10.20.09

Archive for the ‘the steps’ Category

H.O.W.

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I realized I have not been very open-minded at all. That state of being informed a corrupted honesty and thus made willingness unnatural.  I’m hopeful there has been a cool miracle or spiritual/mental breakthrough that I may stay here and move forward.  New Sponsor P told me last night to be aware of honesty for a bit…just be aware of it through my days, as that is the principal behind Step One. Did I make a decision to be closed-minded and unwilling?  Not a conscious one, that’s certain.

To be honest, I’ve often felt a whisper of jealousy when someone shared “…and then I was ready to do whatever it took….”   I’ll never figure out why my experience has been so protracted and imperfect, but maybe one day I will understand.

Written by xty

September 2, 2010 at 09:52

The 12 Suggested Steps and the Set-Aside Prayer

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A woman at the Sunday night meeting referred to “the twelve suggested steps” glibly and comfortably during her share….I inferred from her delivery that this is how she always refers to the steps. I thought “I ought to do that, that’s cool.” but it is a bit pointed, and I already say something other than  “I’m an alcoholic.”  I don’t need to come off like “what a maverick!”  (I say “I am powerless over alcohol.” Because I have to think about it to say it and I hear it when I do.)  I think it’s cool because the Maverick in me wants to remember to lighten up and create my own unique-like-everyone-else Program, as I have often been advised. Then I don’t think I should go there because the Fundamentalist in me hears “How It Works” all the time as well as some Greenville favoritisms such as “the chapter is  not called How It Thinks” to “figuring it out is not one of the steps.”  How can it all be true?

Yes, here is the dilemma:

Part A: “rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path…..some of us sought an easier softer way….we beg of you with all the earnestness at our command to be fearless and thorough from the very start” (from Big Book, How It Works)

Part B:  The Twelve Steps are but “a suggested program of recovery.”  “Take what you want and leave the rest.”

Big sigh. It was recently suggested to me that I forget my omniscience regarding AA and sobriety and just start from here. Ok. Evidently it is just time for that because it makes a lot of sense.  I knit my brow at the conundrum above, but not for too long.  I have decided to do the Twelve Suggested Steps( henceforth TTSS) sooner than planned (i.e. right away) because evidently they work and what am I going to lose? I mean, can it get worse? (This wisdom came from Therapist K last night, sealing the deal on my conviction regarding TTSS).

In perfect solidarity I was reminded this week of the set-aside prayer, which I will make an effort to say before essentially anything from here on out:

God,
Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You

Written by xty

August 25, 2010 at 00:21

I drank.

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I drank. For a few days, last week. I’m sober now, and kinda pretty much ok. More later. Just checking in, as I am sure all both my loyal readers have been waiting with bated breath. Uh oh..will I change the blog name? Hm. I’m thinking no….

A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2, pt. 1

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This instruction is not a short-cut to A.A. It is an introduction – – a help – – a brief course in fundamentals.

This meeting covers Steps 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11. We will take them in order.

Step No. 2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Our drinking experience has shown:

  • That as we strayed away from the normal social side of life, our minds became confused and we strayed away from the normal mental side of life.
  • An abnormal mental condition is certainly not sanity in the accepted sense of the word. We have acquired or developed a mental disease. Our study of A.A. shows that:
    1. In the mental or tangible side of life we have lost touch with, or ignored, or have forgotten the spiritual values that give us the dignity of man as differentiated from the animal. We have fallen back upon the material things of life and these have failed us.
    2. We have been groping in the dark.No human agency, no science or art has been able to solve the alcoholic problem, so we turn to the spiritual for guidance.

Therefore we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” We must believe with a great FAITH.

via A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2.

It’s now 2010.  My first drink was in 1980; my first AA meeting in circa 1984 at an institution; my first AA meeting as an adult, voluntarily, I-gotta-do-something-find-out-where-a -meeting-is-drive-there-alone-and-go-in, was 1995.

In 1998 I moved from  a treatment center in my hometown to an Oxford House in my current city. My first sponsor here was Michelle P.   Eventually, after 7 years of trying, I managed to go a little over 6 years with no drugs or alcohol, although by that time I got to one year I had stopped attending AA.  I drank again, and around two years later carried myself back into a meeting.  (I drank a bar nearby before the meeting, and couldn’t go the full hour without a drink.)  Who was sitting there when I walked in but Michelle P.  She said, “It’s step two for you. Step two.”

Here I am four months sober having been in detox and treatment twice in the past calendar year. Michelle has been sober 18 years.  I puzzle about the step two matter, talk about it, pray about it, collect stories.  (A tad more background: the party line on “my problem,” “why I can’t get it,” is that I Think Too Much.  My party line has involved failed attempt after failed attempt at NOT doing this, followed by my current policy of Being Who I Am and Seeing If It Will Work Anyway If I Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Anything and Ask For Help.  I already tried “trying AA harder” enough times that I’m scared and dubious about trying that still again, for “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”) (Have I closed the door then? Nah. Scared and dubious isn’t “done.”)

