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Post Info TOPIC: How can I work with a sponsor if I'm so prone to let my relationships turn codependent?


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How can I work with a sponsor if I'm so prone to let my relationships turn codependent?
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I am learning so much here on this board and by reading Melody Beattie's books. I haven't finished either one (I'm reading "Codependent No More" and "Codependent's Guide to the Twelve Steps") so maybe she covers this issue. But I just don't see how I can have a sponsor and not get codependently enmeshed with that person. 

I have been working the steps through AA without a sponsor for almost 5 years, and I know that I probably could benefit from having one (and my inner child so wants to have a nurturing person to look up to about these issues). I think it's some pretty deep fears that have held me back for so long. When I got sober, I was "assigned" a sponsor in my city by the local Intergroup office when I called in tears. The woman they assigned me to was very nice and firm, and got me into a couple groups. But I just had zero emotional connection with her -- maybe we were too different, or maybe I just wasn't willing to let it happen. Anyway, she allowed me to part ways with a promise that I would choose a sponsor from my home group. I never did.

The longer I waited, the harder it became to see myself connecting that way with someone. Later, I found a home group that was so nurturing, that I basically used the entire group as my sponsor. They are a wonderful collection of women of all sorts of diverse backgrounds, many who also don't have sponsors. I think the fact that many of them were childhood sexual abuse survivors has some connection to that. And truth be told, I may be an abuse survivor myself, tho my brain has locked up the details so deeply that I still don't know if it's true (I had a therapist do hypnosis treatment with me 20 years ago, and I "remembered" an episode and I tried to do more recovery work, but I've never had any further memories and have come to doubt whether that original memory was true). In any case, I have a deep, deep fear of giving over control to someone I don't know very well for the purposes of sponsorship. Funny, because I seem to have had no problem giving over control to several unworthy men in my life....

So there's my issue with allowing someone to have the power to dictate how I work my steps. And then there's a separate issue, that I often feel that I don't really "fit" into any of the usual molds of alcoholic, or adult child, or codependent. I know there are many ways to define all those labels, and in some senses labels don't matter, but I have till now had the most success working the steps by testing out the guidelines suggested to me and seeing what's effective, rather than blindly doing what someone or other dictates. I adopted this way of working because I started out in an AA group that was strongly religion-based (held in the basement of a Catholic church.) I was raised by two former Catholics who left the church when I was 5, and I have a deep distrust of religion. I couldn't just blindly accept ideas like "if you have an urge to drink, get on your knees and pray to God." (Someone I otherwise liked in that first group told me that several times.) Well maybe if I was a dawn-to-dusk drinker that suggestion would be important to try, no matter what my trouble with defining the God of my understanding. But my drinking habits weren't ever such that that method was needed, and in fact, it was something that got in the way of my working on my spirituality. The good news is I have been able to work on my spirituality, and I do have a higher power that I choose to call God, and many good things have happened in my life since I have been able to turn things over to her.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear from others how you have worked on codependency issues with a sponsor, and how you went about choosing your sponsor. Thanks!


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Just a brief contribution to let you know there is a pamphlet dealing with the issue of sponsorship available in CoDA. Wishing you love & fellowship in your journey, Danielle x

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jj


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hi Nancy
i have not sought out a CoDa sponsor yet, i do have an AA sponsor and have not had any problems with codependance with her.  she is a sounding board and i trust her, she used to ask me if i was attending enough meetings to stay firmly on the road, and after awhile she trusted me to do what i needed to do for my sobriety.  we are phone buddies and that seems to work pretty good and we get together when i need a face to face with her.  the people i have met at Coda meetings are helpful, and i know a few of them have sponsors...  a woman i met at AA took me to her Coda meeting and i enjoy her company.  she is a very busy woman, so i have not brought up the idea of her being my sponsor. 
  i will definitely check out the pamphlet that Danielle mentioned.  i had no idea there was one!!
thanks for this post!
jj/sheila

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Hi Nancy,

I don't have experience with coda, and steps and sponsor. I do have years of experience with it in AA. A sponsor is a person with a working experience with the steps to show you how to work the steps...

This is the Foreword as it appeared in the first printing of the first edition in 1939.

WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. 
 
A sponsor is not for nurturing our inner child and my issues or even having an emotional connection with, although that does happen.
 or to have the power to dictate how I work my steps. A sponsor is just a guide to a power that will solve our problem through the workng of the steps as the book shows, because thats what they did it in the begining, and it works for everyone who does it..

BB pg 44 & 45.
If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly. Lack of power, that was our dilemma. we had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? 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.
I have done the steps many times in AA, with my own sponsor and with sponsees. I cant see how they can be done effectively alone. I have tried to do it alone and it don't work. That's my big problem to begin with, ALONE. I suffer from prolonged exposure to my self.
It sounds like your thinking too much about it all, and the fear has got you all twisted up. You don't need a connection with someone to have them as your sponsor. Actually I thunk its better if you don't, you'll be less likely to try and manipulate them. If you do the steps with someone thoroughly, the connection will come, and the connection will be based on a spiritual experience. Just do them with some one who has a working knowledge of them from the Book. And you'll see what we say is true.
 Like I said at the begining, I do not have experience with coda, but I do know that coda was started by alcoholics from alcoholics anonymous, so I have to believe that How it Works is the same.




