Today’s men’s discussion is based on a question received from a sponsor regarding his sponsee. He wondered, “How do I help a sponsee who’s struggling?”
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Thanks for all your interaction in the men’s SAL group discussion.
How to Help a Sponsee Who’s Struggling
I have a sponsee that I’m having a hard time helping understand that he needs to work the steps and write things down.
I feel like I could just have a pre-recorded message for when he calls because it’s always the same thing, literally.
I’m not trying to row his boat, but he honestly doesn’t do anything to change his situation. He blames his wife for just about everything. In fact, I received a call today from him where he was saying that he couldn’t stand to be around his wife right now because “she won’t work on her recovery to help the relationship.”
I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do.
One of the things that I told him was that he’s caused a lot of pain and it will take a long time to make up for it, if it’s even possible.
It’s hard to see this happening when you know how to fix it.
One Possible Response
If it were me, I would set some boundaries with him. For example:
“Talking about what your wife is or isn’t doing is Not. Your. Problem. Your problem is that you’re a sex addict and your wife doesn’t trust you at all. Period.
“So get over what she is or isn’t doing and work on YOUR recovery – you have a lot to be working on.”
That may be harsh, but it’s true for me and my situation.
I would say boundaries have been one of the most important things for recovery for me.
His wife will never feel safe if he continues to have expectations for her to work her own recovery.
I think we as addicts don’t even realize that we are lying to ourselves and believing it. That’s where I’ve been.
It’s hard to surrender the outcome and realize me fixing it won’t last, especially long term. The sponsee has to realize it for himself. I can share my experience but that’s it really.
What are your thoughts?
One thing I’ve learned from my sponsor is this: I try to never give advice unless the sponsee asks for it. I’m not perfect at this, but I’m more aware of it now.
Instead, when they are done sharing, I may ask if they’d like any feedback.
If they say yes, I will try to share from my own experience. This can get tricky at times, but my hope is that I can try to empathize with them, try to understand what they may be going through, and then share what has (or hasn’t) worked for me in the past.
If they say no, I thank them for sharing and for reaching out. Then I let it go, maybe even by reaching out to my own sponsor to surrender the feelings triggered in me.
I feel this is why being a sponsor (Step 12) is so helpful: it reminds me of where I’ve been, how I’ve felt, my rationalizations and pushing-blame tendencies as an addict, etc.
I look forward to your suggestions on the question.