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Spirituality = Reality

Discussion in 'Freedom from Hell ~ Staying Clean~' started by gettingbetter, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. Glass

    Glass Member


    Making a quick stop on ODR to say hello. How goes your journey? Glad we got to attend that meeting together and i hope things have "clicked" for you. It's never too late(or early) to get sober. Hope you're well.

  2. Glass

    Glass Member


    Whats the haps?

  3. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    Glass, great to see you here again. I love your quit-smoking thread and have recommended it to so many people.

    Dani... hope you're well. x/G
  4. Glass

    Glass Member

    I'm glad that smoking thread has been helpful for people. Ariel reminded me of it a couple years ago and I read it through again. Some good info for sure.

    Seems things have gotten very quiet around here. Glad I poked my head and good see you're still here Guin.

  5. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    Hi Glass! How are you? Thanks for popping in. I'm doing quite well, actually. Professionally, this is the best school year I have ever had, hands-down. I learned so much this summer about being an effective writing teacher and writer and carried it into the classroom; at the same time, God gave me a fantastic group of students this year. I love them, am very emotionally connected to them, and spend a lot of time prepping and teaching to them the way they should be taught. VERY happy at work and with my writing.

    I am also halfway to my master's degree. They just posted grades and I have a 4.0. I am very proud of that.

    I go to Bikram four/five times a week, eat healthy, do other strength training, take good care of myself. I did start smoking again and I hate it. I have cut down significantly. I have no problem quitting - ever - but I always start again when I freak out over my weight. I'll get there. And a few times, I've reached for the Sudafed to control my appetite - only to throw it out in disgust. Taking Sudafed to control your appetite isn't sober behavior.

    I stopped sponsoring a woman about two months ago, and I haven't really been back to formal AA since then. I spend a lot of time with other recovered addicts and friends, and I work on spiritual health and practicing solid, right, good, principles in all my affairs, but I'm taking a step back.

    I haven't wanted to say that or post here about it because I was afraid to. I wanted to be the 'good AA girl.'

    But you know what. The other day - and I have never, ever done this - I went back and started reading my own threads. And I was completely and totally stunned by the woman I found buried there. I remember all of the events she's talking about on the threads, but in the words and cadence I saw a completely different person.

    I felt sorry for her. The woman I was reading beat the crap out of herself on a regular basis, obsessed about doing everything right, and was completely and totally consumed by her relationship with her ex-husband. It's funny. When I separated, my family started telling me little things they'd never liked about my ex. I found myself defending him and thinking they didn't understand that it was all my fault, everything that went wrong in the marriage.

    It wasn't until recently - and I saw huge parts of this in my thread, too, though I'm sure my broken percep-tor is part of it - that I realized that gee whiz, maybe, just maybe, my ex had huge flaws too. I mentioned this at Thanksgiving.

    "It's about time you saw that," my mother said.

    "It's about time you saw that," my good friend said.


    So, now, I am really going to try not to worry what the hell anyone thinks about my decisions. I spent the last five, six, seven years much more worried about what someone else wanted out of life. I gave very little thought to what I wanted, sober, on the right path. And right now, when I go to AA, I get nervous. I feel guilty all the time, like I'm not doing enough for others or being good enough for others. I felt that way the whole time I was married and I'm sort of done with that thank you very much.

    I want to be a good teacher and a great student. I want to work on my novel. I want to be a dedicated yogi and and I want to explore spiritual concepts. I don't want to return to formal, structured AA until winter. It's not working for me right now. And that's okay. I can still help others, and I do. I will give back. And I will find what I WANT, sober, unapologetically.

    I still can't believe who I was on these threads and I'm still processing. I am sure there is so, so much more in my writing and in my self that I do not see, and I do not profess to have all the answers. This is who I am right now, however.

    Since you asked.

    I'm well.