Back to Step Two.  Usually Step Two  is divided into two parts, the tedious grappling-with-admitting-insanity part, and the tedious believing-in-God part.   I’m will skip qualifying in a major way on part A, because this is my blog, and I say admitting insanity is no problem for me. There’s codified proof out there: my 15 or so hospitalizations and paperwork where I was involuntarily committed more than once.  And then there’s my life story, which is proof to anyone including me that I do not operate correctly.

What about part B? I believe in God, always have, have no hangups with religion or Jesus etc, I pray, all that.  When I was in treatment the last time, during a meeting,  I looked over the big Twelve Steps poster for like the four thousandth time and noticed a phrase is underlined: God as we understood Him.  Feels like where I subconsciously spit out the kool-aid is right about there.

I’ve sincerely said the third step prayer, um, a lot, full of hope, for “it only takes the key of willingness to open the door.” I’m slowly admitting to myself that I don’t really believe it works that way.  In other words, God as I understand God is the problem.  After sitting with that,  I realize what causes the huge mental eyebrow-knitting for me is the making up your own HP business.  First off the program insists, and I agree, that we are selfish, grandiose, self-centered hopeless cases. Then, the Solution is something we selfish crazies get to – wait for this – make up!

Where I go from here in my thinking is “Oh, I get it, it’s the placebo effect. We just use the steps as a maintenance tool once we’ve made up our minds for real-real.  Ok.  I don’t have a problem with the placebo effect, because the result is the same, yes?”   Except I’m not going to make up a God.  I don’t think that makes sense, and besides, I’m insane, right?  (Maybe I have made up God, and because I’m insane, he’s a weird dickhead. Hm.  Let’s revisit that later.)

Taking us to now, where I understand why Michelle P was right on the money.  And where I’m stuck with a bunch of steps and full-blown beliefs that I can’t dive into the prescribed way because, well, I don’t have FAITH.  Am I just as fucked as the guy I wrote about last night?

Written by xty

March 4, 2010 at 14:11

A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 1

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Why Does An Alcoholic Drink?

Many times one cannot determine any great and glaring mechanism as the basis of why the drinker drinks, but the revealing fact may be elicited:

That alcohol is taken to relieve a certain vague restlessness in the individual, incident to friction between his biological and emotional makeup and the ordinary strains of life.

…. Where the individuality or personality of the alcoholic is concerned these reasons may be divided as follows:

  • A self-pampering tendency which manifests itself in refusal to tolerate, even temporarily, unpleasant states of mind such as boredom, sorrow, anger, disappointment, worry, depression, dissatisfaction, and feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
  • “I want what I want when I want it” seems to express the attitude of many alcoholics toward life.
  • An instinctive urge for self-expression, unaccompanied by determination to translate the urge into creative action.
  • An abnormal craving for emotional experience which calls for removal of intellectual restraint.
  • Powerful hidden ambitions, without the necessary resolve to take practical steps to attain them, and with resultant discontent, irritability, depression, disgruntledness, and general restlessness.
  • A tendency to flinch from the worries of life and to seek escape from reality by the easiest means available.
  • An unreasonable demand for continuous happiness or excitement.
  • An insistent craving for the feeling of self-confidence, calm, and poise that some obtain temporarily from alcohol.

via A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 1.

Well that’s just about the most accurate sounding thing I’ve ever read.   This is, as indicated, taken from Discussion Number 1: The Admission outline in the old-school Detroit Pamphlet, a.k.a. “The Tablemate.”    According to what I’ve read about it,  groups that used this guide for a year had a much higher-than average long-term (1 yr +) sobriety rate.  So of course  I’m reviewing it.   Hard not to read the above and think, since I agree, “damn what a shitbag loser I am.”  So I think that and all kinds of other things such as “what a trip I have this alcoholic incarnation destiny to work through and so did/do all these other folks.”  I try to watch all the thoughts go by like little cats and come back to the moment and see if I can apply it. (Try.)

I 100% concede the above. I don’t even have to think about it. One thing that not been part of my burden is a doubt I am “alcoholic.”  I mean, even if  I’mnot, drinking has controlled and ruined huge chunks of my life for 30 years, so what difference does the label make? “My name is xty and I’m an umbrella.”  Same outcome.

Nonetheless, I do go insane and think I might accidentally have some control “this time.”  If I consciously think at all.  (We’ll come back to that another time.)  I’ve done this millions of times. I retract my step 1-ness.  “Discontent, irritability, depression, disgruntledness, and general restlessness:”  that’s for sure. Okay, enough problem.  Here’s what’s next:

If after carefully considering the foregoing, we admit we are alcoholics, we must realize that, once  a person becomes a pathological drinker, he can never again become a controlled drinker, and from that point on, is limited to just two alternatives:

  1. Total permanent abstinence.
  2. Chronic alcoholism with all of the handicaps and penalties it implies.

In other words, we have gone past the point where we had a choice. All we have left is a decision to make.

