Caution! AA Sponsor Approaching

My job as a sponsor: Hook you up with God and then get out of the way.

Action to Take: The Twelve Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Not my job as a sponsor: Call you, Drag you to meetings, Take you out bowling on Saturday night, Talk to you for hours on end about your problems and feelings.

Am I your friend? No.

Will we become friends? Perhaps, if and when you recover.

Will I ever tell you to do something that I haven’t done myself? No.

Will I make decisions for you? No.

Will I tell you what colored socks to wear? No.

Should people who haven’t taken Steps and recovered become sponsors? Absolutely not.

Do they? All the time, unfortunately.

Why shouldn’t they become sponsors? Because their advice might actually kill you.

God, please take my will and make it Your own. Teach me how to be useful to others…

AA Sponsorship

     What is sponsorship?

     Is it approaching some newbie at an AA meeting and telling them that they need a sponsor and that you’re the man to do it? Is it then dragging your sponsee to AA meetings day after day after day? Is it calling your sponsee on Saturday night to make sure he isn’t drinking? Or is it fielding frantic and desperate phone calls from your sponsee as he teeters on the edge outside of a bar? Is it providing a social structure for your sponsee by taking him out for dinner, a movie, or some bowling? Is it telling your sponsee where to work, who to be with, or what friends they should have? Is it getting all militant and beating the shit out of him? Better yet, is it telling your sponsee what kind of clothes to wear? Is sponsorship determining what colored socks to wear on Monday? Sure that may sound ridiculous, but it’s just as ridiculous as all the other useless actions I just mentioned.

     Sponsorship is NONE of the above. Watered down, modern AA has spawned all sorts of new ideas and norms about what sponsorship is. Hollywood has well-defined the slew of AA cliches – the meeting room, the sob stories, the group prayer, and the sponsor who calls you when you’re in trouble. Sorry to say that none of these things have much to do with Alcoholics Anonymous, which was originally nothing more than a series of spiritual actions designed to restore the addict to sanity by accessing the power of God, or Spiritual Power, if you like. It is a way to God – nothing more, or rather less.

     The 12 Steps was the sole program of AA – a rigorous and life-changing set of actions to heal ourselves from deep within. An enormous amount of work is necessary to extract the life-detsroying character defects that sabotage all good things in life. The work continues as we make amends to all who we have harmed. We take Steps to prepare us for our new life of purpose, the purpose of helping others who still suffer. If all we did was to sit there in meetings, make some coffee, be the treasurer and pass out sobriety coins, we remain untreated, insane, and a threat to every newcomer who walks through the door. Why suffer? Why struggle through each day when there is a solution?

     Sponsorship is very simple. It is one person who has taken Steps and recovered taking another addict through the Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book. That person must be willing to change and grow along spiritual lines. Our job as sponsors is to hook the sponsee up to God and then get out of the way. Nothing more. I take them through the first 7 Steps, guide them with their first few amends and then they should be on their way.

     It is not my job to be their friend or to listen to them blab on all night about their feelings or struggles, allowing them to validate themselves as some sort of victim. It is definitely not my job to call them. If you want to get better, then it is you who have to call me and I’ll tell you what I did. Nothing more. And by the way, your feelings don’t matter. I don’t really care how you feel. Sound harsh? Well, it’s really not so harsh when you think that our pathological focus on ourselves and our feelings, our constant engagement with self-pity is the exact thing preventing us from getting better.

     Holding on by a thread is not AA. AA is a set of spiritual tools that we can use to build a foundation of strength, peace and freedom. We can be forever rid of the mental obsession, the insanity before a relapse. There are no such things as cravings. There are no such things as triggers. We are either okay or not okay, recovered or recovering, sane or insane. There is no in between. Same with sponsorship.

God, Make me a better man today…

12 Step Posters/Posers

     Follow up to the previous Let Go and Let God post about AA slogans (Also see AA Slogans). There is, in fact, a problem with this slogan, or rather its constant recitation in AA. When I walk into a meeting, there are few, if any, who can tell me exactly how to let go and how let God.

     Even more disappointing is that there may be no one in the room who has done so himself.

    That poster of the 12 Steps that hangs on the wall is not the Twelve Steps. It is a summary. The detailed instructions are inside the Big Book, even though hoards of AA ‘members’ aren’t really sure what’s in the book other than a few stories. Others think the Big Book is just something you win in the raffle at the end of the meeting.

     Nothing could be further from the truth.

     Find someone who has taken Steps (as they are laid out in Alcoholics Anonymous) and has recovered. That’s the guy you want to follow. That is real sponsorship. It’s not going out bowling on Friday or talking on the phone when you feel like drinking. As if a phone conversation is going to stop us once we are hit with the mental obsession. Joke. If a fundamental principle of AA tells us that we are beyond human aid, when did it become acceptable to think that a phone call can keep us sober? This is why I’m not so sure how many folks in AA are really alcoholics, as apparently they can stop on their own self-will.

God, teach us that action, not empty words, colorful stories and group therapy, is what keeps us sober…

Why Many Don’t Respond To AA

     Many alcoholics don’t respond to AA for the same reason we don’t respond to therapy. The guy talking to us doesn’t really know what he’s talking about and has no solution to offer. Sure, the speakers in AA may have a slight affinity to us in that they drank alcohol. But sadly, it often ends there.

     In order for me to listen to you, you have to have felt and used the way I did. And yes, this is sometimes true in AA. But you also must be in the sort of condition I want to be in if I’m going to get sober and take your advice. I don’t want to be a sober mess, running from meeting to meeting, shaking, chain smoking, chugging coffee, restless, irritable, anxious, depressed, empty, lonely, miserable, selfish, and with no purpose whatsoever other than desperately trying to not drink.
     In fact, that was never the solution that AA offered us long ago. Alcoholics Anonymous says that we can recover by taking steps and then live in freedom and peace. But that’s not what you hear in AA. You hear stories, and the staple advice is “just keep comin'”, because this Group ODrunks can keep you clean. Wow, that’s pretty shitty advice. I know plenty of people and believe me, none of them can keep me sober. For sure, there are two separate programs, both called AA. 
     Sorry, but I’m all set. I’m only going to listen to you if you’ve not only felt and used the way I did, but you are also standing there before me with internal strength, calm, centered, content, secure, stable, happy, productive and fearless. This is what you see when you meet and talk to a recovered person. You can’t tell they were ever some dirty heroin addict or some wreaking drunk on the street. They have been reborn. They are transformed. They have grown new minds and have been filled with the spirit and power of GOD.
     So that’s why people are turned off by AA. Because what you see in meetings today is not what AA ever intended. AA was a 12 Step program of action designed to expel certain spiritual poisons from us to allow for a new Power to come into us, thereby replacing our addiction with something that really works. So if collecting sobriety chips and cranking butts all day isn’t cutting it for you, do yourself a favor and find a recovered person to talk to. Trust me, it will be eye-opening.
God, teach us how to live Your solution and Your principles, that we may serve as examples of real recovery…