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
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.
Sanity step two and relationships
Heavenly Father, I know in my heart that only You can restore me to sanity. I humbly ask that You remove all twisted thought and addictive behavior from me this day. Heal my spirit and restore in me a clear mind.
Overcoming Fear the human condition from which all addictions spring
“Let no man condemn himself; for it is by self-condemnation that we set ourselves above God who is our only True & Righteous Judge. For it is He & He alone who possesses a capacity for the unconditional Grace and Love which mankind’s collective soul so desperately needs to survive the deceptive throngs that encompass death and the grave?”
It is written that the fear of death is the mother of all fears and from it springs all manner of worry, fear, and anxiety and so we engage the great struggle to defeat these feelings.
We can quickly destroy all our loving relationships due to natural knee-jerk reactions that fend off fear and the feelings that fear creates. Some deadly knee-jerk solutions are blame, criticisms, hate, playing the victim or the oppressor anything that relates to putting down and condemning others to make ourselves feel better if even just for a short while. There is no shortage of people to condemn including ourselves. In the meantime we lose what our hearts really need and crave…to Love and to be Loved, to comfort and to be comforted, to understand and to be understood, to follow our conscience and to live guilt-free.
“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 common phrase in the Bible is “fear not”. Some say it is written in the Bible 365 times once for each day of the year. Staying in faith and trusting in God is easier said than done. Things happen that strike fear in us, fear of loss, fear of losing control of a situation, fear of sickness and death, fear that people will not like us or will desert and abandon us. It is said in the rooms of AA that people most commonly have fears associated with these three things. Sex, Society, and Security.
Firstly we often fear losing our partners, boyfriends, and husbands. Second we fear losing our “status” in our society of peers. Thirdly we fear losing our homes, jobs, money, and car. The feelings that fear produces is at the core of addiction and codependency so we must find solutions to gnawing and torturous feelings.
When we are well grounded in our Higher Power by exercising regular prayer, meditation, meetings, and service work we not only receive fulfillment by that charity but we also have less reason to fear because our faith has been exercised and strengthened by regular communing with God. We must get our [daily bread], our spiritual feeding to continue trusting God and to repel fear.
When we pray and meditate yet find that our lives and minds are still full of discord, animosity, worrying, anxiety, and stress then there is more we can do.
“Out of the problem into the solution!” We write down our fears in a list, we look it over and realize we lack trust in our Higher Power. We then courageously ask God to help us to trust Him/Her/It and if our religion requires we repent. We remember our second step and the insanity that God has delivered us from. Sometimes the insanity of a second step returns if we are not active with living these steps. We remember that beating ourselves up is counterproductive and not a solution to anything. We revisit our Third step and remember that we have put our life and will into Gods caring hands so everything will be ok if we do our part. Have we done a formal and thorough fourth step if so; do we have any new active resentment? If so, we do a proper fourth step and ask ourselves what our fear is behind the resentment. Have we completed our amends by either apologizing or giving back what we have stolen? We do not gravel or expect any certain reaction from the persons with whom we make amends. We can’t make them feel better by amends but we will feel better by it no matter their response. If we still resent anyone we have worked a fourth step on we pray blessings upon them daily until we forget about it and the resentment is gone.
By these steps which include God we learn to Love ourselves and others. By these steps we replace our old survival skills of blame and all its cohorts with healthy and loving coping skills based in truth, honesty, righteousness, Love and compassion. We replace character defects with good character. In this text on a day by day basis I will explain the why’s and how’s of working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which can apply to any addiction including the addictions called drama, self-hate, and co-da.
During the first year of my recovery I had the opportunity to be in an addictions therapy group. During therapy I learned that there is no wrong feeling and that I must believe this in order to accept myself. For when I label my feelings “wrong” or “bad” I label myself and my own God given heart wrong and bad. Terms like; “I shouldn’t feel this way” or “but there’s nothing to be afraid of” are no longer in my vocabulary because there is always a valid reason for the way I/we feel. Even if that reason comes from years prior or is physiological there is always but always a valid reason for the way our hearts feel.
We are not bad or wrong ever by the way we feel. Usually if our emotions get “stuck” in us and we hurt and fear seemingly endlessly it is because no one has taught us how to process our feelings. They certainly didn’t teach it in school even though teaching a healthy emotional process should have been at the top of the curriculum. Actions and reactions are the only things that can ever be wrong or bad. I have found solutions to the feelings that I don’t like and have learned that some feelings just take time to walk through and that I need not let them paralyze me anymore. I have learned that feelings are “right” and appropriate yet sometimes unpleasant such as grieving a death or fear of a situation that’s new and different. In this book along with the 12 steps I will teach emotional processes to help let go of anger, rage, hurt, disgust, and the rest of the fear based emotions that we feel. I will share with you what has worked for me during my eight years of recovery from my two devastating bottoms which did include incomprehensible demoralization like the Big Book addresses.
Staying Sober, The Same Things I did to stay sober nine years ago I do to keep me sober today.
Is anyone having a hard time staying sober today, we in Alcoholics Anonymous ask?
