecter and be willing to have god remove them....... the next one is easy . i get to watch him make a list of all the people he has harmed and help him learn to say i was wrong instead of i am sorry....... i get to watch him do this as he continues to watch for selfishness , dishonesty , resentment and fear. ......... i get to help him some more when these things crop up........ i get to grow thru prayer and meditation as i watch the new man grow in effectiveness and understanding........ i get to watch him have a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps.....and i get to help him as he tries to carry this message to the alcoholic that still suffers as he practices these principles in all his affairs..... I get alot out of it is really the short answer.

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Postby Dallas » Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:54 am

Rex, thanks for posting your reply and answering the question here. This posted question got over-looked by me. Sometimes that will happen if I log-in and have to log-out quickly... and I don't see that the message is new.

Great answer. Leaves me little to say about it. :wink:

For me, it's also the fulfillment of the wonderful things that are offered to us in Chapter 11, A Vision For You.

And, it's the best way that I know of... to keep my mind off of me.
When I'm not thinking about me -- my life is great.

Dallas B.

garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:33 am

These are all good things that I get as a sponsor - like the book says "life will take on new meaning". But let me tell you what is the most important thing about sponsorship to me.

It's that guarantee - it's that incredible assurance that I will never need or have to pick up a drink again. It's a sense of confidence that flies in the face of "being only one drink away" from a so-called disaster that a bunch of folks seem to think can happen almost at any time. It's the faith in not giving a second thought to "my disease doing push-ups in the parking lot - just waiting for the right moment" to somehow pounce on me and drag me into taking the first drink.

If I am an active mentor or sponsor, I NEVER have to worry about picking up a drink. NEVER.

What! Why?

"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics."

That is one heck of an insurance policy, my friends. I have a LOCK on sobriety with the gift of sponsorship. I NEVER have to worry - all I do is follow these simple directions and I'm insured that I have immunity from drinking.

That is one powerful benefit that is priceless to me.

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Postby Dallas » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:54 am

That's an awesome answer, too. I have no disagreement with it. That's what the book says.

I really had to take a double take on it. I believe in what's in the book. But, I still had to reflect on it for a while. So, I looked over my last 22 years of experience in AA to think about it.

I know of one guy who was in our Fellowship that started a different Fellowship for other problems. He didn't drink, but he ended up killed himself. I don't know if he also continued to help alcoholics but I know he had continued to be a member of AA.

I know of another guy that had 25 years sobriety. He was intensely working with other alcoholics... and decided to include working with young and pretty newcomer women alcoholics. He didn't drink... but he did hang himself.

I know of another guy, I really looked up to him and admired him for all that he did for AA. He had the perfect AA family. Wife was Al-Anon. Kids were Ala-teen. They did a lot of "family type" speaking in AA and Al-Anon. Very active. Very respected. A really super guy. He had been sober for about 15 years. When he disappeared, I was told that he had started experimenting with meth and crack and was living in alleys and abandoned cars. It really tore up his family and was a real shock to many of us who knew him. But, I don't know if he drank.

When I was new and volunterring in an AA Central Office, we were cautioned about 12 Step calls. Two AA's went out on a 12 Step call and never came back. So, they sent two more AA's out to find them. It seems that the alcoholic they were 12th stepping had somehow reverse-First-Stepped them and they were drunk.

I have known of other AA's, that their sponsors went back to drinking and they had to find a new sponsor, and in two cases that I remember, the sponsee became the sponsors sponsor.

Both of the two sponsors that I have had in AA, have cautioned me to put my trust in God, and to intensely work the AA program and to be active in helping other alcoholics if I want to stay sober... They both, were intensively working with other alcoholics. (My first one died). And, my current one has said often, that "I (he) might be the next one that goes out (gets drunk)." He will be 50 years sober on October 31st. He has worked with thousands of alcoholics, sponsors a huge number of alcoholics, and he's the most active AA, even at over 80 years old, that I've ever known. Last year, he flew over 100,000 miles... on American Airlines... (not including all the other airlines)... carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous, all over the world. When he talks, I listen. :wink: He says that the show is not over until they lay us in the ground sober. And, he says that not all of us will make it -- that some of us will go back to drinking, and that he may be the next one. Yet, he has mentioned to me a couple of times that I felt jittery that I wasn't going to drink.

So, I need to keep my perspective. And, to remember, that "YES, ABSOLUTELY, I AGREE... that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics." And, what that means to me, is that it tilts the odds of me staying sober to 99.9 percent certainty. I just have to be aware of that other .1 percent... because it's the little things that will take me out. I'm cautioned in Step 10, to not be cocky or afraid. :lol:

If there will be an exception to the rule -- it'll probably start with me. :lol:


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:03 pm

I hear what you're saying Dallas.

I think if I get "cocky", well then there's a hole in my program anyway. Going back to our solution that "when all else fails" it still points to "action and more action" centered on helping another alcoholic. I also agree with your sponsor about it not being over until I stop breathing, and I haven't drank up to that point.

I mean we are human, and we don't know where the holes in another human being's program lie. And the book says that we work towards progress and not perfection which it implies will never happen anyway. So in that respect, no one man or woman is "bulletproof".

