Monday, June 22, 2009

sponsor-sponsee relationship

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that my sponsor has been away on a journey across the US to see the sights and to visit with children along the way. I have kept in contact, mostly by phone, although we have emailed some as well.

I am grateful for the relationship that we have. It seems that we are able to maintain a closeness and trust that seems different in some ways from what I've had with my sponsees. It seems that we are able to communicate and share opinions through thick and thin. Maybe my sponsor is a paternal figure to me. There likely is some "transference" there. Or maybe it's just the time that we have spent soul searching.

I am not a very paternal person generally. My approach with my sponsees has been to remain detached and yet available to them. I have to admit that it's not easy for me to ignore some of the personalities. I do think that I place principles above personalities with the sponsees. Often, all I can do is repeat the same things over and over trying to get the message across.

The will of individuals is a remarkable thing. Mine was broken when I came into the program. Through trusting another human being, I went to a meeting. And through the grace of my Higher Power, I found my sponsor. He has shown me how to keep the focus on myself and to know how to detach with love.

Those are valuable tools that have helped me in sponsoring others. And maybe those are the tools that are necessary in order to help a person in pain due to the effects of the disease of alcoholism. With each sponsee, I share my personal experience, strength, and hope. What has been different with my sponsor and me is that as time has gone on, we formed a bond that our mutual trust brought forth between two people who have shared and bared their souls.

I am not at that point with my sponsees. In all honesty, I feel compassion but am able to maintain detachment. So far, I have maintained a "stick by the rules in recovery" type of relationship in which we focus on the steps. Maybe I feel the need to protect myself from myself so that I'm not drawn into more co-dependence. As my sponsor wrote to me: "....Our basic co-dependence never goes away. It may diminish somewhat, but it's awfully hard to change a leopard's spots."

But when a sponsee decides to move on, I have felt sadness as they seemed to want to do the work but for whatever reason were drawn away. Some of these, I haven't heard from again. I reflect on that and how people move in and out of our lives without looking back. My relationship with sponsees is a little like that of a guide. I listen, share, and go about what we are there to discuss: the steps. I am not a professional step guru, therapist, parent, sibling, or child of - - - I am an Al-Anon member who has continued with my recovery by giving away something that was given to me.

The sponsor/sponsee bond is one that we can hold onto, allow it to grow, and simply let it 'go away' after enough energy has been expended. When a person leaves that special relationship, it usually has no personal meaning - - - it just happens.


  1. i know what you mean about the bond thing.
    I find that until i have ? 'won them over' there is a difficult ego battle going on, and the best i can do is 'do the loving thing'. but when they 'come round' they are much nicer. we still have differences, but it is easier to like them as WELL as doing the loving thing.

    rejection is never pleasant. Recently i have been avoided by new women who have there eye on some aa blokes who i have a ! dim view of them dating. they assume you hate men or something when you advise they stick with the women. so it make makes me unpopular. oh well. theres bound to be someone who is willing to avoid the 13th stepping trap out there...

  2. You are right, we cannot take it personally. Sometimes we just don't get on with someone.

    I am troubled when I talk to people in the program who insist they understand, they read, they are working the steps, etc. but seem to make no progress what so ever. I have not done so, but I have on occasion wanted to say to them they need professional help.

  3. Seems like you're reading my mail here...

    I have often heard from sponsees comments like: " last sponsor was more like a friend - we'd just hang together a lot..." at which point I usually suggest that they can probably find another sponsor with that similar style and personality.

    I really only have 2 sponsees who've hung with me >10 years and have been with my current sponsor 3 years. I have several friends who used to be sponsees and sponsors through the years.

    Different strokes and it takes us all...

    Blessings and aloha...

  4. it sucks though, when they leave. it makes me wonder why i get it. it is hard to detach, i think for me because they seem to go away faster when i do. i have never had a success with sponsoring people. this last one i tried to call and now her phone is shut off. so not too much i can do but pray for her.
    my sponsor didn't answer the phone today. it bothers me so much when i can't get a hold of her.
    tomorrow is a new day and i will try again though

  5. Your posting is very interesting... I really enjoyed reading this post. Keep writing..

  6. Yeah Syd...often I hear of some who seem to make SO MUCH more out of a sponsorship
    relationship, that what it is. Simple a way for the sponsor to (stay sober) stay focused on the disease and the recovery from.....if another gets better, grows spiritually, etc,\., so much the better!

  7. that sounds like a precious bond.

  8. You are doing great work. Whether or not someone partakes is completely up to them.

  9. giving away something that was given to me.
    We cannot give away something we do not have, and giving is always so much better than receiving. I know my oldest sister who does not drink, joined AA years ago to help save her husband and their marriage. This man is now her ex- husband, but she still attends the meetings,she has always talked highly of Al-Anon, she now has many new friends, she states the bond between them is forever.

  10. trust is a crazy thing with us Alcoholic Humans... I have "that" kind of relationship with my sponsor, but not with my sponsee... hmmm a lot of them are new to me and me and my sponsor have been together for 8yrs now... time takes time to build those relationships... in both parties

  11. ooh, and thank you for your support ☺

  12. A reason, a season or a lifetime. People come and go.

    Being in acceptance helps with those spots. Hair dye, too.

  13. In my own story, I share that I did not select my sponsor to be my friend, but because she had what I wanted. She is tough, blunt, a big rough around the edges but she is what I need now. I am grateful to call her my sponsor..and that is enough for me.


  14. Do you think sponsoring your friend is a good idea, my friend Uncle Buck keeps asking but I reckon he needs someone he doesnt know so well, I mean we were drinking buddies how can I sponsor him?

  15. Michael, I don't sponsor my friends. My sponsor has become like a friend to me over the years. But he is still my sponsor. We don't hang out together but we do communicate well.

  16. We had a guy stop by our meeting from NY. He was stuck in CT because his car broke down.

    He shared and said I'm glad there's no cross-talk in this meeting because I really don't need advice. I just need someone to listen to how I feel.

    I thought that was an excellent reminder for our group.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.