THE SAME THINGS I DID TO STAY SOBER NINE YEARS AGO I DO TO KEEP ME SOBER TODAY. TEMPTATION STRIKES AT NINE YEARS SOBER! DOES THAT MEAN MY SOBRIETY IS NOT QUALITY SOBRIETY?
I used to love to drink the frothy brown head on the top of a cold Amber Bock or Dark Heineken beer. I preferred my beer nearly frozen. I would chug down the first one till I remember getting a warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then I felt the alcohol coarse through my veins almost like a shot of heroin straight into my blood stream. I would sit around with my friends connecting on a level that made me feel brotherhood and a sense of belonging. I had found my place in life and it took alcohol to get me there.
So when I walked to my neighbor’s house yesterday to pick up my little dog I was a bit taken by the ice cold cooler full of Amber Bock and the fellowship that I found. At nine years sober I must admit my mind went to a place where I asked myself, “Can I safely drink? After all I am a different person now.” When they kindly offered me a beer I laughed and told them that I quit nine years prior and that drinking got me in trouble. They laughed and said, “We thought that was the whole reason TO drink….to get in trouble that is”. I kindly laughed-back enjoying the prospect of being enabled by alcohol to do the things that my pesky conscience wouldn’t allow. And is that the “why” behind the wealthy man’s reason to drink as well as the poor man’s? Who knows? All I could remember were the good times and that’s ok temporarily that is. I did have some good memories of drinking and met some wonderful people.
The counselors at Bridge house Rehab gave us a little sobriety tool called “play it through”. This tool, if you really do want to be free from the miseries drinking brings, works. It works for me and it works for those I got sober with back in 2006 who are still around.
My brain’s travelling neurons then took an abrupt turn into an exit ramp and caught my pain-staking-ly built sobriety bridge. By doing the “next right thing” and by God’s grace I have built a bridge over the carved out and well used roads in my brain labelled “This way to Hell”. After nine years of recovery my minds neurons have learned to travel on the well-lit highways or “neural-pathways” of sobriety. And what did I find on my well lit road leading me away from the Hell that I have had enough of? You guessed it, I found awareness. I recovered the memories of the hangovers, the regrets, the wrongs I committed, and my destructive actions. I found memories of throwing up, of waking up so thirsty from a black-out that was so deep it could only have been induced by poisoning my brain. I remembered crashing my vehicles, and the regret of sleeping with countless men just so I could feel I had some value. I remembered the jails. I remembered my moral compass and self-esteem being crushed even further into the dirt. I remembered doing the things that a hurt child of God does while just trying to make sense of a young life filled with betrayal, evil, hurt and pain. And so I knew then as I sat on my neighbor’s porch that drinking was not my choice, not today and hopefully never again.
SO IS MY SOBRIETY QUALITY? I DIDN’T DRINK, I USED THE TOOLS, I DIDN’T DISRESPECT OR JUDGE MY DRINKING NEIGHBORS, I AM NOT ASHAMED OF WHO I AM AND MY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. QUALITY SOBRIETY HAS MANY FACES INCLUDING A FACE OF PAIN. BUT THROUGH IT ALL IT HAS A FACE THAT HAS EYES TO SEE PAST THE EVIL INTO THE GOOD. YOU BE THE JUDGE.
SELF ESTEEM IS BUILT BY TAKING ESTEEM-ABLE ACTION
One thing sure that will put a human-being in defensive character-defect mode is having low self-worth. One thing sure that will cause us to put on a mask of deceit, beat ourselves up psychologically, and fear (not care) what people think of us is if we think we are just not good enough as people. A negative mind-set makes us think everyone else is better than us so therefore subconsciously we reason-out that we had better start some defensive maneuvers to fix the way we are looking at us. And these maneuvers are usually not the kind that really do work to raise our self-worth. Things like anger, criticism, lashing out, looking for the negatives in other people and lesser addictions. That’s how the “ego” usually copes with low self-worth in recovery and along the way we lose any chance of filling our lives with joy, Love, and true self-worth.
Furthermore even if we have worked the steps several times we can still slip back into a low self-worth mindset because we had lived with that thinking for so long before we got sober. Our neural-pathways were set and even though we have built a recovery-bridge of healthy neural-pathways over the sick ones sometimes our thinking falls off the new bridge onto the one below and goes into a path of destructive and negative thought. Not to say we want to drink or drug…no, we no longer see drinking & drugging as a solution to anything. We have worked the steps but God did not render us defect-free nor does he take away our free-will.
So what can we do to boost our self-worth? Step twelve…chair a meeting as the “facilitator” not the controller. A facilitator serves the group not himself. We can share from our heart what God and AA has done for us with newcomers. If we share from our ego or to control others it will not work like sharing the naked and humble truth from our heart of hearts. We can do some work, clean the house, wash the car, get some tasks done that we have procrastinated about finishing for a long time.
We can do some Step Eleven meditation and prayer and be sure to speak to our Higher Power straight from our heart about our issues and give thanks.
Before we pray and meditate to God we should consider if we have left any amends undone. We should get right with our neighbors and then commune with our Higher Power.
