12th Step Work
I was at a meeting earlier this week. Most of the people in attendance have been sober 6 months to 40 years. As the meeting went on, the topic got a little deeper with each speaker. The meeting was very interesting and I felt overall pretty good.
After the meeting was over the alcoholic sitting next to me said, “I have no idea what we were talking about.” That’s when it hit me. I had been so self-consumed that I didn’t notice the person sitting immediately to my right was the newest member of the group, about 6 weeks sober!
After taking a good look at myself, I didn’t feel so spiritual. My ego had crept back in and I was enjoying a meeting that probably sounded more like a group therapy session than an AA meeting. I should have been thinking of what I could contribute to help the newcomer instead of what I could get. I am grateful that I am aware I have a lot of growing up to do, I think that keeps me teachable.
I make a habit of introducing myself to people I haven't met before in AA meetings. If I get the feeling they are interested in our program, I will offer my phone number and that they can call anytime if they wish and are under no obligation to me.
Over the years I have made many AA friends this way. I have often heard later how I made them feel comfortable and was the only AA to reach out to them. I know how they feel. twenty years ago a man with about 20 years sobriety shook my hand and offered his assistance. This fall he will celebrate 40 years and I will 20.
Yesterday I received a phone call from someone I have never met before. It turns out I had given my phone number to someone who wasn't too interested in our program. He in turn gave my phone number to someone who was! Once again a miracle happened. one alcoholic talked to another sharing experience, strength, and hope, for mutual sobriety.
While meditating on gratitude, my thoughts often drift back to my friend who held out his hand to me. I try to pay it forward by offering my hand to others. I do this for two reasons. first I owe it to AA for saving my life and for the great spiritual pleasure I receive for being of service.
Thanks for reading.
Where did the practice of making a person repeat the 12-step process again, persons who previously were taught the the 12 steps w a sponsor,had a spiritual-experience and then later relapsed?
If we read Dr.Bob's story we see that he had been through the steps, then prior to making amends he relapsed for 7-14 days (hard to determine) but he relapsed after his spiritual-experience & awakening, and after he comes back desiring to be done w Alcohol he isn't re-instructed int eh steps, he does his operation (after a beer given by Bill W to calm his nerves) and is gone all afternoon, making amends.... Technically speaking on his last drink of beer, in that same day he was fit to make Amends?
I have repeated the 12 steps many times. Why? 2 reasons: I take others through the steps personally (one on one or in groups of BACK TO BASICS) and (really important for me) I was taught to take any ONE problem through the steps, if I want relief from that problem (e.g. "I'm powerless over my boss-wife-dogs- and my life is unmanageable"). I don't have to go through the steps again; I GET to go through the steps again. My experience is that I ALWAYS learn something new as I journey through the steps and I feel free, as I grow spiritually.
As for Dr. Bob....who am I to judge any one day (of anyone)? And he took more than 5000 through the steps in his short time on planet earth, after sobriety. How many more lives were touched by his actions..in a positive way?
So, my 'guess' about the 'practice' of taking someone through the steps again, after relapse, is they GET to grow.
They get a 'new pair of glasses'. And a fresh start. Get the journey movin' forward...God Bless
Gene in Vegas
On page 179 of the big book, Dr Bob discusses his meeting with cofounder Bill W. and his experiences after meeting Bill.
Dr. Bob talks about meeting Bill for 6 hours the first time, having a couple of shorter talks afterward, and stopping drinking abruptly. He said that this particular dry spell lasted about 3 weeks.
On June 10, 1935 Bill gave Dr. Bob his last drink. Dr. Bob did go out and make some amends before he came home that night, although that is stated in other AA books. Dr. Bob does mention that unlike most of our crowd, he did not get over his craving for liquor much during his first 2 ½ years of abstinence.
Dr. Bob talked about Bill being cured by the same means he had been trying to employ-the spiritual approach. Bill gave him the information of alcohol that Dr Silkworth had suggested- mental obsession and physical allergy. Then Dr Bob states- of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience.
Anyway, after making a short story long, I think what was holding Bob back was his unwillingness to make amends. He had been employing the six tenants of the Oxford groups of that day which are a shorter version of our 12 steps. I think he was spiritually far more advanced that Bill, but hadn’t done what we call the 1st step until his last drink after the 3 week dry spell. I think then he was able to fully concede to his innermost self that he was an alcoholic. That ego deflation gave him the humility to make amends.
I am certain that after only 3 weeks Dr Bob had only scratched the surface of what was to become of the AA program. Remember Bill was only sober 6 months himself and before Bob, as Dr. Silkworth put it “had the cart before the horse” in the way he was approaching drunks.
