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Old 05-25-2012, 08:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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One Size Does Not Fit All


I have had a sponsor for about a month. She had me read a section of the big book and highlight passages that resonate with me. SR members had posted on "Steps by the Big Book" which is an excellent workbook on working the steps. So, yesterday to expound upon my highlights I decided to use the workbook to really think about certain passages. My sponsor told me not to use the workbook, only do what she tells me and what her sponsor had told her. This advice bothered me. I was trying to use any and every tools available to me. I don't believe there is a one size fits all to recovering from alcoholism. I like the practical advice here on SR and overwhelming support, but feel I also need face to face support. The only advice I get from my sponsor is to pray, don't drink and go to meetings. It is effective for me to "think things through" to cope with urges and re-read my posts. I have been told that I am trying to "intellectualize things" and a psychic change needs to take place. Am I expecting too much too soon?
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I can't say how things work because I don't know -- I am also very new to this... What I do know though is, I can't see how taking more help is unhelpful. I can't see how doing things a different way BUT still working on things would be damaging to your sobriety. It's not like you're saying "hey, I'm going to work on this while hanging out in a bar and I'm going to go to the liquor store to see how much I can learn about alcoholism..." Then the advice would make sense to me... This advice doesnt.

Sometimes we meet people and we just don't look at things the same way. Some people have a really hard time with this. It sounds as though your sponsor may be one of these people. Maybe not, if you really sat down at talked to them to try and get them to see your side... Perhaps they would change their tune and accept that you have a different way... but they may not. I'd definitely try to talk to them extensively about how you're feeling but if you're still feeling like your way of doing things isn't appreciated -- then maybe it's time to look at if it's a wrong fit. It's your sobriety and you need to do what works for you.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I parted ways with a sponsor similar to yours. He din't want me to do "outside" reading. All I was to read, on any subject not just recovery, was the Big Book and 12 &12.

I use AA as my program of recovery but I'm increasingly bothered by stories told by folks whose sponsors seem to have personal issues beyond an inability to drink successfully.

To give your sponsor the benefit of the doubt, maybe she saw your efforts as diffuse and unfocused but, when you say that she wants you to follow only her direction, I think I sense something more like a control issue. Is her program of recovery so awesome that she couldn't learn a new technique or benefit from exposure to a different perspective?
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Personally, I think you should do whatever feels right and works for you. I think you should use any and all tools that feel comfortable to you.

I also had to think my way into and through my recovery. I had lost touch with myself and gone way off track in my life. I needed to get back in touch with my mind and my soul and know that I was okay. I don't think it's possible to intellectualize recovery too much. It's not just a psychic shift. I believe recovery is mental, spiritual and physical. So, each day, I exercise (outside if possible), I try to be quiet with myself and listen to my soul, and I always read something on the mental aspect of recovery.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Intellectualization:

"Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. This defense mechanism allows us to avoid thinking about the stressful, emotional aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual component."
- www.about.com

From what you write, you having intellectualization is a misdiagnosis from your sponsor. You seem very much in touch with your emotions on the situation and have a good grip on the reality of what your doing.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My first sponsor was much as you describe yours.

It worked and continues to work for her, so that is what she passed on to me, and rightly so.But she and I were of very different personalities and temperments. She liked and worked best with very simple clear instructions. I work best when I am given resources and work things out for myself.

My current sponsor and I have similar temperments adn there is less frustration and misunderstanding. I feel like I have a recovery partner, rather than parent.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My sponsor was pretty free with me on that...I listened to speaker tapes...Looked at websites...Other Books...Other opinions from other AA members...I wanted to know as much as I could about what I was doing...The 12 steps....I got through them and had that psychic change....Spirtual Awakening...As a result of those steps. I haven't sponsored anybody yet...I pray for the opportunity...When God's ready for me to do it...I'll do it. But I don't see any reason to limit what someone wants to learn or when they want to do it....It's their journey with their Higher Power...Not mine.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you so much everyone for the feedback. I don't even know at this point if I want to broach the subject with her. I don't know if dealing with conflict is the best approach in early sobriety. Yet, honesty is the foundation of the program.
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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If you admire your sponsor and you want what she has then you had better be prepared to do what she says/did.

If you think you can do better, go ahead give it a shot.

I don't know you or your sponsor but I do know new pigeons in AA who still think they know what's best. It's very frustrating. I'm sure your sponsor is only trying to help you.

All the best.

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Old 05-25-2012, 11:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2granddaughters View Post
If you admire your sponsor and you want what she has then you had better be prepared to do what she says/did.
I had no problem listening to my sponsor,,,,I asked him when I picked him out if he could take me through the steps as laid out in the book. And he did...But he didn't tell me what I could read or listen too....I don't know...Maybe I was lucky.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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"I don't know you or your sponsor but I do know new pigeons in AA who still think they know what's best. It's very frustrating. I'm sure your sponsor is only trying to help you."




New pigeons?

