Most humans are skilled in the art of emotional manipulation even if we are unaware of it. Thing is, we have learned controlling people works better through dishonest means rather than the honest approach. Unfortunately that makes for sick relationships and a loss of Love. And let’s face it AA and NA are full of dysfunctional relationships. Unfortunately sick guidance is rampant in AA but it’s still one of the best ways to get sober. That is, if you also seek God and get some empathic therapy along with it. And absolutely read the Big Book for yourself and go to step study and same sex meetings.
One reason we do the 12 steps is so we can become aware of our character patterns both healthy and unhealthy. Oftentimes active addicts have enablers who help us get our much desired dope and money. We may feel reliant on enablers for something. Therefore we often feel we must handle our enablers in a way they will react and behave as we want them to. We are skilled in the art of getting a desired reaction from our “foe” per-say.
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.
Recovery Farmhouse thanks our most recent guest, published (“Last Call” a Memoir) writer Nancy Carr for sharing her stories and articles with us. You can find Nancy’s book available in the left sidebar.
I’m hoping I can change that rap. Over the last few months AA has been in the media and not in a good way. When I saw Gabrielle Glaser this past March on CNN discussing her most recent article in the Guardian, “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous”, I was super irritated. Who the heck was she to eschew a “way of life” for millions of alcoholics and addicts in recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body? I don’t know why she felt it was her duty to take on the AA organization as a whole and discount what an amazing social movement and Recovery Fellowship it actually is. This Fellowship helps people and saves lives. Period. If it’s used properly of course. I should further state what AA is not:
It’s not a speed dating venue, it’s not a place to go meet your new neighbor, it’s not a place to go looking for drugs, it’s not a place to further your career and reach your sales quota, and it’s also not a place to find a babysitter.
AA is a place to get and stay sober. More on that later.
Back to Gabby and her irrational AA article. I’m so grateful that Jesse Singal wrote a counter piece entitled, “Why Alcoholics Anonymous works”. He went on to say, “Glaser’s central claim that there’s no rigorous scientific evidence that AA and other 12-step programs work is wrong. Glaser is simply ignoring a decade’s worth of science.” Further on in his piece, Jesse gets input from an addiction specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, “No, that’s not true,” said Dr. John Kelly. When Glaser’s argument was run by him, he countered, “There’s quite a bit of evidence now, actually, that’s shown that AA works.” Further Kelly said, “In recent years, researchers have begun ramping up rigorous research on what are known as “12-step facilitation” programs, which are “clinical interventions designed to link people with AA.”
Well, thank goodness Dr. John Kelly and Jess Singal were around to back up some of Glaser’s BS. According to an 2010 article in Wired by Brendan Koerner, “the 200-word instruction set has since become the cornerstone of addiction treatment in this country, where an estimated 23 million people grapple with severe alcohol or drug abuse—more than twice the number of Americans afflicted with cancer. Some 1.2 million people belong to one of AA’s 55,000 meeting groups in the US, while countless others embark on the steps at one of the nation’s 11,000 professional treatment centers. Anyone who seeks help in curbing a drug or alcohol problem is bound to encounter Wilson’s system on the road to recovery.” Brendan’s article further goes on and list the pros and cons of AA and why it works for some and not for others, but the basis of his article was that it works, if you work it and if you want it. It’s also not the only method to get sober, it just happens to be the method that worked for me and one that I truly believe in. So of course I’m going to be an advocate and supporter of the 12 step program.
However, the most disturbing piece I saw recently was about the new documentary the 13thStep.
I had heard about this film through the recovery community and didn’t want to give it more than a second thought until I read Amy Dresner’s article on the The Fix. Amy who has been in and out of recovery for the past 20 years (currently she has over 2 years now in AA) wrote a review about Monica Richardson’s documentary, The 13th Step, a film about predators in AA. Amy goes on to write, “This film interviews a slew of women who have been sexually abused by men in AA, as well as the family members of women, like Karla Brada, who have been murdered by AA members. Brada met Eric Allen Earl in AA. He had nowhere to go so she took him in and was dead by his hands four months later. After the fact, her family dug into his history and discovered he had 22 years of criminal activity including eight restraining orders and a stunning 52 court-orders to AA. Brada’s family are suing AA for wrongful death.” Additionally she wrote about Julie, “Julie knew a guy in the rooms of AA for three years and he invited her over for coffee at his home, only to slip a date rape drug in her tea and assault her. When Julie complained to her sponsor about the incident, she was met with “Well, what was your part?” I was less than thrilled when I read this and even more so as to who the hell Julie’s sponsor was? But that’s not the point here. The point is that AA may not be the healthiest environment to walk into, but not all of AA is an evil breeding ground for criminals and predators. I’d like to see the documentary that focuses on the real recovery of AA and how it does help alcoholics and addicts regain their lives back. How families are mended back together, how marriages are saved, how parents learn to be parents again and how sober citizens finally can get a chance at a true and sober life. Where is that documentary?
I highly recommend reading Amy’s piece, and as disturbing as it was, it really annoyed the crap out of me. Not Amy’s piece, but the content of the documentary. I’m actually sad that AA isn’t a safe place for a newcomer, or anyone ignorant to the 12 step environment, to get sober. I get that AA has these sick freaky dudes and we are not a group of healthy folk, Well Peoples’ Anonymous it is not.