    Thanks, G.
    (and G)
  6. teach07

    teach07 Well-Known Member

    Hey Dani.....so glad to see your post. I too got real caught up in trying to be the perfect "recovery " lady. I dont really do that MUCH anymore, cause I realize all I can do is the best I can do each day.I think it has something to do with Daddy being in the Nursing Home, which seems to have given me a different perspective on life. If AA isnt working for you, I dont know why you would hesitate to say so. Do whatever works for YOU. Thats all that really matters. I know you are looking forward to Christmas Break, as am I. Hope you continue to show up here. I always love to hear what you have to say!

    Much Love to you always.........SST
  7. Glass

    Glass Member

    There's another 12 step program for this problem :)

    ...Seriously glad you're sober and have positive things in your life. Good luck and stay in touch.

  8. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    I'm telling you, it was my desire to be perfect that drove me into addiction. The perfectionism, Good-Girl-ism, Desire For Everyone To Approve Of Me--all that child-of-alcoholic stuff drove my addiction. Melody Beattie told me heroin was hard to quit, but codependency absolutely kicked her *** and brought her to her knees. Being A Good Girl is definitely my first drug. (After that, sugar.)

    My Al-Anon sponsor tells me all the time that I have to balance the two programs. This is a central feature of the stuff I write and think about now: how to balance what AA requires ("trust God/clean house/HELP OTHERS") with what Al-Anon suggests ("keep the focus on YOURSELF"). I never write about this on my blog because I don't write about AA per se, but there's a lot of self-flagellation that goes on, and also a lot of self-congratulation. In my experience. I hang with the people who don't engage in that.

    A sponsee told me this morning, "I never had a sponsor who focused so much on the steps as you do." I learned that from you guys. Also, first, from my Al-Anon sponsor.

    I still go, though. I have an unofficial meeting Thursdays at the university that I love, because I love the people there, and I love that we meet on this rich campus in the basement of the drama building, secretly, to support each other. It feels healthy with a subversive feel. My home group is at the Friends Meeting House where I was married. It's like having a meeting in my living room. ... The people I work with tend to come from alcoholic families. I'm working on the Al-Anon principles now with a woman who grew up with alcoholism, who has 8 years sober and both of whose kids are addicts--one in recovery, one not. ... Several of us are thinking of starting a joint AA/Al-Anon (i.e., "double-winner") meeting, for people with addictions who grew up in alcoholic families. I have no idea how to start a meeting, I guess you just look for a place and register with the downtown offices. We'll figure it out. There's a saying in Al-Anon: Let It Begin With Me. Never thought of myself as a leader before. Guess I'm starting by Leading my own life. Sounds like you are, too, Dani. love you, /G
  9. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    Carol, GB, and G ... I really appreciate the support. I had no idea how to post that. The thing is it seems like you're not allowed to just "take a break" from AA if you can't figure out what its function is in your life. Maybe I'm full of crap. I don't know.

    I will say this: I owe every single dam thing I have to the steps and AA. I would have no good things whatsoever if recovery hadn't been at the core and the forefront of my life. And I know this, and that's what I struggle with.

    It's like Bikram yoga. I have been sucking at Bikram lately. And there's many different types of yoga, and yet, I keep throwing myself into the hot room over and over instead of finding balance and broadening the horizons. I can do that with yoga. AA seems so all or nothing though. You aren't allowed to say no to things and I just get so caught up.

    I think over the holiday break I'm going to take some time and find a really decent home group that I go to once a week, start from there. Cuz I don't want to lose it. It means a lot to me. I love working with alcoholics and I do, just not in a traditional sense right now.

    I don't know, man. Life is just hard. Sometimes I think we think about it too much. And then, a lot of the time I forget just how bad my addiction really was. But how does recovery change for us? Where should it go?

    Is AA really like the Hotel California, like the Orange Papers say? Sometimes I think that's dead on. I'm trying to be honest.
  10. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    I mean, I dunno. Janice told me I try to "figure things out" too much and I think she's right. I think too much.

    Interesting that you use this language, "not allowed." I use it too; been hanging with it to see what it's about. For me it's about old voices. "I can't drink/smoke/have sex/go to parties/sneak out of the house/contact editors/network/succeed/DESIRE ANYTHING because I'm Not Allowed."

