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Go Back   Bluidkiti's Alcohol and Drug Addictions Recovery Help/Support Forums > Alcohol, Drugs and Other Addictions Recovery > Alcohol, Drugs and Other Addictions Recovery > Sponsors and Sponsees Help Forum

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Sponsors and Sponsees Help Forum This forum is to discuss any topics, questions or comments you have on sponsorship from How To Pick A Sponsor to When To Step Back and more.

 
 
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Old 10-22-2013, 12:45 PM   #1
bluidkiti
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Default To the Sponsor -From The Sponsorship Book

To the Sponsor -From The Sponsorship Book

Sponsorship is at the heart of the Twelfth Step, and it is one of the primary ways we carry the NA message. Many addicts believe that sponsoring a fellow NA member is the best way to experience and express gratitude for the gift of recovery. As sponsors, we get to give back what was so freely given to us. It is a responsible relationship and part of how we can offer selfless service to others. While each of us might use different words to describe our role as a sponsor, it is quite simply the action of one addict helping another. We find that when we help others, we help ourselves as well.

A sponsor often offers support and encouragement to a sponsee. The personal experience a sponsor shares can help sponsees feel accepted, understood, and guided through the program. This sharing can bring a sense of real closeness to both the sponsor and sponsee, easing some of the emotional isolation many of us can feel, whether we are new in the program or we have been clean for some time.

In this one-on-one relationship, we are encouraged-and sometimes personally challenged-to look at ourselves as we try to provide suggestions to those we sponsor. When we take on the responsibility of sponsoring people, regardless of their clean time, we try to bring the best or ourselves into that relationship.

A sponsor can be a role model, providing sponsees with an example of how to live the spiritual principles found in Narcotics Anonyomus. A sponsor can guide sponsees on a spiritual journey and teach them about the NA program.

When we sponsor others, we often learn about the principles of surrender and tolerance. We need to remember that we are just sharing, experience, strength, and hope with our sponsees, not dictating their every move. We try to focus on maintaining a balanced perspective about our life and our relationships with our sponsees. While we may want to prevent them from making the same mistakes we did, our sponsees recovery is their responsibility, not ours.

Many addicts find that being a sponsor becomes a significant part of their recovery. Being a sponsor provides us with a spiritual avenue to sharing on a deeper, more intimate level and offers us the opportunity to share our recovery with those who want and need it. we each carry a wealth of experience, and as sponsors, we can share what worked and what did not work for us. As a sponsor, we can guide our sponsees through the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous and show them the NA way of life.

Sponsorship can help counteract self-centeredness and encourage a generosity of spirit within us. We can learn to nurture others-in many cases, people very different from ourselves. As sponsors, some of us achieve a new level of humility as we become aware of our limits and our strengths. This relationship can help us to put our own issues into perspective as we grow closer to other people, witness their struggles, and learn to love and accept them.

Being a sponsor can keep us focused on our own recovery. Sponsorship provides us with a means of remembering the challenges we faced in early recovery. When we are sponsoring someone new to the program, it is hard to forget where we came from. Becoming a sponsor is usually an affirmation of growth and can enrich our recovery. Many of us find it difficult to become complacent when we are actively sponsoring others.

Sharing our own experiences with our sponsees can be healing for both of us. Often our sponsees begin to trust us when we expose our weaknesses, recount ou mistakes, and get honest about our fears. This kind of honest sharing also reminds us that we are mere mortals and not the Higher Power of our sponsee's understanding.

Over time, being a sponsor can help us learn how to listen without judgment, accept without conditions, and love without expectations. In many ways, sponsorship teaches us how to develop and maintain healthy relationships.

As a sponsor, we want to take time to examine our own value systems and ask ourselves whether we can sponsor with acceptance, compassion, and understanding. If we do have expectations of our sponsees and the relationship, we need to be as clear about those expectations as possible. Our personal recovery must come first. When we establish clear parameters about what we can and cannot give, we ensure that the relationship will have a good chance to succeed.