We can confess in a meeting (step five) how we feel. We should say that we have been speaking to ourselves in an unkind way and that we have been driven under the common addictive delusion that if we beat our self up enough we will somehow get more good things done when really it’s counterproductive to run ourselves down in our minds. Fifth step confessions like this cut false pride to the quick and leave the destructive ego lying on the floor of the room.
If we are well-off financially then we can give to a charity or one of those guys in the median standing with a “please help” sign. Especially if we usually judge those guys harshly, giving to them in spite of negative feelings toward them will cut the character defect of greed, & harsh judgments to the quick. Furthermore we do not have enough information to fairly judge anyone in such a way as condemnation dictates. We don’t know what people have been through in their lives. They may be planted on the median by God just so people have the chance to give and in turn get blessed (Jesus was clear that it is more blessed to give than receive) (Acts 20:35) or alternatively to judge the homeless guys harshly and in turn be judged. (For whatever yardstick you use to judge your brother it in turn will be used to judge you.) Mt.7.2
Unfortunately allot of money has a way of making us feel secure, empowered, and better than those without it (not always of course) therefore we tend to want more just so we can get more or, keep those nice feelings we get when we increase our holdings. Jesus also said it’s harder for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God than for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle. (Mt.19:24)
OUT OF THE PROBLEM INTO THE SOLUTION!
STEP 5 AA
STEP FIVE-There is a huge difference between the healthy emotional processes of steps 4 & 5 versus struggling for unattainable perfection, failing to live up to it then relentlessly beating ourselves to a pulp in our heart and mind for our guilt.
It is flawed thinking to surmise that somehow if we flog ourselves enough for our perceived imperfection THEN we will be good and acceptable to our Lord and our fellows. The pure and anointed process God has set down to relieve our guilt by confession (or fifth step as we label it in AA) works famously to relieve self-hate. The trouble is most self-haters don’t realize that it is themselves that they hate. Because of our ability to survive emotionally we put blame quickly into action. Then it becomes the world’s fault that we are miserable. Oh well….no not “oh well”, this emotional survival process that so many of us humans engage in of blinding our self-awareness is at the core of every sick murderous and violent act against mankind that we can imagine. Plainly said, blame is at the core of our worlds straying from Love.WE, THE CHILDREN OF A CREATOR ABSOLUTELY DO NOT HAVE THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO CONDEMN OR PUNISH OURSELVES or anyone else. The decision to punish or not to punish lies in the realm of our Higher Power and the law. Furthermore it is a common and subconscious illusion that self-abuse will render us pure and perfect…probably rooted in childhood punishments. Interestingly my spiritual teacher whom was a missionary, a reverend, a grandmother, and a friend once informed me that “there is a counterfeit for every spiritual principal in existence on our Earth”. Surely our former destructive methods of cleansing ourselves by self-abuse (even when it is done subconsciously) is surely the counterfeit of the pure and enlightening act of confession or “Step Five”. And if your a religious human who prays often. Do not be fooled by merely confessing all your wrongs to God and leaving out the “human” angle. There will be little humility gained by confessing faults only to God. This keeps false pride and sick secrets snugly in place in our hearts. Confessing to a human and God are both vital to recovery.
STEP ONE, SPONSORSHIP, THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
A sponsor is a person who has completed working the 12 steps and now teaches others to work them. One common first step assignment is to read “How it Works” and “The Doctors Opinion” in the Big Book of AA. Another assignment is to write five examples of powerlessness over alcohol or drugs in our own lives. And so we have begun the journey of recovery with a sponsor who has managed to stay sober themselves. What this first assignment does is brings our addiction into the light by listing our powerlessness it keeps us from forgetting we are addicts and prevents us from lying to ourselves by saying…”Yes I can drink responsibly…this time.”
The Doctors opinion shows us that we are definitely not alone and we are not the only ones who have experience the powerlessness of addiction. Powerlessness and the “insanity” of addiction are hard to differentiate between. All powerlessness associated with addiction is insanity but not all inanity exhibits powerlessness.I promised myself I would only have one drink however I woke up after a three day bender asking myself “What in the hell happened?” I promised myself I would never drink or drug again but I did it anyway. I promised myself I would never hurt my loved ones by my addiction yet, again I stole money from my daughter’s piggy bank to buy crack. Ouch! That is serious powerlessness.
Premeditated and guiltless thievery to support my addiction is insane but it is not a show of powerlessness. Accusing my ex-husband of being the reason that I drink and drug because of the way he treats me is insanity but it is not powerlessness. Good luck with your step work!
When we write our examples of powerlessness we should write also how it made us feel. The thing is we addicts usually want to be in complete control. Most of us have intense control issues even. And so we internally beat ourselves to a pulp when we cannot stick to our own using guidelines. Simply put we are expecting ourselves to control something that we are completely incapable of controlling.
We find ourselves in a subconscious state of self-loathing by which we hate us and the world. We did not create our powerlessness nor did we sign up to become addicts. We have no right to condemn ourselves for our powerlessness. We merely accept it and move on to step two.
OUT OF THE PROBLEM INTO THE SOLUTION!