Sure. I’m still one the same page, drinking the same kool-aid, hook line and sinker, with complete abandon, a real yes-man.  Total abstinence – there are many reasons I am certain I’m clear on this — doesn’t mean I can do it,; then it would be: Step 1: Quit drinking. Step 2: Get on with your life.  My most immediate example for myself on this certainty is my reaction to a blog I came across last night, again here on wordpress.com via  tag search.  I was tempted to add it to my blogroll with the link “Doomed;” I was tempted to post a comment stating “Dude, you are so fucked.”  It is the journal of a self-identified alcoholic who evidently has tried AA and SMART Recovery and hates them, and is documenting his progress and tribulations as he evolves a controlled drinking regimen. Mind you,  controlled, but in hiding from his family (water bottle in the basement with a daily ration; peanut butter as the best breath cover) and is one thousand percent obsessed all day every day with when he can drink, how much, how much is in the house, ad infinitum.  My reaction was: absolutely chilled.  Amazement and voluminous gratitude I am not in that torture chamber of a lifestyle.   My mind was bent, I couldn’t understand why this guy couldn’t see what I see.  That tell me that viscerally I know it’s all or nothing.  Let’s just say I have this part of step one nailed.

Then:

We resolve to do something about it.

  1. We must change our way of thinking. (This is such an important matter that it will have to be discussed more fully in a later discussion).
  2. We must realize that each morning when we wake, we are potential drunkards for that day.
  3. We resolve that we will practice A.A. for the 24 hours of that day.
  4. We must study the other eleven steps of the program and practice each and every one.
  5. Attend the regular group meeting each week without fail.
  6. Firmly believe that by practicing A.A. faithfully each day, we will achieve sobriety.
  7. Believe that we can be free from alcohol as a problem.
  8. Contact another member before taking a drink, not after. Tell him what bothers you – – talk it over with him freely.
  9. Work the program for ourselves alone – – not for our wife, children, friends, or for our job.
  10. Be absolutely honest and sincere.
  11. Be fully openminded – – no mental reservations.
  12. Be fully willing to work the program. Nothing good in life comes without work.

Reading this list, I think “Ok: Hey, I can’t do that; got it; got it; got it got it;  whoops; usually;  got it; got it;  sure; oh shit!;  which program?  And, fully?  Do I have to hold that , right there, don’t move?  Am I going to die drunk if I am pretty damn willing, but not fully?   I have reservations.  About the steps – about whether God as I understand God is really just waiting for me to ask Him to edit me, to intervene in thoughts, relationships, and events.  Whether God as I understand God works that way, or, even if He does, if that is the best way for me to work with Him.  Know what I’m fully willing to do?  Try.  With my misshapen beliefs, self-deception, curtain-flapping mind,  guarded willingness, absentminded resolve…..my concern is that if I wait until the list above describes my state of mind exactly,  I will have already died.

Written by xty

March 3, 2010 at 10:40

just quit?

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working the steps seems to require the same – if not more – presence of mind, strength of will, and capacity than Just Quitting does.

via Just Quit? « Stinkin Thinkin .

I ran across the above blog when I did a tag search on wordpress for aa. I have to agree with a lot of what I saw there, except there’s one crucial difference – I still “believe” in AA and want it to be part of my sobriety.

Yes, AA has the same success rate as Doing Nothing. Maybe I’m brainwashed but Doing Nothing scares me – even though I achieved my only years-long abstinence after I stopped attending AA.

Perusing the blogroll of Stinkin Thinkin I ended up at a site (or two) that had several articles and links about Controlled Drinking and Alcoholism Is Not A Disease. I had to run, very fatal sounding stuff for me to consider. I’ve been me my whole life and no part of me can concede that I am not sick as hell when it comes to alcohol. I mean, the only reason Controlled Drinking caught my eye was as a possible route to intoxication.

I digress. AA is about the steps, no way around it. And folks die to avoid them. Will I? I might if I don’t unlearn certain received notions, or unless the supernatural rescuer fixes me. The most progress I can claim today is that I am willing to concede that either of those is possible.

Written by xty

February 27, 2010 at 10:03

Posted in the steps

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6 and 7

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So, I did my 5th step on Saturday. Took about an hour and a half. It was, like my drinking life, the same thing over and over. Now I have that off my mind but replaced with the new thoughts about steps 6 and 7.
I have a list of Fears that drive all the “defects of character” -which I think a Horrible Name that I place with “things I need to work on” – the Things I Need to Work on, in a nascent form that needs to be teased out of the paragraphs of regret, and some People I owe Acts, Words and or Money to.
Steps 6 and 7 are about becoming willing to let go of what Buddhists may refer to as “unskillful” behavior, basically thought-life, interpersonal, and ethical style habits which are so well grooved they stand between me now and a lifetime of sobriety if unaddressed.
Good thing God is supposed to fix it all, once I become willing. I think God might even help with the becoming willing part, ofr while it may seem one would be ready to be all changed and shit, it is pretty unnerving. Changed to what? A selfless, grateful person? How? Where to start? Here.

Written by xty

July 27, 2009 at 13:38

Posted in the steps