In my experience, since my last drink I redoubled my efforts at being sober. The only step I had to get right is the 1st. Any mistakes I made along the way (2-9) are taken care of in step 10 which is a combination of the first 9. Then 11 and 12 help me enlarge my spiritual life to insure continued sobriety.
An interesting note on Dr. Bob. It is estimated that he worked with 5,000 alcoholics during the 15 years he was sober, providing medical assistance free of charge. That’s an astounding 333 drunks a year! Those numbers bring new meaning to the phrase “going to any length for sobriety”!
On my first go-round in AA I was seeing a counselor (court mandated and chosen) he was an AA member also. At one point in our sessions he told me I should find a woman that I could relate to in meetings and ask her to sponor me. Trying to do the right thing I starters looking and listening finally finding an older and long time sober woman that I could relate to. Naturally I was not used to asking for anything,let alone help, but I finally worked up the courage to ask only to be told thatshe would not sponsor me because of conflicts with my counselor. I was pretty well let down. I thought wow how humiliating, it took so much for me to ask onlyto be turned down not even an offer of temporary sponsorship. I stayed sober for a year then had to go back out for 10 more.I found my way back to a new set of tables and again I found a woman I could relate to and asked again to be turned down, I don't even rember her reason. I was confused and even hurt. Maybe I have missed something but I have over 6500 days without a drink. I'm not sure that I have it in me to be turned away a third time. I try to work the best program I can and consider myself a grateful recovering alcoholic with the help of AA and my higher power.
This is just a thought, why not announce to the group that you need a sponsor and leave it in the hands of a God of your own understanding. My home group has a lot of young woman coming in and out and a lot of our experienced females are sponsoring 4-5 baby chicks so it's hard sometimes for them to take on a new sponsee and their rejection of you is for their self-preseveration. Remember even experienced sponsors sometime feel a personal responsibility when a sponsee goes back out so sometimes the answer is no.
The more I read and the more I investigate, the stronger
my belief that the word sponsor, and concept of sponsor must be
eliminated from our AA vocabulary. Bill and Dr. Bob came
together as absolute equals. There was no hierarchy or
patriarchy. Today newcomers are taught that they have to
turn their lives over to a sponsor. This actually prevents
them from turning to a Higher Power, such as the group.
Today's concept of sponsor is harmful to the newcomer and
to the "sponsor". The sponsor's EGO is inflated, and the
newcomer doesn't find a real God. ANONYMOUS
If you're newly sober please be very careful in choosing a sponsor as picking the wrong one can be devastating. You don't have to get a sponsor your first day. Listen to what people say & zero in on a few & then interview them. In the meantime you can have a few "go to" people or a so-called temporary sponsor. The reason I'm so adamant about taking your time is that newcomers are so vulnerable and pliable and tend to attempt a 5th step before they've learned to walk again thus revealing too much to the wrong person who could betray you and discuss your life and revelations with others. So, take baby steps, go to lots of meetings, get phone numbers and you will find the ideal sponsor at the right time.
Sponsor doesn't indicate a hierarchy it is simply someone who has already worked the steps and then helps the newcomer to work them. The book uses the word protege' for the new person, I guess that would mean the sponsor is the mentor. Simply someone who has gone before. We are here to help each other.
I'm often in mixed agreement with your point of view as expressed in the various I-say forms but you nailed this one. Sponsorship is service!, and as with most service you often get more out of it then you put in, that's the paradox of service and sponsorship. I will tell a new sponsee that I'm likely to get more from this then they are. Dennis D.
Maybe these women were wiser and more experienced than
you think. They have allowed you to find a higher power
instead of depending on them, a human power. I usually tell
a new person (or old) that I will do anything within my
power to help them. I believe we best help an alcoholic
by being a good listener. Today's concept of "sponsor"
is so distorted it ought to be deleted from A.A.
vacabulary. (my minority opinion). We are alcoholics, not
On Friday, two aa members and i read chapter 7 out of the bb. The line at the bottom of page 94 that states"On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of AA. If he shows interest, lend him a copy of this book", then on page 95 it states"If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself wether he wants to go on.
Sounds like great advise. I Also try to ask if they can read, and if they can't I read it to them.
If the newcomer isn't willing to read the book, they for sure won't accept the help outlined in it. When a newcomer is willing to read the book, usually booze has beaten them into a position where they will readily accept the program of action outlined in the book. At least that was my case.
Thanx for your story. I am taking this back to my group.
The entire paragraph on page 95 reads: If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this
book in the interval. After doing that , he must decide for
himself if he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or
prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find
God, the desire must come from within.
Yet we tell the newcomer:--that one is God. May you find
Him now! And then they are pushed and prodded to get a
sponsor, 90 in 90 and hold hands with us as we pray. HIW
must be returned to its special place in chapter five.
