WHY PEOPLE RUN FROM A.A.

        

AA IS A PROGRAM OF ATTRACTION RATHER THAN PROMOTION

IF WE WANT TO STAY SOBER WE MUST BE WILLING TO BECOME TEACHABLE

Why would people who need help so badly run from the very program that has helped so many with the same malady? Without the ingredient of ‘desperation’ the alcoholic addict will try anything except giving up and signing over power to a sponsor and A.A.
What would keep me from being teachable?
1. FALSE PRIDE AND SHAME-, False pride tells me that if I don’t know literally EVERYTHING then I am stupid, wrong, and bad. False pride says that only the most brilliant people are qualified to teach me anything. Working the steps and getting a sponsor curtails the lies my psyche is telling me to keep me sick.
2. . TRUST ISSUES Clearly I can’t get a sponsor because everyone is out to get me. The world revolves around my belly button therefore the world wants to know my fifth step and if I get a sponsor, he will sell tickets to the opening night show. “Mickey’s Fifth Step on Parade”. Yikes! However, realize this; there are only so many deadly sins. Seven to be exact. Most people’s step five are pretty much the same…boring sex, wrath, thieving, and the like.
3. FEAR OF COMMITMENT Omg! In my past addiction I made so many appointments that I could not keep. I am now gun-shy of commitment. I use words like ‘maybe’, ‘probably’, ‘most likely’ but never ‘yes I will be there’. Commitment is hard for me because of my past failures to keep them. The good news is now I am so desperate to get sober that I WILL KEEP MY APPOINTMENTS WITH MY SPONSOR NO MATTER WHAT. In addition, by doing that I am walking through the fear and building my self-worth. I am working the good principles and that magically feeds recovery to my soul.
4. FEAR OF BEING CONTROLLED BY OTHERS I used to hand over power to my partners to make them feel good so I could get what I wanted from them. After they made my choices for me (so I would not have to fear the outcome), they would put me on a time clock. Where are you going? What time will you be back? Whom are you going with? etc., etc. After a while, I would snatch back the power I had turned over. My codependent dance partner would then suffer from intense anger and lash out at me as if I had done something terrible. Won’t a sponsor do the same thing? Won’t the same sick dance take place? Fortunately not. Sponsors know we only suggest, we do not control our sponcees. We suggest to them what worked for us. It is my choice whether I do what is suggested therefore I reap the good consequences of my new actions.
5. ‘FEAR OF RELIGION’ . Religion told me that I am bad and going to Hell. I believed it. I was young and innocent yet they told me of a place of suffering and despair. Moreover, since I was bad, spilled my milk, and made an F on my report card they said I would surely be sent to the lowest pit in the underground skyscraper called “Hell”. I cannot bear to be terrorized by religious views anymore. AA must not be religious, we are a spiritual program. Step 11 proves that we are a spiritual not religious program of choice. There is no Hell in our Big Book.
6. THE FEELING I AM GOING TO LOSE SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT TO ME. My addict is scared to death of not having the drugs that worked to suppress my fears and emotional pain for so long. NOW MY DOPE HAS STOPPED WORKING. I have hit a brick wall. I drank and drugged repeatedly so many times I nearly killed myself. Therefore, I walk through the fear and distrust. I muddle though the past betrayal, I walk in the rooms, shrouded in shame and I say with all my heart; I am Mickey and I want to change, I can’t go on like I am, please show and teach me how to recover.

     HERE ARE THE NINTH STEP PROMISES THAT DO COME TRUE WHEN WE WORK THE STEPS HONESTLY AND THOROUGHLY   

   THE NINTH STEP PROMISES

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises?  We think not.  They are being fulfilled among us____sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will always materialize if we work for them.

 

Read a similar article by Martha Lockie)

Sober Relationships (part 2) A Man’s Perspective

Relationships and Early Recovery by Fred Hundt

 

When I came into recovery, carried into the Psych Ward for my threats against myself and others, I felt as alone as I’d ever been in my life.  My girlfriend was done with me, I’d alienated most of my friends and my main relationship problem was that I didn’t have any.  I had to face the fact that, for the first time in my life, no one was going to “rescue” me.  I had to face my addiction and my demons and I needed to accept help honestly rather than manipulating people and situations.

 

In early sobriety I heard the AA maxim of not getting into a new relationship for at least a year.  I didn’t understand it then, but listened to my sponsor’s advice to take things slowly, earning my way back into my girlfriend’s life with my behaviors, not promises.  He also warned me against turning meeting camaraderie with women in the program into anything more. 

