What is the best kind of sponsor?
There has been a long standing debate in A.A. about what kind of sponsor is right. The kind who is loving, caring, considerate, respectful, informative, giving, truthful, and assertive. Or the kind who says “I am not here to be your friend, get off your lazy low-life ass and do this work.” Or as one man shared recently about a man in A.A. who “saved his life” by saying to him early on in recovery “FUCK YOUR FEELINGS”. OUCH! I SAY OUCH TO THAT. But it worked for him. It got his attention he said. But not all emotional pain is self-pity, on the contrary. Trauma needs to be expressed to come out.
Granted keep in mind in our scenario both sponsors are teaching the twelve steps and the traditions from the Big Book. The personalities are just an added flavor or bi-product of their Sponsorship.
I suppose neither caring or disgracing, nor reproach or insults are the actual program. Although our principles teach us that “BROTHERLY LOVE” should be at the forefront of our actions. Some people don’t consider being called names and degraded or debased in front of others an action of disrespect or a contradiction to A.A. principle’s. I have heard over and over from people who have stayed sober of how their sponsor quite obnoxiously jerked a knot in their tail then quickly verbally chewed them up and spit them out because that is what they needed so they say. Obviously to some being put in their place is the only way to gain their respect. I am guessing this must be related to the kind of home they grew up in and sincerely it’s not their fault. They equate it to the nurturing their family gave them perhaps. Another factor is these types of people often say they were running a game on their sponsors at which time their sponsor had to aggressively let them know they were full of shit.
Sergeant Call-you-on-your-shit reporting to fix you sir. And while you’re at it shine my shoes newbie grunt! Can you see the low self-worth coming out sideways in this scenario? Granted my own self esteem even after ten years of twelve step work isn’t the best. Though it’s better than it has ever been. And it’s obvious to me the dynamic of sponsee belittling is an attempt at counterfeit self worth.
Personally I find it a big red flag if anyone begs authority over another adult by announcing their superiority in various ways to all the people who will listen. For instance, what if my sponsor started making demands of me in public and basically treats me like a grunt in the army of A.A? Well I would quickly look for a different sponsor but I have heard others who have stayed sober under this type of humiliation. SIR YES SIR! I scream to my master.
No hell no! I don’t care how long you have been sober you won’t dis me for long. My codependent days are long gone. My days of playing the slave to a master are gone.
Many people in A.A. don’t considers the army sergeant approach to sponsorship a negative thing. Actually what they do consider is a chance to put someone under their thumb JUST LIKE THEIR A.A. ARMY MASTER DID TO THEM. HURRAH I HAVE GRADUATED! NOW I CAN DISRESPECT SOME POOR STRUGGLING SAP AND STRING THEM ALONG AS I WAS STRUNG. (Of course they don’t mention the horrible train wreck their relationship later became or the fact that they themselves are incapable of intimacy and relationships of the healthy romantic variety.) Pretty sure the chance to lord over newbies just as they were lorded over is why these mis-guided victims relish their sponsors demeaning ways. They were swept up by their A.A. sergeant. “He saved my life” they say. But do you suppose Bill W. or Dr. Bob cosigned THAT KIND OF BULLSHIT. I seriously doubt it.
What about brotherly love?
I can see it now…Bill Wilson cussing out Dr. Bob to save his pitiful life. There was no mention of it in Bill’s Story or any of the other books. Actually belittling isn’t mentioned at all in positive light in the Big Book. “Working with others has no semblance of the army Sargent approach anywhere in the chapter. Quite the contrary. Army Sergeants SHOW NO TRACE OF HUMILITY. Humility and feelings would be considered weak and beggarly to the Sergeant sponsor. They seem to run on pure ego and the concept of crushing a man to build them back up is their task.
But we in A.A. come into the rooms already crushed
There is no need to crush a broken man any further. This behavior is more likened to the pack mentality or prison code. You’ll hear them side with cliche’s like “meetings are not your personal dumping ground” or “keep your emotions between you and your sponsor”. But Sergeant my emotions are the core reason of my addiction…why should emotions be kept out of meetings and abruptly swept away from the rooms?
If my emotions make you uncomfortable Sergeant it’s because you see yourself in me and it scares the hell out of you. Pain needs to come out and I get my three minutes just like everyone else. If I have to sit through your dogmatic rendition of false-pride covered cliche’s then you will listen to my emotional truth. I won’t be shut down in a meeting.
Well I got news folks it doesn’t take disrespect to teach someone the program. I wonder how many people have been swept away and run out of the rooms by such belittling.
In A.A. there are truckloads of generational wrongs done year after year. These people have no idea they have bread their dysfunction into their dark spiritual program. Isn’t that Love? They ask confounded. And what happens when they lose the opportunity to put someone under their thumb so their ego will be replenished by its constant hunger of false pride. It’s only semblance of self-worth is to put others down in order to make themselves feel superior.