LOVE IS HIGHLY UNDER-RATED IN SOME SECTS OF AA
This article is dedicated to Beth Palmer who by her sharing has the gift to help us see.
I want to begin this post with a quote from the “Twelve and Twelve” I simply love Bill W.s literary expression and agree with most everything he and his fellows wrote.
“Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves,
are to some extent emotionally ill as well as
frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and
see what real love for our fellows actually means.”
I’m sure some AA members will be quick to tell me that Love won’t get anyone sober but I say it will sure as hell heal the underlying and core causes of addiction when applied to the right emotional wounds. Often times in AA there is a mentality that to get sober we have to be kicked in the ass. That really does work for some people and I will not discount that a “call you on your shit” sponsor is a valuable commodity. However I think for the people that have had their asses kicked all their lives and tend to beat themselves up for human error and minor mistakes need a more loving and empathetic approach to their choosing a sponsor and friends in AA.
Please I don’t mean to imply a sponsor should be a coddling mama figure and emotional enabler who calls my wrongs “rights” and breast feeds me at every turn. I just mean someone who will not constantly look to label their sponcee “wrong” and “bad”. Personally I have done that to myself all my life as have my family members to the point of feeling I have no human right to even exist on the earth much less be a valid and important member of society. No I mean a sponsor who will validate my emotions because they are God given. And a sponsor who will see the similarities and relate to me which means someone who understands and “gets” me. That is so important for healthy emotional healing and that is what I found in AA not just from my sponsors but from my friends in AA as well.
GOD IS LOVE
God is Love. When people have had a spiritual experience they walk away feeling loved by God and their faith that God exists is increased greatly. They walk away from the experience feeling much more loving towards others. That includes loving themselves. I guess that’s why spirituality is a solution to addiction. When I am loving myself I am not abusing drugs or over-taking them. When I am loving myself I eat right, sleep right, fellowship, take myself to the beach or the river. Generally I have a clear vision of what is good for me and what is not and I follow that criteria. Gaining spirituality through seeking God by prayer or meditation (step eleven) has turned my life on a different path than if I were running on pure self-will.
I wish my self-will were healthier but I have had my own self-will run me into the dirt literally. I have watched like a by-stander as I have gone against my own moral compass while struggling and fighting for what my self-will demanded and thought it needed. I have hurt those I love and I have taken what little self-worth I had and crushed it in the wine-press by my own apostasy. (Going against what I believe in) Apostasy will crush a man’s self-image quicker than anything that I know of. Guilt and remorse set in when we do what we know is wrong. Then to cover the feelings of guilt we pour on more rational and false justifications to numb it all out and engage in further drinking and drugging.
There are many other addictions besides drugs and alcohol mark my words. When a man gets sober after many years of using he will seek out a new addiction even if it be the addiction to something considered healthy like working out or work or sex or eating. But all things done in excess are potentially harmful.
So what then? Are we recovering addicts doomed to always be revelling in one addiction or another? No absolutely not! The solution IS Love and steps 10-12 show us how to maintain self-love. Put in simpler terms we make it a habit to pray and meditate at least 30 minutes a day. We exercise our bodies and we eat right. We do some kind of service work and we keep guilt and shame off of our backs by confessing anything that makes us feel guilty and ashamed. When it comes to confession and the fifth step, it works best when we confess to both man and God. Oftentimes our souls will not feel a cleansing relief if we only confess to God because He, She, It is so far removed from us we just don’t feel the accountability provided by a human. The first 5 or 6 years of my own recovery I had plenty to confess and I did so in meetings and in private. Not to mention when we confess in meetings it helps other people relate to us and they realize that they are not so bad or different than other people.
Confessing our shortcomings to a human cuts our false-pride to the quick. False-pride is a crippling character defect that has caused more debauchery and chaos than imaginable. False pride ends Loving relationships, it can’t admit when it’s wrong, it shuts down our ability to learn new things (because it knows everything) and it basically and quite literally will kill us by its symptoms if it’s not kept in check. And so confession and truth are the tools we have to wage war against our false pride. This is another reason why the 12 steps work. The truth will set us free
Recovery gospel according to Lori E
AM I RECOVERED AND SANE? OR AM I AN ALCOHOLIC DESTINED TO ALWAYS BE INSANE? THE 12 STEP PROGRAMS WORK…..TO A CERTAIN EXTENT.
Ok I just re-read the following and I think its a little harsh. So… Disclaimer-I have been jealous and will be again at some point. I am human. Getting jealous does derive from fear however ALL HUMANS GET FEAR OCCASIONALLY OR OFTEN.
Big “GET OVER IT!” To the alcoholics and addicts who are stuck in the mind-set that, their way of recovery is the ONLY way to recover. People get sober with and without AA. Believe it the addict mind in many instances becomes jealous over “their way” of recovery. Even to the point of hoping that the person who got sober on their own or in church will quickly relapse to prove his point.