When I found out, in my first 30 days of recovery, what 13 stepping was – I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that men, who seemed to be so nice and supportive towards me, wanted to take advantage of my vulnerability and ignorance. I was a shell of a person when I walked into the rooms, so to have my sponsor tell me what 13 stepping was, I was just mortified. I had this old dude who kept asking me out for coffee and I was so naïve as I didn’t know how to say No. My sponsor told me to tell him “No way” and to blame it on her. Verbatim, she told me to say, “My sponsor said there is no reason for you and me to have coffee outside the rooms, so no thanks” I was so relieved that I didn’t have to be rude to him. I was actually worried as I didn’t want to hurt his feelings! Crazy talk! Same thing could be said for the “hugging” that goes on at meetings now a days. I’m not a hugger if I don’t know you. Just because I met you at an AA meeting, doesn’t mean we are friends and we can hug. What is with that? Dudes just think that women are open game to hugging if you say “Hello” to them at a meeting. I’ve come a long way since my early sobriety and figured out early on who was “safe” in the rooms and who wasn’t.
Amy goes on in her piece to say that AA is a breeding ground for predators and sick people, which makes complete sense. AA alone is not a remedy for our disease and what ails us. It’s not a cure all for everyone and most people in the Fellowship, like myself, need to seek outside help for other issues. The 12 steps, sponsorship, meetings, service, and the Fellowship are all fine and dandy, but they don’t work for everyone. It’s true that most people who come into AA are not just addicted to alcohol – they can be dual diagnosis; either drug dependent, mental disorders, eating disorders, sex addictions, adult children of alcoholics and other co-dependency issues are wide and varied. AA is a place for sick people just trying to get better and if everyone who came to AA had a genuine desire to get sober and do what is suggested, I’m sure we wouldn’t have all these predators and sickies trying to get one over on us.
I myself was 13 stepped by a sponsor. Not in a sexual way, but in a manipulative and deceitful way. She was very well respected in my Fellowship, well regarded as an AA pillar to many. She sponsored a lot of women, she was asked to speak frequently at speaker meetings, she held a women’s meeting out of her home, she had a good rap and she ran a really great program. She was the deal. I wanted what she had. BAM! She was a fraud.
I started noticing some holes in her story, “from the podium” and started asking some questions about this and that and soon after so did a few other folks and lo and behold, it turned out that most of her story was a lie and she had also been embezzling money from one of her customers. Soon the local authorities were on to her and she was sent to an out of state prison for a few years. So, yeah, there was a bad apple in the bunch, but it didn’t deter me from wanting to be in AA. Nor did it make me flee AA and join another sober Fellowship. I saw this person for what she was, a con artist. I thought to myself, “Wow, what a great place to come if you want to take advantage of people.”
I’m not one to say that AA is the only way to recovery as there are other programs out there, SMART, SOS, WFS, Celebrate Recovery, spiritual advisors, meditation, yoga and white knuckling abstinence. What I am saying – and this is just my rant and my belief, is that AA has worked for me unequivocally. It works if I work it. It’s a program that has helped shaped me to be a better human being. It has also helped millions of other people and it’s a place where people come back to. It’s a place where we will welcome you back whether or not you relapsed for 2 days or 2 years – we just want to help you. At least the majority of people I know in AA do. The majority of people in AA are good, honest, helpful and caring individuals. It’s the 13 steppers, 2 steppers and bottom feeders who aren’t there for their sobriety. They are there for themselves and what they can get out of you. They are the folks you need to stay away from. They are the bad apples of the bunch and my advice to anyone would be to trust their gut. Guys with the guys and women with the women – at least for the first year until you have some sober time. The unsaid rule of “don’t date in your first year thing” was a great yard stick for me. I started dating right after my year and let’s just say I was able to start working on Step 6 pretty easily after that. I should also out myself a bit here and say that my now husband and I started dating when I had a few years and he had 9 months. So, yeah, I guess anyone could say that I was a 13 stepper! In my own defense, we had a very communicative, open and loving relationship where we both kept to our own programs. This is also not to say we haven’t had our ups and downs in our marriage, because we have, but at least we have a unified belief together that AA is where we want to recover and that we feel lucky that we get to walk this journey of recovery together as we both want to live a sober and full life.
At the end of the day, I have to believe in the foundation of the program and how Bill W. wanted it to be, “an easy program for complicated people”, and “Rule 62, just don’t take ourselves too damn seriously.”
Everyone it was a close call. Recovery Farmhouse nearly bit the dust. Here e-mails are not going out as of yet. Her voice has stopped where e-mails are concerned while she steadily collects more and more addresses THANKYOU FOR YOUR INTEREST!
I AM ANNOUNCING THE EMAIL SITUATION WILL SOON BE REMEDIED AND ALL THE POSTS WILL BE GOING OUT IN EMAIL AGAIN. In the meantime here’s my latest post.
My Confession 3-26-2015
I want to tell you all how I feel today. I created “Recovery Farmhouse” the website that I do all my writing on about a year ago. I just began building websites back then and I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I really had going for me was my typing skills, my smarts, and the fact that I had nearly 8 years sober at the time.
I must say that writing…for me has been one key to my own sanity. I went through rigorous group therapy where I learned how to be myself. I learned to “say what I mean and mean what I say!” That’s where healthy relationships begin…with truth.