Before taking on a sponsee, we might want to consider how many sponsees we already have. Whether we have a sponsor ourselves, whether or not we are available, and whether our current life situation will allow us to spend adequate time with our sponsee.

If we have never sponsored anyone, we will no doubt have to ask ourselves whether or not we are ready to do so. We may want to consider whether or not we have worked all of the steps and are prepared to guide someone else through working them. Many of us look to our Higher Power for guidance and ask our own sponsor whether he or she thinks we are ready to sponsor someone.

We may have misgivings about sponsoring cetain people. There are times when we do not feel "qualified" to help. Perhaps the person asking has more clean time than we do, or maybe our life situations are radically different. Whatever the reason, we should be honest about our feelings while remembering that we were asked for a reason. It may be that we need is faith.

Sometimes someone with whom we have a previous or primary relationship-such as a family member, coworker, cellmate, or friend-may ask us if we will sponsor him or her. These relationships can present particular challenges due to our different roles. In such a situation, we should think carefully about whether we can effectively sponsor the person who is asking us. We may want to talk with our own sponsor about the situation. Is is possible that our responsibilites in these different roles will conflict (as boss and sponsor, for example)? Will we be too affected by what we already know about the person to be helpful to them? Will we be able to "let go" and allow them to grow at their own pace? As with any sponsorship relationship, if we decide to accept, communication is the key to working well together.

Over the years, individual opinions, cultural differences, and other specific circumstances have given rise to a broad spectrum of opinions about sponsorship. Narcotics Anonymous has experienced incredible growth, both in members and in countries worldwide. NA communities around the world engage in a range of sponsorship practices. Many of these practices are adapted to the culture of that particular NA communtiy. Definitive guidelines would most likely be too rigid to address the great diversity of NA today. The following topics my present us with particular challenges when we are deciding whether to sponsor some one.

Attending other fellowships

Many member believe that we can best sponsor those members who attend only NA meetings. Some members feel that what fellowship the sponsee attends is less important than how willing that sponsee is to follow suggestions and to practice the principles of the NA program. We should, however, consider how we, as sponsors, will be affected by our decision to sponsor someone who does attend more than NA.

Gender

Although we are all in recovery to reach the same goal, many members believe the internal process to reach that goal is different for men and women. They feel there can be a lack of understanding and empathy between members of the opposite sex. Therefore, these members are firm in their beliefs about same sex sponsorship.

Some members have had success with opposite sex sponsorship. Both members stay focused on their recovery, and the relationship works quite well without any complications. In some NA communities, there may not be a balanced ratio of men and women from which to choose a sponsor of the same sex. Here NA members exercise their creativity in doing their best to ensure that they are carrying the NA message.

If members of the opposite sex ask us to sponsor them, it is our responsibility to examine our motives as well as the motives of our sponsee. Romantic feelings or attractions on the part of eithe member may not be obvious.It is imperative, in opposite sex sponosrship, that we make every effort to distinguish between sexual or romantic attraction and the honest desire of our sponsee to seek knowledge from us about the NA program. If it appears that a sponsee has ulterior motives, then it is up to us, as sponsors, to be aware of the potential for sexual attraction. That potential applies to both members involved in the sponsorship relationship. We must be sure that we are carrying the message of NA and not harboring secret desires toward our sponsee. These types of feelings usually result in a risky relationship for both members.

Sponsoring members from different backgrounds

The disease of addiction does not discriminate. It pulls us in regardless of our background, ethnicity, social class, religion, or lack of religion. Just as the disease does not differentiate, neither does recovery. Any addict who is willing to work the NA program can find recovery. We try our best to sponsor without discrimination. Sponsoring members with different life experiences and backgrounds can often be challenging, but the steps and traditions are universal principles that we can share no matter where we come from.

Making the decision

We want to make the best decision we can, and sometimes that decision may include saying no when asked to sponsor someone. Hopefully, with what we have learned from NA and our own sponsor, we will understand that it is okay to say no.

