Saturday, October 06, 2007

The sponsorship tree, or high school revisited

I am going to vent and share my experience, strength and hope (and my opinion) with something I see going on in my area as well as what I've seen in a few other areas. That is the NA cliches.

In the year between eighth grade and high school I started using to fit in somewhere. When I came to NA, I quickly found a group of people who loved me and put up with my two years of the revolving door syndrome; but there were plenty of people who shunned me, I mean flat out even were rude to me, laughed at me with others, and in short thought I was a flake. Most of them aren't clean today. They were the movers and shakers in the area and at region. I clearly remember when I worked at the World Service Office and some of these regional representatives came over for Conference, they excluded me from their lunches and dinners, and boy, that felt like crap.

It's true, we don't have to like everyone we meet in the rooms or make the decision to hang out with them. But we should extend an atmosphere of love and tolerance and at least feign interest in newcomers when they are at meetings, in my opinion.

Last weekend our area, which is actually three cities about 60 miles apart and the area in between, held a picnic in the largest city, halfway between my city and the city 60 miles away. I grabbed a newcomer who was going through a rough time and was driving everyone crazy and drove up for the picnic.

I'd never been to this park, and when I got there, it was huge. We drove through the park for half an hour and never did find the meeting. No one had bothered to put up a sign, in my way of thinking because this particular portion of NA is so proud of its cliquishness it just overlooked that anyone who wasn't part of the 'in crowd' wouldn't recognize the vehicles. Not such a great message to show the newcomer.

But wait, there's more. There is much talk in this bigger town of "sponsorship trees." I hear often, usually from newcomers, "Oh, she's in my sponsorship tree," or "He's my grand sponsor."

Today one of the big NA cliches is having a BBQ for everyone in several "sponsorship trees," which means that much of the area, especially newcomers, are excluded. Now I don't know how to fix that or if we need to fix that, but I do think this: This was not the intent of sponsorship.

So I've had my vent for the day and look forward to your input. I preach the gospel of "Who put you in charge of that," so I don't talk about this except in my blog and with my sponsor, who would never condone this type of activity. I think it's high school thinking to exclude people from gatherings because they aren't "a branch in your tree." What do you think?


msb said...

I've struck out every time I fancied myself part of a sponsor-grandsponser sort of tree thing. Hate it when they all go to dinner and I didn't get the invite. Or to be told that I'm not one of the winners because I don't have the RIGHT sponser.

But when the shit hits the fan at least I have learned to pick up the phone or go to a meeting and talk about it with impunity. It is the message, not the mess.

I miss you two dogs.

molly said...

just stopping by to see what's up and say HI :) Have a great week!

Shadow said...

cliques p%@@ me off, no matter in which social or otherwise circle they appear. cliques are for people who think they are better than some, since they elect to only associate with certain people. and that i don't like!!!!

Anonymous said...

Is the situation as described good recovery behavior? No. But I have to ask myself, do I want to be right or do I want to have recovery? I often refer to page 289, October 7th, of the "Daily Reflections" meditation book (As it says at the bottom of the front cover page: "This is a book of reflections by AA members for AA members") Recovery is recovery regardless of what 12th step group you attend. Take care my recovering friend.

Syd said...

I would rather not be part of a clique but just work the steps and go to meetings. I think that helping the newcomer is important. How else can any group maintain it's purpose without new people? I would just leave the clique group alone. Let them have their parties and take the newcomers to do something else.

Anonymous said...

i would just like to say how much i love reading your blog. i check in from time to time, and it always calms me and makes me think.

thank you!

Anonymous said...

I dont much go for the sponsorship tree and sponsee sisters and all that stuff. G-d, here in TN they even call them "spiritual sisters/brothers" -- barf.
On the other hand, how can we gather and have fun when we are NA members but we dont want the whole group invited? What if a bunch of us just want to have a BBQ but its not an NA event --it's just a bunch of people BBQing that happen to be NA members? How do we do that without people thinhking they aren't invited? See what I am saying?
Whatever---I agree with you about the left out of the tree thing in a small community. Not good at all.