The problems listed above are Fellowship problems. We are all sick people ( some MORE than others). The AA gossip train is a wreck waiting to happen. I even admit that I sometimes can't resist the " exciting" sounds of : " Did you hear what happened between ( fill in the blanks)??!!" or " You won't believe what just happened....". I greet these gossip hounds with a smile and include them in my prayers, but i keep them at arm's distance and have nothing to discuss with them unless it is program related.
Tthanks everyone for sharing on gossip. I don't feel so all alone anymore. Some stuff that was going aroung from 2007-2010 may have still been causing problems today and I just got over it. Before Christmas it was time to find a new sponsor and he has 14 yrs. and had to ask his sponsor if he could sponsor me. Still to today he hasn't even given me the decency to at least tell me no. I was in a hospital on and off for 4 years, during of which I got 2 visits. The first I had to pay the guiy $100. That same guy said I was threatening all his friends. Which was nothing but A lie. I am glad I was sober a good amount of time and had a car around here. I got one friend in AA and that is my sponsor who allowing me to stay on board considering these people. My old sponsor died and our van driver the same year and I am sorry to say there is no fellowship for me..Just "The Program". That particular meeting where it all started I was told by a good source not to go there. And the guy who never gave me an answer if he could sponsor me is a member of that group's sister group. Even My sponsor that I have had for a couple years now nailed it on the head and he has never been to these meetings. Just what I was thinking as well,"Maybe it has something to do with his sponsor?" All my friends are in AA? I am sorry people, All my friends are not in AA(whether they drink or not)Thank you all at my blessed Grapevine.Where would I be without it..even my last time in jail another inmat slid a stack under my cell door. Over all and through it all there was never an excuse to drink again. And not even a thouhgt but one time and thats cause briefly at 12 yrs. sober in 2007 I wasn't doing something I should have been doing. That's all. I give you full permission to spread this around. well duh I guess I knew that would happen if I respond here where a lot of people can see it. I don't mind though,IF IT'S THE TRUTH!!!!
Things like that are why I have no sponsor. I'm really not a complete idiot, I only acted like one when I was drinking sometimes. I don't need anyone's permission to sponsor someone. I've read the book. The similarity of the progression of the dis-ease could be my own story except the job, home, and family. By the Grace of God there go I.
I can't stand for someone to tell me I have to do anything.
The sponsors I've tried just go on and on about themselves when right now I really need a friend to talk to in the worst way.
I've worked the steps my whole life, I call them the 10 commandments, I have a priest to confess the exact nature of my wrongs. The sponsors won't let me even tell them what's going on with me for the way they want me to "work" the program. Hell, I quit by myself, I just want some friends that understand how terrible drinking can be, and don't do it.
I haven't gone to 90 in 90, maybe 50 in 25 years. Part of what kept AA from being the way for me is I'm afraid of breaking one or another rule. Today I shared very a profound event in my life when I was almost killed. I got really emotional and actually cried. No one even acted like they even heard me. I ended up feeling embarrassed because after sharing something so personal, no one had anything to say to me, even after the meeting. Well, except this one man who wants to spend the day with me sometime and go for a ride, what? I'm a grown woman I don't go for rides with men that I don't know, besides I had already told him that I am engaged.
I'm a nice looking blonde woman. I am a good friend to anyone that gives me a chance.
I'm just really wondering where all these loving, supportive AA people are that are willing to reach out a hand to the suffering alcoholic. I've been going to many different meetings and evidently I'll fall through the cracks if I'm waitng for emotional support from AA.
I'm just about to give up on AA for about the millionth time.
I don't drink anymore, I wasted too much of my life on that fruitless hobby. I'm just disgusted and dissappointed.
Thanks for reading, sorry so negative.
You may be negative today but tomorrow something great could happen. Just don't dwell on the past or silly people and perhaps reach out to the alcoholic who still suffers, there are plenty of them. You know, I'm sober by the grace of God...my part in getting sober was that I was willing and God heard my plea which came from the heart and I was struck sober & have not had a serious urge for a drink in four years...now, that's a miracle and knowing that I am a recipient of the 'miracle' and loving sobriety so much is what really keeps me sober along with my love for AA and all its aspects. Surrender that ego and always be willing and God bless. Love, Craig
A sponsors main job is to help someone work or do or live, (whatever label you want), the steps. If you become friends in the process, great. I would like to suggest to you to give AA an honest chance. Find some women's meetings also where the men won't be a distraction, (whether on your part or theirs). Church, the commandments and confession are fine if you want them but in AA we work the steps. If you work the steps as honestly and thouroughly
as you can they will help you with a lot of your emotional strif. There is a difference between a confession and an admition. I hear a lot of distress and confusion in your share, maybe even a little self centerdness. (For example what does being a good looking blonde woman have to do with being a friend?). I am not judging you just reporting what I see. When it comes time for you to ask someone to be your sponsor make it someone of your own sex. Someone who has what you want. Maybe serenity, sensibility, humility, honesty and walks in the sunlight of the spirit. I can tell you I have been knocked down while drunk and while sober and at least if it happens when I am sober I have the tools I need to get back up! I have the best friends in the world today and most of my friends are in the program!