 

Looking back, I’m grateful for the AA approach and my sponsor’s “Easy Does It” advice.  In early sobriety I needed to build a relationship with me.  I’d been avoiding myself through alcohol for years.  I had to learn to face myself, spend time with myself and, eventually, even begin to like myself.  I also needed to build a close working relationship with my Higher Power.  I learned to talk to my HP through daily prayer, to connect through meditation and to listen to the quiet voice of Spirit within.  Building those two relationships was a full time job…I couldn’t have given them the attention they needed if I had been involved in a romantic relationship.

 

I watch newcomers in the rooms get involved in relationships and I see the roller coaster rides they take.  I remember that in my early sobriety I needed less drama, not more.  I’d had plenty of it in my last few drinking years.  I needed the calm and quiet of those months to learn about serenity and how to achieve and maintain it in my life.

 

Part of what I realized about myself in early recovery is that I was a “taker,” not a “giver.”  As much as I tried to wrap my behavior in noble motives, I had always looked at relationships entirely from the point of view of what I could get from them.  I always expected that the “next” woman would save me, would make things all right.  When that didn’t happen, I pulled away.  I usually didn’t even have the courage to break up.  I would just make myself emotionally unavailable until she broke up with me.  That allowed me to play the victim or the martyr.  I didn’t know how to have an honest relationship!  If I had pursued a new relationship in early recovery, I’m certain that I would have defaulted back to my old behavior.  Falling back in the part of my life would have risked relapse, too.

 

Over months (and years) of sobriety, parts of the program began to sink in.  I began to learn humility and thought of myself less.  I began to focus on how I could serve others without expecting anything in return.  I learned that I could be honest with my Higher Power and with the people in my life.  Today I have a wonderful relationship with the woman who had “written me off” that night I went to the Psych Ward.  I’m grateful each day for the opportunity to serve her and for the simple joy it brings me.  I can’t give anyone else relationship advice, but can share that the AA program has worked for me in this and all areas of my life.

Emotional Healing

Therapeutic Healing

I let all my secrets out of the bag with my first sponsor who is now passed away.  She was a counselor at Bridge House who by no coincidence helped me and several other women learn how to heal from grave emotional disorder and addictions. 

We are all still sober today that was in 2006.  I remember one of the counselors was talking to me.  I was sharing my horrific past with him and all the tie I told him of my tragedies I had a twisted smile on my face which was helping me to NOT FEEL the emotion attached to the stories.  It was my safety net I would not feel my past!  He looked at me and said “Lori what you are telling me is traumatic and yet you are smiling”.  At that moment all of my feelings connected back to my body.  I was no longer cold as stone separated from my real life.  When I finally allowed my feelings to re-attach themselves to me I was able to start processing my past.  Things that I should have cried and wailed over but didn’t were making me sick.  Prior to that I had gone to a woman’s meeting where all the woman cried and felt their pain.  I was stone cold, I walked out of that women s group and told my soon to be sponsor/counselor that ‘I had no business in that women s group

BECAUSE I HAD NO EMOTIONAL PAIN” and at the time I really believed it, that was how deep in emotional denial I was.  But my feelings buried and festering were coming out sideways in hate, resentment, and self-loathing.  I was buried alive in guilt and shame.  I used to turn red with shame regularly.  I was so deep in shame that I had a cancerous tumor grow in my leg till finally it was surgically removed in 2000.  My counselor told me that people that take out their pain on others by yelling at them and attacking verbally and wrathful people have heart attacks and people that repress their emotions and bury their pain get cancer..  That was me.  Since then I have learned how to let it all out.  I spent years processing by crying, screaming in my car (not at people like I mentioned) When I wailed and moaned guttural sounds little by little the grave emotions left my body.  We were taught to do that in therapy.  the first time I heard one of the girls do the guttural sounds it made me very uncomfortable.  I felt shocked that it was somehow wrong and she was absolutely insane.  But she had been in group longer than me and showed me how to save my life emotionally.  Moaning hurts no one. It’s a natural process when we get sober that the past resurfaces in us from deep in our bowels.  We ask ourselves “what’s wrong with me why do I feel like I lost my best friend yet nothing bad has happened?”  I was told that I need to cry about the intense events in the past that I never allowed myself to feel.

Doing a through fourth step accompanied with daily prayer and step eleven meditation goes hand in hand with therapy and therapeutic exercises.  I didn’t make this stuff up it was given to me as solutions to anxiety attack, panic attacks, fear and shame

AA “Get In The Middle Of The Boat”

They say in AA to “Get in the middle of the boat” if you want to get and stay sober.