-- Edited by billyjack on Wednesday 16th of March 2011 04:31:22 PM

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For me, my relationships with my sponsor(s) and then my sponsees were the first -healthy- relationships I have ever had in my life, there is something about the "unconditional love" with no strings attached in a relationship with a healthy sponsor that is incredible, they throw you in the deep end of the pool with instructions on how to sink or swim, and they aren't emotionally invested either way, a good sponsor neither enables you nor abandons you, if you start dog paddling they help you, if you fail to do the work, they watch you sink, it's the very definition of "tough love" in action, and I personally don't think of it as "tough love" any more, I think of it as "true love", because they speak truth, my friends and sponsors cared more about saving my life then coddling my feelings, there are -codie- sponsors out there that will manipulate, control and co-sign our bull****, and don't know what they are doing (we all go through that learning to sponsor at some point or another) but a good sponsor that has been around is the opposite of codependent

Einstein said you can't fix the problem with the same level of think that caused the problem in the first place, that is the the problem with -self sponsorship-, your sponsor is always with you, always thinks whatever idiotic idea you have planned is a good idea, is attracted to the same idiots you are attracted to, and thinks your solutions to problems are brilliant, in short it's the same as the old saw about someone who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client, it's just not a good idea since we will ALWAYS co-sign our own bull****...because it's...ummm...ours, we thought of it

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I really want to join in these discussions. There is so much I can idenfify with, and so many issues I have regarding sponsorship - but as soon as I think about getting them out of my head and onto 'paper', I freeze. Maybe it's confusion, more likely fear. Lack of confidence, lack of belief in myself, from spending my whole life stuffing my feelings, and not daring to say anything for fear of being attacked. On the one hand, not daring to go against the established 'group view', and not even considering that anyone would care to hear what I think, let alone how I feel. Always scared of being 'put back in my box' by someone capable of shaming me to the core.
Not suggesting that is what coda is about, or any other group.  This is simply what goes on in my head.  But for me, this is progress. Daring to say what is true for me, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else, or doesn't make me popular.

I'd been to 2 different fellowships for addictions, but neither of them adequately addressed my addictions - didn't seem to fit in with the culture. However, always willing to force myself, a square peg, into a round hole, no matter how bloodied and broken I got, I got myself my first sponsor.  This lady was nice. I was familiar with 'nice'. I am nice.  I come from a nice family. No matter that everybody hates everybody else and is perpetually angry with each other, we were nice.

This lady was so nice, she shared with me how she had hallucinations every day, how she was scared to drive out of her suburb. How she constantly was worried about dying. Also she was obese and was very  open about her food problem. But she was nice. This was over 20 years ago. After going through a 4th step with her, I ended up in hospital for depression.  I took the AA big book very seriously, and when I read the part that says "Where were we to blame?", I launced on a full scale attack of how everything was my fault. How everyone who had hurt me, abused me, it was my own fault.

Anyway, I later on got another sponsor. This lady was popular - she had about six sponsees. She was very clear about how I should raise my children. She told me I should clip my son under the ear, and stop breastfeeding my baby on demand, because I was spoiling him. No mention of the steps.

Not to be put off, I went to another fellowship, and found another sponsor. She seemed too good to be true. She organised to meet with me at her house, once a week. Six weeks in a row, she cancelled. One week after me driving the hour to her house, she spent most of the time on the phone.

Next I went to alanon. It took me a while to ask someone to sponsor me. I asked another 'nice' lady, who'd been in the program many years. She said no, but she would be my friend. Some friendship. She would ask me if certain members were in AA or not. She kept giving me articles from magazines on how to solve my problems, and she told me not to tell anyone that we talked on the phone.

Then I discovered an online fellowship targetting my specific addiction issues, and got an online sponsor. This lady suggested all sorts of alternative therapies to manage chronic pain. I didn't mind that so much, but these therapies are very expensive, and I couldn't afford them. I sure do pick them!!! All very nice people, and I mean genuinely nice. I'm quite nice too!! But I need clear and simple direction and guidance and support on how to work the program, which for me, consists of the 12 steps, and traditions.

I'm so scared to be accused of whining. As a small child, I was always being told to stop whining. Looking back, I had a lot to whine about.

I forgive myself now - somewhat. I have been very sick, and I was just attracting and attracted to what was for me, familiar.  I heard 'stick with the strength' many times. Trouble is, I couldn't tell who was strong, and who was just domineering, and controlling.  The best thing any AA member told me, was when my AA 'boyfriend' of 2 years told me with contempt that I was a pushover. This was because I was apparently not strict enough with his children. Being told that was a real eye opener for me. It was meant as an insult, but it was the truth. He was looking for a housekeeper and child minder he could have sex with.  It was a wake up call.

I love this site, and all the shares. I feel optomistic about recovery here.


Newlight



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Thanks all, for your input. I will try mightily here to not be defensive, because I asked for input and that's what I got. But I find myself needing to repeat to myself a mantra I learned in my home group: "There is no mention or requirement of sponsorship in the 12 steps." I would also like to put out there that not having a sponsor, for me, has never meant I worked the steps alone. One of the best things about AA is that, through it, I learned how to ask for help, and I called on that new skill over and over again, even when I would have rather not done so. I totally support the idea that through fellowship we have a chance to share our "experience, strength and hope," and that is why I attend meetings. But ultimately, my higher power is who I turn to for support, and I know that I am not alone because she is always "there."


-- Edited by NaninMinn on Thursday 17th of March 2011 09:34:36 AM

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