Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sponsorship in ACA?

The subject of Sponsorship in ACA/ ACOA has long been debated. Many feel Sponsorship would quickly lead to a repetition of the pattern of codependency- with the Sponsor at risk of taking on other's problems while ignoring their own. The propensity of adult children of alcoholics to quickly fall into this trap is one reason some believe Sponsorship can be a potential obstacle to personal recovery.

I think I understand and empathize with this opinion. On the other hand, I see Sponsorship in other 12 Step programs, such as Al-Anon, paying lots of benefits. Having an experienced, caring "coach" who has successfully traveled the path to recovery can be an immeasurable help. And I think not having Sponsorship in ACA sometimes reinforces our tendency to isolate, remain distant and attempt to "go it alone".

The ACA World Service Organization has just recently sent out Group Conscious Survey Ballots on this issue to every registered ACA Meeting. As part of the Annual Business Conference to be held this coming April, items with 2/3 positive support will be addressed and considered.

Proposed ideas include; Increasing and encouraging the Sponsorship concept within the ACA/ACOA community, creating a Sponsorship Workshop and creation of a Sponsorship pamphlet.

Each meeting can vote on these issues and send their ballot to the ACA WSO. Your literature person or secretary should be receiving copies of the Survey for review and voting.

I like the concept of ACA Sponsorship. When implemented carefully it could pay big dividends to both The Sponsor and The Sponsee.

However you feel, your input to the group conscience on this matter is valued and needed. Ask your groups service volunteers if and when a vote will be taken at your meeting.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children


Anonymous said...

Is this the web page editor's opinion, or someone else's? Are they a participant in WSO? The post doesn't clarify who's opinion this is.

My concern is that this is an influential place to opine, even though the writer qualifies their opinoin with "I Think..." Since we are being asked for a group conscience in our individual groups, and mine hasn't heard any debate yet, this may be an innapropriate place to voice that opinion. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with the issue, just saying that this forum could influence some who haven't had a chance to think it over in a nuetral environment.
Than you for the oportunity to post comments.
Robin L

Anonymous said...

I believe this blog was set up to be a place where all can voice their opinions. It is the free exchange of ideas that cultivates independent thought. Readers are free to disagree or agree with posts or other readers silently or make their comments known.

One shouldn't fear giving their opinion for fear that another may blindly follow it. Otherwise the point of having this forum becomes moot.

Being responsible for researching, weighing facts and making decisions for oneself is the epitome of balanced, non co-dependent behavior. Hopefully this blog is an opportunity to practice that.

In my opinion, the WSO felt strongly enough about Sponsorship to make it a priority for their upcoming business meeting. If more emphasis on promoting Sponsorship becomes a reality, those that disagree still have their option to not get a Sponsor.

Anonymous said...

Sponsorship in ACA has been asked about in meetings I've attended for as long as I can remember. Glad to see it come to debate within all the representative groups of ACA. The matter of actually working the steps has mystified most people in attendance and seems to result in a lot of lost individuals.

sparky said...

Who is ACA WSO? Currently what eight people or less...ACA WSO Board of Trustees capacity is 20!

I feel and sense that currently there are a few blocks still missing in this ACA WSO inverted pyramid of service structure.

Perhaps when truly does come of age,"ACA Comes of Age", more long time members will rotate off the ACA WSO board, healthier ones join and stop governing the as a share only type website and the ACA WSO board members that currently did write sections of the ACA Text perhaps move on and ACA WSO perhaps start growing instead of shrinking back and forth,like the three board members lost already this yeasr 2010, but actually growing in health....and a healthier group conscience...and a bit less drama, perhaps control?

Speaking of feeling like we will be recreating a dysfunctional family...becoming codependent on sponsors etc...

I personally feel so,so many are currently suffering from some kind of "Stiock Holme Syndrome" or something even thinking of this current organizationa as the self proclaimed World Service Office and are "codependent" on ACA WSO.

The Laundry List Trait in true action..."letting others take the initiative"...

Yes, many doing a fine job, I suppose but many have ACA issues(go figure)...perhpas they will do as A.A. did and hire some other non- ACA's for ACA WSO board members, making a portion of the baord non-ACA's that don't have this ACA disease, involving control and confict!

The "Fellow Traveler" approach to sponsorship works fine for me. I actually found the tradition approach to sponsorship quite dangerous.

Each group is autonomous, each group is self supporting, I can't wait until this ACA Comes of age and gets some service going so there is a more healthy checks and balance sytem.

Sponsorship or any service...
"We lead by example"

Great Topic!
Progress Not Perfection

sparky said...

ACA Text
page 371

"As a sponsor, we do not need to fear that we will make mistakes or harm someone through sponsorship,. Adult children are survivors, and they know how to protect themselves, In some cases, there are hurt feelings and miscommunication, but lasting harm is not likely."

That sounds very, very cold and insensitive if you ask me. Perhaps even as though it where written by a narcissistic Hero, maybe?