On the other hand, we may feel that entering into a temporary or interim sponsorship relationship might be beneficial to us, as well as our potential sponsee. As a temporary sponsor, we can help a sponsee with his or her recovery for a short time until the sponsee finds someone with whom he or she feels more comfortable. Some sponsors will ask a current sponsee or another member if they would be willing to take on a new sponsee rather than just saying no. This way we can help the potential sponsee to obtain the guidance and support of a sponsor. No matter what the circumstances are, we do not want any addicts seeking recovery to feel alone or that they do not belong here.

Developing our role as a sponsor

Methods of sponsorship differ from addict to addict. Some of us sponsor the way we have been sponsored, while some of us sponsor the way we wish were sponsored. Some of us believe there really are no rules for sponsorship other than to offer unconditional love and acceptance. Regardless, the spiritual principles in the traditions-anonymity, non-professionalism, and service, to name a few-provide a common touchstone for all sponsorship relationships. The spirit of sponsorship can be found in helping others and giving back what was given to us. Many of us know how trust, faith and honesty can provide the foundation needed for both the sponsor and sponsee to work on building our relationship.

Sponsoring someone for the first time can seem overwhelming. Many of us begin by following the example of our own sponsors. Over time, we get a sense of what works best for us and for each particular sponsorship relationship. As a result, our relationship with our own sponsor may grow and change. The experience gathered as we go through the Twelve Steps together teaches us how to be a sponsor.

Sometimes we learn painful lessons when we try to manage, fix, or control our sponsee's life and recovery. We may not even realize we engaging in this type of behavior. However, sponsees must learn how to make their decisions, not the decisions we want them to make.

We need to be vigilant with ourselves and allow our sponsees to grow at their own pace. While we want to offer guidance through love, it is also important to allow our sponsees to suffer the consequences of their actions. This does not mean we will ignore a particular action or abandon or turn our backs on them. rather, we leave the results in a Higher Power's hands and support our sponsees during whatever they may be going through.

Some of us will let our sponsees stumble and grow as they make their own decisions. Others may be more instructive in their approach. As we experience the reward of watching someone grow, we also are given a chance to learn about powerlessness over our sponsees and their disease. We practice the principle of surrender and try to remember that recovery is a process.

Some members believe that the sharing of experience, strength, and hope instead of th***ies helps to clarify the difference between sponsorship and counseling. Other members choose to share little of their own personal experience and rely more on NA literature to explain how to use the tools of the program. Sometimes our most important role as a sponsor is to listen. Some of our sponsees may need more than anything to feel heard.

As a sponsor, we need to be aware of what our own resources are and what we have to offer. We want to make sure that we are carrying the message of hope and not the despair of our disease.

While every relationship is different, some of the fundamentals that make for a healthy, productive relationship are constant. Sponsorship depends upon trust, and as sponsors, we must be able to keep the confidences of the people we sponsor. The may present challenges if, for example, we are confronted by family members or significant others of those we sponsor. If we are sponsoring a minor, we may need to forge a relationship of some kind with his or her parents. In any circumstances, we need to be vigilant upholding our responsibilities to those we sponsor. Our sponsee's trust is a priceless gift, and we need to honor it.

When we are asked to be a sponsor, we sometimes get overly zealous in our efforts to present our knowledge of the program, especially if several members ask us to be their sponsor. The more people look up to us, the easier it is for us to feel self-important. As hard as we may try to resist becoming over-confident and egotistical, we might find ourselves falling into the "super sponsor" trap-thinking that we know everything and are infallible.

Staying aware of our limitations and continuing to take a personal inventory can avert our stumbling into this "better than" mind-set. Sponsorship allows us to grow through experiencing our limitations. By admitting those limitations and being honest with our sponsees, we strengthen the bond between us.

There will be times when our own experience may not be applicable to a sponsee or he or she is struggling with something beyond our knowledge. We may have to say, "I don't know," or refer our sponsees to others who can help them we we cannot. We do not want to offer guidance on those things in which we do not have experience. We too can go to others for advice on how to handle things, providing our sponsee's anonymity and confidentiality will be protected. Offering suggestions to sponsees as to where they might find help does not mean we are a failure as a sponsor. It actually means the opposite. While we may not always know what is best for our sponsees, we can offer them a shoulder to lean on and assure them that they are not alone.






