10.20.09

Posts Tagged ‘AA

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.

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Written by xty

September 23, 2010 at 09:55

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

done?

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Accompany him to his first meeting. Take him along with you when you call on the next patient. Telephone him when there are other patients. Drop in at his home occasionally. Telephone him as often as possible. Urge him to look up the new friends he has made. Counsel and advise him.  [……]  He probably will be lonely. He may be too timid to seek the companionship of his new friends.

Experience has proved this to be a very critical period. So your labors have not ended. Give him as much attention as you did when you first called on him — until he can find the road by himself.

Remember, you depend on the newcomer to keep you sober as much as he depends on you. So never lose touch with your responsibility, which never ends.

via The Akron Manual from 1939-40

The above is quoted from  the purported first written study guide/ pamphlet used in the earliest meetings of AA.   It is an example of the material used in the AA that had a 75% success rate.

Read this this morning pretty much first thing. I’ve been enjoying reading historical AA writings, but this made me feel sick. I had woken up sad because I am about to give up trying to use AA for support.  I’ve been hurt more than I’ve been helped. And if it’s all my fault, so be it; I’m going to have to accept it’s not a helpful fit and whatever psycho-social-emotional wherewithal is required I lack.

I have a couple of numbers for members of Women for Sobriety I am going to call; I wrote asking about local meetings after visiting their forums/website a few weeks ago.  I’ll talk about that some more later.

I threw my AA books in the trash. I didn’t want to. I might get them out. I wish it would be helpful to me, it is a place where I can ostensibly meet people but, if I’m honest, I’m banging my head against a wall. It reminds me of alcoholic drinking:  the little good bits here and there create hope for more, and what I get over and over is…not helpful.

Written by xty

September 19, 2010 at 09:40

golden text

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Yesterday I reread my notes from when I was in detox a couple of weeks ago.  I also re-read most of the AA Number 3 story in the Book, which is what these particular notes were on.  Page 191: “Bill looked across at my wife and said to her:  ‘ Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling it to people.’ …This has been sort of a golden text to me.”

From that I took most note of two points:  Bill attributed his sobriety strictly to a supernatural act, curing at that, and the emphasis on sharing with others. The fact that AA #3 considers these points a “golden text” feels like something I should always bear in mind.

I heard a new AA cliche: oldtimer to relapser: “I hope you’re out of good ideas.”  Again and again I am drawn to the texts and pick up messages  that underscore the spiritual and service based nature of real sobriety.

Written by xty

July 14, 2010 at 07:19

shut up and paint

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Thinking my little head off. Yeah, I’ve been sorta prolific here now that I’ve resumed the blog….and also voluminous in my reading of other recovery related (as well as some 12 step bashing) material / blogs.  I’m enjoying the hell out of it, and I also think I’m getting some stuff out of my system that’s been clogging the spirit, if you will.  (Will you?)

I ended up with a rather scorching email from sponsor S yesterday; scorching but fair; scorching but also partly fueled by a little misunderstanding.  (I don’t have the whole story yet, may never, but  based on a few emails, it seems she spent some time yesterday under the impression I am friendthegirl over at my and your favorite anti-AA blog Stinkin’ Thinkin’.)  There was a suggestion that we may not need to work together any more.  I was kinda like “file under: Dag!”  but also, the fair part is that she is indeed right about one thing, the main thing, the only Thing really:

Talking about AA theology, culture, pros/cons, whatever, is completely pointless when it comes down to not drinking and aspiring to a better life for one’s self and loved ones. Fucking go to AA or don’t; fucking work the steps or don’t.

My friend Ian and I ended up at a coffee shop after an al-anon meeting this a.m., and I shared a little about this. I told him that I basically am where I’m at right now for two reasons. One, I’ve pretty much done it all and not done it all and either one of those has both worked and not worked. Depends on the day, year, city, throw a dart at the history map and hit an iteration of alcoholic life.  It has evolved to what I am certain is THE critical recovery attempt of my life. The whole ridiculous and heartbreaking saga has led up to this.  I don’t want to drink again. I’m totally scared out of my fucking mind.  I’m going to talk about what’s been in my head these past few years until I have finished talking about it.   If I’m wasting someone’s time, I hope they will say goodbye before they leave, but I don’t expect it anymore.  Two, I have worked a total of about 50 hours since October 2009 and the majority of that time I have spent residing alone in the coldest bad-weather winter I can honestly ever remember.   I burned out on library books; I burned out on movies; I’ve seen every season of any tv series I’ve been remotely interested in.  I go to meetings, I’ve taken up meaningful, suitable service work.  With all the other time, I’m keeping my mind completely occupied.  This week, with blogging bullshit.   (On top of it, I started doing it all on Linux just for extra complication….)  This week,  I have not thought about taking a drink.  So, although I have written and read and talked  more about recovery the past several days than in the preceding year and a half, in some way I’ve managed to shut up and paint.

