THE BAFFLING PART OF ADDICTION EXPLAINED. How does an emotional pain morph into spiritual blindness and darkness that would cause a man to self destruct?
Please try to apply this to yourself or it won’t do you any good. Open your mind to free your identity.
Prayer and step three are a prerequisite to all recovery steps and exercises for guidance and direction, for revelation, and epiphany, for self awareness and cutting through the ego .
WHAT IS THE CARDINAL SIN OF AA?
The “cardinal sin of AA” it is to take a man’s vulnerabilities and use them against him. The other cardinal sin of AA is to gossip about what we have heard shared in meetings and to rub it in and make snide sarcastic remarks about what our fellows revealed about themselves in the meeting. While we hide and wear a mask over our own faults and character defects.
Pointing the finger at other people is how people with low self worth see themselves as “better than”. But they do it at the expense of those who are trying to heal by being honest and allowing themselves to become vulnerable with sponsors or in meetings so they can get better. This is something the evil and condemning heart can and will never do..that is make themselves transparent.
The program works, but does it work because we have found a place where people can tell us how bad and wrong we are for being addicts? Do we get sober because we are beaten into submission? Do we overcome drugs by being criticized and downtrodden? Heck No! RATHER IT WORKS BECAUSE OF THE EMPATHY , UNDERSTANDING AND RELATING THAT WE SHOW ONE ANOTHER. It works because of the similarities we see in one another. Criticism is not a healing agent. We don’t find peace when someone identifies all of our character defects and does a reverse fourth and fifth step on us. If criticism were able to keep us sober and heal our emotional woes we would have been delivered from addiction a long time ago when those close to us began their verbal attacks. But don’t tell your Nazi-like inventory-taking dry drunk sponsor that.
Nowhere in the Big Book does it instruct our sponsors to point out our character flaws for us. Even the word “personal inventory” tells the tale of SELF-EXAMINATION. Sure our sponsors can guide and ask us the right questions to aid us in realizing our flaws.
So then what is the healing agent of AA? I believe it is the show of caring, relating, identifying, mirroring, and firstly listening and understanding each other’s plight and how we feel. Empathy is the emotional salve that shows us the Love our heart craves. Empathy is a caring way of identifying the similarities between us and our fellows. But not just that, empathy then mirrors in a caring way to let us know that it has been through the same pains as we have.
I have been to so many meetings and recovery groups where a person shows the courage to share their heart with the group only to be reprimanded by sometimes as many as 50% of the group. Seems many people just want to tell the topic sharer just how bad, wrong and different they are from other alcoholics as if scolding the alcoholic will help. God forbid if you relapse or have a desire to drink, some people will act like you have committed a cardinal sin. And yet, that’s the very reason we have sought out AA to begin with.
AA members that really want to stay sober should walk into their group or meeting looking for the similarities in our fellows rather than the differences. We should be ready to tell the suffering addict that they are not alone. When a man makes himself vulnerable by sharing his weakness our job is to let him know that we are the same as him. And then we tell the sharer and the whole group just how we have overcome that same weakness. What tools have we learned and used to change? That is what we share.
As for the real “cardinal sin of AA” it is to take a man’s vulnerabilities and use them against him. The other cardinal sin of AA is to gossip about what we have heard shared in meetings and to rub it in and make snide sarcastic remarks about what our fellows revealed about themselves in the meeting. While we hide and wear a mask over our own faults and character defects.
We in recovery would do well to learn how to agree to disagree. Showing respect to those whose views are different than our own is part of emotional sobriety (translation-Maturity). We learn at business meetings and at the poles that voting and having varied opinions must be understood. We should not run from all controversial topics as if they were poison and CENSOR them as if they were blasphemous. Controversy is not bad and personal choices and opinions have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TENTH TRADITION. “A.A. has no opinion on outside issues.” Tradition Ten is about A.A. AS A WHOLE IN THE PUBLIC AND POLITICAL ARENAS.
EXAMPLE of a breach of Tradition Ten would be…
>[I am the chairman for the NEW LIFE GROUP in Gainesville, Florida representing Alcoholics Anonymous in an official capacity and I make a statement to reporters of the Tampa Tribune that Alcoholics Anonymous officially has voted to NOT support The Governor of Florida in his next election because he endorses Narcotics Anonymous (and we hate them right? Or is it just NA who hates AA? off-topic sorry) That would be a Tenth Tradition breach.
If we don’t learn to stand for something in our recovery then we are still hiding behind a passive and fearful blanket of irresponsibility. Do we vote? Do we teach our children the principles that we ourselves have chosen in spite of many people’s opposing beliefs? There is NOTHING wrong with standing for something and discussing it…that is not a Tenth Tradition issue so next time you witness a respectful discussion of two people’s opposing views…don’t quote the Tenth Tradition as if it had something to do with it.