I worked the steps over and over I did a boatload of eleventh step meditation and prayer. I did more 12th step service work than most people do. Jails and institutions where my service area. I learned to speak from my heart in front of large groups of people who needed to hear exactly “How it works” straight from the horse’s mouth.
PLEASE I am not bragging, on the contrary, what I am doing is qualifying myself to have and run a recovery website. I invited guest writers, I borrowed articles from other recovery websites. I downloaded hordes of art work and I learned what maintaining a WordPress hosted website is really about. I dabbled in coding. I rubbed elbows with the developers that I highly respect. I learned the politics behind free internet.WOW! My partner of nearly 10 years thinks I have a computer addiction going on and he is partially correct. Although I do all my work on the computer and at home, so yes, I spend long hours sitting and learning, and venting, and building. I have five and a half websites at the moment.
Where in the hack am I going with all this information? Well I had to move one of my websites because they outgrew their hosting provisions (actually it was a bug that was eating memory, I fixed it). In the process of that move I almost lost Recovery Farmhouse and all the hard work and writing that I have done.
Turns out she is in better shape than ever. I cleaned her up, expelled the spam, and fixed the memory suckers.
I want to confess, I have had dreams of wealth and longings for a bankroll that just hasn’t arrived, as of yet anyhoo-But being able to share my knowledge and feelings with all and any who is interest has been a blessing that far surpasses monetary gain.
I have been angry at God for not providing what Ithink I deserve while I have overlooked the true blessings that mattered much more spiritually.
Hi this is Lori E administrator, web-tech, writer and designer of Recovery Farmhouse. I am also known as Laura of Akron in some parts of this website (psychic readings) and other various social sites……. and I am a recovered alcoholic. I can say recovered because I haven’t picked up a drink, a hit of crack or a shot of heroin in nearly 10 years.
I want to introduce Bill C my father. Here is an article I thank him for writing. Please feel free to comment.
I was asked by the creator of this web-site to write something
that the readers might find interesting. My first reaction was,
yes but I needed to think about what to write.
Years ago my reaction would have been different. What
the flip do I know about AA? What do I know about a Big Blue
Book? And about that dance, the 12 step? I had heard about
the 2 step and the 4 step, but I sure didn’t know about the
12 step dance. Well, my daughter corrected me on that.
She said it has nothing to do with dancing. Dad it is a 12
step program that helps people stop drinking.
Before my daughter was introduced to AA she tried a
lot of drinks and pills to make her happy. All it was doing
was causing her parents pain.
We spent sleepless nights wondering where she was.
I am sure some of you reading this can relate to what parents
went through worrying about you.
She got into some trouble while driving, lost her license
and had to go through what they call the revolving door.
Paying fines and reporting to a probation officer.
After the mess was cleared up she finally decided to get
sober. I don’t know if the addict knows what parents go
through while all this is going on. Yes we go through hell.
It is ironic that Laura of Akron was born in the same
city that 2 young men founded AA.
I would like to end this writing with a poem by an
The addict and the parent
The addict says I’ll take this pill,
And then an alcoholic drink.
Then the parent holds her up,
While she throws up in the sink.
The addict says I’ll take more pills,
They will make me feel swell.
The parent says here we go again,
She’s putting us through hell.
The addict says I need a drink,
To get me through the day.
The parent says she traded her VCR,
We got her for her birthday.
But all of that is in the past,
No more beer or wine.
Yes we have our daughter back,
And she is doing just fine.
If this writing has helped one person,
In some special way.
Then it makes it all worthwhile,
You have made my day.
. . . By Bill C. Laura of Akron is my daughter.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE SCROLL OVER “GUEST WRITERS” IN THE WEBSITES TOP MENU AND CLICK ON THIS ARTICLE “A PARENT GROWING UP WITH AN ADDICT” IT WILL HAVE A COMMENT BLOCK AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE. WHEREAS THE VERSION IN E-MAIL LINK DOES NOT.
If I knew I would die in the next month or two how would I live my life? Would I finally be able to let go of the nagging shame that has followed me around since I realized I am bad. Would the thought of impending death cushion the guilt of a life lived below its true ability. Or would I drop even deeper into the abyss of shoulda, coulda, woulda?
Would I feel a release emotionally reasoning out that I would finally get the punishment that my soul dictates I should endure? I ask myself is it really better to be self-aware or would it be just fine to stay in denial of such things as shame and guilt or the feeling of inferiority.
Well I surely question weather this life is a blessing or a curse but I have found it is both. So many ideals I wish to put in the boxes of either good or bad yet… I say yet most things are either both or neither. Some things just are. Like death for instance…
Is death bad? We certainly see it as such. But it just is and if it had to be placed in one of these boxes it would be in the “good” box because death enables our soul to move on to the next more aware existence. If we hinder death we hinder our own progress. If we hinder death we hinder life itself.
If I was aware of my impending death I think I would get off my butt, get out of this box I call the internet (which I love by the way and may be teetering on computer addiction) and be near both nature and my loved ones.
Thank you “Elmer” for your insight on emotional tools which you shared at the Triangle Club to help the guys your worked with get well.
In Gainesville ******ics Anonymous Program some of us have a certain tradition. I am not talking about the 12 traditions right now. I am talking about an exercise that we do in accordance with the fifth step. This tradition keeps us SANE, AND SOBER. This tradition keeps shame at bay which is the number one reason people leave the program…shame. Yes “resentment is the number one offender but it is not the #1 reason people that have the program working for them yet choose to leave. Ok yes they leave because they drank or wanted to drink and then the shame sets back in.
