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"High Bottom" Drunk - Need Advice

Old 01-13-2008, 07:50 PM
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"High Bottom" Drunk - Need Advice

I'm only 4 weeks into the AA program and have a great sponsor but a comment he made last week is kind of bothering me. He knows my story and referred to me as a "high bottom" drunk - likely because my career and family are still intact. What bothers me is that it makes me feel like he thinks that I am "lucky" or haven't suffered enough - almost like I have to lose everything to really bottom out. In addition to the obvious damage that I have done because of drinking, I have caused so much hurt to the people I love and have had periods of such extreme self-hatred, it's undescribable. I don't feel "lucky" at all!

Anyway, should I file this one under "resentments" and deal with it that way? Should I just suck it up and try to forget about it? Should I try and put it in a different context (I'm being too sensitive) and not worry about it?

My sponsor is a great person and I don't want to consider finding a new one over an (apparent) casual remark. Any advice would be very appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:11 PM
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Hi Gravity - no advice for you from me, I don't even have a sponsor yet; but I'm real interested in what others say.
I've had people question why I'm evening attending the meeting, so I know the resentment feeling.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:43 PM
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I go to a meeting that is FULL of high bottom drunks. I fit in well there.

When I started my 4th step with my sponsor she said something that messed with my head. I could not get over it so I had to talk to her about it. I told her how I felt and we worked it out. That was nearly a year ago.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:46 PM
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Sometimes, in AA, we use expressions that we have learned in the program. If you read in the BB about high bottom drunks, perhaps you won't feel slighted by his comment.
No need to prove you're an alcoholic by going further down, just start where you are. I'm a high bottom drunk too, and that's okay by me.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:58 PM
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I was told alcoholism is like riding a elevator,but this elevator started at the top.I could get off any time I wanted,or I could ride it all the way down..I see you got off instead of riding it all the way down..good!
I don`t see it as a personel attack or put down,maybe an assestment..
I wouldn`t worry about it too much,he probally didn`t mean any harm by it.we alcoholics are kinda sensitive sometimes....but if you want to,you can inquire of him want it means and let him explain it..
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Old 01-13-2008, 09:29 PM
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I would consider it a compliment. It just means you sought help before you fell completely into hell.

Personally, I choose not to judge someone else by what they have or don't have when they find sobriety. The outside stuff is irrelevant. It is the inside that ultimately destroys us as alcoholics. Some are just fortunate enough to have reached the inside bottom before they lost all the outside stuff. That is in no way a bad thing.

Just a thought, have you talked with your sponsor and let them know that it kind of hurt your feelings. I have found that for me when I hear something that hurts my feelings and I am having trouble not taking it personally it helps me to talk with the person and find out the intent behind the comment. Usually, I find that I took it in a different way than it was intended. Especially in early sobriety, because my feelings were so raw and new anyway everything hurt.
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:03 AM
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Hi Gravity,

Only advice I can offer is to echo tanyapmc and nandm, talk to your sponsor about it. It is very possible you are reading more into a simple remark than he ever intended but you won't know if you don't ask.

I was lucky. I got off the elevator before I lost everything. Sometimes when I am sitting at tables, I get the feeling that there is a secret fellowship within the fellowship that I will never belong to because I didn't lose everything. On the other hand, sometimes when I share the details of what it was like for me at the end, I get the feeling that other people at the table are looking at me and thinking "Jeez, this character is really an alcoholic, glad I never let it get that bad."

Bottom line is that how ever bad it was we stopped is bad enough. It's good to keep the 4th promise in mind: "No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others."
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:33 AM
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A stubbed toe hurts as much as a broken bone..

I can think of many reasons why he would say such but I can only think of one reason why it would bother you.

We can't control what other people think or say.
We can only control how we react.
If it bothers you...work it as a resentment and if there is a next time...
Thicker skin and the realization that others may need do some learning also helps let it roll off the back like water on a duck.
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:33 AM
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My advice?
Talk to him.
Focus on the good ...and move forward.

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Old 01-14-2008, 03:50 AM
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Good comments! Talk to your Sponsor...it's all good!
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:32 AM
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You can even find this in the table of contents in the big book - the way they classify the stories in the back: AA Pioneers, They Stopped in Time, They Nearly Lost All

(this may not be 100% accurate as I am going solely off memory right now, but I think the general idea is there - different outside circumstance when people got to AA and recovered).

~A
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:40 AM
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I had to laugh as I read others suggestions because they fall right into line with what I would suggest. Talk to your sponsor! LOL

We all hear that a lot when dealing with any resentment, but especially one with ones sponsor! Sounds crazy doesn't it!

Looking back at my drinking days someone would say something and I would either blow up and find out I had not understood what they meant, or I would clam up and let the anger build up inside of me, plotting revenge some times!!!!

I have learned that 99% of the time that when some one says something to me that I am uncomfortable with, that I am simply taking it the worng way, whey never were talking down to me or even at me.

High bottom drunk!!!! Damn good thing to me, my bottom was at the edge of a cliff, one more drink, one more step and I would have been a low bottom drunk or dead!!!!

Times have changed a lot, there are more high bottom drunks in AA then low ones, mainly due to people being far more aware of problems caused by drinking.