Is it helping me be “teachable?” Am I letting go of reservations? How about humility? Is that around anywhere?  Not always, but that’s where I’m aiming.  I went outside to have a cigarette a while ago and it came to me that I must remember I’m crazy and I’m on a path of no path:  relax.  And I reminded myself that I haven’t stopped praying, whether I “feel” faith or not; that could be said to indicate I have some.

Written by xty

March 6, 2010 at 18:44

a formula of no formula

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One other thing about the Dzogchen path is that in it, we can practice what we need to practice. We don’t have to worry about if it’s this path or that teacher or who or what ever. It doesn’t matter. If we find ourselves in some teachings, we take the teachings.  We listen up.  We get the essence of the teaching, and otherwise don’t cause trouble with our opinions or need to be ‘right’ or what have you. So I follow this path.  I guess in a sense it’s a path of no path, but in a sense it’s a very clear path.

via When Buddhas Kill | the 12 Step Buddhist.

This correlates somewhat with “letting go” and “turning it over.” Just a slightly different way of ending up at the same place.   The title to this post on the 12 Step Buddhist comes from a good story inside another good story, which I’ll let you read there – I’m just going to study on the gist of it here for a minute.  What I see in the remarks above is a casual but elegant expression of what I think of as “wearing the program as a loose garment,” if generalized to AA, which it was.  Getting really bent about what’s really happening – instincts gone awry, lack of acceptance – is a cardinal trait of alcoholics, at least this one.  My desire (I hesitate to use that word, but whatever) is to let myself be more in the type of space described above:  being in the moment, with no predetermined idea of “what I need” or how it’s going wrong, or that it is a waste of time.  He is sharing the lesson, to me at least,  that we don’t really know what’s relevant, that relevant or irrelevant aren’t for us to decide. That something going “wrong” or “right” is something we invent.

Taking it all the way to the last statement I end up at the place where I strain at Buddhist thought.  It’s a real stretch for me to truly go along with things aren’t “bad” or “good.” Because they so plainly are!  I mean, I get it intellectually but…..what about Hitler, etc?  I must then also consider Bill W.’s remark that “no [one] ever made a worse mess  trying to live by this formula than  alcoholics.”  He was referring specifically to “the belief that to satisfy our basic natural desires is the main object of life,” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p 71) which generalizes to “holding on” or “self-will run riot.”

The point being, let it go.  I think I’m even to the point where I’ve let go of letting go.

Written by xty

March 5, 2010 at 21:23

yes

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I must be constantly careful of finding my thoughts standing on the stage in my head, talking about footwork and results, but surrounded by attitudes regarding reward and punishment.

via Mr. SponsorPants: Alcoholic Thinking .

Your life depends on this program….It might be suicidal to disagree with any part of it, so resolve to be open-minded and accept the Twelve Steps in their entirety.

via The Little Red Book .

Yep, I sure do need some supernatural miracle-wielding intervention. What I’m currently working out with my writing and conversations – with no small measure of embarrassment, as I have been reprimanded in AA regularly since the mid-90s for my thought-life – is my bafflement with my impression I must either just up and have different attitudes and beliefs or I’m suicidal.  (Or, scarier-ier, I’m incapable of being honest or following God’s will.) I want to take the Program at its word that it’s all suggestions, but then I hear an oldtimer, to much knowing laughter, state at meetings regularly that “it is also suggested that you open your parachute when you jump out of an airplane.”  Gaslighting offends me, especially when my life is at stake.

The Big Deal is….drum roll….my deep beliefs and attitudes vs. my willingness, conscious credulity, and 12 step training are the irresistable force meeting the immovable object. (Can I get a big “Lack of power, that was our dilemma!” Everybody now!)  I’ve been at this a long-ass time, every version of effort and grace has happened, and I can’t change my thinking with my thinking. And I want an answer – am I a textbook bratty alcoholic who can’t just deal, or am I right – fundamentalist AA might just kill me?  (The answer, of course, is yes.)

Written by xty

March 2, 2010 at 12:00

Posted in thinking

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