Here is a quote from the Tenth Tradition in the Twelve and Twelve. Understanding what the Tenth Tradition is really referring too is vastly overlooked in A.A.
“TRADITION TEN OF A.A.”>“Let us reemphasize that this reluctance to fight one another or anybody else is not counted (motives?) as some special virtue which makes us feel superior to other people. Nor does it mean that the members of alcoholics Anonymous, now restored as citizens of the world, are going to back away from their individual responsibilities to act as they see the right upon issues of our time. But when it comes to A.A. as a whole, that’s quite a different matter. In this respect we do not enter into public controversy, because we know our society will perish if it does.” Bill W.
NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO START YOUR RECOVERY FROM ADDICTIONS AND EMOTIONAL DISORDER!
Make a list of your sobriety hopes and dreams and check it twice!
It is written in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path” If you have the capacity to be honest enough with yourself to admit you have a problem….then you have a good chance of staying sober for a very long time. The main ingredient of recovery is truth.
If you are willing to take the steps that are suggested by the people in Alcoholics Anonymous that have stayed sober before you for years, then you will not fail. Regardless of how many times you have sabotaged your own sobriety.
Sit down, make a list of all the good things that you want from your sober life and in 6 months you will realize you have been given and achieved far more than you had hoped for. This is a common story told among those in AA.
When I sat in jail in 2006 hoping to spend just one day with my daughter at my favorite beach I was full of fear that I could not stay sober or out of jail long enough to do that. Nine years later I sit amazed at the accomplishments and blessings that I have experienced by turning my fears and control over to my Higher Power.
Once I realized that the 12 steps are my recipe for staying sober and at peace with myself I knew I had it made. The reason that I did not fail is I learned to “get out of the problem and into the solution”. I went to 90 meetings in 90 days at first then for the next four to six years I went to four meetings a week. I enjoy meetings now it’s not a burden. I have cleared the wreckage of my past by doing the 12 steps.
Between therapy and the Fifth Step I learned how to express myself from my heart. I learned to share my fears rather than stuff them down till they make me sick. I learned that crying is a healthy emotion and a part of life. I learned that pain is the beginning of healing. Journaling my feelings is priceless to my emotional health. And meditation feeds peace and anointed guidance to my very soul.
One day at a time I have earned my degree in sober school. There is no need for me to pretend that I am alien to progress. I have made much progress and you can too. If you are willing to become a student.
My friend I am sure that you are wise in many ways. BUT, having the wisdom to become teachable again will save you. The horrible suffering that addiction brings transforms into the willingness and desperation needed to take your leap of faith. Fear of the unknown can lead to the fulfillment of your deepest heartfelt desires when you get out of the problem and into the solutions. Do not prejudice yourself against any possible help, rehab, therapy, AA, and religion are all a step in the right direction!
If you seek a full recovery from addiction A.A. Works for some people, therapy works for others, and spirituality works for yet others. Combine all three and you have a chance.
Be sure to choose a therapist who knows how to show empathy not one who just sits there like a bump on a log writing words you can’t see. I say this because addicts suffer from low self-worth and we already feel like we are being judged. An addict will rarely open up fully to a person unless he feels he will not be judged. When it comes to therapy for addicts it’s best to have a therapist who has recovered from addiction himself. And if you can’t find a recovered addiction therapist then group therapy could work because of the feedback and relating.
AA sponsors are there to take you through the 12 steps not to delve into your emotional healing. The statistics of suicide among recovering addicts is high. I am basing this on the fact that I know several who have killed themselves while in A.A. I accredit the suicide rate to the fact that so many recovering addicts don’t get the right therapy. And they don’t address their true core issues. The things that we are ashamed of are the things that haunt us. Past issues live inside us and take on a life of their own. Past issues make us sick, angry, and trying to fend the pain off causes character defects.
I recommend a Spirit-filled church (holy roller type). Dry and Spirit-less churches whose members really believe in the gifts of the Spirit don’t have allot of spiritual power. Make certain that your church at least believes in the power of the blood of Jesus and the laying on of hands for healing and deliverance. Truly every spiritual experience I have had of high magnitude has been in or around a church where people praise God openly. Miracles can happen anywhere but it’s more likely to find a miracle at a tent revival than in the bathroom at home.