Addicts become jealous over “their Higher Power” and “their 12 step program”. Lets face it codependency which thrives on jealousy runs rampant through the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Understandable if you take into consideration that jealousy stems from fear of loss and that Alcoholics tend to be emotionally immature (sometimes).
But open your minds my fellows! There are many ways to recover that works and many times those same ways don’t work. It just depends on several different factors.
Here are the three main ways that people are known to drastically change for the better.
But this is not the whole topic today.
Today the topic is; “am I recovered or not?”
This is the thing….the big book reads that bill w. And the group “recovered” from a hopeless state of mind. Being recovered is mentioned through-out the big book. If a person has five years sober and realizes that they no longer have the alcoholic mind…and they have recovered. There is one sure way to know for themselves if they really have recovered.
The still insane, sick alcoholic will reason out…I have recovered so… I am no longer an alcoholic. Now I can drink responsibly. Now, this time it will be different!” And for a time they may actually be able to drink responsibly. However with the progression and insanity that alcohol produces and their past behaviors this luxury won’t last long. On the flip side: for the recovered alcoholic who truly is recovered, whose sanity has returned and have had a psychic change; their thought process works differently. These types realize they no longer have the alcoholic mind and reason out that in spite of that and because of that they do not want to drink again…ever. No matter what. So if one is truly recovered they will know that because of the allergy to alcohol they will never be able to drink like a normal person. They also realize that they are no longer an alcoholic in spite of a few addict-like tendencies and lesser addictions such as over-eating, internet addiction, cigarette addiction, sex addiction, anger or rage addiction, the addiction to being “not alright” even.
Perhaps all three solutions are only needed for those that have been abused and neglected. However i question any alcoholic’s self-awareness if they state they have no “core issues”. Why would anyone try to destroy himself by drinking alcoholically and try to numb out feelings and awareness by poisoning oneself yet claim not to have any childhood issues or core level shame?
Firstly I want to state that without Alcoholics Anonymous and my Higher Power I would probably be dead or worse.
However I believe it is very important to find our identity outside of AA once we are sober for several years. We become strong due to working the 12 steps and being active in the workings of step 12 service work. Step 12 makes us confident and helps us develop coping skills and reach a level of emotional sobriety (maturity).
When I stepped away from AA myself due to a case of AA burnout I wondered who the heck I was. It scared me, I thought do I have an identity without of AA? The steps and Big book I believe are good and ordained of God. The 12 steps and the perfect directions for staying sober and to experience a psychic change and a spiritual awakening. HOWEVER as we have learned from the history of the Bible good things are easily twisted and misconstrued by sick men. My conclusion is that: AA is a good program but sick men seek out many devices and can produce a counterfeit for every good AA directive.
IS THE ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS PROGRAM GOOD OR BAD?
We cannot really label Alcoholics Anonymous good or bad as a whole because there are so many members, sponsors, sponsee’s and various representatives who all have their own methods and ideals of what AA is and how it actually works.
You may ask two former members of AA about the program and get two totally different views. There are many articles online that call AA a cult and a worthless and depraved organization. Ex-members state that they were taken advantage of, abused, and lied to. While other members will attest that without AA they would be dead or worse. These members swear that the program transformed them from a destructive, and violent addict into a productive, spiritual member of society. And neither of the two testimonies would be untrue.
But what are the facts concerning the “program” of AA? The twelve steps and the Big Book if viewed and understood rightly will induce a miracle if not several miracles in a person’s life IF that person is honest and willing to work the steps, get a good sponsor and reach out to God with their heart. The program on paper is the perfect way to not only get clean and sober but also to become a moral and decent human being. So its really a matter of choice whether the program actually works for a person or doesn’t work.
So why so many negative testimonies about AA? Remember human beings can turn any good into a bad. For every good and righteous directive in the Big Book there is twisted and misunderstood counterfeit version.
Example; Step 10 “Continued to taker personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” Confession is good for the soul no doubt but if we confess too often and to the wrong person our humility may turn into not only gossip but also a demeaning and self-degrading process that beats down our self-esteem rather than building it up. Our confidant may even put themselves in a place of authority and power over us using our confessed wrongs against us with an oppressive thumb. We must have a trustworthy person to confess and admit our wrongs to then be done with it. We should be allowed to move on into our new sober life and leave the wreckage in the past where it belongs.
Good ideas can be mis-construed. Hate-driven interpretations of the Bible show us that. If a man holds bitterness in his heart that bitterness will seek a way to express itself, whether passive or aggressive or both hate searches for an outlet while the psyche knowing right from wrong seeks subconsciously for a justified way to express that hate.
AA needs two types of personas to make it function…the newcomer and the sponsor or, the teacher and the student. Not every teacher in AA has the humility to remain a student as well after years of sobriety. False pride wants badly to know-it-all. Bottom line just because a newcomer is sick and suffering and has no idea how to work the program of AA that is no reason to treat a man disrespectfully.