The Gainesville tradition that I am referring to is that we share in our meeting “WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW IT MADE US FEEL.” We have learned that keeping secrets about our INTENSE feelings will kill us. We have learned that all the repressed emotions in the world will not change who we are. We have learned how to come to terms with who we are and to accept that. But not only accept..WE SHARE NOT ONLY “WHAT HAPPENED” BUT “HOW IT MADE US FEEL”
This is the magic children. This is the one thing that 12 step programs around the world are missing. THERE IS NO WRONG FEELING ONLY WRONG ACTIONS. If we label our feelings “wrong” we are labelling ourselves wrong. Every feeling that we have is for a valid reason and is valid. Granted we don’t share all of our feelings nor do we allow our feelings to rule over us. However, we do respect and honor our feelings, they are valid. No we don’t run around having to express every small felling we have. There is a time to say “feelings aren’t facts” and simply ignore them. But there are on the other hand feelings that are eating our lunch that need to come out… Otherwise we may slip into our old behavior of projecting and blaming others for the way we feel. So we put our intense and nagging emotions into the middle of the meeting room so they get absorbed and carried away by the Spirit of the program. This my friend is one of the most important solutions I have. It is just as important as not holding resentments. Similar article “Men in Recovery”
If you have never gone to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting, it can be a little scary at first. You don’t know what to expect because it is a new experience. You may have heard a lot of negative things about meetings from other using addicts. Some people are court ordered to go to meetings and may feel negatively about them because they resent being forced to go. Remember that everyone in AA and NA had to walk into their first meeting at some point so you are not alone in feeling scared. People who go to meetings regularly are aware of this and often try to be very welcoming when they see someone new enter a meeting.
Where Do Meetings Occur and How Do I Find One?
Many meetings take place in church basements, treatment facilities, hospitals and recovery clubs. You can find a list of meetings online at the Alcoholics Anonymous website and the Narcotics Anonymous website. In addition, most counties have a drug and alcohol commission to help people in their county locate treatment. You can find the number for your local drug and alcohol commission in your phone book or online. They often have local meeting lists available in their offices. Any local treatment facilities would probably provide you with a free local list of meetings too.
Once you find your first meeting, you will be able to get a list of other meetings there. The meeting list will let you know the name of the meetings, time and place of the meetings and what kind of meetings are available in your area. The best way to find good meetings is to ask people in recovery who go to meetings. They can help you find the kind of meeting you want to go to. For example, there are meetings just for people who are new to AA and NA.
What Are the Different Types of Meetings?
Discussion meetings – These meetings usually are focused on a particular topic or two or three topics which can be chosen by the chairperson of the meeting or the group itself. Group members take turns talking one at a time about the topic that is chosen.
Speaker meetings – These meetings have a speaker who is a member of AA or NA. The speaker tells their story of alcoholism/addiction and how they found recovery. These meetings can be very inspiring because you can learn that you are not alone and recovery is possible.
Beginner meetings – These meetings are for people who are new to AA/NA and want to learn more about the program.
12 Step and 12 Tradition study – These meetings help you to learn more about the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. Members usually read a chapter from the book and then discuss it.
Big Book or Basic Text meetings – These meetings are about studying the Big Book which is the main text of AA and the Basic Text which is the main book of NA.
Men’s and women’s meetings – These meetings are specifically designed for either men or women. These are great meetings to meet more members of your own gender, which is important for finding a sponsor.
Candlelight meetings – These meetings often take place in the evening and are lit by candles. It can be a different and fun change from regular meetings.
Open meetings – These meetings are open to anyone. Family and friends of addicts can attend as well as addiction professionals who want to learn more about the program of AA/NA.
Closed meetings – These meetings are only for people who have an alcohol or drug problem.
What Happens During the Meeting?
<p>The Beginning of the Meeting</p>
Some meetings vary the order of the format, some are more formal or more laid back but the following is generally what happens at most meetings.
Opening the Meeting
The chairperson of the meeting will open the meeting usually by pounding on the table and announcing the meeting is starting. Everyone who isn’t already seated takes a seat. Seating is sometimes in a circle or around a square or rectangle table. However, large meetings can have seats throughout the room. People are often chatting before the meeting but they get quiet when the meeting starts.
The Serenity Prayer
The chairperson asks everyone to help him/her begin the meeting with the Serenity Prayer. Don’t worry if you don’t know it. You will learn it in time. Only the first four lines of the Serenity Prayer are spoken.
This is the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
The chairperson will ask for the readings. Somewhere in the meeting room will be a table of free pamphlets and books for purchase. You can find a booklet there which includes all the readings. The chairperson will either ask people to do the readings before the meeting starts or sometimes they are placed around the room and anyone sitting by one can choose to read.
You never have to read if you feel uncomfortable with it. If you see a reading at the seat you chose, you can ask someone else to read it or move to another seat. Even if you are asked, no one will be offended if you say you would rather not read.
The readings are either read from the person’s seat or sometimes from a podium. Before each person reads, they announce their name and that they are an alcoholic or addict. It is customary to say you are an alcoholic at AA meetings and an addict at NA meetings. However, you can say you are an alcoholic and an addict or cross-addicted. The readings can vary somewhat from meeting to meeting and are a little different at AA and NA meetings but they both read the 12 steps and 12 Traditions. NA changes “alcohol” to “addiction” in their readings.