There are many non-addicts in church who will not relate to what your feeling when going through a struggle with addiction. Non-addicts are not privy to the practical solutions that you will learn at A.A. By the same token many A.A. people don’t know what a complete deliverance from addiction by a spiritual experience is either. And really isn’t that what actually took place in Bill Wilson’s life the co-founder and author of The Big Book and most of it’s literature? That spiritual white light experience of his is what prompted the idea for the 12 steps. So really why not seek both a miracle and sobriety from working the steps? Why not use both solutions?
The 12 steps are not therapy they address our shortcomings and the need for confession and repentance. (step 4 & 5) You won’t hear it worded repentance and confession in AA confession is called a fifth step.
Every addicted women I have met WAS SEXUALLY MOLESTED at some point in their child hood and most were repeatedly molested. Unfortunately the 12 steps don’t and step-work don’t provide a way for true “victims” to acquire a healing. If we hold a grudge toward our assailant then the steps do give place to addressing our resentments. But simply jotting down the event in a one sentence format and then searching for our own guilt in the experience and what we did wrong WILL NOT HELP US HEAL FROM ABUSE.
Maybe that’s where Bill Wilson just missed the boat on his own emotional healing. There should have been a step that addresses the pain of the true victims of abuse. “Victims” are real and not some made up psychological crutch or bad habit. Yes we need to get past being a victim and the idea can be used as a way to control people. “Oh poor me give me attention that sort of thing. In AA they call abuse an “outside issue”. It’s understandable they are not equipped to handle deep emotional trauma issues. But in my opinion those issues are why people become addicts. So the 12 steps alone will only be enough if God touches you and heals you.
That’s it bottom line without God the steps won’t work and without giving rebellious addicts a way to seek God that is acceptable to them they will not recover that’s why the church shouldn’t judge AA and AA shouldn’t judge the church but they do and often.
The steps and Big Book do not tell us how to get an emotional healing from abuse. And even if you don’t remember being abused, or emotionally neglected it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Many addicts don’t know what emotional neglect looks or feels like. They will say they had a fine childhood, “my parents did the best they knew how”. And they did , except; why then are we alcoholic? Emotionally balanced people don’t seek to numb themselves out on a regular basis to the point of self-destruction. Emotional abuse by a parent can be just as devastating as sexual abuse or violent beatings. Most addicts subconsciously grow up thinking they are bad and wrong. Therapy will help us figure out why. I think if Bill Wilson would have had a better therapist he could have felt free enough to let out some of the feelings that were causing him so much depression.
Bill W.’s depression is well documented. Instead of looking at “our part” on our fourth step concerning childhood abuse (which by the way, could only be that we held a natural resentment toward our assailant for years and that we are full of false guilt over the event. We do not grow out of trauma, it will live inside us until we give it a healthy door out. What we actually need to do is find a way to go back to the events that traumatized us and express the way we feel about it from our hearts core. Crying, weeping, screaming, moaning, and guttural sounds will do the trick. But also talking it out with a caring listener who can relate to the pain it caused us. This can heal us. In AA they will shut you down quick over expressing past trauma and insist that you forgive or just “get over it!” before you are even able to express your pain. We usually are unable to forgive until the emotions are properly expressed. If you get hit in the face you scream ouch then cry! Then you can work on forgiving after the OUCH and tears are out.
JAILS AND INSTITUTIONS
What about rehabilitation centers?
Getting thrown in jail and rehab can be a good thing initially to get sober. Sometimes we have got to be locked up for the first 90 days or so because otherwise we will not be able to get through the physical withdrawal. Plus rehab centers teach many things about sobriety. Having a detox center to help with the withdraw is good. My theory is get all the help you can! If your dead from a drug overdose having a house and job won’t do you any good anyway right?
HOW TO REALLY GET SOBER?
THERE IS NO PERFECT SPONSOR, NO PERFECT REHAB CENTER NO PERFECT DETOX NO PERFECT COUNSELOR, NO PERFECT PROGRAM AND NO PERFECT CHURCH , PREACHER OR THERAPIST. However, all these imperfect things combined can lead to your imperfect recovery.
A FULL RECOVERY
Yes you can recover. AA works. “THESE SICK PEOPLE ARE KEEPING ME WELL” how ironic. Those sick people , and they are will teach you how to get and stay sober but you won’t find many that believe in employing all three spirituality, therapy, and the 12 steps. But that’s what worked for me. After several years of all three you won’t need meetings anymore, why would you? Meetings are not the program the 12 steps are the program. Fellowship though, is a must in the beginning to establish sober relationships with people. Also it’s suggested we go to 90 meetings in 90 days if at all possible to jump start recovery. You won’t hear in AA that you will fully recover and no longer need meetings even if it is written in the big book. Look it up , the word “recovered” is all over the Big Book.