If something feels very wrong then it probably is. We should take our common sense with us into our 12 step program and read the Big Book thoroughly for ourselves rather than having someone interpret it for us. We should share in meetings about our progress so we can get useful feedback. A sponsor should never try to make our decisions and choices for us but rather sponsors should make suggestions and guide us through the steps and various options. The program works but we must work it ourselves thoroughly and honestly.
What is AA Sponsorship all about?
They say in AA we should meet the new-comer at his or her level not try to drag them up to where we are after accomplishing years of step-work, meetings, and more work. How does sponsorship work? Shall we take advantage of the fact that we have gained some self-confidence and give the newcomer the beat-down so we can build them back up??? Shall we order them around in front of our fellows to make us look good? No, No, and Hell-no! But believe it or not immature and even hostile behavior toward a sponsee happens more in AA sponsorship than it should that’s for sure. We should be patient and tolerant with the newcomer.
The best way to do that is by relating. We try to relate to whatever topic is at hand. If the topic is changing people places and things then we remember back to our early days in AA and how those changes affected us. We put ourselves in the shoes of the newcomer rather than resenting them for not knowing what we so painstakingly learned. Then we incorporate our AA knowledge into our experiences of how we learned that knowledge and grew from it. We qualify ourselves to the newcomer as being worthy to share our AA knowledge because of our alcoholic war stories.
Rather than trying to pull our sponcee up to our level of recovery we are meeting them where they are and the reason that we can help them and ourselves of course is that we can usually relate to just where they are. Newcomers don’t take just anyone’s suggestions unless they can tell that the speaker has been where they have been. The newcomer needs to know that the people in the rooms have felt the extreme hurtfulness of incomprehensible demoralization.
We share from our hearts we speak in the “I” format so as not to offend the newcomer. A man with an extreme inferiority complex due to years of going against his own heart and good sense is easily offended. The alcoholic spends years defying his own moral compass therefore subconsciously loathes himself. He starts his day from the platform of low-self-esteem so naturally he reads that opinion into people’s actions and comments toward him. Little does the alcoholic know that seldom do others look at him the way he looks at himself so he need not be so defensive.
And so we remember when working with our newcomer how we thought that the world revolved around our belly buttons as well. Or in other words we thought people were much more concerned and aware of our negative actions. We share with the newcomer the things that gave us hope when we came in. We don’t treat the newcomer as if he were a lesser person he is not. All of us are equal from the gutter stained alcoholic to the 20 year sober keynote AA speaker we are just in a different place is all. In Gods eyes we are all of value.
We remember the sarcasms and snide remarks that were said to us these things we don’t repeat. There are those in AA who take pleasure in treating the newcomer like they are walking into a high security death-row prison and have to go through an orientation by ruthless inmates. We do not have to have that mentality. Without the newcomer many of us old-timers would scarcely stay sober.
Step Twelve hangs on the fact that we have newcomers to work with to keep us involved in a purpose of higher importance. Newbie you are of high value to us in AA and many people even say you are the most important one in the room. Of coarse that statement would be bullshit because any honest AA-er will admit he regards himself as the most important one i the room. I don’t know maybe there really are some saints out there in the rooms who would put the newcomers sobriety and well-being before his own. But the way I understand it most of us work with others to keep ourselves sober firstly, the rest is gravy.
|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.RARELY HAVE WE SEEN A PERSON FAIL WHO HAS THOROUGHLY FOLLOWED OUR PATH. “BIG BOOK OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.”
My creator and God is the cornerstone of my spirituality. I obtained spirituality initially by Step Eleven which is: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” I continue feeding the spiritual part of my being by doing steps Ten through Twelve.
But not just that; I revisit step three oftentimes to remind myself that God has my back. I revisit step three to remember that everything WILL be ok because I am not running the show God is. When I consciously did my Step Three I gave my higher power permission to guide me, and to intervene for the sake of my well-being.
I revisit Step Two when I see myself slipping back into insanity usually due to complacency. When I see the red flag of fear, intolerance, resentments, hatefulness, and grasping’s for food, sex, or anything else to numb my feelings I know I am getting a little crazy.
Lastly I keep a good handle on steps four and five because I do….yes on occasion pick up resentment and fear. I have the directions to maintain spirituality by living the steps. That’s “why” not just “how” it works for me.
The 12 Step programs work because the steps are a practice of good character and spirituality while the disease is a practice of character defects. As we practice the good character by doing the steps our sanity is established. The longer we live the steps…the more ingrained the good character becomes in our brain.
We build sane bridges over the insane neural pathways of the past. My sobriety has been supplemented with several formal, long, and thorough fourth steps, each year. In recovery therapy I learn healthy communication, plus techniques to process painful emotions. Given all these factors and God’s Grace…why it works is not a mystery…. to me anyway.
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.
The reason relapse happens is because the neural pathways that were carved out in our brains do not go away. If I do not maintain spirituality there is a possibility my thoughts will spill or drop off the new bridge of healthy thinking that has been built over the old carved out neural paths of the past. However If I remember that I DO HAVE A CHOICE and tell myself that; I have the ability to take the next right step I will be ok.