Sponsorship in AA
Sponsorship in AA – The cornerstone of recovery from alcoholism
Over the next five or six weeks, I will write a weekly blog to address all the different facets of sponsorship. It’s a subject of extreme importance for any alcoholic wanting to get happily sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. Without a doubt, sponsorship is the cornerstone of the recovery journey from alcoholism.
Only a good, experienced sponsor can effectively take you through the twelve steps. Their experience of the program is central to a positive experience. If they still have a sponsor, this indicates they are still teachable. Humility and a willingness to do this kind of service in AA are essential requirements. Having had personal experience with the steps and remaining teachable makes them uniquely qualified.
Healthy Sponsorship Boundaries in AA
Sponsorship is the way to a sober, fulfilling, and meaningful life. I will address different aspects of sponsorship in AA that may be of particular interest to newcomers. I will offer blogs discussing what kind of awareness may facilitate an informed choice. This relationship needs to include mutually respectful boundaries. Many of us have had difficulty sustaining relationships based on honesty and trust. Boundary issues in the sponsor/sponsee alliance can continue to be challenging. It is well worth reading the AA conference-approved pamphlet Questions and Answers on Sponsorship
Making an informed choice when choosing an AA sponsor
I came into AA on May 15th, 1984. And for the next thirteen years, despite my most determined efforts to stay sober, I was unable to stop drinking. I detail why I struggled for so long in my book ‘The Twelve Steps for Agnostics.’ In the book, I also describe how and why I gradually learned to tell the difference between good and bad sponsors.
The AA online sponsorship experience
In recent years, after twenty-five years in AA, I had my first experience of online sponsorship. A blog about the online sponsorship experience will be the subject of a future blog. It provided me with a focused, task-driven sponsor/sponsee relationship. I have been with the same online sponsor for ten years because he lives in another country. It has been so rewarding that I am delighted with the online sponsorship experience.
Conclusion: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
The sponsor/sponsee relationship is best compared to the roles of teacher and student. With it comes responsibility both for the teacher and the student. A good teacher will be firm and disciplined but also kind and respectful towards the student. A good student will respect and value the teacher and be willing to learn the material taught.
In choosing a sponsor, making a healthy choice based on discernment was a skill I had to learn. My current sponsor keeps reminding me that AA is essentially a psychiatric hospital. Some people are well, and others aren’t. Some members share convincingly, but their behavior sometimes tells a different story when you get to know them.
Love, tolerance, and humility are highly desirable qualities in a prospective sponsor. It can sometimes take time to find a spiritually mature sponsor who is stable enough to be effective.
The AA literature teaches us the importance of making a healthy choice when asking for sponsorship………
“Here, we ought to take much care, remembering that prudence is a virtue which carries a high rating.”
(12&12 p. 61)