I hope they have a larger healthier group conscience on the sponsorship pamphlets than when they printed this ACA Text in 2006!

sparky said...

I also would like that address the ones that perhaps do not completely understand the complex nature of PTSD and talk about the shame that is induced when asking PTSD victims to follow the traditional sponsorship method.

I have ptsd which include severe trust issues. It is bad enough I often feel different I was constantly "shamed" by the "groupthink" in 12 step recovery...all you got to do is...get a sponsor and work the steps type attitude.

PTSD Symtoms alone will keep me from trusting another sponsor. Maybe as I get better I will reach out again? Not to mention the extra stress from the sick sponsors I had already choosen in 12 step recovery that were not ready or simply unable to sponsor others yet, that did not keep them from trying.

The Dr. form the doctor's opinion has a great recovery paradox in his person book.

"I can't recover alone, I can only recover alone"

Reparenting MYSELF is one of the main ACA principles.

Like the ACA Text suggests waiting the tradition year for a relationship..I feel that is comparable to telling a drug addict or alcoholic after a year you can try drugs or alcohol again.

It is perhaps a set up...the one year wait...The ACA Text is bringing us into the future to some extent...but keeping us stuck in the past in many areas.

I hope amhy atre following this ABC closer this year..last year they had said the were going to try to have some elctronic connections. I personally feel the limited group conscience of the very few that have been active thus far since and around the printing of the ACA Text is aslo against the traditional "group conscience" approach.

I have heard discussion this topic of the this upcoming ABC and perhaps why the last two ACA WSO board members resigned early February.

Why didn't last years motion to put the ACA online not fly? The was an overwhelming majority that wanted it online. Maybe I am missing the purpose of ACA WSO and the Concepts.

27,000 ACA Text sold or perhaps more. I hope ACA hires some outside non-ACA proffesional help for ACA WSO board members...real soon.

Perhap many ACA members PTSD actually keep them from getting too involved. I think they need a voice too! I think this is all SO IMPORTANT to understand.

Thanks so much for listening.

sparky said...

For any that don't know...

There is the Omer G. 2005 ACA Convention Sponsorship Workshop.

"Omer G. leads you through a comprehensive workshop on ACA Sponsorship. Learn the different types of sponsors, what to look for and how to select a sponsor, what to do as a sponsor, how to set appropriate boundaries and your rights & responsibilities in recovery."

and the handout

There is a whole chapter on sponsorship in Chapter 11,ACA Sponsorship;Fellow Traveler in the ACA Text (25 pages) pages 365-390

Anonymous said...

I know from my experience that I would not be where I am in my recovery today without having gotten a sponsor when I first came to ACA. The ACA Fellowship Text talks about the “relationship template” we develop in childhood. I can honestly say that the relationship I formed with an ACA sponsor was the first healthy connection I had with someone, and it was the first relationship I experienced that didn’t look like all the relationships I had seen as a kid (controlling, enmeshed, stifling, manipulative).

My sponsor wasn’t perfect, but she was honest and willing to share what she had learned. Today, as a sponsor, I am not perfect. But I understand that my job as a sponsor/ fellow traveler is simply to share the experience, strength, and hope I have gained. The ACA Fellowship Text actually provides a pretty amazing overview of what healthy sponsorship looks like. And I’m glad it reminds me that I don’t have to worry about hurting someone. In my disease, my perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear of criticism would keep me from either seeking a sponsor or being a sponsor. With recovery, I know that if I am working my own program, and living by the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps, I am going to bring honesty, openness, and willingness as a sponsor. When (not “if”) I’m wrong, I can admit it, talk about it with my sponsee, make it right, and move on. And if I’m not working my own program and trying to live by ACA’s spiritual principles, I probably don’t have any business being someone else’s sponsor.

Regarding the upcoming ACA business conference: It’s my understanding that ACA WSO doesn’t have much to do with it other than to host it. The Annual Business Conference is the conference of the Fellowship. WSO board members don’t vote on the business items, only the meeting/Intergroup delegates vote. The power of the ABC rests in the voting delegates. I attended the ABC once as the delegate for my meeting, and it was a great experience. I had to pay my own way, and use my own vacation time, but I went because my group asked me to, and because I knew it was important to my recovery. Personally, I hope that the conference never attempts to use Skype, teleconferencing, or absentee voting to increase involvement. There is something about face-to-face discussion that makes the whole “group conscience” decision-making process work.

If you’ve ever been to the business conference of AA or NA, you know that those delegates would never dream of not showing up. No Intergroup or Region would dream of giving up their voice at the conference table- no matter the cost or inconvenience, etc. Adult Children will be that passionate someday, too.

sparky said...

Anonymous said:

"Regarding the upcoming ACA business conference: It’s my understanding that ACA WSO doesn’t have much to do with it other than to host it."

In my undeerstanding the motions are simply voted by the delegates only to see they pass and THEN to see if ACA WSO Trustees will consider them. That does sound all backwards but sadly that is what I see.

"WSO board members don’t vote on the business items, only the meeting/Intergroup delegates vote."

