As you (meaning my Sponsees) are such prolific sponsors yourselves, I believe you will find this information VERY useful. You are at liberty to choose your own sponsorship style (of course!) BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, but this is the general way I view sponsorship. Its important to know roughly what you are obliged to do, and what is a CHOICE. So hope this helps..
Boundaries are TERRIBLY important when it comes to being a sponsor. If you don't use them you will very quickly become railroaded into unwanted responsibilities and you will end up pretty resentful on the demands on your time.
What a Sponsor is NOT under ANY OBLIGATION to be or do.
A sponsor is not....
A dumping ground. Someone to 'dump' on
A 'bleating' opportunity
A ranting opportunity
Someone to listen to war stories for hours
Someone to feel sorry for you, or pity you
A surrogate Mother
A debating society
Someone to 'argue the toss' with
Someone to tell all your 'yes buts' to
Someone to to be honest 'IN AN UNKIND OR INCONSIDERATE WAY' to
Someone to 'fix' you
Someone to make you 'feel better'
Someone who 'owes' you
Someone to blame for not 'fixing' you.
Someone to motivate, cajole, persuade you to follow suggestion.
Someone to explain to you WHY you should follow suggestion
Someone to make you want to get well
Someone to make you willing to take direction
Someone to do your thinking for you.
Someone to read and study spiritual texts for you, so that you don't have to bother.
A mortgage adviser
A property finder
A small business adviser
A financial adviser
A life coach
Someone to give medical advice
A crisis manager
A nutritionist or exercise advisor
A person to help you choose a therapist
Someone to explain 'what therapy is', to you
Someone to identify and explain your personality weaknesses to you
A relationship therapist
Someone to help you find a new boyfriend or get rid of an old one.
Someone to tell you how to find a plumber, hairdresser, etc
A problem solving brain stormer
A 'life manager'
Someone to chat to for no reason in particular
Someone to hang out with
Someone to chat to when you are bored, needy or lonely
Someone to go shopping with
Someone to invite you round for dinner
Someone to have you round to stay at their house
A person who knows the answers to all your problems
Someone to tell you what to do with your life
Someone to make your decisions for you
Someone who is responsible for making all your decisions for you
Someone to provide constant reassurance
Someone to provide regular compliments
Someone to tell you look pretty or you are not fat
A sponsor CAN (if they really want to, or feel that on certain occasions it would be beneficial) to be ANY or all of those things,
BUT THESE 'JOBS' ARE NOT WITHIN THE DEFAULT REMIT OF THE SPONSORS RESPONSIBILITY.
AT THE SAME TIME
If a sponsor feels that ON CERTAIN OCCASIONS certain ADDITIONAL information would be useful, then IT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE FOR THE SPONSOR TO ASSUME OTHER 'JOBS' temporarily. WHEN THEY CHOOSE TO.
So basically these jobs are an optional CHOICE decided on a case by case basis. BUT SPONSORS ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO DO THEM.
So what IS a Sponsor? I hear you ask..
Well. The PRIMARY PURPOSE of sponsoring
Is to TAKE YOU THROUGH STEPS ONE TO NINE, and teach you how to maintain your recovery using the MAINTENANCE STEPS ten to twelve.
Why do they do this?
So that you can 'have a spiritual awakening as a result of doing the steps' that will enable you STAY STOPPED. So that you need NEVER DRINK AGAIN.
That is the point of doing the steps, and that is why we sponsor people.
"OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE is to STAY sober and HELP other ALCOHOLICS to ACHIEVE sobriety." (From The AA Preamble)
ANYTHING OVER AND ABOVE THAT IS A BONUS. AND IS NOT A REQUIREMENT OF THE SPONSORSHIP PROCESS.
THE SPONSOR IS AT LIBERTY TO DECIDE HOW MUCH ADDITIONAL HELP THEY ARE WILLING TO OFFER. Ie. THEY ARE NOT OBLIGED.
OBVIOUSLY there are MANY different ways that people CHOOSE to sponsor.
This explanation is a VERY PERSONAL INTERPRETATION of how I have chosen to view sponsorship based on the experiences I have had in the last 20 years.
My priorities are to prevent people from drinking themselves to death FIRST. And EVERYTHING else comes second, and is essentially a bonus. Because most people I know who sponsor are very busy and have jobs and lives to manage, I do NOT endorse endless problem solving as an aspect of sponsorship once the Sponsee has completed the first nine steps, as it just takes up time and has gone WAY beyond the 'drinking oneself to death' phase. Once they are 'safe' from drink. They do not need a 'life manager'. I encourage people to ask advice from the VAST POOL OF WISDOM in aa, if they have a 'specialist query' after step 9.
Besides, GOD HELP you if you choose to sponsor in this fashion as a 'default style'. I promise you, you WILL grow to resent it. Either that or you will have NO CHOICE but to sponsor VERY FEW PEOPLE. I have chosen to adopt ADDITIONAL responsibilities on a case by case basis, AS A SHORT TERM MEASURE, but I do NOT assume responsibility for those other areas as a DEFAULT position.
So this is just to help you 'see' what the OBJECTIVES are (as I see it) of sponsoring people. I am NOT speaking for AA as a whole when I say these things. It is a programme of attraction not promotion. It is not for people who NEED it, it is for people who WANT it.
DO NOT FEEL that you are OBLIGED to choose this type of sponsorship. You are not. WE ALL HAVE FREE WILL IN AA SO PLEASE USE YOURS!
Be guided by results not reasoning. I chose my sponsor because she was (and still is) able to render 'prodigies of service', AND STILL HAVE A LIFE.
I have never wanted to be like people who (as a result of sponsoring), compromised the quality of their own lives, or just didn't HAVE a life.
I 'did not want what they had'. This is very personal.
If you think you DO want or expect a great deal more from your sponsor than being instructed how to achieve PERMANENT SOBRIETY, ask yourself IN ALL HONESTY, whether you are willing to offer that to ALL your Sponsees in return. We are instructed to draw FROM OUR EXPERIENCE, not our OPINIONS, based on what other people do. If ALL YOU REALLY KNOW IS ONE TYPE OF SPONSORSHIP BASED ON A MULTITUDE OF TASKS over and above the twelve steps, then you will have NO OTHER CHOICE, but to draw from THAT experience when you sponsor people yourself. Ie you are 'stuck' with ONE frame of reference (meaning experience) to draw from.
- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Boundaries. Surplus Expectations of Sponsorship. What a Sponsor is NOT
Posted by An Irish Friend of Bill
Labels: Boundaries, Choosing a Sponsor, Sponsorship, Step 12 - Service
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That's great advice, for sponsees as well! Every now and then, you need to realize that your sponsor is there for one reason: Guide you through the 12 steps.
Tis especially good when you as a sponsee are taking your sweet time doing a step
When I first was being sponsored by my current and only sponsor, I really thought I knew how I should be sponsored. I thought I had God's plan all mapped out.
I am grateful for humility. I am grateful I did not get in God's way, because my sponsor is wonderful. As a really newcomer back then, I thought I had sponsorship figured out. How funny of a fool I was. I can laugh at me today, I had and still have so much learning to do.
Thank you for today!
Great post. Since we can be so self centered by nature it is good to keep this all in mind when calling on our sponsors...Funny you should mention "the vast pool of AA wisdom"...I have come to think of you as one of my foremost mentors...oh so many miles away. I have read and re-read so much of your site.
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