 

  

Important suggestions for early sobriety.The first thing we should do is put ourselves out there in a meeting.  Introduce ourselves as a newcomer and share our fears, feelings, and any other struggles we are having.  This will attract people to us and make us approachable.  We must get to know people.    Just what and where is the middle of the boat.  Firstly we go to 90 meeting in 90 days that way we will establish some new relationships with sober people…soooo important.  We need to find out who and how people are staying sober. We should join a “home group” for sure, it’s important to feel “a part of”.  After all we have earned our seat in the rooms of AA and NA by our history, we have been in a war with ourselves that has not been easy…it is time to surrender to our hearts call. 

I believe there are spiritual windows in time that make it easier for us to stay sober within a certain starting point…as if it were a spiritual call.  Trying to get sober without that spiritual window things just don’t “click” like they do when the window is open.  Don’t worry you will feel it when it happens.  For instance I got sober and arrested on Good Friday in 2006 which also fell on Easter weekend.    I must say many times people that stay sober for years and years have a sobriety date that is either a holiday or some kind of special date.  Just a little factoid.  People stay sober, the program works regardless of the date in time.  Do not be discouraged.

Secondly after a few months of exposure we should get a sponsor start working the steps.  Also we should make a commitment to one of the activities that AA-ers do like chair a meeting once a week or speak at a jail or institution.  None of these commitments will feel natural. Oh contraire it will feel uncomfortable but you will be growing both emotionally and spiritually because of it.  Taking meetings into detox is the easiest place to begin with to share your experience of how sobriety is for you.  When we see those sick and suffering addicts in detox it works like magic to keep us sober.  It makes us remember all too well what it was like and we realize how far we have come.  We addicts in recovery usually need reminding that we are doing well.

After 6 months of sobriety and a completion of working the 12 steps we should definitely volunteer to sponsor newcomers.  This process happens very quickly.  Don’t worry too much if you are on probation, I have found that probation actually helps build a structured life in the beginning of sobriety and gives us something to focus on odd as that may sound.  Not to mention the drop tests aid in keeping us sober.  Sobriety is not for sissies it is a challenge that we can meet with hope.  One day at a time.

Step Five of Alcoholics Anonymous (2)

Topics: Fear Not, Step three and Step Five of Alcoholics Anonymous

HELP LINE

Suicide rate statistics among addicts.

“Fear not” is easier said than done. We need to learn the 12 step tools and especially invoke step three to keep fear at bay. There is no shame in revisiting a third step to remind us that God has our back! One of the first things we do when beginning our walk in sober school is identify, seek, and find a Higher Power.  Step five in the Big Book is the magic step that alleviates our guilt & shame but make no mistake, it is not a one-time job!  Unless of coarse your perfect or sociopath.

 

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  “
They say that the most used phrase in the Bible is “fear not”

 

The psychological make-up of an addict

Many of us when we were very small children were often told by parents that we had nothing to be afraid of when we expressed our intense child-like fears. Unfortunately during our forthright expression of true feelings our parents often implied by their lack of empathy and understanding that our fears were not only unfounded but ridiculous and perhaps absurd. These adults knew no better. 

Parents do not usually know that some validation of our feelings along with comfort and logic was necessary for our emotional health. Therefore our intense little feelings were invalidated, we felt “wrong” for being afraid.   After-all our parents knew best how we should feel so our fears must be wrong.  But instead of that making our fears go away it motivated us to hide our fears for shame.  My parents used shame to control me.  They used shame to oppress me and steal my dreams and hopes.

What’s worse once we got to pre and elementary school we found out just what kind of people express their fears openly. We learned about the scaredy-cats, the chicken-shits, the pussies and the yellow-bellies. We learned that people who express any form of fear will be ostracized greatly by their fellows and friends.   We must be bad we must be wrong!

And so we learned to stuff down those big fears into our guts, we learned to act, and we learned to put on the mask of fearlessness.   No-one would call us cry-baby again!  Ever!  We learned, even…to shut off our tears.  Showing any kind of hurt emotional or physical would label us weak.  So we turned our hurts to anger.  Who could blame us…we didn’t want to be labelled by everyone.  Between our parents and our school-mates we were really left with very few people if any in whom we could confide our true feelings so we could let them out. 

Most of us women in addiction were sexually abused as children.  We hid the feelings from that away as well…deep in our bowels lie the pain and hurt of a wounded, neglected, and abused child.  We did not trust that our feelings were right therefore we could not trust our parents to tell them what happened…or maybe our parents are the culprits of the abuse.  Either way we had no adult to confide with about the abuse and the feelings of self-loathing that resulted from it.