    Also: "I can't earn money because I'm not allowed." (earning substantial money makes me feel like a slag; earning crap money makes me feel like a failure; in the end i think failing is more "noble" but actually, it's just easier. what a load of crap.)

    Have this habit of putting myself between rocks and hard places. An old habit.

    i read through the Orange Papers a while back. they appealed to the dyed-in-the-wool skeptic in me, the girl trained by my mother, the super-rational voice that always questions and tries to plumb every problem or doubt and Figure Things Out. remember thinking they had some points. checked it out again this morning. they posit AA is a cult:

    1. The Guru is always right.
    The Guru, his organization, and his teachings are all considered above criticism and beyond reproach.
    A.A. scores a 10 on this one.

    The meeting I go to at the university, the "unofficial" one--at this meeting there's a guy who often says the big book was written by a guy with a few weeks sober, and that the big book shows that Bill W. was "a creative writer" who was in love with the sound of his own voice. bingo. Bill W. was possibly an unrecovered sex-addict and he died of the consequences of his nicotine addiction, plus the toll the booze took on his body. Wikipedia: "He continued to smoke while dependent on an oxygen tank in the late 1960s." Bill W. had the same hypocrisies and blindnesses we all have. Bill W. is definitely not my guru. ... i work with a lot of women who can't relate to the way "the drunk" is described in the big book. so we come to our own understanding through sharing our experience. in lieu of forcing the issue and asking for a revise of the first 164 pages. never happen.

    but what the fu ck? good stuff can come from really problematic people. (even my mother)

    this meeting itself is not in the meeting list; you're not "supposed" to go to unofficial meetings but we've been meeting at this one for more than a year. AA people might say it's then not a "real AA meeting" and they would be, in "official" terms, correct, but i consider it one of my home groups. in fact AA people might say you're not allowed to have more than one home group, and anyhow you can't have a home group that doesn't collect dosh and contribute it to the various offices, and they would be correct. they might say that our little meeting is the kind of practice that undermines AA's organization, and i don't know about that. still, i go to this meeting, i think of it as one of my home groups (a meeting i try not to miss, and at which i sometimes do service), and i bring friends and sponsees, one of whom has particularly benefited from the atmosphere there.

    a friend i've met through my blog, who has 30 years sober in AA and a couple years in Al-Anon, asked me once what i thought about AA's emphasis on pure and total and continuous abstinence. he talked about what constitutes "relapse" in Al-Anon, and the general tolerance in Al-Anon for people who "slip"--that is, slide back into old behaviors and attitudes. in Al-Anon, he noted, we're all continually sliding back and forth between "sober" and "unsober" thinking and behavior, and there's little fear around that, or censure ("she's been In And Out for years," looks askance, that sort of thing), and nobody is sitting there secretly keeping track of how much "time" you have. i've been thinking about this for some months and haven't come to any conclusions. just noticing. ... also, bringing more of that attitude into AA meetings. i think there are some people who can stay abstinent for a lifetime, and others who will have to slip back and forth between abstinence and using. i don't think people who use after having some time sober necessarily go back to square one. i didn't. ... it's none of my business "where they are" in their program after they relapse ("relapse" means to slide back, or slip, again). my business is love and tolerance and sharing my experience. also, staying away from drama.

    i fail sometimes, and sometimes i succeed.

    i'd be up sh!t creek without AA, but it was Al-Anon that saved my life. it taught me to "take what i like and leave the rest," it taught me what is my business and what is not, it taught me "awareness, acceptance, action," it taught me "i didn't cause it, i can't control it, i can't cure it"--even my own addiction. it taught me "let it begin with me." (does that make Lois my guru? hell no)

    not arguing with you here, just talking it over. ... love you, Dani xx /G
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  11. Glass

    Glass Member

    One of the things I find humorous about coming back to ODR is getting to read my old posts....Funny how things change. I wouldn't waste a single second now trying to defend AA or al anon, or any other program. Its for people who want, not those who need it. That said, man oh man did I ever spend time trying to defend/sell AA around these parts. I think Guin is on to something essential for you here.

