Thursday, July 23, 2009

At face value

I have a new sponsee. He and I are getting together this week for the first time. I talked with him for a while last evening. I learned that he has worked the steps several times in another fellowship, yet doesn't understand the concept of powerlessness. He also was getting into some heavy stuff that seemed more like material for a session with a therapist.

In my interactions with sponsees I have to remind myself about what my boundaries are. I thought that the following was helpful. It came from a recent workshop on sponsoring.

Twelve Steps of a Sponsor (from AA Literature):

  1. I will not help you stay and wallow in limbo.
  2. I will help you grow, to become more productive, by your own definition.
  3. I will help you become more autonomous, more loving of yourself, more free to continue becoming the authority of your own living.
  4. I cannot give you dreams or “fix you up,” simply because I cannot.
  5. I cannot give you growth, or grow for you. You must grow yourself, by facing reality, grim as it may be at times.
  6. I cannot take away your loneliness or pain.
  7. I cannot sense your world for you, evaluate your goals, or tell you what is best for you in your world; you have your own world.
  8. I cannot convince you of the crucial choice of choosing the scary uncertainty of growing over the safe misery of not growing.
  9. I want to be with you and know you as a rich and growing friend, yet I cannot get close to you when you choose not to grow.
  10. When I begin to care for you out of pity, when I begin to lost trust in you, then I am toxic, bad, and inhibiting for you and you for me.
  11. You must know – my help is conditional. I will be with you, hang in there with you, as long as I continue to get even the slightest hints that you are trying to grow.
  12. If you can accept all of this, then perhaps we can help each other to become what God meant us to be . . . mature adults, leaving childishness forever to little children.
I take people at face value. I am willing to listen and not judge. That can be a good thing and it can be something that leaves me vulnerable. I believe in the rigorous honesty of this program. I believe that it is important to look at my part in situations. That is some of what I offer to sponsees and to those who read this blog.

If things are not what they seem, as has been mentioned in several blogs lately, then I am not aware of what the reality is. I am still taking people at face value. Like I said, it can leave me vulnerable. And that's a tedious place to be.


  1. Hello Syd!

    What an interesting blog . . . and useful one, also!

    As for as 'being vulnerable' as you pointed out in the last paragraph of this blog, I would suggest that - - - when I feel this way, I call on my Higher Power to be even closer to me than usual, and He usually is.

    I have also learned that, as long as I keep the focus on myself, and speak only my own experience, strength, and hope, that no one else can take offense. This is what helped restore my own self-importance (or self-confidence, if you prefer).

    Being one of the 'special people' who has had a negative sexual experience - from childhood - and the 'threat' or provocation of such an experience up to this very date, I choose to think that I did not cause, cure, nor can I control the incident. As these experiences no longer identify me, I detach - not always lovingly - but at least firmly with my boundaries established!

    I do not like to talk of these things, but there are times when it seems a bit necessary, if only to remind me that these particular actions are the lesser part of being a spiritual being. (I, too, enjoy the 'cloistered and protected' life - - - provided to me through the steps of Al-Anon!) My free spirit, love of music, laughter, and dance, are the simple joy of gratitude to a Higher Power who has let me be who I am!

    Hugs, with much love,
    Anonymous #1

  2. Syd this is really a great and helpful post - I am printing it and emailing it to some friends.


  3. More material for my workshop this week end! thanks, Syd, and I'll let you know how it goes..I wish you could be with me to give your input, it would be so valuable.

  4. great post Syd, as always You come through and uplift us all.. goodluck with your new sponsee

  5. Such a great post! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I really learned a lot from reading this and I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten this information elsewhere so thank you! :)

  6. Thanks Syd
    The sponsee 12 steps is a real help! I have a new sponsee who is bottoming out as I type this reply.
    I cannot give you dreams or “fix you up,” simply because I cannot.
    She gives me the opportunity to practice loving boundaries.

  7. Syd, I am on the lookout for goodness. You truly are a good man!

  8. Amazing post, I have that list and keep it with me to remind me of what I do as sponsor and what sponsor does for me, that's the relationship.

    Take care!

  9. Wonderful post Syd. I'm with Steve. You're a great guy.

  10. I like #8 Syd. "Safe misery" is a good description of not growing. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. When helping a sponsee with the programme I tell them from the start that it's my job to ensure that they fully understand how to apply the steps both in the rooms and in life. I pass on my ESH and hopefully a positive example. So long as they are willing to try and prepared to work then we both have a chance. If they want to pay lip service to the programme and the fellowship, then there is nothing tha I can help them with. It's up to them to do the running, I won't be chasing them. Thats how I learnt about humility and puncturing pride and ego. This helps me maintain boundaries and protects them from me trying to enable them or worse, short change them. Good post Syd.

  12. I really needed to re-read those 12 steps of a sponsor. I have been missing a lot of meetings, going my own direction, and wondering why my sponsor was not sensing my need to be back in the program. Thankfully I had not taken a drink, but I was stuck in a non-growth status in terms of alcoholism in favor of other things going on in my life. I needed this right now, and thank you for the perfect timing of it. I'm headed back to my meetings, and may start the 90/90 all over again. And all this is coming just two weeks shy of a year of complete sobriety. I wonder if I'll ever stop wallowing.


  13. I love those 12 steps and have given them out several times.

  14. Syd,
    I think you are a really good person, and I admire you tremendously.

    Besides, SB just loves a vulnerable man! (I kid. I kid.)

  15. nice list :)

    thanks for sharing it with us.

    yeah I know what you mean about being vulnerable

    a saying i like is

    "be as gentle as doves but as wise as serpents'

    jesus said it. i find it very helpful ")

  16. These are good to look at if your are the sponsor or the sponsee...very good.

  17. These are great points for sponsors.

    You always provide such pertinent information. I appreciate you.


  18. I hope the sponsee lives long enough to learn about the concept of being powerless. It sounds like you will be a great sponsor if the time is right.

  19. I think anyone that has you as a sponsor is very fortunate. It seems like being a sponsor would be also be an opportunity for a lot of growth.

  20. I love AlAnon literature! This is a great list Syd.

  21. you know i have a real problem with not judging people. people are given plenty of chances to work a program but choose to be miserable and it leaves me feeling angry that they refuse to try. this is a great message and maybe it is really something i need to work on, my sponsor told me to go over my stepwork so far so that i may start on number 7. have a great weekend syd, thanks for all your help with my garden.

  22. Nice list - seems very useful...

    I think all we can be is who we are and that's the best it gets in sponsorship and life.

    Your sponsee is blessed by you.

    I am blessed by you.

    Thank you.


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