At 10:00 AM on April 25th

"In-person meeting of the Adult Children of Alcoholics WSO Board of Trustees"

*"Review 2010 ABC motions for possible action"

"Possible Action...they decide, which I suppose is technicaly not considered a vote"

In my understanding they have ALOT to do with it. Like over riding the majority last year by NOT putting the Big Red Book online.

Please get involved as Tony A. said," The Hero invariable pushes to become one of the leaders of the ACOA group. Not surpisingly the heroes are the driving force of the ACOA recvoery program.....the active hero must learn about the recuperative value of sitting quietly in the back row, relinquishing control and wisely replacing it with self-examination."

I have been seeing alot of the same names listed over and over again connected to ACA WSO, The ACA Text,etc..etc.. over and disrespect to them but I hope to see some new names soon or at least some additions.

The same ACA WSO board members that spoke of rotating off the ACA WSO board in the 2006 Comline are still at ACA WSO. If ACA is thriving and selling Big Red books (27,000) why is ACA WSO NOT growing ?

Some of these issues I suspect are the same dnagerous issues with sponsorship..."control".

Anyway God bless the Heroes..if it were left to me the Lost Child nothing would have gotten done.

As with this Lost Child with PTSD I am not going to be making it to the ABC...just too trigger for me interacting with heroes, strong personalities a.k.a. bleeding deacons (sorry to sound judgemental but I am fond of the ACA saying "name it don't blame it")...but I will keep coming back.

I personally think NOT using electronics for the conferense is also possibly a control issue.

Anyone is welcome to come face to face it would NOT only be elctronic...but others may never, ever want to come face to face yet Concept Five is inclusive!

sparky said...

ACA Text
page 635

"On the day of the fifth Step, the sponcee should arrive with numerous lists and worksheets from the fourth step guide in this book."

I think that statement is a fine example of how sponsorship could be abusive. If I had to write numerous pages of my fourth step I probably would have blown my brains out.

sparky said...

OMG, I just read this:

"The 2010 Annual Business Conference of Adult Children of Alcoholics was held April 23-25, 2010, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Twenty-four ACA members, representing seven US states and Denmark, were in attendance."

Why was this in Oklahoma? Wow, I hope they fit all 24 people in one room and that "24" included the ACA WSO Board.

I am still having very serious security issues about the future of this organization.

Why not California where the new ACA WSO headquarters? Why not New York?

Progress Not Perfection, I am trying to be thankful for the growth.

I sense serious control in this current ACA WSO and this "suspected control issue" I feel is the same exact type of danger directly related to the this sponsorship issue.

Seems like there are so many ACA's "letting others(ACA WSO) take the initiative."

Anonymous said...

I have read some of the comments and some of the folks really need to chill out. As a member of the Phoenix ACA Intergroup for the past 15 years, I have seen many people complain about those who serve and do 12th Step Service work. It seems the majority of those people that complain are those who when asked to help and contribute are the first ones to hit the door.

Anonymous said...

On Sponsorship,The Dr.s Opinion in the ACA Text is written by DR.Whitfield. In Dr. Whitfield's personal book Healing The Child Within he quotes a few authors and obviously thought it was important to mention on page 64:

"The recovering person, however, is usually so vulnerable often related to the confusion, fear and enthusiasm and/or resistence to recovery, that they might find a SPONSOR or clinician who has NOT worked through THEIR OWN RECOVERY of thier Child Within,If that person cannot get thier own needs met, they MAY USE THE NEWLY awakened person TO MEET THIER OWN NEEDS. The result is that the patient, client, student or "pigeon," is TRAUMATIZED AGAIN resulting in the vicious cycle of unresolved trauma and return to the false self (Miller 1983;Jacoby 1984)"

Pigeon is an old A.A. term for sponsee. I am thankful I found that term and wished I had found it decades ago. In my understanding there is a dangerous eliment of "groupthink" in many of my associations I have had in 12 step recovery.

After looking up that term "groupthink" it help to understand and opened my eyes. Almost as if thier is an unwritten rule of "Don't talk about the family" etc...

Yes, chill'in is good and yet discussing the truth could only help recovery become safer.

My Truth:I was traumatized in recovery many times and that is part of the message I carry today and I will "Keep Coming Back".

The best suggestion I ever recieved was read "ALL" the literature myself, especially A.A.'s begining and even Bill W.'s personal story, since he wrote the A.A. Big Book and he was and Adult Child as I believe,were many then and are many adult children in A.A.that have not found or perhaps may not need ACA?

sparky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sparky said...

Sometime after I posted the above post about ACA WSO board capacity being 20 they changed capacity to 15. I wonder if the business minutes reflect that decision.

Sponsorship...At times,I have blind spots and need all the soft eyes and gentle voices I can get regardless of how recovered they are. Unrecovered narcissism is dangerous sadly I had/have this pathological attraction where I often choose people to hang out with that end up being dangerous. Alot like some of my relationships...subconscious trauma re-enactment...twisted Karma.