    That said, let me practice being direct and honest with you about your post and share a bit of my own experience.

    I've said this to you before, but one of the greatest lessons/insights that I've had in my "spiritually-inclined recovery"(ahem) has been that this is NOT about self-improvement. Its about self abandonment. What I thought I was is really just a constellation of thoughts whose content is repetitive and illusory. In other words...I don't really exist. Not as I think I am. I think my name is brett and that I'm such and such an age and I'm good at this and bad at that and my mother did this and my dad did that that....and on and on and the TRUTH is that I am not those things. In AA's 3rd step prayer, there is the shocking line "relieve me of the bondage of self" which often gets repeated in the rooms. However, bondage implies that one thing or entity is bonded or entrapped by another entity. So the question is: what is being "relieved" from the bondage to self? Another version of yourself? A better version of dani? Is a perfect ideal version of you, Dani, bonded to some sick version you and once you get out of that you'll be that perfect version?

    Finding out what or who exactly is being relieved from self is, in part, the answer to some very challenging existential problems that have plagued me and perhaps you for a long time. So what I see in your post, is that you got off of the drinking/drug merry go round and your ego encouraged you to get on the self improvement merry go round instead. This ride looks ALOT better to others around you...you may even accomplish a few things ie get that job, lose the last five pounds, find the person of your dreams etc. But whenever I've been on the self improvement train there is always something fundamentally unsatisfying about it. There's always a new carrot being dangled in the place of the old one. Its what makes us walk out of a yoga class and light up a cigarette within ten minutes. Its what makes us reach for the sudafed box. Do you know what I mean dani? Sure there are "moments" when you feel good, like 20 minutes after yoga when you've had your cup of coffee or when that person in your life gives you the approval you think you want from them or whatever...but is it ultimately working? Is it satisfying? in the deepest sense are you free? Maybe? No? Yes?

    What I found is that one of the most successful advertising campaigns that my ego ever ran for me was the myriad self improvement plans. And the most insidious. And the reason is b/c I'm still using the illusion of myself as the basis for my actions and for my life....what is the "unsuspected inner resource" that is mentioned in the appendix II? what if there was an utter reliance upon that? What if there was actually nothing to improve? What if the only thing you were really improving was another false constellation of thoughts about yourself?

    There is nothing wrong with ANY of the things you're doing. Nothing. But the perspective that there's a better more loveable version of yourself that's five lbs lighter, has a better triangle pose and will write the great american novel is simply hitting the snooze button on THIS. Reality. Being. Presence...whatever. You only have to clean your cage long enough to see that that never really was a cage. Its up to you how long you wanna vacuum, sweep and straighten the imaginary furniture. The stuff that Guin's talking about here just happens to be the most effective way for people with our particular set of problems to see what's actually there. Check it out.
  12. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    Brett, most awesome. well said, my friend... Just thinking that I've been abstinent for almost two years but there have been times when I've been just as fu cking crazy as I ever was on drugs. I slip back into that craziness and it's because I Try So Hard to improve myself. I'm nuts. I try to remember I don't know wtf I'm talking about, I just move through life, man.

    Been working on a story about exercise as a "treatment" for addiction/method of recovery. The idea was put into my head by a guy who reads my blog who is a triathlete and who has 30 years sober. A guy in his community killed himself recently--he had finished "many Ironman triathlons," he was "a meeting-a-day guy and so on," and this is what shocked people--he was Doing So Well. ... Not, obviously. My friend posed these questions: did he do all he could? What are "the limits of trying, doing, working and as we say working it," when all that comes at the expense of acceptance? (I hate that saying, "it works if you work it." I never say it.)... I've interviewed the director of a major substance abuse clinic who's researching exercise's ability to treat stimulant addicts; also a guy who decided, after he failed to hang himself, that he would become an Ironman--and did; tomorrow I talk with an interventionist and recovering addict who also competes in Ironmans. I keep asking these people these existential questions and it's like pulling teeth.

    Is acceptance the elephant in the room, or are there just no words for it, or is it the question people are trying to avoid? or is it something else? or am I just full of crap here?