But the great news is that the program is bulletproof! It doesn't matter if there's a chance for me to go back out drinking, if I do exactly as you say and the program says, that is to rely on the suggested actions, I will stay sober. No one can predict the chances of you or me slipping up. And it is possible, but if it happens, it's not because there are holes in the program...its because there was a hole in my head where action leaked out and self-centeredness seeped in.

So it is with sponsorship. Really, for me, that is the biggest benefit - knowing within my soul that if I remain faithful to the program, specifically perfecting and enlarging my spiritual life through the spiritual program of action, the work of "work and self-sacrifice for others", I really don't have to worry. Like you said, it gets "me" out of "me".

Honestly, there are alcoholics up this way that are fearful that they will go out drinking again because they are told about the "boogeyman disease in the parking lot" doing pushups. Their confidence is constantly thrown into a "what if" uncertainty by some diluted AA opinion that is parroted from one lazy drunk to another. Lazy drunks "parrot". Alcoholics do the work and take the actions. And guess what - this is more proof that supports your position (which is now my position too) that action cannot, and will not, fail even if my "beliefs" change or falter. The "brilliant" words or "sage wisdom" of any sober alcoholic don't matter much when he or she dies, but it's the unselfish actions of countless alcohlics that stand the test of time and never fail.

This is a certainty that I can count on. Buddy let me tell you what - I stake my life on this "Great Certainty". If I see to it that my relationship with Him is right, great events will come to pass for me and countless others. In other words, my sober "actions" are driven by this "Great Fact". It's not a "great THOUGHT", its not a "great SAYING", it's not even a "great IDEA". It is a "Great Fact" which means it has stood the test of time and is pretty much an absolute truth. I guess for me, "taking refuge" in "action and more action" makes me feel safe, secure, and self-confident. I think perhaps it's supposed to make me feel that way.

Exceptions? Heck yes - imperfect humans slipping into old ways. This happens too. I can tell you about a person in this fellowship who relapsed because they followed the directions and advice of their sponsor and "grand sponsor" - while working a solid recovery program that was centered on helping other alcoholics and sponsorship. After I heard this person's story, I said it may be the first case of "sponsor-induced" relapse that I ever heard of. But there is no doubt in my mind that the protege' worked a good program - but had other "conditions" that were outside the realm of "one alcoholic helping another".

They were things that our book says are best handled by professionals in their respective fields. An alcoholic sponsor followed the directions of their sponsor - and the protege' relapsed. Why? Because none of the "longtimers" (and I mean 35+ years) had any experience in the field of medicine, pharmacology, or psychiatry. But OH BUDDY, they thought they had the answers for the protege'! The protege' was nothing less than completely willing to go to any lengths to stay sober and follow directions - and this person diligently worked to help others. The protege' did what was suggested, and the so-called "experienced" mentors wrecklessly took control away from the protege's personal medical and mental health teams, and they ran the protege' into an institution followed by months of alcoholic torment. The protege' nearly died.

The sponsor attempted amends and was truly horrified by this turn of events, and agreed that they should not have followed the flawed advice of their 35+ year sober sponsor. But the "grand-sponsor" - no remorse - no reflection - that longtimer still indulges newcomers today with the same dangeroulsy flawed and diluted message.

Friends, out of all the stories I've heard, nothing was as heartbreaking as this one. There were no "happy endings" - no serious efforts to correct the wrong. Just one protege' in a mental institution. A sponsor who changed alliances to a "Christian Church" and distanced themself from AA, and a stubborn longtimer apparently still in the business of being a "medical advisor" and AA "sponsor".

The protege' probably felt the same way we do. That helping others will "insure immunity" from drinking. That alcoholic had every reason to believe that. But like you wisely mentioned, Dallas, there was a 99.99% "lock" on sobriety, but there was also that .01% that came down on the side of "errors in judgement".

I didn't mention names or locations, but I'm willing to bet there might be someone tuning into this forum, maybe, who knows the players in this situation better than me. Akron is not a big city, and either is Cleveland.

So we trudge this path of spiritual progress toward that "happy destiny".

The program works - flawlessly. That is still the greatest hope and reality that I "get" from being a sponsor.

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Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 25, 2008 12:05 am

Nice sharing GV. Thank you. We are on the same pages and the same book. And, I distance myself real quick with any AA that's offering any medical advice to anyone (Unless it's a real doctor... and then, I still keep my nose out of any of those kinds of medical or diagnostic conversations).

It's easy to get into trouble telling someone else what they ought to or should do. That's why I like to keep my sharing about me and my experience. Then, if my experience might be helpful to them, in regards to what I did in a particular situation -- so be it. And, if it's not helpful to them -- that's alright, too. Example: if I share about how I took the Steps, how I discovered my solution, how I came to answer my own questions, or what I understand, myself, about the 12 Steps, and the deal, then, hopefully I can stay on higher ground and not reaching up from another bottom.

