10.20.09

Posts Tagged ‘AA meetings

the doorknob debate

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For millions of addicts around the world, Alcoholics Anonymous’s basic text – informally known as the Big Book – is the Bible. And as they’re about to find out, the Bible was edited.

via AA original manuscript reveals debate on religion.

Well, of course it was edited. It was a book manuscript.   Jesus.

As for purposefully de-emphasizing the “religious” facet of the Program, the directive in the BB to not talk about God too much or share the BB right off the bat is right there in the book.   This is not news. The publishing of the original manuscript is news; that’s awesome and cool.

In my readings I’ve been over all kinds of AA deprogramming/debunking material, looking specifically for  helpful advice about changing one’s attitude and safely steeping out from the AA sphere while continuing to grow and not regress into “white-knuckling it.”   For me, whether or not AA is a “cult” or “religious”  is as stupid a debate as a drunk figuring out if they are “alcoholic” or not.  The name is not the reality, the reality is the reality.

The only part of the “spiritual program” that sits wrong with me, for me, is the sheer bullshitness of stating “god can be whatever you want, god can be a daisy” then presenting steps 3 and 7. Could any rational person easily turn their will over to a daisy, and then pray to the daisy to supernaturally change their personality? Come on. The truth is God can be what you want for a while but the expectation is eventually one will come around to the Real God.  I personally have no problem with God as God or praying to God.  In a beginner meeting last week a new visitor piped up at  discussion open: “I am having trouble with the God part.” The room became home to an award-winning smug expression collection at once.  The woman was then cross-talked over and over about how there was room for all beliefs and non beliefs….but she would eventually see the light.  The obligatory “doorknob” statement made its appearance.  I was struck at how not open -minded the group is.  I saw sanctimonious dismissal and disinterest in a newcomer’s worldview and honest questions, and a blind assertion of The One Truth.  My acceptance of AA as a place of open-mindedness was destroyed. The only open-mindedness in the Program  is admonished upon any who think or act in any deviation from the written instructions or conventional wisdom.

The point is that I don’t care if AA is a religious cult or not. I care about its humanity and honesty.

Written by xty

September 23, 2010 at 09:55

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.”

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

once again, it’s all true

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Not that the element of freedom and therefore of sin is absent from alcoholism. It is present, but in a complex and obscure way. There is a mental element in alcoholism; there is probably a physical element in it in many cases; but a third element, the spiritual one, must also be considered.

via Grace Is Sufficient – Why Alcoholics Anonymous?, The Furrow, January, 1952.

Therapist K said to me a couple weeks ago (she works sometimes at the detox I was in twice this summer) she had talked about me some with Dr. V, my Dr there and now outside, and they were in agreement that I had a ton of psychological mess tangled in my alcoholism. ( I knew that, but I wanted to see how long a sentence I could write.)

It’s deadly clear to me – my decisions to drink are acts of violence, deeply ingrained self-debasement rituals. They are also decidedly medical; the physical aspect is most clear to me when I consider memories of lying drunk in the dark, compulsively picking up an empty bottle and trying it over and over all night, a genius of alcoholic sorrow.

The remarks block quoted above intrigued me – I may not have ever seen any writing, commentary, or speaker throw in a matter-of-fact reference to freedom (sin!) in the middle of an essay about powerlessness. I love it.  I believe it’s all true and everyone is right.  I am a real alcoholic, yes, but I have to live with what I could live with. (What I still could if the supernatural Santa Christ stops favoring me.)

The paradox is as comfortable and friendly as your neighborhood “make a decision.”  Which I say 100% not tongue in cheek. For real.  Even in powerlessness, I have to decide.

Which is spiritual sounding, so probably spiritual really.  Brilliant how it all comes together.  Seriously, though, it makes sense that this wheel of categorically ridiculous wastrel abject torment is equal parts mind body spirit. And spirit is moving itself up in priorities. I tried meditating today. I listen to zencast. I do the mindfulness thing all the time! Plus,   somehow I want to go to meetings, so I’m rolling with it these days. Disillusionment is wary faith for now.  I seem to care about others sometimes. (That’s another post.)

Written by xty

September 13, 2010 at 23:49

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

more about days

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Short version:  housemate called ambulance, later advised me I had drunk up about $250 worth of liquor, I did my ER-to-Detox dance….and got out Friday. This is Monday. I’ve been to 5 or so meetings, something like that. Hope I will be at work this time tomorrow night.

A woman opened the sharing tonight tearfully describing her Saturday that evolved to pick-up-a-bottle-of-wine mode….ended up in jail, so sad, saying she didn’t feel she even deserved to be the rooms with us.  What a heartbreaking feeling to hear, to feel, to understand the baffled sorrow that results from “doing AA wrong.”   She touched me so deeply as she spoke of her terror and humiliation of being put in a jail cell with “actual criminals,” hair done, make up, way citizen-looking.  I know to the cellular level how sad and frightening her experience has been.

I shared in sympathy about lying in the ER for about 11 hours, taking up a bed that a trauma victim may need…time that nurses could spend on “real” emergencies. Shameful to find myself there yet a-goddamn-gain.

I met a couple guys today I might like to work with as sponsor but wait, scratch that, T is already pretty much out since I left him a message around 4 pm and it is now 10 pm, no return call. He’s unemployed. He’s also off the list. I don’t do may-or-may-not-call-back people.   I’m not setting myself for anything I don’t have to – self-will,  life on life’s terms, acceptance yeah yeah, but knowing I lack in those areas doesn’t mean I can just be “well.” and “strong.”  No more than coming to in the hospital when I first drank 30 years ago this December showed me something that could keep me out of the hospital last weekend.

Written by xty

August 16, 2010 at 21:05

drunk lady in AA meeting

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There’s a woman who’s been coming to meetings drunk. This is hardly scandalous; I mention it because it seldom happens. It really is incredibly rare in the AA that I have experienced. Well I take that back – intoxicated people at meetings might not be too rare, I actually do not know, but vocal, obvious ones are.

I mention it too because it causes so many reactions in me. I remember when I was sober before and would be approached by panhandlers who were really messed up. They upset me and I wanted them to go away, and could be somewhat hostile if they were persistent or obnoxious. (I don’t know what my reaction is now because I haven’t been approached by a fucked up homeless person in a long time.) Drunk people provoke dread and anxiety in me. I don’t think that’s a weird reaction, I guess it should make sense that drunk people would upset me. But I’m still surprised. One would think I would barely notice them, that it is the most natural thing on earth to be around. It makes my skin crawl.

I am also – this amuses me – amazed that she seems to think no one knows. I mean,maybe she knows or supposes, but what she says doesn’t seem that way. She carries on like she’s sober and aims to stay that way. There are definitely times I “got away with it,” but not when it mattered, and certainly not around family or other alcohilics.

What disturbs me must be the reflection of myself. I do not want to look at what I have been for so, so much of my life. It makes me sad and angry and embarrased. And grateful as all hell. I’m praying for her; I’m praying for me, I’m praying for all of us.

Written by xty

March 7, 2010 at 19:25

Posted in gratitude, meetings

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