    Anyhow. major stuff. love yinz. /G
  13. peacenik

    peacenik Administrator

    thanks everyone for sharing.
    I think what I hear Dani saying, and Glass and Guin sharing about is that she has graduated from early recovery.

    I went through a very similar time at 2 years clean. I had gone to a couple meetings a day for 6 or 8 months, then one a day after that. I got remarried at two years and realized I didn't "have to" go anymore.

    I, too, think it's interesting you say you're "not allowed" to take a break because I think in early recovery I very much needed to be not allowed to use, not allowed to skip my meetings etc. I was in really bad shape and I don't think I would have made it without the structure of NA.

    But all things must pass and the time came where I had gained enough self confidence that I could put my efforts more into my new family, carreer etc.

    Years later I started going to ACA meetings and personally, learning about the pain I had been carrying still, grieving, and letting it go gave me more peace and recovery than did the thousand or two NA meetings.

    I think there are phases that you go through if you stay clean. To me over the long haul, recovery is really mostly maturity. It's the thing I could never get when I was using and obsessed with my own pain and disapointment.

    Early recovery was huge - it changed my life forever. But I didn't really learn much about me till later.

  14. teach07

    teach07 Well-Known Member

    Life is not about Plan A....its about Plan B.....Plan A is how we think it should be......Plan B is how it really is.......

    Not too profound, but it works for Me:):):)

  15. JamesF

    JamesF Well-Known Member

    Advanced metaphysics...a rather slippery slope. Sometimes I think the reward for totally shedding self is psychosis. I mean, after all, a healthy self concept is the goal of adult development in some respects. In retrospect, some of the craziest people I've ever met were in extended Buddhist meditation retreats. "No self, no self!" Sometimes when you keep peeling away the onion, the next stop is...crazy town.

    I read the orange papers a few times, mostly out of curiousity. The logic, although strained, is in some ways appealing. Yet, my strongest impression was of a guy who really held a grudge against the fellowship. Everything else seemed to grow from that center. As someone with actual experience with it, I found most of his conclusions to be severly exaggerated.

    Can self-improvement be taken too far or become a front; no doubt. But you know what, I'll take self-improvement over self-destruction any day. Do want to go back there. AA/NA gave me a healthy respect for the value of change. Everything good involves change. Trading healthy habits for unhealthy ones...why not. Is there, in some deep metaphysical sense, no self to improve? Who cares. Too deep for my little boat. I just know I needed to improve just about everything in my little world. Thank God for the people in the rooms who helped me do it.
  16. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    "and every one of them words rang true and glowed like burning coals
    pourin' off of every page like it was written in my soul from me to you
    Tangled Up In Blue"

    Wow. There is an insane amount of material to respond to here. I can't thank all of you enough - this is pivotal material for me, every last post, the way they're connected. I spent the last hour reading and re-reading and highlighting and copying parts of your posts I wanted to respond to. I had a crazy day on the self-improvement train though and I want to take some time, make sure I'm not answering too quickly, because there are so many good points here that I want to talk about.

    I do want to leave you, however, with a poem I think about a lot in all respects. My advisor wrote it. She's a wonderful poet and even better person. The first time I read it, I thought (knew) it was about divorce. It's also about the bondage of self, though. It's about everything and that's what makes it a good poem, but it's especially relevant to me this evening. It fits where I'm at with recovery, CA/AA, my life, my questioning process, my existential angst (how profound) and relationships with pretty much everyone, except the kids. I wish I could be with my kids all the time.

    Bringing Down the Ceiling

    Seek out the shadowed slits into which
    the metal blade might fit.
    Find the point of pressure
    and steady yourself.
    Exploit the hidden fault lines
    in the plaster.
    Brace your weight and push-
    not strong, but cautious,
    as if to pump brakes on glare ice.
    Expose yet another row
    of bare wooden slats.
    Try not to breathe
    until the dust settles.