There may be a time during the meeting for announcements, which may include anniversary meetings, new meetings, meetings needing home group members or other business related to AA or NA. The group may be asked if they have any announcements related to AA or NA.
The chairperson will ask if there is anyone from out of town or new to the meeting. The chairperson may say “this is not to embarrass you but to help us get to know you better.” If you are a newcomer or haven’t been to this particular meeting before, feel free to stand up, say your name and that you are new. Everyone will welcome you and tell you to “keep coming back.”
Talking about Cravings
There will also be a point during the meeting when the chairperson will ask if anyone feels like drinking/using. Some people will announce themselves (name and I’m an alcoholic/addict) and admit that they are feeling like drinking or using drugs. We call this “telling on yourself.” People often do this because talking about cravings helps you to not follow through and actually drink or use drugs.
Talking about it also lets group members know you may need more support. They may come up and offer their phone numbers to someone in need. Or pass around paper for people to write down their phone numbers for a newcomer. The chairperson also may say that if you didn’t feel comfortable talking about it with the group, get with someone after the meeting to talk.
Don’t be afraid to approach someone after the meeting and tell them you feel like drinking or using drugs and need more help. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. You have to speak up and ask for additional help to get it.
What is clean time and why is it important?
AA/NA meetings celebrate clean time at every meeting by giving out coins or keychains. There are different colors for different months and years of sober or clean time. The first coin/keychain is for “24 hours sober/clean or the desire to start a new way of life.”
Anyone can get this coin/keychain. If you are a newcomer, I recommend getting your first coin/keychain. You can expect lots of applause, people welcoming you, telling you to “keep coming back,” shaking your hand or hugging you. This will help you feel welcome and at home in the meetings. It is also meant to help you realize that you have made great progress just by attending a meeting.
The purpose of clean time is not to make people feel that some members have more seniority but to let everyone know that recovery is possible. It is meant to inspire newcomers and let people know that you can reach multiple years of clean time. Some meetings ask anyone with more than a year clean to stand up. This is also to show that recovery is attainable.
The Middle of the Meeting
The middle of the meeting varies whether it is a discussion meeting, a book meeting or a speaker meeting.
For discussion meetings, some go around the room to give everyone a chance to speak. You can introduce yourself and say “I pass.” No one will make you share. People introduce themselves by saying “I’m (Your Name) and I’m an alcoholic/addict” or a variation of this.
At other meetings, anyone can choose to speak after the meeting is opened to discussion. Each person usually speaks for about 3 to 5 minutes so everyone has a chance to speak. When someone finishes speaking, they may say, “with that I pass.” Members respond with “thank you” or “thank you for sharing.” There is no crosstalk during the meeting. One person speaks at a time.
Book or 12 Step/12 Tradition meetings read from the chosen book or read a Step/Tradition and may discuss the reading at the end.
Speaker meetings have a speaker who tells their story of alcoholism or addiction and how they found recovery.
The End of the Meeting
Most meetings close with members forming a circle and reciting The Lord’s Prayer or the Serenity Prayer. AA meetings usually join hands and say the Lord’s Prayer while NA meetings put their arms around each other and say the Serenity Prayer.
<p>Some Tips for Meetings</p>
The meeting will usually begin exactly on time.
Cross talk is not acceptable.
You can be asked to leave if you disrupt the meeting with cross talk, cell phones, inappropriate behavior, etc.
Please turn your cell phone off during the meeting.
It is acceptable to bring children to most meetings but you may need to bring something for them to do. If they are not quiet, you may want to remove them from the meeting so as to not disrupt the meeting. Some meetings have child care available during the meeting so ask around if you need to bring your children. You may be able to find a group member who will watch them so you can get the most out of the meeting.
AA members usually shake hands more often while NA members hug more.
Most meetings are non-smoking but may have a section for smokers.
Try to come early and stay late to meetings when you can. What happens before and after the meeting can be as important as the meeting itself. This is a time to socialize, get support, help others, get phone numbers or find a sponsor
By Adam J. Pearson. Recovery Farmhouse Thanks you Adam Pearson for your courageous bravery which you have exhibited by addressing a topic most people run from. The topic of shame is one that should be addressed by each of our hearts. Until we examine our shame we cannot claim to know ourselves. If we say we have no shame we have not examined ourselves any further than ego and false pride will allow. We will not be ashamed of being ashamed!…..The Farmhouse.
The Wisdom of Eamonn Perkins
Eamonn Perkins is a wise, humble and tremendously compassionate teacher from Ireland who spends much of his time working with addicts and prisoners. He’s so low-key that, as of this writing, he doesn’t even have a website. In a 2014 interview, Eamann said something brilliantly concise and and equally incisive:
“If you truly knew me, you wouldn’t like me,” that’s the mantra of human existence. “
I love this line. It’s so simple and so profound. It’s one of those ideas that is so powerful that it momentarily stuns us into silence. Words like these hit home somewhere deep within us and resonate with something in the darknessthat wants to be seen, a hidden truth that yearns to come to light. I couldn’t agree more with the truth of the statement, especially in our current global situation in which we have so much information and yet paradoxically feel so lost, are so socially connected and yet so lonely, and are so encouraged to puff up our egos and yet so inwardly drowning in a sea of shame.