To the Sponsee -From the Sponsorship book

We have learned from our experience as a fellowship that we need to do more than just attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The NA program teaches concepts and principles most of us were not conscious of during our active addiction. Now, newly clean and new to NA, we are in unfamiliar territory. Hearing other members share about "working" and "practicing" the steps and traditions or developing a conscious contact with a Higher Power may fill us with confusion and suspicion. We know it is not going to be easy to stop using drugs, but we did not realize that living a life of recovery would require so much work.

These concepts may be contrary to our way of looking at the world. We may not want to learn how to live with integrity or to offer ourselves in selfless service to other addicts. All we want to do is stop hurting and end the awful cycle of despair and remorse caused by our disease. The last thing many of us expect to do or know how to do when we get clean is to "work" a this thing called recovery.

"Having a sponsor helps many of us learn about the NA program and gain insight into ourselves that would be difficult to achieve alone. A sponsor is someone with whom we can share our deep, dark secrets and also someone who can share new ideas with us and offer us direction when we ask for it. This is true for those of us who are new to the program as well as the member who has accumulated some clean time. Most importantly for many of us, our sponsor is the person we can call when we have the desire to use."

Many of us choose our sponsors because of the honesty or depth of their sharing. We may share similar backgrounds or other traits, enabling us to trust the suggestions they offer. Sometimes we just have an intuitive sense that someone is the right sponsor for us. Frequently, a special bond forms, which may lead us to share a deep spiritual connection to our sponsor.

"When we are new to the program, a sponsor can often make it easier for us to get comfortable with becoming part of the NA fellowship. Our sponsor can introduce us to other members who have more clean time or who have had similar life experiences. Working with a sponsor can help us to sort out aspects of the program that may be confusing to us: what kinds of things do we want to share in meetings and what might be discussed one-on-one, when are we ready to take on certain commitments, and so on. Developing a relationship with a sponsor can make us feel part of something larger than ourselves."

Sponsorship is as vital to members who have been clean for many years as to those who are new to the program. While the Narcotics Anonymous program may be simple, its principles have a richness that deepens a we mature in our recovery. Just as our diease can be progressive, so too can our recovery. The longer we stay clean and work the program, the more tools we have and the richer our spiritual life can become.

Members with substantial clean time can find that they are a vulnerable as newcomers are when facing some of life's uncertainties. Clean time does not always mean that a member grasps the principles of the NA program easily. Our disease does not go away, and we are not freed from life's problems simply because we have been clean for a certain number of years. Having a sponsor during difficult times can be invaluable.

Many members look to a sponsor for help with accepting the challenges and obstacles that sometimes confront us while learning how to live a clean life. A sponsor can offer us suggestions on how to deal with "the wreckage of our past" as well as the challenges of our present

Sharing intimately with another member who like us reinforces the fact that the feelings and experiences we have are not so unique. Often, a sponsor has walked along the same path as a sponsee and can share his or her knowledge and experience with that situation. This, in turn, may help the sponsee to avoid some of the identical pitfalls the sponsor went through.

Sponsorship can play a crucial role in the Second step; many credit sponsorship as an important factor in coming to believe we could be restored to sanity. This is not to say that a sponsor is like a Higher Power, but that sponsorship helps guide us in our decision-making and self-understanding. Our sponsors can help us get better perspective our ourselves and our lives. This can be one of the benefits of having the same sponsor over a long period of time; as the years pass, they know us better and better

The reasons addicts seek sponsors are numerous, however, we find that what binds us together is that we are all seeking recovery. Many of us cherish our relationships in NA, and particulary our relationships with our sponsors, for the ways that they are sometimes distinct from our relationships outside the program. The spiritual principle of anonymity ensures that we are all equals inside the rooms of NA. The principles of our program can often help us to overcome and face our problems in a responsilbe and productive manner. We can stand together and know that we do not have to go through these challenges alone.