    Remember how we go about our lives
    believing the ceiling, the walls, the frames
    will hold
    And as the pieces crack and plummet,
    as the heavy horsehair plaster falls,
    splits and drops like strange rain,
    lands with a thud you will hear
    in your dreams,
    remember all those times the metaphor
    arrived too perfect to name, too whole
    to swallow, and wonder
    if you can ever know you love anything again
    until you have split apart its seams.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  17. Trigger

    Trigger Well-Known Member

    Far too much good stuff here to quote back anything specific. Glass-- good to see you here. Funny, I was just thinking about that meeting we went to in SF and a couple of things you said that really hit home. That was almost exactly one year ago. The short story on me is-- I'm in a much better place this year. Despite a few slips and stumbles this summer, I've been able to stay away from heroin and all other opiates. And I've been off adderall for roughly 4 months... a big victory, I suppose.

    What I can't understand is-- Why total sobriety has become so important to me. I've spent a couple of drunken nights deeply contemplating that question. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I became a total lush again. It took a violent incident to bring me to my senses, and now I have 9 days clean from booze... which would not be possible without grass, of course. So the short story is-- I'm a pot head, but not happy like that.

    Dani-- I used to think you were crazy for teaching at the school you once attended. I remember you writing about the ghost of a little Dani running around, and I thought that would be such a nightmare. All my life I've been running away from home, and it seemed important to me to live far away from the past. I wondered how you could be happy surrounded with sameness and familiarity. Surely it must feel like a straight jacket... but I guess it's one of those invisible cages that Glass refers to.

    I moved out of Los Angeles and back to the east coast city I came of age in. I'm living in the same apartment with an ex-boyfriend I broke up with 8 years ago. For a long time, this was my worst nightmare-- to come back to the apartment where I became an addict. the place where I lived age 20-27.

    But you know what? I feel really lucky to be living here, especially at this stage of my recovery. I thought I would be triggered by the many, many drug memories, but all I've felt is such immense relief that I don't have to be that young, fearful person anymore. It's like, everyday I have this measuring stick of how far I've come. Even though my recovery has been far from perfect, I've fought hard to be where I am, and I'm happy with that.

    So I guess that's how you feel, teaching at the school you once attended, right?

    PS-- I understand about the Sudafed thing. After adderall, I quickly ballooned back up to a size 8 which seems grossly fat. In fact, a big impetus not to drink is all the needless calories alcohol contains. Well, I started drinking lots of tea instead of booze, and yesterday I threw some yohimbe extract into the brew. Something my roommate had in the fridge, and I didn't think much of it. I guess somewhere I remembered that yohimbe is a big part of kratom mixes, and as soon as I had a cup, all those memories came flooding back. Right away I noticed that beyond being a mild stimulant, yohimbe is an appetite suppressant. Totally not sober behavior, but maybe yer the one person who understands this.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
  18. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    Writing this story about addicts who became athletes, it seems like abstinence can turn into a competition. I dunno, just an idea.

    Good to see you back again, Trig. x /G
  19. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    I'm going to tackle this one post at a time.

    Response One: To G’s Post.

    G Said:

    One friend i've met through my blog, who has 30 years sober in AA and a couple years in Al-Anon, asked me once what i thought about AA's emphasis on pure and total and continuous abstinence. he talked about what constitutes "relapse" in Al-Anon, and the general tolerance in Al-Anon for people who "slip"--that is, slide back into old behaviors and attitudes. in Al-Anon, he noted, we're all continually sliding back and forth between "sober" and "unsober" thinking and behavior, and there's little fear around that, or censure ("she's been In And Out for years," looks askance, that sort of thing), and nobody is sitting there secretly keeping track of how much "time" you have. i've been thinking about this for some months and haven't come to any conclusions. just noticing.

    - I so, so wish there were more of this attitude and lack of censure in CA/AA. Everything is shades of gray, everything – and while I will say that as an absolute newcomer, I needed people to be hard on me so I wouldn’t excuse myself from unsober behavior, so I could truly examine myself for the first time, so I could change the lens of perception and realize my own goggles were the problem ... I will also say that it is the continual (perceived?) judgment that abounds in the Rooms. Let’s face it, we’re all pretty f’ed up and have a lot to learn from each other ... those “looks askance” are pervasive and subtle and ultimately quite demeaning to what we’re trying to accomplish there – honest discussion of f’ed up behaviors and acceptance of what IS.