And if shame–the intensely painful feeling that we are in some way flawed or not good enough and are, therefore, unworthy of love, belonging and connection–is the cause of our drowning, then it’s no surprise that we’re all desperately searching for a lifeline out of it.
“If you truly knew me, you wouldn’t like me” is the secret belief, the shameful idea, the “mantra of human existence.”
When we believe this story, we meet each other from a place of fear and put up fronts and facades. We operate from a feeling of inadequacy and hide out of reflex. We refuse to let ourselves really show up and be seen out of the fear of being judged or rejected. And very slowly and very quietly, this message, which is the voice of shame within us, begins to stifle life. Without understanding, we watch it happen, wishing we had the words to describe what is going on and the tools to handle it.
As if paralyzed, we watch shame crush our free expression. The fear at its core blocks our creativity and replaces honesty with self-defensive lies. It makes us scramble for escapes and distractions to avoid the excruciating pain that is fundamental to shame. And while saying that we would never want to be anything but authentic, we find ourselves so afraid to be real and not belong that we choose to be inauthentic in order to fit in.
Shame is Widespread
Lady Godiva statue by John Thomas (1813 – 1862), Maidstone Museum, Kent, England.
This pattern is so common and yet so unspoken. “The less you talk about shame, the more you have it,” says the brilliant and inspiring shame researcher Brene Brown in her renowned TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” “The only people who don’t have it” she continues, “also have no capacity for human empathy or connection.”
Shame is incredibly universal. I’ve seen it in the students I’ve taught. I’ve seen it in the men and women I’ve known. I’ve seen it in my friends. I’ve seen it expressed in the media on TV. And I’ve seen it in myself. For 25 years of my life, shame stifled and held me down like a heavy and unspoken weight. I feel for, and with, all of those who struggle with shame because I get them. Shame varies in the details from person to person, but its core is always the same.
This is one reason why I’m open about shame, because I’ve struggled with it, because so many people do, and because shame grows in silence and “cannot survive being spoken” (Brown, 2013). When I do openly talk to people about shame, I tend to hear the same thing over and over again: “I thought it was just me…” Oh yeah. I know that feeling. Shame is tremendously effective at making us feel like we’re the only ones who feel it, when the truth is that it comes up in nearly all of us.
Shame Itself is Fear, Our Prison and the Key to Freedom
Facing shame can sometimes feel terrifying because shame itself is fear, the fear of not being enough and being unworthy, unlovable, and rejected as a result. The basic truth, as I see it, though, is this: if we want to flourish, if we want to be boldly authentic, if we want to truly love and be loved, if we want to transcend fear, if we want to cultivate kindness and forgiveness, if we want to find peace, then we need to face shame rather than deny, repress, and project it. We need to meet it in an intelligent and self-compassionate way that works.
And that’s why I spend so much time and so many words writing about shame. Because it’s the substance out of which we forged the bars of our internal prison. And it’s also the key to our liberation.
Resources on Shame and Cultivating Shame-Resilience
If anything I said above resonates, rings true, or sounds familiar to what you or people you know have felt, here are some resources that I’ve found helpful that will give you some powerful insights into shame and shame-resilience.
Above all, I’d recommend reading the amazing book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead” by the shame-researcher and brilliantly compassionate and inspiring Brene Brown. This book literally changed my life. It gave me words for feelings I had felt for years and had never been able to express. It cast light on powerful shadows. And it empowered me with useful tools. I’ve read it 3 times. It’s that good. It literally changed my life.
In addition, here’s a wonderful Positive Psychology article on Brene Brown’s “Shame-Resilience Theory” if you’re into a more psychology-oriented academic approach.
If you want some down-to-Earth distillations of the core principles from Brene’s book as I’ve applied them in my life, here are a few articles that I’ve written on the subjects of shame and how to empower ourselves with resilience against it. These articles are grounded, not in hypothetical theories, but in both solid research and in my own experience and practice. My general rule is that I only write about tools I’ve actually used and found helpful in my own life. If I haven’t used it and found it to work, I don’t write about it.
However, you don’t have to take my word for it. Let your own experience be the laboratory and the judge. I’m right there in the arena with you, facing the same issues. We’re in this together and we’re never alone, even though shame can make us feel that way. There are useful strategies that work to empower us to work with these things and the purpose of my writing is to share them.
Here’s a brief guide and orienting overview to my writings on the subject:
“Silencing the Praise: Why Seeking Approval Fails to Fill Our Inner Void” introduces shame and identifies it as the name of the void we feel within us, the void that says we are “not good enough” and are thus unworthy of love and belonging. It then explains why approval-seeking fails to fill the void of shame because shame invalidates approval even when we do receive it. We are not hopeless, however; at the end of the article, I introduce a few healthy alternatives and powerful strategies to meet shame with resilience and compassion.
“The Heart of the Void: Finding the Assumptions at the Heart of Shame” breaks shame down into two key components: a feeling part and a thinking part. The feeling part involves the painful emotions at the heart of shame (e.g. fear, anxiety, inadequacy) and the thinking part involves the core assumptionsabout ourselves that are at the root of the feelings. This article specifically explains how to discover these assumptions and then how to reality-check andtransform them once we find them. This practice is a powerful tool for our shame-resilience arsenal.