AND SO GOES THE STORY OF THE TYPICAL ADDICTS EMOTIONS…expression of feelings was off the table so what would we do with all those feelings inside us that were ready & able to cause an explosion of wrath.  We usually weren’t cruel people we didn’t want to take out our feelings on others so we beat ourselves up for being who we were.

We developed a voice in our head that screamed at us for things we said and did and things we didn’t say and do.  We became our own worst enemy. 

The self-hate, the anxiety, and the depression that we felt had to stop! 

SO WE MEDICATED!  After-all the last thing we would do is confide in someone so they could turn around and use it against us!

Ohhhh how the drugs worked, ohhhh how they made us feel better…for a while anyway!

Robin Williams-an addict in recovery hung himself today.  Why would anyone with all that money, in the program, sober for quite some time want to kill himself?

“Our liquor was but a symptom, so we had to get down to causes and conditions.”

I have a friend who is a therapist and in 12 step recovery.  He loves both programs.  But he has quoted me shocking numbers of addicts/alcoholics in a 12 step program who have committed suicide.  The statistics are staggering.  What you will find behind the statistics is an ability to express and share negative feelings. .  My friend insists that all his sponcees do regular fifth-steps in meetings by telling “WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW IT MADE ME FEEL.” 

FEELINGS ARE NOT AN OUTSIDE ISSUE, THE SOLUTIONS DO NOT LIE IN SHUTTING DOWN OUR FEELINGS AND PRETENDING THEY DON’T EXIST.

“WE ARE AS SICK AS OUR SECRETS”

WE MUST FIND AT LEAST ONE PERSON WE CAN TELL ANYTHING TO.

IN THE U.S. SUICIDE STATISTICS FAR OUTWEIGH OTHER COUNTRIES.

 

The solutions to anxiety and depression are simple but not easy.  You can find them on my website:

https://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com

 

Fear of people will leave us, Ninth Step Promises

STEP ONE OF AA

NINTH STEP PROMISES

“THE FEAR OF PEOPLE WILL LEAVE US”

When I first got sober & clean I was emotionally numb. I had separated myself from my feelings. I was dragging them behind me like a dead rag doll so full of pain, hurt and fear that my ego refused to own.  I rejected my own truths, I white-washed my fears with my shallow tough-girl persona.  I denied every deep and precious pain I ever felt.  I refused to be myself instead I made up a false identity who was socially acceptable in my eyes.  I had to create this other person because my true identity was weak, bad, ugly , and wrong in my eyes.  That’s what I was taught in my formidable years and that’s what I believed.   I laughed when I was nervous. I smiled as I told my new recovery counselor about my near death experiences during addiction.

But wait! Why did I smile when I recalled the tragic events of my life? I refused to feel because feeling is what scared me the most. Sharing my true feelings was a vulnerability I would not chance! Why would I?  Every time I showed my true self I was cut down at the knees.  My vicious older sister made certain of that.  My parents were not evil but they knew nothing about emotional nurturing.  So I laughed at my pain.  But no, WAIT!  To recover I had to make myself vulnerable. I had to tell someone my true feelings and who I was to release the pain that my poor inner child was lugging around behind me…me the ego self, me the tough girl.  I had a bucket full of sick emotional survival skills that took no account of hurting others.  I could blame every failure every wrong and dishonest deed on the beast of burden of my choice.   And usually that meant a boyfriend or a husband.  If I didn’t make my own choices then I wasn’t responsible for the outcome.

When I got sober at first the only feeling I knew was intense fear of facing life and other people without my drugs. I was completely out of touch with my true inner feelings and inner-man. I was walking around in-body with my soul and emotions dragging behind me like carrying a rag-doll by her hair that drags behind me on the floor. I remember telling my counselor after attending a women’s issues group that I didn’t belong in that group. All the women were crying and talking about their pain while I was numb…completely numb and I really thought I had no emotional pain. Little did I know I had a boatload of pain it was just…I had separated myself from it.

I remember one day in therapy telling a horrific story to a counselor about a traumatic event in my life and I held a protective smile on my face subconsciously thinking to myself…”I refuse to feel what I am talking about”. The counselor said to me “Laura why are you smiling?  That is a tragic event you are telling me about.” At that very moment my soul re-connected with my body along with all my baggage and feelings.   The rag-doll and all she carried came crashing down in an epiphany of just how terrible things had really been.