My sponsor gets a good laugh when I hit him up with a resentment I have with him, he explains what he meant, I laugh and we move forward, I have a sponsee now and we have the same deal going!
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:06 AM
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It hit me today while rereading this thread that I have waste so much of myself on resentments. It is no longer worth the time and energy to regurgitate anger over and over again; in truth it has always been a waste. If I remember how damaging resentments are and how much of my finite life is lost, I may never have to be resentful again. Like any habitual activity, stopping the cycle of anger – blame – resentment can be achieved with diligence and acceptance. I must handle those things I get angry about today, before I have the validation to turn the feeling into resentment alter today or tomorrow.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:48 AM
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I've been told that you hit bottom once you quit digging. Bottom is still bottom no matter how far down you go. I happen to be a lower bottom than some, but I think the best thing I did was surrender where I was, because no matter how far down you go, it can always get worse. Hey I nursed resentments against people because I was jealous they "figured the program out" easier than I did I had to go back out and try some controlled drinking unsuccessfully for about 8 years before I even put together these last nine months of sobriety. As far as resentments, nobody likes being in a class of drinkers, let alone categorized and insulted by others. But in the beginning we agreed that we would go to any lengths to gain victory over alcohol and if I have to endure a little ribbing from others, that is better than going back out and possibly dying or worse living in an alcoholic lifestyle. I think the pros outweigh the cons in aa. They have made me feel a part of rather than the black sheep of --. I no longer feel unique and alone. And that is worth everything to me.
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:11 PM
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The truth as sad as it may be most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled before they really commence to solve their problems. I don’t know if you read the Big Book at all but in Chapter 3 pg 39 it gives a description of an alcoholic named Fred. It describes Fred as having a good income, a fine home, married with children. Well Fred would be considered a high bottom drunk but he still ended up getting this program. Skid row isn’t a requirement for membership. The last I knew the only requirement for membership was a desire to stop drinking. If you have that desire then there is a solution…..

My sponsor called me hopeless he was right I was, good luck…
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:28 PM
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My sponsor, for the first three years I was sober, used to ask me about every couple of months, "I ever tell you I didn't think you were going to make it?" The first few times, I took offense until it became a running joke with us.

I've been classified as a high bottom drunk by some oldtimers because I got sober at 34. How bad could it have been? I had no money, no possessions to speak of, my health was shot, I was unemployable, but I still had custody of my kids, so I hadn't lost everything.

I don't think "high bottom drunk" is a slight, either. I think it's a blessing! Yes, I'm sure you have a pile of wreckage in your past. What drunk doesn't? But if you think of the hurt you've saved your family, your employer, your friends, your society by getting sober now, it might put it in perspective. You hurt as badly as you had to hurt, both yourself and others, to make the decision to get well again. Good for you!!

I have a sponsee who just turned thirty. She's been sober for three years. Her bottom? One day, she realized that this "five year plan" she made in college was almost ten years in the works, and none of her goals had yet been achieved. She struggled, stumbled a few times, then finally committed to doing whatever it took to get and stay sober. High bottom? Sure! But low enough for her. That's all it takes.

Peace & Love,
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:57 PM
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Aren't we all lucky to be alive and sober? Lucky, repreive, grace...whatever one decides it is, we are still here and we still have a chance. Keep up the good work!
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:15 PM
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Thank you for all the replies. Honestly, I didn't expect this much help. I value all responses posted.

I really should be grateful that despite all of the wreckage in my past, I have a loving family (my kids are a true gift from God) that has not given up on me, and an employer that still has confidence in my abilities. Thanks to my Creator, I am reasonably healthy & sane and I did not physically hurt anybody in all my years of out of control drinking. If this is a high bottom drunk, then it's a good thing!

At the right time, I will talk to my sponsor about this. I guess more than anything I took it to mean that he was saying "You think you have problems, listen to my story!" I know that this wasn't what he meant. He has told me many times how happy he is for me...that I am quitting drinking now and have fully committed to the first 3 steps (we are working on step 4)...happy that I have a family, career, and that he sees unlimited potential. I guess it is kind of hard to see any kind of positives early in sobriety (still struggling with this a bit but not so bad).

One thing I am trying to do is not take things I cannot control as personal attacks. This ties into my 'need' to have everything go my way and if it doesn't, it upsets me. I cannot obsess over this kind of thing because it really messes with my ability to focus on my sobriety. I can't change overnight but I have to be so careful with my state of mind.

Thanks again everyone. I do have a much better perspective on this matter.


One a funnier note, when I first met my sponsor, I told him that I thought the reason I still had my family & job was because my wife & boss thought I was a nice guy. He looked at me, thought for a moment, and without smiling said "Well, I don't think your a nice guy." He later told me he thought I was "okay". We laughed hard about this and (of course) he had to talk to me about my over-inflated ego! If we can't laugh at ourselves....
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Old 01-15-2008, 05:14 AM
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Gravity what is neat about all of this is we all learned, not just you! This is part of the "In order to keep what we have, we have to give it away!", I gave from my experience and drank in what others shared of thier experience.

Thanks for the topic Gravity and thanks to all of you for your shares.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:29 AM
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Not losing everything is good. My wife drank for 3 years, and I drank for about 16 years. I was in the military. I didn't lose anything compared to some but like you mentioned, I hurt more people than I care to think about. My family mostly.

Just because I didn't lose everything doesn't mean I don't qualify for sobriety. Just because I didn't lose everything doesn't mean I don't deserve to be sober. I don't have to go back out and improve my story just to impress people. This isn't a contest. It's life or death. I, like some other folks I know, fell into the trap of comparing my record to others. I'd suggest to you, as was suggested to me to stress identifying similarities and not differences when at a meeting or talking to other drunks.

As far as your sponsor is concerned, you need to talk to him and let him know what you're thinking and feeling. He might have just mis-spoke. At any rate, the point is, my wife and I have a combined total of 63 years sober and you can stay sober too. Sometimes I just have to be a little thicker skinned and not be so sensitive about what others say. I don't know of anywhere in the Big Book where it says that we have to have consumed a certain number of gallons, gotten DUIs, or have been divorced and lost our kids in order to qualify. I just need a desire to stop drinking.
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