If I haven't personally experienced what another alkie that's seeking info from me is experiencing... then, I try to refer him/her to someone with a similar experience to theirs. And, I do suggest, to any newcomer or any alkie that is sobering up -- that they should make arrangements to see their doctor for a good physical check-up as soon as possible. I think that's important. If the guy has liver disease or something, it's better that he find out as soon as possible. Also, it can be pretty dangerous for an alkie that's getting sober. High blood pressure. Stroke. Etc. And, this way, if the guy does need some medical attention -- it will be a real doctor that he's dealing with.

One of the benefits that I get by leading another alkie through taking the 12 Steps, is: each time I do it -- I get to re-take the Steps myself, and it always leaves me with a new and fresh discovery and understanding about the Steps and about myself.

BTW: I know that you're not cocky or afraid.... I was referring to me.


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:31 pm

Dallas wrote:BTW: I know that you're not cocky or afraid.... I was referring to me.

Well that is a nice thing to say, bro, but you give me too much credit. The bottom line is the same for me as it is for you - for me to agree these "things" affect you and not me would be being totally dishonest. "Arrogance" (or "being cocky") is a character defect that I ask my Higher Power to remove on a daily basis. It may not come to the surface all that often, but when it does, by golly, I'm "full-blown" cocky :!: And it is not a pretty sight - I tell you what!

Afraid? Me too! Heck I have a clinical anxiety disorder. But the thing I've learned is that being afraid isn't always a character defect. And God hasn't ever removed "fear". Being afraid helps me do a couple very constructive things: 1. To get myself out of harm's way - or to save my own life if I need to. In that kind of a situation, there is nothing that works better than fear. So don't tell me "fear and faith can't live in the same house together"! 2. Being afraid is also what helps me to seek a Higher Power on a regular basis, and it is one of the reasons that led me to find a Power greater than myself.

Sorry for the digression bro, but I think a lot of us have many things in common. And since I'm a "garden variety", I don't need to think I'm any different.

But now, heading into what might be a slippery slope, I did a little research and found an interesting pamphlet that is most definitely A.A. Conference Approved literature: "The AA Member - Medications and Other Drugs. I find it odd that I don't see this pamphlet hanging around meetings too often. But it speaks loads to the aforementioned incident that I shared with you.

The aforementioned protege' was told in no uncertain terms to stop taking ALL prescription medication and to "get honest" with themselves. Wow! What a scary thing to say to a protege' who had a team of physicians and professionals that were at direct odds with a handful of drunks who think "sobriety" means abstinance from any form of prescription medication. They specifically believed (read: serious error of judgement) that no one in AA should take any medication. This is a position that a minority of so-called "AA members" have taken in many locations.

The protege' literally "turned over" 7-8 prescription medications to the sponsor who literally "turned over" those prescriptions to the "grand sponsor". The "grand sponsor" immeidately flushed every single prescription down the toilet. Not only did the "grand sponsor" destroy upwards of a thousand bucks worth of neccessary medicine, the "grand sponsor" effectively introduced an incredible amount of toxins into the city of Akron's water system. By flushing the protege's medications, the "grand sponsor" also took away any chance of the protege getting replacement prescriptions because of the time restrictions on refills.

When the protege' went into seizures, lost enormous amounts of weight, became physically incapable of most movement, underwent violent migraines and digestive "distress" beyond description, after only a week or two - the protege', now in the hospital, could only say to the sponsor "please help me - there's something wrong". The protege' no longer physically resembled the person they once were, and the sponsor became very frightened. The protege' didn't know that their prescriptions were destroyed. The protege' thought the prescriptions were in the hands of "trusted servants" who would hold onto them until they were needed.

Friends, lets look at this outcome. It's a miracle the protege' didn't die. The protege' is no longer able to care for themselves, and was unable to get needed medicine into their body because the prescriptions were gone and could not be refilled again until several weeks or months later. The whole supply of prescriptions (some of them 90 days from mail order pharmacies) flushed into the Akron water system. Now the hospital can no longer manage their patient, so the protege' is sent to an institution. Can anyone imagine what that protege" must have been feeling or experiencing?

Well the AA apporved literature clearly states: "No AA Member Plays Doctor." Is there any doubt why?

I tell you what, Dallas, I can't help but sometimes visualize getting violent with that "grand sponsor" or any other foolhardy drunk that thinks "no member of AA should take any medication" as mentioned in the pamphlet.

Just like when we were drinking uncontrollably, we were taught that our actions hurt innocent people even though we would rationalize "I'm not hurting anyone but myself". My actions while sober today still affect others. The things I decide can bring about pain and suffering to someone who doesn't really deserve it. If I let my ego force a position of "no medication for any member of AA", really the only thing that is "changed" about me is my breath. I'm not surrendered - I'm directing the show and putting the actors in their places and hoping that everything will go as I think it should go. And if it doesn't what do I say?

"Oh well, I guess that protege' wasn't "ready"? :roll:

My hope is that anyone who still thinks that they are the only ones affected by their choices and decisions - please don't kid yourself. Another hope is that "love and tolerance of others" will be the "code" in all our affairs. I also pray that if "Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness" is what started the journey for anyone here, that H.O.W. is still part of the foundation of sobriety.

Or to say it in more simple terms: "Think. Think. Think."

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