“Finding the Calm Within the Storm: Shame-Resilience in Practice” breaks down Brene Brown’s powerful shame-resilience method into clear steps and gives a real-world example of how I applied it to one shame story in my own life. I’ve seen tons of articles about the method online, but very few concrete examples of how we apply it in our own inner experience. This article was written in an attempt to fill that void and also to practice “the courage to be vulnerable” that Brene Brown champions.
“Forgive and Be Free: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness”offers a useful practice for compassionately addressing the feeling part of shame throughforgiveness. Forgiveness was a subject that I took for granted for a long time because I didn’t realize how powerfully liberating and empowering it truly is. However, it was a key part of the shame puzzle for me.
“Release the Past to Free the Present: Another Meaning of Forgiveness” expands on the previous article to explain how forgiveness helps us lovingly liberate our present from the stranglehold of the past. Since shame is powerfully rooted in our past thoughts, perceptions, and experiences, forgiveness thus is a powerfully compassionate practice for skillfully handling shame. This article explains how this works.
Shame sometimes expresses itself as catastrophizing or obsessive worst-case scenario thinking. “Catastrophizing: How to Handle Worst-Case Scenario Thinking” explores the fascinating dynamics of catastrophizing. It also offers a powerful way to handle catastrophic thinking so that it ceases to drive us towards unintentional self-sabotage and drag us out of the joy of being present.
Dissolving shame is like dissolving a poison that is killing, one drop at a time. In its place… space, air and welcoming of life. That’s what happened for me, finally.
Keep writing about this, Adam, it’s needed.
QUALITY SOBRIETY HAS MANY FACES AND THE FACE OF PAINFUL EXPRESSION EXHIBITS TRUTH. I AM NOT AFRAID TO LET YOU SEE MY TEARS THEY ARE A MANIFESTATION OF THE NINTH STEP PROMISE THAT “FEAR OF PEOPLE” WILL LEAVE US.
The face of recovery that shows no pain or tears is a misrepresentation of one’s true self and a deep deception to us all.
The face of recovery that shows no pain or tears is a misrepresentation of one’s true self and a deep deception to us all.
MONEY AND THE RECOVERING ADDICT. FREEDOM FROM COMPULSIVE SPENDING.
How do addicts handle their finances after years of spending money on the wrong things and suffering the regret? In the past personally I crossed many moral boundaries to make my money and then spent it on drugs instead of paying the bills, buying important things for my family and myself. Since I now have years of sober time under my belt I do question my occasional compulsive spending, I analyse it and am now sharing it with you.
I remember at the start of my recovery I continued in my willingness to cross moral boundaries to get money a time or two when I needed that money to get to a meeting or put toward my rehab stay. I had the gift of desperation that is a key in opening the lock of sobriety. I don’t save money well I never have. Neither have my parents, they didn’t teach me good financial planning or skills. However since I have been sober I do much better with my money, I get my bills paid even though sometimes they are late. I enjoy shopping but if I know a bill is due I usually pay it first. I say “usually”.
When it comes to walking in a Wal-mart with a pocket full of money even though all I need is a gallon of milk I will tell myself “I know there’s something I need” just so I can shop. Shopping is a high for me and if I go to the grocery store hungry I may forget all about my bills temporarily until I get home and wish I hadn’t spent so much money. I wonder…is it the shopping or the beating myself up that I get more satisfaction from. Maybe subconsciously the thought of just being good bores me to tears and since I no longer drink and drug because it became too painful I must replace that debauchery with another of a different flavor. One thing sure if we are busy doing Step 12 we won’t have time for self abuse.
The cycle of guilt is a merry-go-round that does not enjoy being put to rest. Whether it be illicit sex, stealing, yelling at our loved ones, gossip, over-eating, or greed recovering addicts seem to have a need to keep the merry-go-round of guilt and self-punishment alive. After all what will we do with out emotions and thoughts if we don’t have some negative aspect of ourselves or others to focus on?
The 12 steps help us to STOP the cycle of guilt and remorse. Perhaps not completely however, believe it there are degrees of guilt. Remorse can be so deep that it becomes intolerable after all where does depression step from if not from a deep nagging dissatisfaction of one’s self? The program gives us all kinds of new things to focus on and yes new things to criticize and balk at. Aren’t the very nature of steps 1,4,6,7,8,9, & 10 about asking ourselves “what have I done wrong today and in the past”? YES THEY ARE however the steps offer us solutions to that guilt so we don’t have to walk around ashamed of who we are. Without steps two, three, five, eleven and 12 our wonderful recovery program is nothing more than [ more of the same], more insanity and a continued process of self-abasement without the solutions. At the same time without the self-examination of our shortcomings we cannot clear the wreckage of our past and put our emotions from “disorder” to order, It is completely understandable why so many people take a peak at AA and then decide it’s not for them. They see all the negative self-examination and say “It does me no good to dwell on the past there is nothing I can do about it now its gone.” To an extent they are spot on and that is the best attitude if a person does not have steps 2,3, 5, 11,12.
Ignoring and repressing guilt will only get us so-far. Unprocessed emotions will come out of us in the form of criticisms, gossip, verbal attacks on other people, and it will turn bitter inside of our bellies and prompt us to jealousy, envy, and make us sick. Repressed guilt turns to shame which turns to fear and hate. We as recovering addicts need the 12 steps like a fish needs water. We must not give way to homicidal and suicidal thoughts but instead have the courage to do self-examination and admit our wrongs and then tell someone about it. We must let the cat out of the bag by doing our Fifth Step which is so important for our emotional recovery. Our relationship with God is so important but we must have at least one confidant that we can tell anything to. Where there is no sense of accountability personalities digress.