Narcotics Anonymous has no strict guidelines for selecting a sponsor. However, we may want to keep in mind some basic qualitie. One of those is finding someone we relate to and who "has what we want". Many members look for a sponsor they feel will accept and respect them no matter what they share. Some members just a guide through the steps, while others try to find a spnsor who will be their companion and friend. What we seek in a sponsor in early recovery may be different from what we look for in later recovery. It is important to ask ourselves not only what we want in our life and recovery, but also what we feel we need. As with any other element of our recovery, we can always look to our Higher Power to help in making a decision.

"For some, a potential sponsor's relationship to the program is the most significant consideration. They look for someone who attends meetings, participates in service, works the steps, has a sponsor, and is committed to the program. Finding a sponsor with more clean time is also important to many people. Those who are new to the program, in particular, should probably seek a more seasoned member as a sponsor, unless there are no such members in their community."

"In addition to looking at what people do for their recovery, we might also consider other personal qualities. A number of members look first and foremost for a sponsor who is honest and open-minded and who has integrity. For some, it is most important to find someone friendly and available who is respectful and trustworthy. Others explain that finding someone who is fun is as important as anything else."

"A list of considerations could go on and on, and of course, no one person will have all of these qualities. Because our sponsor is human, he or she will have both assests and defects. We may find someone who has only one (or none) of these qualities but who is nevertheless the pefect sponsor for us. How we determine exactly what characteristics we feel are necessary is completely up to us. Some of us may want someone who gives firm direction, for example, while others may look for someone who will let us skin our own knees. When we are new, many of us simply ask the person who makes us feel most welcome. Choosing a sponsor is our own decion.

Examining our personal motives for considering someone as a sponsor is a also a good idea. When many of us arrive at the doors of NA, we are broken physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and often in dire financial need. As newcomers to the NA program, we may find ourselves attracted to other members because of their possessions or the way they look. We may view their "money, property, and prestige" as a measurement of their status and success in recovery. We may not yet fully grasp that the NA program is an "inside job" and its rewards have more to do with spiritual growth and peace of mind than lifestyle or possessions.

Some members have had difficult relationship experiences with family, friends, employers, lovers, and other members of society before getting clean. Sometimes feelings such as defensiveness, neediness or desparation may make us wary of repeating past mistakes, or may encourage us to develop new relationships that seem just like the old ones we are used to. When choosing a sponsor, we may not be able to identify what kind of sponsorship relationship is going to be best for our recovery.

Getting a sponsor can be one of the most important commitments we will make in our recovery. We need to make every effort to look within ourselves, no matter how difficult it may be to maintain objectivity. Of course, because this choice is so personal and our membership so diverse, some considerations may not be as important to us as others are. On the other hand, we might feel that certain character traits, which are not mentioned her, are crucial. Regardless, it is important to remember a sponsor is a human being who can make mistakes.

Many of us find it helpful to have a sense of our own expectations for the sponsorship relationship and tobe direct about these expectations when we ask someone to be our sponsor. For those of us who are new to the program, this may be more difficult. It may take us some time in the program to develop this kind of understanding. Nonetheless, if, as a new member, we need more time and attention from a sponsor, we have to learn to ask. We may want to talk to potential sponsors about wheter we can call them late at night if we get the desire to use and what their expectations ar if we do use (will they still sponsor us?) Those of us with some established clean time also have to ask for what we need. If we are looking for help with working a step or understanding a tradition, dealing with a service position, or coping with a particular life situation, we can discuss these needs with a potential sponsor.

By learning to take risks and move through our fear, we can develop the ability to express our needs. This is a skill that we can use in all of our relationships as we gorw in our recovery.

Our experience has shown....

While most members of our fellowship can agree on many aspects of sponsorship, NA as a whole has no opinion on a number of controversial issues related to sponsorship. Our individual members, however, often develop strong beliefs and, in many cases, feel there is a "right way" to approach sponsorship. Nonetheless, it is important that we, as a fellowship, do not make any one particular group of members feel let out or put forth the idea that one method of practicing the prinicple of sponsorship is better than another method.