By the way, have you ever read the book Alcoholics Anonymous?
Hang in there!! You will make it if you try and if you want to!!
You said it. you have your own program that works for you. my hat is off to you, God only knows how long I tried to get sober.
My question is this-If what you are doing works so well, what are you doing hanging around AA. I know lots of people who don't drink that don't belong to AA.
I will try to stay brief. AA works for me so I don't want to mess with it. I am what the book calls a "Real Alcoholic", it also calls me an "Alcoholic of our type".
I am not a social drinker or even a hard drinker. I am an alcoholic. There are may definitions but one that comes to mind is this; I was actually sober on my own, (before AA), for five months. Every day I thought about booze. Every day I hated the person that said I had to quit. Every day I tried to think of ways I could drink again or thought about how I couldn't wait until I could drink again. Guess what? I did drink again. Alcoholics of my type will ALWAYS drink again if they don't find a way to keep the illness in check. It is an "ism" not a "wasim". I will always be an alcoholic. Once you are a pickle you can never be a cucumber again. I need to continually work on keeping my spiritual condition in excellent shape. One of the ways I do that is to go to AA meetings. Today, I love going to meetings. It is not a chore or a punishment. AA is not about bad people trying to be good it is about sick people trying to stay well. I could go on and on about what this program has done for me. I enjoy who I am today. I am not in jail today. I remember what I said and did today and yesterday. People actually like me today. I know how to deal with life on life's terms today. I used to use alcohol to deal with the daily grief I thought I was experiencing. That was my cure-all. I thought people did things TO ME. I would like to ask you sincerely to read the Big Book, as we call it. Also, you may love your God and it sound like you do and you enjoy and believe in your religion. That is greaat. But if you are an alcoholic you have to always remember who you are and where you came from. Religion is great, nothing wrong with it but for most of us alcoholics AA is the answer to being sober. Please give it an honest effort.
Well said. I love AA too & my favorite book in the world is the "Big Book" which I read over and over and always read something new or something that has a new meaning that I may have missed before. Life is an adventure & sobriety through AA makes it a great adventure.
Please tell me which one is sicker? The sponsor or the people already here in A.A.?
Only but for the grace of God - I would be pretending to be someones sponsor who is already here !!!!!!
When I was a decade and a half in AA years, my long-term sponsor was killed in an accident. Within 2 days I had asked a friend to sponsor me. I always sponsor and always have a sponsor; both sides of that coin are critical to my personal recovery from alcoholism.
I have had issues with gossip and malice in AA, it goes with being in service, and I was long ago told that "1-2% do all of the work in AA and the rest mainly criticize". That has been my personal experience over the years as well. I was also told to run whenever I saw an 'AA icon' coming my way. That too has proven in my own experience.
The new sponsor began to take my personal inventory, agree with me, and then 'dump' it (in detail) on someone whom I would never share with. Inevitably he would come back to me calling me a 'liar' and making all sorts of insulting passive aggressive comments and distortions. A romantic relationship gone sour was twisted and distorted out of proportion in that manner and also some other serious events and personal issues that I made the mistake of sharing.
I owed the man money and I stayed with him 'to demonstrate my integrity'. Never again will I make that error. My own ego and false pride nearly killed me.
At one stone sober point during months of major orthopedic pain and the depressive effects of all the above, I bought a coil of heavy rope and headed for a concrete rural bridge.
The bridge turned out to be a long walk from the nearest bus stop and the day was extremely hot and nasty. As a result, I wandered around in a river bottom looking for 'the right tree'. After 3-4 hours of bugs and mosquitoes, I still couldn't find a tree where no children would find me hanging the next day. I just wanted a quick end to my misery without harming anyone else!
Finally, I heard clearly a voice saying something like "This is not for you, stupid....!" I rode back to the store, got a refund on the rope, and went home to pray and reflect.
Personally, I sponsor in a closed mouth and secure manner and always have. Murder by character assassination does not appeal to me. I share freely IF needed of the worst parts of my inventory. I do not hold back, and I maintain each sponsee's privacy and anonymity, (in and out of the fellowship), as a priority. I have seen first hand what malicious AA gossip and negativity has done in my own life.