    - About a month ago a friend who runs a sober house nearby hit me up and said, “Danielle, let’s go to XX meeting. I have heard that XX meeting is running amok, that there are people running it that have never worked a step in their life, that there are too many people who want to be chiefs and not enough Indians who want to do the grunt work. We need to carry the message.” I didn’t really think about it, said “sure” and then told another (amazing) program friend who lives in my apartment complex about the deal. She shot me an incredulous look and said, “The entire nature of this sickness is that we all think we’re chiefs and no one is an Indian! That’s the whole disease, that we are all completely f’ed up in the head about that!” Well, that’s a GREAT point, friend – like I’m some avenging Step Warrior that will go in and fix it? How egocentric is that? I find this battle in CA/AA is continual and epic. There is no balance or realization that we will all, always, stand on the edge of sober/unsober behavior in one way or another – and there’s little honest discussion about this and what it entails that can actually help us. When I relapsed eleven months ago, that was the first time I felt truly free to start being honest about my Program instead of feeling I had to Carry The Message Of The Steps To The Newcomer. I realize this is a flaw in me, not the program. But I still find this to be a pervasive problem based largely on ego and sober time.

    G Then Said:

    i think there are some people who can stay abstinent for a lifetime, and others who will have to slip back and forth between abstinence and using. i don't think people who use after having some time sober necessarily go back to square one. i didn't. ... it's none of my business "where they are" in their program after they relapse ("relapse" means to slide back, or slip, again).

    - I was sober, once upon a time, for two years and about three months until my sickness came back full-fledged. I was never completely honest on ODR here about how bad it got with the Sudafed. In October/November/December of 2010, I played the Sudafed game daily. You know how to get the pseudo, you have to sign for it now, and you can only sign for it in limited quantities? Well, one’s tolerance to Sudafed rises exponentially when one takes massive daily quantities. The pharmacy started telling me I was way over my limit at the counter when I tried to get more (I had to get the 12-hour Sudafed as a ‘base’ appetite suppressant, plus the 4-6 hour to take intermittently throughout the day). So like any good drug addict, I furiously figured ways around it. The pharmacies around here aren’t on one consistent system – they all have different databases and limits based on whether or not they’re chains with their own threshold or independent places that adhere solely to state law. So I figured out, every day, where I could go to get more – for example: “I haven’t been to Walmart in a week and they don’t communicate with Walgreen’s database (lots of trial and error here btw), so I can definitely get the 4-6 hour there.” Pretty much every other day or so after school I had to go on a mission, just like the old days at FedEx. And I wasn’t even getting f’ed up, per se. I was addicted to the behavior. And little by slowly, my old personality came right back – lies, getting worked up over nothing, selfishness, hiding, justifications. My ex would buy the 12-hour Sudafed for me when I couldn’t get it myself. Later, at one point when we met during the separation period, I apologized for that (no, no amends to him yet). And he said the same thing I knew – that even though I wasn’t truly wasted in the most honest sense of the word, it was the behavior that made me unsober. I was addicted to that Sudafedication process, much more so than the actual Sudafed. The triumph in pulling one over on everyone, losing 20 pounds like that, getting the approval at school.

