My ex-husband used to talk about people who want to "second-hand" sobriety. Since he was from Australia, he had an odd way of putting things. But after a while I understood what he meant. I had a friend at the time who no longer attended AA meetings, but would talk to me - a lot - she wanted to get her AA second-hand through me. She didn't actually want to do what it took to get what I had. (She ended up drinking again, still is all these years later, and it is not pretty.)
Last night I met with a sponsee who is going through sponsor hell. She has a sponsee who is being a second-hander. She wants what my sponsee has, but is unwilling to do anything that my sponsee suggests that she does. Myself? I do not have time for people like that. I suggest to my sponsee that she doesn't either. Of course, it is her decision, but I think it is a waste of time, and the big book says the same, to waste our time on people who aren't ready.
We can only share our own experience, strength, and hope with people. We can show them how we recovered. We cannot do it for them. We can walk with them every step of the way, but we cannot carry them. Or as they used to say in meetings "we carry the message, not the mess."
My sponsee related something to me last night that she heard. That the newcomer is the lifeblood of the program. Blood alone is a mess, all over the road. That the people with some sobriety, say 5 - 20 years, are the muscle of the program. They do the work. But blood with muscle is still an unstructured mess. That the "old-timers", people with over 20 years of sobriety, are the bones of the program. We provide it the framework on which to hang all that other stuff. But alone, the bones would just be a skeleton.
I am afraid that these old-timers are getting old and frail and dying, and there is not enough muscle out there to become an effective framework. The blood is not working on becoming the muscle. They get told enough times that "the newcomer is the most important person in the room," maybe they don't want to give up that importance.
I wasn't going to say this here, but I am just cranky enough this morning to say it... I think, for the first time in my experience in AA, that we are falling apart. We don't know what our message is, and if we do, we are too lazy to carry it. We are sitting around like baby birds, with our mouths open, waiting for someone to come along and feed us, and we never worry about spreading our wings and doing some work to get some food for our fellows and our babies. We all want to be babies all the time. It doesn't work.
Talking about sunshine, rainbows, and puppies might sound happy and good. But we are sick people who need a lot of serious work - getting down to the causes and conditions that got us to behave the ways we did. This is a life threatening illness that kills thousands every day. It is an illness that kills people who don't even have it!
If you have realized how sick you are, and you are willing to do the work, you get incredible results. Part of that is that you know that you have to pass it on to others, and so you do. And then you feel compelled to "give back" by being part of the AA service structure. It isn't pleasant, no. But it is what you do - if you want to stay sober.
It's a takes a lot of blood and muscle and bone. It is gristly. It is not happy rainbows every day.