I have learned through a few ongoing and sober days of meetings, sponsorship, Institutional Twelfth Step work, Corrections Correspondence, and not buying another rope, that personal discretion and a closed mouth are the best policy when someone confides in me. As a result, I have heard some things I do not like or approve of, but that is the price of trying to practice love and tolerance; the price of trying to save lives rather than fritter them away through gossip.
I am a pathetic and sick drunk who makes mistakes, fails at some things, succeeds at others, but stays sober and in service no matter what happens.I'm not here to judge the drunk, and I keep their details to myself. Unusual behavior is the norm for us. I refuse to listen to gossip, and I will not circulate it.
I has been my experience that sponsoring with discretion, rigorous honesty, and a closed mouth saves lives and best serves AA. All the rest follows from those principles.
--please allow me to remain anonymous
i loved the part were you returned the rope for a refund.now that is a true alcoholic...lol im just jibbin ya, great story and you sound like a person with real integrity.
I object to but can't do anything about the message that first you need to get a sponsor and then do the steps.
The idea that someone has to be in charge of another's first approach to their higher power isn't in AA teachings. Most folks who stay sober do the first 3 steps in their hearts and alone with their higher power. It is an intensely personal process.
I did the first 3 steps in my heart and in prayer. I told my higher power that I needed help to stop drinking. I said that if I ever wanted to drink again, That would be when i was the sickest and most in need of help. Please don't drop me. Please keep me sober no matter what. Please.
I did all the steps with a loving closemouthed sponsor. I still do all 12 steps. And Thank you Thank you HP for 8,084 days of sobriety.
Loved what Bill Wilson had to say around Roley H time era as he was on the times magazine before the Traditions needed to be wrote " It wasn't good for them and it wasn't goo for me especially if I was right" Bill W
Sure, you can do something about it. You just did, by posting your message here. An alcoholic doesn't come into
AA looking for a sponsor, but he/she is so desperate they
are willing to do anything to get sober. But AA members
today do not seem to have faith that God will do what
human beings cannot do. So the newcomer gets a sponsor
as he is told and starts off on the wrong foot. The more
I investigate, the more conviinced I am that the role
of "sponsor" needs to be deleted. Find a loving close-
mouthed friend to help with the steps, IF YOU DECIDE TO DO THEM. They are suggestions. There is no hierarchy or patriarchy in AA (in theory). Sponsor/sponsee changes all that. ANONYMOUS
In AA's early years newcomers were given a sponsor (appointed) and started working the steps with that sponsor in their first few days of sobriety.
I believe the low recovery rate in AA today is in part a direct result of newcomers failing to get a sponsor and starting working the steps ASAP. What we mostly hear at meetings today is, " don't drink, go to lots of meetings and don't rush into doing the steps". This advice is not working well and in my opinion is a bad suggestion to give any newcomer. Without the steps and sponsorship newcomers continue living with a bad case of untreated alcoholism.
As a newcomer I was constitutionaly incapable of being honest with myself and did not have the living skills to work the steps on my own, regardless of how sincere or willing I was in my own heart. After 22 years of continuous sobriety I still use my sponsor for help with many of life's ongoing problems and AA solutions through the application of the 12 steps. It continues to really work for me!
It is my experience that few, if any, newcomers are able to sucessfully do the steps on their own. Otherwise why would they come to AA in the first place if they are able to solve their own problems? Those that do the steps alone have little success in achieving long term, contented sobriety. Kind of reminds me of the old saying that he or she that represents themselves in court have a fool for a lawyer!
Alcoholism is but a symptom of my serious underlying problems. Character defects and relationship issues are examples of living problems that can only be fixed by doing the steps with a caring, honest,loving and unbiased sponnsor. A person who you trust and respect in and out of the rooms of AA. A sponsor who has done the steps and will share how he/she works, practices and applies them daily in their lives.
Ask oldtimers and other newcomers with sponsors who they would recommend and why. Find the right person by going to lots of meetings and listening to others share their experience, strength and hope. Stop talking and start listening for the first few weeks with the aim of finding the right sponsor in the first month.
Enquire if they have the time and willingness to help you get started on the steps ASAP. After the steps ask your sponsor to help you with the 12 traditions (unity) and 12 concepts (service).
If you find things not working out you can always change sponsors. Sponsors get sick, die or move away or don't have time for numerous other reasons. Always be looking for a replacement sponsor, if needed. I am on my third sponsor in 22 years of sobriety(the first 2 died) and my 3rd now has a terminal illness. I am now looking for my 4th.
One last suggestion. The general rule in picking sponsors is men should sponsor men and women should sponsor women unless of course you are not heterosexual then the reverse rule is suggested. The object is not to get into a romantic/sexual relationship with your sponsor. Newcomers are not emotionally stable to get into new relationships, especially with their sponsors. It is recommended we not get into new relationships in our first year of sobriety unless already in one. This is the voice of experience in AA.