    - I tell you all this because, when that whirling period finally ended in me taking a Percocet with Flexeril and Advil PM in January 2011, I was very able – as I went through the Steps again a second time, thoroughly and more in-depth in some ways than the first – to really see unsober behavior for what it looked like in my life, how it relates to the bondage of self (and whatever ‘self’ is as an existential question – I will get to that in a bit). For the first six or so months of my relapse, all I heard, over and over, was “you only have X months sober. You only have X months sober. You only have X months sober.” And it REALLY pissed me off, and I figured that was a good thing because I remembered it from my first time through this process. I sucked it up, figured those folks had a point, did my stepwork again. BUT. And this is a big BUT. I STILL get, at 11 months past my relapse, pats on the back that I’m just under a year sober and boy howdy do I have a lot to see yet. And I have brought up my prior sober time and the work I did, and YES, I know this is ego – and I feel frequently that I learned a heck of a lot more from my unsober period/relapse than people might think I did, and what do I want for this, I just realized – credit? No, not credit, really. Just the REALIZATION from some folks that we’re all pretty much equals in this game. I could give a sweet poop about sober time anymore, and I hate how sanctimonious CA/AA can get about it. We’re all sick f**ks, period. Did I go back to square one? No friggin’ way, and God and I know that’s my truth. So who the heck are all these back-slapping crocodiles (in personality if not in appearance) in CA/AA with all their pride and lack of humility? Or is it ME with the lack of humility? It’s a little of both, and I long for an open discussion without censure, without people gently reminding others of sober time. It has nothing to do with that. I know people with years and years sober that aren’t dry drunks and do work steps but are still completely whacked about food and sex and gambling and NEVER BREATHE A WORD OF IT and ya know what folks? That’s sick arse behavior, people aren’t being honest. Why can’t we talk about it without cowering in fear of judgment? I talk about that stuff ALL THE TIME NOW and I could GIVE A CRAP but I guess I do give a crap on some level. I am jealous, G, that in Al-Anon you get to speak of these things sans censure.

    **Response Two, to Glass, forthcoming ... I want to tell you how well I remember, and how frequently I have thought of, your remark that meditation/recovery/everything was not about self-improvement ... but self-abandonment ... and yes, I think about it a lot, and the implications of such both soothe and trouble me on several levels.
  20. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    Awesome. (I'm lapsing into teenspeak these days) Like so 100 percent TOTALLY agree with you Dani!!! ... I get this. It's what I do with sugar. Except sugar isn't (unfortunately) controlled. I feel crazy today and just now topped off my leftover half-omelet with several handfuls of raw cookie dough. I've already prayed and meditated and called my sponsor and I just wanted to have sugar too before I get to work on the next deadline.

    My experience in Al-Anon is that people were unwilling to confront me about my sh!t. Just as much as in AA, people want to "call me on my bullsh!t," people in Al-Anon quite often want to make you feel loved and accepted and everything's totally groovy, we're all in this together. If there's one thing that's missing from a lot of Al-Anon meetings I've gone to, it's the reality that alcoholism/addiction is a fatal illness that will knock you on your arse whether you're drinking/using or not. Whether you're the addict or not. In my family, the people who didn't drink/use (except cigarettes/sugar) behaved in much more crazy ways than the drunks. Except for my grandfather, who was a truly violent ba$tard d!ckhead drunk. (bit of 4th to do there yet)

    They were all abused as kids, btw.

    The backslappers (I've been one) are people who are afraid of fu cking up, losing time, losing face, and in general being disliked. I've been one because my primary flaw is craving approval. In other words, self-hatred. ... It's been my experience in sobriety that addiction continues to work numbers on me even while I'm sober. I consider the distortion of reality (denial, delusion) the key agent. Addiction makes it difficult to know what's real. The most sober people I know seem to me the people who are the most self-accepting. Which means they don't announce their sober-time every time they open their mouths, they don't tell everyone how many sponsees they have, they don't go trawling the rooms for newcomers. In other words, they're the most humble. I have a ways to go. I fu ck up all the time, and the real problem is not that I fu ck up, it's that I try to hide it. Writing and making art helps me not hide. The blog is helpful, if I can manage to get truly honest and not spend a whole lot of time checking my stats. ...

    Two nights ago I went to hear a lead by a woman I consider one of my real heroes (I don't have many). I'm tempted to give all her demographics: age (73), sober-time (26 years--got sober at my age), occupation (professor emeritus), etc. She helped me a great deal last summer after I'd taken the Vicodin in January and I was afraid of buying codeine in the UK. She's so humble. She just does her life. She doesn't read any gurus; she doesn't preach the steps, she lives them. In the words of George Fox, she lets her life speak. ... love, /G
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011

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