The following are some quotes from the Big Book about being “recovered”.
“I will always be recovering, never recovered.” This statement is not aligned with the teachings of the Big Book we do recover!
Title Page: “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism” (I totally agree with him on this one we absolutely do recover, at least I have.)
Page 20, paragraph 2: “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. (here, here!)
Foreword to the First Edition: “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
Page 29, paragraph 2: “Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”
Page 132, paragraph 3: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
WHAT PEOPLE HATE AND LIKE ABOUT A.A.
These two links are anti-12 step websites. It appears that the sites were created by disgruntled ex-A.A. and N.A. members. The Orange Papers site has allot of statistics true and balanced. The “leaving AA” site is more just a bitch session by people who either have been hurt by people in A.A or they are trying hard to rationalize their own inability to stay sober, you be the judge. Lord knows I know how guilt can wear on a person struggling to stay sober. If their blaming keeps them feeling sane without really hurting anyone it’s ok I reckon, let them bitch and criticize as one. They have a common bond at least.
I like to give a fair and balanced opinion about anything. Leave it to alcoholics and addicts to have to label things either all bad or all good. Addicts are notorious for wanting to put the “bad and wrong” label on anything they can. (myself included at times) However lets face it there are not many things in this world that are all bad or all good, in fact it is a rarity. Even a good thing can be overdone until it becomes bad. But when it comes to inanimate objects they are not usually bad on their own. It’s the people that are wrong for using an object like a gun or knife for evil purposes.
From what I have read some people end up with oppressive and controlling sponsors in A.A. I don’t doubt that a bit. I have been a member of A.A. for ten years…this time. I have met the sick and controlling people. I have seen the closed-mindedness, the liars and the sick perverted sex offenders by the droves. As a matter of fact I think child molesters and alcoholism go hand in hand.
What these sites comments say about A.A. is probably true on the most part. But what they are not saying is that they need to label A.A. bad because to them there is no such thing as something being both good and bad. IT MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER THEY SCREAM!
So does A.A. really work? Well it appears that only 5% of newcomers will pick up a 1 year medallion and only 1.17% will pick up a 10 year medallion and 0.15% will pick up a 20 year medallion. Now that doesn’t mean that there are not allot of people that stay sober due to A.A. yet leave A.A. for one reason or another. I know some people who have learned the 12 steps and how to live them. They have people in their lives that they confide in and they are close to God… they don’t NEED the meetings when they have the program. Maybe others no longer need to sit in A.A. meetings absorbing the sick vibes of all those emotionally handicapped people who frankly don’t open up enough in meetings to get better. And with good reason. They would no doubt get shut down and criticized if they actually shared their hurts, fears, and worries the way that they should be encouraged to.
If they could vent they would heal. If people would get real in the rooms and tell the sick and suffering addict that they understand and have felt that way too then the program would be much more effective. But instead people sit like vultures in meetings waiting for someone to criticize. Members use the A.A. cliche’s as if they were weapons to stab the unknowledgable newcomers with. Newcomers suffer while members make it a fault-finding meeting rather than looking for the similarities and relating.
I have often wondered why is it some people want to make people feel better and other people want to make people feel inferior. If I were hurt by an A,A cliche’ that a member wielded at me as a newcomer, would I then wield that same cliche’ later? Wouldn’t I access that the statement was hurtful therefore I would find another way to express a similar thought? However I do see people using the same tools that hurt them to hurt other people. It’s not surprising that many people just get tired of A.A.
Granted A.A is the perfect platform for a minister or counselor to catapult his career. Some groups will allow any member with 30 days sobriety to take meetings into jails and institutions. These people could have audience to hundreds of people in no time while they share their story and their own interpretation of what the 12 steps really are and how to work them. Right or wrong if they are offering hope to the hopeless it good. Service work is a wonderful thing if it’s done with kindness. It does not take brash, and mean cliche’s to share the program of A.A.
Why are so many members so defensive when it comes to their 12 step program? That’s simple in the addict mind things are either good or bad so if someone points out one wrong thing with their A.A then that means that the entire program is bad, which in turn in the perception of the insecure addict makes themselves bad as well because they are a member. An insecure man with low self-worth is defensive because he feels he needs to be to make himself look better…and if his program looks bad he looks bad.
Feeling we need to defend A.A. is akin to thinking we have to defend God Himself who clearly doesn’t need us for It’s defense, It is the almighty It needs no defending because no one can bring it down. Both God and A.A. I think the only one that could truly bring down the 12 steps and their programs would be He who established it to begin with (and I don’t mean Bill W. I mean God Itself, Himself, Herself. (Choose your own descriptive word.)