More than one sponsor

Most of our members feel it is important to have only one sponsor. These members find that having one sponsor helps them to keep it simple and to minimize the risk of "shopping" for answers; one sponsor is like the "single point of decision and accountability" explained in the Fifth Concept. Some members, however, have had success with more than one sponsor. Sometimes special circumstances, such as service work, illness, or divorce, motivate members to seek out someone with similar experience to sponsor or guide them in addiction to their long-standing sponsor.

Temporary Sponsorship

In some regions, a practice called "temporary" or "interim" sponsorship is common, particularly for those new to the program. In fact, sometimes institutions require their clients to get an interim sponsor. A temporary or interim sponsor is someone who can work with us until we find a person we are comfortable asking to be our sponsor. We can also ask someone to be a temporary sponsor when we have a circumstance that causes our sponsor to be unavailable for a period of time- if, for example, our sponsor is ill or we have had to relocate for a short period of time. Though this practice is popular in some regions, however, it is frowned upon in others. Some members feel strongly that seeking a temporary sponsor indicates a lack of commitment or a reserveration. "This disease is not temporary," they explain.

Gender

The gender of our sponsor-that is, the question of whether or not we should get a sponsor of the same sex-is another area where opinions vary widely from community to community and addict to addict. Many addicts feel very strongly that a same sex sponsor can better help them to work through certain issues and can more easily identify with them and feel empathy for them. Others do not see gender as such a determining factor in working through issues or establishing empathy. In some smaller NA communities, the number of potential local sponsors may be limited, influencing members' choices in this regard. Regardless of what we decide about the gender of our sponsor, we should be careful that sexual attraction is not an issue in our sponsorship relationship.

What if I can't find an NA sponsor?

Sometimes we unable to find a sponsor right away. Particularly in newer or smaller NA communities, there may be few members with substantial clean time. In such a situation, some members have had to find sponsors in other twelve-step fellowshipps or over the Internet, and some have used co-sponsorship(a relationship in which each person sponsors the other) to help them with their recovery. Some of these arrangements work out and last for many years.

Regardless of...?

In NA, we are taught that the particular qualities or affiliations of our members, as individuals, have no bearing on their right membership and their status as recovering addicts. Our Basic Text explains that anyone can belong to NA regardless of his or her race, religion, sexual identity, age, etc. Nonetheless, some addicts struggle with the question of whether they should consider these kinds of factors when choosing their sponsor; should they look for someone with similar religious or political beliefs, of a similar ethnicity or socio-economic status, from a similar culture or background? While some addicts do seek a sponsor who is similar to them in some respects, many others have found that such factors are negligible in relation to working a spiritual program, and some, in fact, look for someone who is not like them.

How each of us addresses these various differences is neither right nor wrong. It is simply how we as individual NA members address these differences. While the spiritual principles of unity and anonymity expressed in the traditions emphasize our common bonds as recovering addicts, we also hold dear the spiritual principle of autonomy, which protects our diversity. In NA, we value our unity but we do not strive for uniformity.

Reaching out..

Asking someone to be our sponsor can be daunting. As new members, we might feel intimidated by another member's clean time or feel that we are somehow sicker than others. Our self-esteem may be so low that we believe we do not deserve to have a sponsor. On the other hand, our arrogance and self-righteousness may prevent us from admitting that we even need help and, as a result, we may resist seeking out another member.

Newcomers are not the only ones who struggle with asking someone to be their sponsor. Members who have long-term clean time may balk at the thought of changing sponsors. We may need to get a new sponsor for a number of reasons. As we stay clean and become productive members of society, our lives can change tremendously. After being with the same sponsor for years, we may find ourselves growing in a different direction. Job responsibilities or career opportunities might make it necessary for either our sponsor or ourselves to move away from our present NA community. Family obligations may shorten the time our sponsor can share with us. Our sponsor may become ill, die, or maybe even relapse. Whatever the reason, we may find ourselves without a sponsor and know that we have to ask someone. Many members find the idea of getting to know someone again on such an intimate level to be a difficult task.
__________________
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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