My heart at that moment began to thaw out.  But still, it took months before I was able to cry, really let it out.  I had froze myself up so well when the tears finally came they didn’t stop for, well I think I cried for about two years regularly, every time I was alone in my car.  I didn’t know that crying is a healthy emotion.  I didn’t know that feelings are to be honored and felt and then released.  Denying my feelings and repressing them made me sick and full of wrath.  But finally I was able to cry that poison out of my soul.

Acknowledging my feelings was the first step in my recovery. That was the beginning of my healing from “grave emotional disorder”. Nine years later….I have learned how to become and stay healthy emotionally and it took the 12 steps….a year of therapy…and regular spiritual maintenance.  Coupled with fellowship & meetings to get better.

Ninth Step Promises

Ninth Step Promises click

 

The program does work.  Fear of people and what they think of us will leave us.   If we work the steps and do plenty of step twelve service work.  If we bring meetings into jails and institutions, chair meetings, and work on our core issues and underlying causes.  Furthermore if we build a relationship with our Higher Power and  do a thorough fourth step we will get not only a psychic change but also a spiritual experience that will help us to rely on God rather than mankind for what we need emotionally and spiritually.

“Fear  of people will leave us” is a quote from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is written under the “Step Nine”  heading in the “Into Action” chapter and considered one of the “Ninth Step Promises”.

This link is to the Twelve & Twelve Step Nine:

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step9.pdf   twelve and twelve step nine

In the Big Book step nine is on page 76  and starts in the middle of the page.  The ninth step promises are on page 83 starting at the bottom of the page.

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt6.pdfNinth Step Promises

 

*********************************************************

THE NINTH STEP PROMISES

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises?  We think not.  They are being fulfilled among us____sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will always materialize if we work for them.

*****************************************************

 

 

I believe that when Bill W. wrote “Fear of people will leave us” in The Big Book under the Ninth Step, what he actually meant was, “fear of what people think of us will leave us.”   

Alcoholics and addicts when in their addiction and early recovery tend to be nervous around other people.  Alcoholics have anxiety attacks, they have the desire to isolate and steer clear of other people often. 

All these symptoms show a fear of being around other people.  But not because they are afraid of being robbed or attacked.  These fearful behaviors stem from our own insecurities and self-loathing.  We addicts often simply feel like other people are better than us.  We are afraid of being judged by others.  We fear getting close to people because they may hurt us emotionally.   We don’t want to set ourselves up for another emotional loss so we reject human interaction and relationships all together.  

We often feel (subconsciously) that if people get to know us they won’t like us much because… bottom line…after years of going against what our own conscience says to us we don’t like ourselves much so how could anyone else like us…we think.   Many times in meetings and around A.A. people will say “I don’t care what people think of me” usually we, say this as a defensive measure to make ourselves look better to  others, as if it is weak and socially shameful to care what others think of us.   

However, caring what people think of us is an emotionally balanced social human trait. So many recovering addicts and people in general say they don’t care what others think of them, yet their actions prove otherwise.   Contrary to what most people in recovery so defensively state, I believe people DO care about what others think and say about them.  Of course that healthy caring can be taken to an extreme and turn into fear of what people think of us.  That’s where lying, dishonesty, faking this and pretending that come into play.  Vanity and false pride are character flaws driven by fear of what people will think of us.

 

It seems like addicts don’t know it’s OK, NOT WEAK to care and it’s normal socially to want to be liked and admired.  Seems some have an inability in their minds to distinguish between fear and healthy concern. Caring is not a bad thing and its human nature to want to dress nice and look good to our fellows.

 

People generally love to be the best at things, be the smartest, the fastest, and be a winner so they can feel good about themselves and look good to others.  Certainly if we were repeatedly taught as children that we are bad and wrong and received little if any parental validation of our feelings and ideas we will carry a low self-identity with us until it is reamed out by either therapy or spirituality.  Until that self-image is changed we will be hyper-sensitive to any perceived criticisms.  And unfortunately once a self-image is burned to our psyche it can’t be removed easily.  Just knowing that our self-image is inaccurate won’t change it.

 

Personally it does concern me when people dislike me or accuse me but I must put it in perspective.  Firstly, I ask myself if the accusation is true.  Then I delve into trying to understand the motivation behind the accusation.  When I understand the accusers reasoning it helps me accept their views.  If their opinion sticks in my craw too long and a resentment grows in me I will pray blessings upon them until I forget about it…works great!

 

Yes I care what people think!  I am not ashamed to admit it.  My admission of care does not make me a weak person, actually it shows I am self-assured enough to not fear appearing weak by that admission. 

  In other words, if someone is overstating the fact that they don’t care what others think of them you can pretty much bet that they’re healthy social caring has morphed into a fearful self-consciousness of what other people think of them.