So how does all this fit in with our finances? We recognize when and if we are using money to continue somehow our cycle of shame and guilt. If we learn to work the 12 steps properly and as women focus on our feelings when doing so and honor them by validating and sharing them in our fifth step we can then let the pain go rather than hold onto it like Gollum held on to the ring….his Precious. We shall put our emotions into a state of “order” rather than sick and depressive “disorder”. By admitting that we do experience guilt and shame instead of labeling such feelings weak and shameful we can and will simply grow out of them.
Imagine your life as a long-running movie. Now see it made by two different directors. The first movie, in the hands of the director is a movie about fear, anger, scarcity, and anxiety.
The other in the hands of a different director is a movie about Love, peace, innocence, abundance, and happiness.
One director is your ego the other is The Holy Spirit and the star of the movie is you. By Marianne Williamson from “The Gift of Change”.
I have said it before…if you have made it to a sober place and have crawled out of the pits of hell. Where you were surrounded by violence, shame, betrayal, guilt, pain, remorse, and condemnation, then a window of opportunity is open for you.
It is no accident that you made it out of hell alive, The only trouble is early sobriety is scary. Massive fear crops up for the unknown. And why not! We have rarely been clean and sober for more than a day or two in years!
No more heaviness we cry! No more pain we beg our higher power. Will God really help us through the mess of baggage we call our lives?
Hell yes He/She/It will! We are valuable children of God! We deserve to be happy for a while and have peace. We have paid our dues in spades by god!
Sit back, quit fighting, soak up the recovery in the rooms of AA. Soak up the sanity that our counselors offer. Lie down in detox and take the medicine they give to get you over the first big hump. Then make your way into rehab where you don’t have to be in charge any more. You don’t have to have all the answers. You can be a patient instead of a doctor, be a student instead of teacher.
We are all students and we are all patients from time to time. Become a student now and it will save your future and bless the family you have possibly violated and neglected at best.
The 12 steps are designed to relieve that very guilt. AA & NA are designed for the insane addict (as I was) who continues to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. The steps if we take action and do them will show us how and empower us to see our innocence rather than our guilt.
Give Us Drama or Give us Death shout the recovering addicts!
Honesty Open-mindedness & Willingness to learn and change is where emotional sobriety stems from. And what is drama except the opposite of emotional sobriety? Come on! “We are not saints” (BB) don’t post that Bible bullshit! However I will post this scripture from the King James Version of the Bible for learning purposes only. These beautiful words of Jesus back up my point in concise poetic word structure. Please bear with me I will also translate my point into an AA cliche. Mathew 12:37. “For “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”
Luke 6:44 A tree is known by its fruit.
But we are in AA we believe our own quotes and cliches!
AA Cliche #552
“Believe who people show you they are not who they tell you they are.”
What will you and your friends be having for your “daily bread” (celestial nourishment is one Greek translation) today? asks the waitress at the coffee house.
“Please waitress may I have a pound of lies, a side order of dramatic chaos in a gravy of screaming and yelling, and five pieces of entitlement with some toasted blame? And please three strips of self-pity make it crispy. For desert I will be having some sex with strings attached because I am not responsible for my choices [they] are and [they] owe me if I give them sex!”
Ouch! That makes it pretty plain that drama is a seductive and sometimes tasty dish. However it is counter-productive to our personal emotional growth in recovery.
What are steps four through nine really about if not changing our blame filled dramatic lives into peaceful lives in which we take full responsibility for our actions? But how do we stop the drama?
First we must work the steps and practice restraint of pen, tongue, and keyboard strokes. We must realize that we really will miss the drama; it filled a void in our lives as sick as it was. We must replace the drama with healthy activities and loving responses. We must rely on our Higher Power to help us accept the things we have no power over (mainly other people) and let ourselves be molded into different people.
We pray the serenity prayer each time the temptation to attack or defend rears its head. We call our sponsors and vent hoping and sometimes knowing they will not gossip about our issues.
Venting is absolutely vital for us to change. We must be aware that we cannot stuff down every negative emotion that rises up in us and deny that our feelings exist. Our hearts need badly to be expressed. Venting with a neutral party about other people is not gossip. On the contrary rather it keeps us woman sane. However when venting becomes minutes upon hours of criticisms and character assassinations it has surpassed the criteria for healthy venting and turned into soul sucking emotional vampirism.
In social situations if we become angry we can walk away and discuss any pertinent issues we may have with our fellows when our emotions have settled down rather than having to talk things out when we are highly and emotionally triggered. We respectfully tell anyone who wants to argue with us just that. That we must respectfully withdraw from the conversation until our emotions have settled. We do not want to pile up more situations that we have to make amends for. We have enough Ninth step work to do without creating more offenses.
And so we learn to vent with a neutral party when we are highly agitated or hurt. We share with a person who can and will relate to us not shut us down emotionally. We practice restraint of pen and tongue and we do not repress and deny feelings that do rise up in us by labeling them “bad” and denying we are human and emotional creatures.
We are on the road to drama free lives by creating healthy emotions in us. We are learning to share our feelings rather than letting them come out sideways by verbally attacking our fellows.