“HOW DID AA REALLY GROW SO HUGE? MOSTLY WITH A RESENTMENT AND A COFFEE POT” (unknown author)
Bill W. wrote in Twelve & Twelve A.A. Tradition Ten____”Disliking the attempt of some to manage a group, half its membership might angrily rush off to form another group more to their liking. Elders temporarily turned Pharisee, have sulked. Bitter attacks have been directed against people suspected of mixed motives. Despite their din, (ruckus) our puny rows (arguments, drama) never did A.A. a particle of harm. They were just part of parcel (collection of ideas) of learning to work and live together. Let it be noted, too, that they were almost always concerned with ways to make A.A. more effective, how to do the most good for the most alcoholics.”
I remember when I first got sober I was scared to death to have an opinion on anything or to make any personal choices that would affect other people. I was afraid to choose what to have for dinner for fear that my dinner guests or family wouldn’t like it. I had no self-confidence left it was all gone. I felt I was totally wrong, bad and didn’t want the rest of the world to see that. I had taken actions against my own heart and loved ones’ for so long that I had beaten myself to a pulp. To heal from my emotional trauma and spiritual depravity I got lots of addiction based empathic group therapy, and I worked the steps a bunch. I went to meetings allot and I got a sponsor.
And for my self-esteem issues I worked the fourth and twelfth step in depth. I took meetings into jails and institutions for years. I sponsored new-comers and processed my own underlying causes because…alcohol was just a symptom of my grave emotional disorder, and immaturity. The most important part of my recovery was my relationship with my Higher Power. Without the Grace of God my recovery would not have come together like it did with all the solutions within reach. My God rolled out the red carpet of recovery for me and I walked down that strip of change shaking and fearful.
I did allot of Eleventh Step meditation which helped me to become open-minded and patient.
I worked hard and long to figure out who I was and to become rebuilt. Would it serve me now to have no opinion on personal matters or matters of state? I vote. I make decisions for my daughter. I am no longer afraid to have an opinion and rightly so. I don’t make other people’s choices for them and should never try to. I vote in my groups A. A. business meetings on matters of The New Life Group, Gainesville, Florida that could affect lots of people. Our AA group is autonomous, which means we have the power to be self-ruling, self-determining, independent, sovereign, free, un-monitored as does any A.A. Group as long as we don’t break the Twelve Traditions as they are properly set down. If we were to choose to do away with the big book in all our meetings all together guess what? We, meaning those who raise their hand for the vote have that power of choice as long as it’s voted on.
Have you ever sat in an A.A. meeting and heard someone quote the Tenth Tradition? Which is:
“AA has no opinion on outside issues hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”
Or better yet have you even been in a private Facebook group where people are discussing matters of A.A. and their varied ideas, thoughts and opinions and someone quotes the Tenth Tradition as if we AAers are not allowed to have an individual opinion in a private group?
What does The Tenth Tradition really mean? Does it mean that I shouldn’t have an opinion on anything except what shirt to put on? Does it mean that I cannot agree to disagree with my fellows in a business meeting vote? Does it mean that I am not allowed to state my opinion in a meeting or a group on Facebook?
PLEASE! We don’t get sober and do all the work sited above to rebuild our personalities just so we can be opion-less! Having no opinion on anything is not how AA got formed and built. The founders had to mull over many choices and argued and got resentments in the process.
Shrugging away from stating my own personal opinions could be nothing more than fear-based running from responsibilities.
If I am one of the one’s quoting the Tenth tradition in meetings I better read it first so I understand just what I am quoting and what it means.
Here is a quote from the Tenth Tradition in the Twelve and Twelve.
“Let us reemphasize that this reluctance to fight one another or anybody else is not counted (motives?) as some special virtue which makes us feel superior to other people. Nor does it mean that the members of alcoholics Anonymous, now restored as citizens of the world, are going to back away from their individual responsibilities to act as they see the right upon issues of our time. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO AA AS A WHOLE, THAT’S QUITE A DIFFERENT MATTER. IN THIS RESPECT WE DO NOT ENTER INTO PUBLIC CONTROVERSY, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT OUR SOCIETY WILL PERISH IF IT DOES.”
Am I saying that we should argue all the time and not “cease fighting”? No, struggling wears us down and can cause emotional hangovers. Disrespectful actions will boomerang back at me and hurt me. However having my own belief system is a healthy stance and a sign of emotional sobriety. Running from choices could be is a sign of low self-esteem. What I am saying is that I have an opinion and should express it and even debate it sometimes which has nothing to do with the Tenth Tradition and A.A. as a whole having a public opinion in a political light.