Working with Others – Sponsorship or Co-dependency?
How often have we heard alcoholics and addicts share at meetings:
- "My Sponsor told me to call him everyday for a year!"
- My Sponsor told me to, "stay out of relationships for the first year!"
- "I don't make any decisions in my life until I talk with my Sponsor. In fact, my Sponsor said, "Don't make any major decisions for the first year."
Where do these instructions come from? Are these absurd attempts at qualifying "willingness" in our prospects? Nowhere in the Big Book does it say you cannot have relationships or that you shouldn't work and earn money. Where does it say in the Big Book that we have to call our Sponsor everyday or before making any important decisions. Is it any wonder why there are so many co-dependent and dsyfunctional relationships in our fellowship today.
On page 18 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous there are clear instructions, based on the experiences of the original 100 recovered alcoholics, describing HOW TO WORK with other alcoholics or addicts:
But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts (12 steps) about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.
That the man who is making the approach (that means, we as recovered addicts make the approach to the newcomer, not the other way around) has had the same difficulty (war story), that he obviously knows what he is talking about (means he is a 'real' alcoholic), that his whole deportment shouts (recovered) at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer (our common solution), that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou (we're not saints), nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful (no crusades or missions); that there are no fees to pay (we give freely that which was given to us freely), no axes to grind, (no windy arguments or frothy debates), no people to please (no ass kissing), no lectures to be endured (we're not here to run your life) these are the conditions we have found most effective. After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again.
Furthermore on Page 17 of the Big Book it states:
"The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution (the first 103 pages of the Big Book). We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism (addiction)."
Nowhere in the book does it say to get a Sponsor! It does however say in Chapter 7 of the Big Book, "Working with Others:
"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail."
Moreover, on page 45 of the Big Book it says specifically what our job is:
"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem".
So doesn't it stand to reason that our job as Sponsors is to help the newcomer find a power greater than themselves to restore them to sanity? And, we do that by showing them how to work the 12 steps, our vehicle to a Higher Power.
Tell us about your experiences. How did your Sponsor work with you? How do you work with others?