10.20.09

Archive for the ‘thinking’ Category

dénouement

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Many a newcomer will immediately feel comfy and cozy in the rooms of AA simply because the dynamics of the group mirror that of the newcomer’s dysfunctional family of origin.

  • Don’t think, don’t feel.
  • If you do feel, be advised that certain feelings are not allowed.
  • We know what’s best for you.
  • You don’t know what’s best for you, and we won’t even ask your opinion.
  • The family is correct, it is your feelings which are screwed up.
  • You must honor and respect us. You must be grateful for us. We gave you life. You are not allowed to be angry at us.
  • “Ouch! It hurts!” you say — “We’re only doing this because we love you” — they respond
  • “This doesn’t make sense!” you say — “Do it because I told you so!” — they respond
  • We will love you only if you do “this”, “that” or “the other”… we will love you conditionally
  • Don’t speak the truth — We can’t handle it.
  • Be sure to always pretend that everything is allright, otherwise the family will fall apart.

from AA Deprogramming

I’m almost finished with this tedious string of AA angst. I know it’s boring or upsetting to probably everyone but me, and why am I apologizing?  I notice my mind simply will not allow me to have these feelings, examine the Program and my experiences with it, without a sense of alarm, that I have stepped outside a force field and better scurry back in before my skin melts.

Pretty chilling stuff, that quote above.  It’s true – for the most part. Fortunately I have spoken with three people in AA that have been open-minded enough to allow me to be where I’m at without castigation or telling me without hesitation that I am an arrogant narcissist  who is judgmental and has no idea what she needs.  Three. I am blown away and very happy to report this has been helpful – I’m not 1000% alone. I can be rigorously honest with folks without them being threatened and retreating to knee-jerk one-size-fits all fundamentalism.

I see my language and tone has tempered but a little. I’m accepting thatanger and resentment are healthy emotions and responses sometimes. It is the longevity and handling of them that can be a “character defect.” These feelings will pass and I will have experienced reality in person and move on. I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater then.  As I said in an email:

“I realize the problem is definitely centered in me and what I expect in the way of support and friendship.  that isn’t what aa is for.  AA is A A.  Take it or leave it. Quit hoping to get something out of it besides what it is.”

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Written by xty

September 22, 2010 at 10:35

puerile mantras and self-respect

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Here I am in day 3 of tears, guts hurting, huge conflict and misgivings. It is astonishing how heartbreaking and fear-inducing contemplating quitting AA is, how identical the feelings are to quitting drinking:

Can’t live with it or without it. Maybe there’s a way to make it work. I’ll just try one more time…only on weekends….

…and no matter what transpires when I try one more time and it is a ridiculous frustrating experience it will be my fault and my defects and lack of willingness that caused failure.

Can that really be true? Is it a fact that everyone in AA is healthy, has a good sense of boundaries, is openminded, values helping others as if their life depended on it, is reliable and honest, except me? Is it also true that if I have a feeling that is pro-AA I am in spiritual light, and if something about my community causes me disturbance the only truth about it is there is something wrong with me? I believe that self-examination and humility are crucial to sobriety, but some of these black and white premises are unrealistic moonshine that undermines the program’s credibility to me.

Fuck.

An AA told me yesterday that “I have no idea what I need.” An AA who has had about 5 superficial under-ten-minute conversations with me. I’m turning to the handful of people who actually know me for support, but none of them are around in person and I’m lonely. Clearly I am troubled and need to work some things out.

I feel like I’m going through a horrible detox. I am going to visit a couple of churches, keep being mindful and spiritually focused as I can.  I have overreacted to recent events, yes. I also refuse to accept all my questions and thoughts and feelings are to be patronizingly dismissed.

After writing the above I am in the end able to see this :  I am indeed  hurting the most because of my own heart in the end. It is my fault.  I have wanted things to go smoothly, I have wanted compassion, support, and friends.  That’s why A A causes me so much anguish. That’s not what AA is for. AA is AA.  My challenge is  to be ok, at peace, and move forward.

Written by xty

September 21, 2010 at 15:39

moratorium on omniscience

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be careful, because the problem with clever is that when everything’s just fodder for the next punchline then eventually everything you take in is just a “yes, but…” and that’s a hard thing to have riding shotgun in your head when you’re alone and it’s late and you realize your alcoholism has been whispering in your ear for the past hour, and suddenly you are very seriously considering picking up your car keys and going out to do something very, very foolish

via Mr. SponsorPants: they don’t warn you.

The topic at the clubhouse noon meeting today was humility, acceptance, and the First Suggested Step. I confess I asked for it, and also confess I am pretty sure I have never in 20 AA years asked to hear experience on humility, acceptance and the 1st step. Always assumed I had it cold. Seemingly hundreds of things are coming together at once these recent weeks (insert several long boring stories here) and when my Hopefully-Sponsor-to-Be asked me to tell him about my understanding of powerlessness it occurred to me that the question seemed fresh for the first time in a long time so I’ve been thinking on it. There are so many things I gotta accept, mostly globbed together in one giant-ass pill the size of a Buick I foresee having to swallow.

On anothernote, this meeting also features the Quintessential Betty who makes me smile because of her southern oldtimer perfection, among a serious arsenal of AA archetypes; in fact, it is now also clear to me that I must henceforth refer to this meeting as the Archetype Meeting.

Written by xty

August 26, 2010 at 19:33

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….

eventual recovery

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“Time is not a tool” is an often quoted AA saying, one I agree with strongly — but it is also true that the last thirty days of my life are substantively different than the first thirty days of my sobriety.  My thought being that while long term sobriety is not a benchmark of mental or spiritual health, the point is to get and stay sober, not get sober over and over and over again — time is not a tool, but it should not be dismissed either.  Its a bit of a paradox, I guess.

via Mr. SponsorPants: it makes me optimistic for their eventual recovery.

Here’s the deal: I have been “in and out” a whole lot, which means that I have been in and out a whole lot . While this particular feature of my self has had an impact on my external life, far more important and more difficult to….let’s say “apprehend,” is its life in me.   It won’t stop being true no matter how long I stay sober.  As opined above and elsewhere, it doesn’t matter if one has 8 years or two weeks sober, in terms of validity of sobriety, ability to be of value, likelihood to get drunk….and yet, it does. It so very does.

Sponsor R pointed out to me (I paraphrase) that the alcoholic part of us and our thinking is not bolted on to our heads as an optional accessory,  but is a part of our conscious and unconscious self as much as gender or race. It informs everything, even when it doesn’t.

A challenge for me has been to come to respect myself in spite of my background, in spite of how endlessly I’ve surrendered only to un-surrender.  I’ve never been able to truly internalize the idea that I have nothing to be ashamed of and I am  not faulty or “a freak among freaks,”  stigmatized, an object lesson.

After having years of freedom from drugs and alcohol as well, the hopeless relapser feeling joins a faithful certitude in a strange blend of capable inadequacy.

Written by xty

May 2, 2010 at 16:38

mornings

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My morning time thought life is unfortunate and difficult to control. I’m at a place where my approach is to try interrupting it, but also to relax about the phenomenon and know that its severity goes in and out like seasons.

The specific intrusive thoughts concern memories and/ or resentments. Mostly stream-of-consciousness memories. I certainly have plenty of those.

I considered giving a gory example but decided not to bum everybody out. I also considered writing to some sort of conclusion on the topic, but there isn’t one, it simply is, so I’ll just stop writing.

Written by xty

April 29, 2010 at 12:24

Posted in thinking