Do not waste any time in getting a sponsor and starting the steps. Procrastination could be fatal as we are dealing with a progressive, incurable and often fatal disease. Few can recover on their own.
Don't be surprised if your sponsor asks if you are willing to go to any length to get sober and what commitment you are able to make. I ask these questions every time I am asked to be a sponsor. If the willingness and commitment is not apparent I suggest they look for another sponsor.
We can do together what I can not do alone.
Keep coming back until the miracle of AA happens and may God keep each of you until then.
Excellent evaluation of sponsorship Oliver!
If you are new or even if you aren't and are questioning sponsors and sponsorship the pamphlet "Questions and Answerws on Sponsorship" is a good read.
A sponsors main job is to help you through the steps. It is very helpful when doing the steps to have someone available to understands them and knows why you are doing them and can give you feed back. If you become friends that is icing on the cake! AA is a microcosm of life and society. Panhandlers panhandle, lonely hearts pine, etc. If you are unforntunate enough to get a sponsor who is saying or doing innapropriate things than get someone elses advise! You have a brain in your head and there is a time to use it!
If you think you are different a friend of mine who has heard over 1,000 5th steps says, "you would be surprised, we are much more similar than we are different".
Be aware of controlling sponsors that gossip and hurt fellow members. Spokane,Wa.
Listen I believe people need outside help why all the craze as if it is part of inside A.A.? A.A'3 3 pertinent ideas are simple and clear and for the ones that know God you'll never be alone again those that don't should find a sponsor or something to help them
Beware of the institutionalized outside sponsorship system that pry on you instead of pray for you.
When all else fails try A.A.
Beware of "pigeon hunters";those very eager to latch on to a newcomer. Tho usually well intentioned are often far off the AA beam.
Thanks for your sustained persistance in your concern about this topic. An oldtimer years ago would often share about the worn typewriter ribbon and hitting the same key over and over would eventually make an impression. I have often
questioned the concept of today's AA sponsor. I was recently at a meeting with a new member at his very first AA meeting. The chairperson "suggested" that he get a sponsor immediately and start working the steps. As harmful as this is, it seems to be the norm at today's AA meeting.
I believe we do this out of ignorance, because that is the way we have been taught. We have morphed from a fellowship
of men and women to a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, just one of many.
I just read some of the comments on the old I-SAY, and find
some of your comments. Todays SPONSOR along with the chanting and praying (AT MEETINGS) makes AA a cult. Not just cultish,
but an actual cult. And I believe that many members today
think that being labled a cult is OK. I first heard the
description STRANGE RELIGIOUS CULT while viewing a video
made for general public. An A&E film INSIDE ALCOHOLICS
ANONYMOUS produced 1999-2000. This movie starred some of
our AA sponsor types. I see today that the "sponsor" and
most of today's AA members don't believe that the steps
will work unless they administer them. We have little
faith that God will perform His miracle if we simply
share our own story and then get out of the way. That is
what rarely fails when trying to help another alcoholic.
Thanks for all the messages and thanks to I-SAY for
continuing to post them. ANONYMOUS
Not another wanta-bee sponsor playing God - Learn to be a friend instead and we all pray for the wisdom to know the difference of a sick dependency. A.A. is not about you nor me it's about the message not your nor mine but of A.A. Get it and lose the got it BS, Keep coming back -
I'm really not following how it is harmful that a chairperson suggest that new members get a sponsor and get active. It is clear that sponsorship was a different sort in the early days, and clearer still that the steps as they are written today had not been drafted in the earliest. Never the less, A.A. got it's start when Bill's sponsor, Ebby Thatcher, brought him the program of action which Bill was to execute still in his detox bed. Bill then spent six months sponsoring others until he found a receptive audience in Bob. There was no fellowship, there was only program, and even Bill needed someone to show him the path. We now have a beautiful book that has been used by many, with and without a sponsor, to outline the path. If you are suggesting that a person can stay sober while working the steps without guidance and at a leisurely pace, I won't disagree with you. In fact, I have met many in the rooms of A.A. who have stayed sober for decades and proudly point out that they have never read the book, and never worked a step in their lives. But then, I have to ask myself as I look around these rooms, "Do these people have what I want?".
Ebby T. brought the AA message to Bill and left it at
Bill W's feet. He left it there. Ebby simply shared his own
story with Bill. Ebby did no preaching. Bill was alone in
his detox bed at Towns Hospital bed when he executed the
program of action. It seems to me that Bill W. did the
first three steps all by himself in the presence of God,
as Bill understood Him. No one was there to cram the steps
down his throat. I believe this is what Bill is trying to
tell us when he writes on page 8 in Language of the Heart.