Seriously demeaning.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I had no problem listening to my sponsor,,,,I asked him when I picked him out if he could take me through the steps as laid out in the book. And he did...But he didn't tell me what I could read or listen too....I don't know...Maybe I was lucky.
Hello Sapling:
All I'm saying is why would I question an oldtimer who is trying to help me, why would I say to myself "He/She's full of crap, I'm going to do it my way".
It's the same as going to the Dr with your symptoms and getting a scrip or a treatment prescribed... and not following through thinking that I know more than the Dr.

Is my sponsor correct all the time... NO, he's a human being with my best interest at heart. He can see my disease better than I can.... that's why most of the advice and suggestions I get go right against my grain.

Wishing everyone the best.

Bob R
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I found a sponsor who I heard at a meeting a year ago "today" (Friday at noon before Memorial Day Weekend). I felt her pain and mine. We talked (I ran to her before she could leave the meeting) and she knew how to take someone through the steps very quickly. We spent Memorial Day Sunday and Monday (she was in MD for a week on business and had to go back to CA) working the 12 steps of AA. On June 1, I woke up without a craving or desire to drink, much of my anxiety was gone and I didn't have as much social phobias. Weird, huh? I thought so. And I continued to go to meetings, I worked the program by calling people, meeting for coffee/window shopping/sober activities/service work at any meeting I was at/whatever was suggested, I did it.

Changes kept happening. Friendships made. A sponsor near me obtained. Big book study and discussions of steps. 12 steps again at 4 months and 8 months (my brain was healing, I had to do this, plus, who wants a sponsor who only went through the steps one time??)

I found relief in working the steps of AA. Meetings don't keep me sober. The steps are what keep me sober when I am in the regular world.

"We practice these principles in all of our affairs"

After a year of sobriety, I am still getting a clearer brain, I keep practicing what I've learned, and things keep getting better. I work steps 10-12 daily; specifically working on a conscious contact with a power greater than me.

Hugs,
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Bob,

I am following what my sponsor tells me to do. I am not trying to do it my way. I was doing what she told me to do. The last time we discussed what I had highlighted I though perhaps I did not think about it enough. I think perhaps it was a misunderstanding. I was trying to really jump into the assignment to the best of my ability.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Tanja, be true to yourself and to what you believe is the right thing to do. You have the answers within you. They are there.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:13 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I made a big list of resentments about my sponsor then nicely fired her. Then a few things happened that changed my thinking and I asked her to be my sponsor again.

And made another list of resentments about her!!

At this point, as hard as it may be for me to admit, I am pretty sure that my resentments have more to do with me than with her. The truth is that I do this with all of my relationships. Nitpick and fault find.

She told me not to read a spiritual book that I asked if she had read, and I did not question her, which was my mistake, instead I went off and started writing resentment lists. I am learning to be honest with her on the spot instead of laughing things off or agreeing- then going off and writing resentment lists!!

Does this make sense?

As she said when I told her that I cannot stand being told what to do, "they're only suggestions, d*mmit!".

She made the suggestion about the book because she didn't want me getting "all metaphysical" and not working the steps, which are simple.
When I gave it time and thought about it I could see her point.
Though I still read the book. I started listening to speaker tapes. Turns out she actually met "Joe and Charlie".
And she is more in tune with me, has stopped telling me I'm not ready for this that or the other thing. She thinks I am ready. I no longer perceive her as being this big egotist who just wants to control me.

It's a negotiation, not an absolute set of rules that must be followed the same way each time.

Now I'm starting on my 4th step and will do my 5th with her in spite of myself.

This is just my own experience, though.

You may very well need to get a new sponsor.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I started listening to speaker tapes. Turns out she actually met "Joe and Charlie".
I didn't meet them...But they were a big help to me doing the steps.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:23 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I had a similar experience to yours. That was four years ago. I didn't fire my sponsor, but I also continued reading other material about addiction and recovery. She ultimately told me I wasn't doing enough and I promptly relapsed. A lot more in there. I've found that there are people who will help you through the program but not try to control you and there are people who insist that since you walked into the rooms of AA you must need someone to direct every aspect of your life because you clearly, as an alcoholic, must not have any clue. Stick to people who will show you the 12 steps and not give you any of that dogmatic stuff that says that you should stop listening to yourself.
If the workbook helps you, keep using it!

And btw, I wish I had someone like Sugarbear's 1st sponsor! I've always ended up with sponsors who wanted me to spend weeks or even months on step one and all that's ever accomplished is a deeper sense of self-hatred.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:41 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I know this is the alcoholic in me- but I am not doing every single thing she says. She told me to only take two classes and I took three. I don't work and have no reason to only take two. I go to meetings every day and work my program like she tells me to. She can be bossy and that turns me off. She is a human though as am I. The very core of my being despises being told what to do all the time. Makes me want to do the opposite
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:55 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hi Tanya!

I really do understand your point, but for me it was MY WAY of thinking that brought me down to a terrible low. I had to start doing things differently than I would normally and watch carefully in the begining. I don't think your sponcor is trying to pull you away from any information. Maybe she is trying to save you from too much thinking. Then confusion. Myself, I just learned the BigBook of Alcoholics Anonymous expresses a precise following of directions. I'm thinking (hoping) your sponcor is trying to teach you this freeing gift that is so hard for alcoholics to grasp. Good luck to you!
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