Bill writes about the the most powerful authority known,
the authority of his full consent, willfully given.
All of this is part of our public relations policy.
We do not want the general public to view us as a TWELVE
STEP PROGRAM, where the steps are crammed down the throat
of someone needing our help. Tell them what we have. If
they want what we have, they can do what we did, willingly,
not because we tell them they must do so. Attraction, not
promotion, is the key to passing the message. What Ebby T.
and Bill W. had, a religious conversion, had been around
a long time before AA was born. A few alcoholics have always recovered that way. Alcoholics Anonymous was
born when Bill met with Dr. Bob. A method was developed
which led to the wholesale recovery of suffering alcoholics.
This was the absolute need each one had for the other. Bill
did not tell Dr. Bob: That one is God! May you find Him now!
like we do in today's AA meetings. We must allow the new
alcoholic approaching us to find his own higher power, a
God of his/her own understanding. When I look around the AA
rooms at members who are sober and happy, I certainly want
what they have. I listen when they tell me how they got that way. ANONYMOUS
"I'm really not following how
I'm really not following how it is harmful that a chairperson suggest that new members get a sponsor and get active."
1.The outside sponsorship system was needed in hospitals due to the drunk not being coherent and could die due to the shakes.
2.As A.A. Developed the traditions were wrote to protect A.A. From this outside sponsorship system injecting themselves/self proclaimed into A.A. - Take a closer look the Traditions of A.A. Are 100% against the outside sponsorship system.
3.The Outside sponsorship system in A.A. Undermines A.A's ideas, Gods principles and the promises.
A.A. Has only 3 PERTINENT IDEAS – A - B - C why promote something that Undermines them? Along with the promise that INTUITIVELY WE WILL HANDEL SITUATIONS
4.Sponsors are for dunk people who do not know of A.A. - They have become substitutes for someones mommy or daddy in A.A. Or one who cannot grasp the God reality as they are already living it in the promises. NEED WE GO ON?
5.What step did it suggest this? – What Tradition? The 164 pages of the Big Book's program does not even have the word sponsor or sponsorship but the words illusions and delusions are astonishing as many pursue into the gates of insanity or death "SOBER" as drunks don't read the book sober people do unless of course your sponsor told you you were to stupid to read it. NEED WE GO ON?
The outside sponsorship system lacks humility
"Bill then spent six months "sponsoring others until he found a receptive audience in Dr. Bob." Bill W. calls that six months of "violent exertion." No alcoholic responded
because of Bill's approach. Just before leaving for Akron,
Dr Silkworth advised Bill to change his approach. The "little doctor" said to Bill "you've got the cart before the horse". "These alcoholics want to get well but
you are pushing them away". Bill W. wrote several times in our literature that without that advice, Alcoholics Anonymous could never have been born. Bill followed that
advice and our wonderful fellowship began.
My own understanding is that we share exactly what we
were like, what happened, and what we are like now. Not
so much on what we are like now. Newcomers can see for
themselves what we are like now. We ought not tell any alcoholic what to do. Only if they ask, and even then we
only again tell them what we did. We do that without even
implying that they do the same. If they identify with me
that is fine. If not they are sure to find someone they
can identify with if they look and listen.
I believe that steps one, two and three are being
practiced if we are approaching AA for help. "My name is
Joe and I'm an alcoholic", is the part of step one, and
part of step five. Anyone who can read and write ought to be able to follow the guideline on page 50 in the 12&12.
Just how do I take an inventory of myself? How do I go about this? I believe that Bill usually used "practice
these steps", as in all our affairs. I believe that proper
sponsorship has very little to do with telling a newcomer
to work the steps, and then telling him/her how to do them.
This probably seems strange to AA members who have joined us in the past two decades. Before that, we were a fellowship of men and women. Today's AA is a TWELVE STEP
PROGRAM, only one of many.
I know this is very difficult to understand. It is only
in the past decade in AA that I found out that our membership was diminishing. I thought AA was "alive and well". For readers who don't know, we doubled in membership
about every ten years, reaching almost two and a half million in 1992. Today we boast of TWO MILLION STRONG.
Alcoholics are still approaching us, hundreds of thousands every year. We can help them if we return to the technique offerred to Bill by Dr Silkworth in the spring of 1935. As with some other special things in life, if we do not know the technique, and fail or refuse to learn, we will
seldom get the desired results. In the pamphlet "three talks to American Medical Societies", Bill calls this
technique a "gadget". This simple technique is really how
it works. INVESTIGATE, STUDY. please. ANONYMOUS.
All that was said in the second response
Question: Do you understand they are referring to people not in A.A ?
I wonder if anyone posting on these topics has ever bothered reading the chapters on the traditions in the 12 & 12. I also wonder if they have ever read the AA pamphlets printed by the GSO on various topics, including sponsorship. I highly recommend these readings before jumping on the bandwagon bent on diagnosing all that is wrong with AA. The 12 & 12 in particular has a wonderful account of all of the well-intentioned errors committed in the early years of AA by would be "pure and respectable" alcoholics, and the response: not rules against non-conformity, rather rules protecting each groups autonomy, which include that groups "right to be wrong." But don't take my word for it -- read it and look for proof that I am wrong!
Quote "I wonder if anyone posting on these topics has ever bothered reading the chapters on the traditions in the 12 & 12. I also wonder if they have ever read the AA pamphlets printed by the GSO on various topics, including sponsorship."
Yes - and without listening to someone take them out of order
Are you referring to the outside sponsorship pamphlet written in 1976? or the new one written in 2010?
Each AA group is autonomous, and can operate in any manner
it chooses, except when its actions affect other groups or
AA as a whole. If something is wrong, it is my opinion that
it ought to be corrected. Most, if not all, of the well-intentioned errors were explained and corrected, many
after years of hammering out on the anvils of experience.
The truly informed group conscience decisions have a greater
chance of being correct. Every group member has the right
and the responsibility to voice opinions and concerns,
without pressure from group personalities. How many AA groups today actually have group conscience meetings? I
believe that most are run by personalities. ANONYMOUS
Who is so arrogant to even say someone does not have the right to be wrong?
THE OUTSIDE SPONSORSHIP SYSTEM. AKA, Another persons reality a personality.
I have traveled around the country going to AA meetings where ever I find them. I love when I say my name to a bunch of AA strangers and they say 'Hi Susie!" I like saying the serenity prayer at the end holding hands in a circle...and saying" "keep coming back it works if you work it!"
Being a real alkie, I do sometimes think the out of towners are doing it wrong. But I just bless them and ask HP to help me to be as tolerant as I need to be to be doing HP's will for me. I'm in the wrong if I think I'm right and they are wrong and they can be right if they do it my way.
I'm in the wrong if I think I'm right. ?? That just does not make any sense to me. Am I wrong? "Hi Susie!" and "keep coming back ,it works if you work it!" are chants of a cult nature and have no place in AA. Next comes "Hi Susie!", thanks for coming; and thanks for sharing Susie,
with a little jingle and loud applause. Many years ago
individual members acquired the habit of saying to newcomers: Keep coming. That slowly evolved into the group chanting Keep
coming back! Then it was added: It works if you work it!
Then So work it you're worth it was added. Today some
members add I die if I don't work IT! At some groups this
is chanted while they hold on to you, pumping arms up and down. I could be wrong, but I think much of the general
public today view Alcoholics Anonymous as some kind of
freakish joke. Chanting is harmful to our growth. The
reading of How It Works and the 24hr book at meetings
also harm our public relations policy. Add the "hold hands
and pray closing and we become viewed as some kind of
strange religious cult. We drive alcoholics away even before they approach us. To most AA members this message
makes no sense at all. Maybe someday it will, when we study
the history of AA and admit our blunders. Maybe then we can
turn this ship around and become effective again. ANONYMOUS
Brilliant. Thank you for taking the time to write the article.
However I do believe in the reading of how it works. It is my opinion that the media ( movies) in particular have added to the "freakish" cult like view of our fellowship.
Especially when the celebrities become involved.
Our fellowship is a tremendous one, especially when those wonderful traditions are followed, in their entirety.When we vary we will become sick and die.
The reading of the first two and a half pages of
Chapter Five as part of the format is one of the
worst mistakes we have ever made in A.A. It is
followed closely by the incessant chanting.
Reading HIW to newcomers is in stark contrast
to the "cart before the horse idea" advice given to
Bill W. in the spring of 1935. Bill wrote several
times that without that advice A.A. could never
have been born. Dr. Silkworth advised Bill to stop
his preaching to the alcoholics. Bill was pushing
them away with spiritual pride.
Chapter Five, in my opinion, is one of the most
important writings in A.A. But it was never meant
to be the first thing an alcoholic to be exposed
to. It is a critical matter of timing.
Why do you suppose that Bill placed HIW in chapter
five? If it were the first thing an alcoholic is
supposed to hear, wouldn't Bill have placed it
in chapter one. Bill even explains where he placed
it and why he placed it there. If you would only
investigate. A.A.C.A. and Language of the Heart are
the sources of information.
The "freakish cult" view of the media and general
public are reality. Our reputation is no longer
better than our actual character. ANONYMOUS