Conflicted with AA

Old 03-31-2019, 07:40 AM
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Conflicted with AA

I am 2 months sober from alcohol. I have battled addiction on and off my whole life. I attended NA in the 90's and remained clean and sober for many years without the program. I knew I could never do drugs again. My alcohol problem began after gastric bypass surgery. Before that I never was a drinker. I never liked the buzz from it. After surgery is a whole new ballgame. It is very common for people to become to problem drinkers because of the rewiring of your digestive system. You process alcohol very differently. I personally know someone who ruined their whole life because of alcohol after surgery and is now a felon. He never really drank before surgery.

That being said, I am very happy I am sober and am getting stronger every day. I have struggled now for about a decade. I am 50 yrs old and do not want to spend the rest of my life a drunk. It is ridiculous. I go to AA meetings pretty regularly. For the most part, I like going and it helps me. I am committed to the rest of my life sober from alcohol.

I struggle with AA though. There is a lot of wisdom in the program, but I am an Atheist. That will never change. I know I am powerless over alcohol if I ever have even 1. I know I cannot do this by myself and need help. I see my doctor regularly as well. I have made some significant life changes and am replacing drinking time with better alternatives. The thing is, I have no interest in having a sponsor or working the steps past step 3. I am NOT doing that inventory. I have been in therapy on and off my whole life and am acutely self-aware. I have analyzed my crap for decades and am not doing that anymore. I had crappy parents and was the scapegoat of my family until I cut them out like cancer. I am also not making amends with people who hurt me. No thanks. There is no one left alive I need to apologize too.

I did not start drinking to cover up my problems. My life was great. I drank because it was fun until it wasn't. I became addicted and stopped handling my life. I fell apart because of my addiction. I cannot post my challenges with AA in an AA forum. Those old timers are conditioned to believe there is only one solution. I have tried finding that higher power without God and cannot. I have no interest in revisiting a past I have left behind for my own sanity let alone sharing it with a stranger. No thanks. I get a lot out of meetings and will keep going though. There is one guy in my regular meeting who has never worked the steps and has 10+ years sober.

I guess after my long essay, I am wondering if there are others like me who attend meetings but have no interest in working the program. Addiction does not have a one size fits all solution in my opinion.
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Old 03-31-2019, 07:51 AM
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I had a lot of the same feelings as you did, for a lot of the same reasons. It does work for some people.

There are also many people in AA and they don't all do things the same way. Maybe bring up atheism in a meeting and get a discussion going. It's always interesting.

All of this (sobriety/life) is about finding our own path. Every single person does it differently and it is an inside job for all of us. Find your path, Lola. Only you know what that is.
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Old 03-31-2019, 11:23 AM
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What will you do instead of AA? Plenty of choices.

I was at a meeting today - not an AA mtg but one specifically for the restaurant industry- and the topic of resentments was on deck. AA 4th step or any method of addressing that stuff - pretty critical to me.

Re the "God thing" - is there anything bigger than just you in which you believe? A political party, Greg Allman, an imaginary pal called Chuckie? (I stole that last one from the movie "Don't Worry He Won't get Far on Foot)

I mean this kindly- and empathetically - anytime I find myself capitalizing the word NOT as far as what I won't do, it's a red flag. The only thing that applies to is "I will NOT drink no matter what" - but short of that, I need to consider whether my resistance or absolute is good for that sober self...or potentially deadly.
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Old 03-31-2019, 11:30 AM
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AA is not a secular approach to recovery, but for atheists in rural communities, it's probably the only game in town. Atheists can utilize the support and understanding in meetings and ignore or greatly modify the rest. I rewrote the steps so that I could approach them with a degree of intellectual honesty. The steps work about the same with or without a higher power or mystical experience influencing the outcome.

You've been in therapy. The inventory is a simple introduction to self evaluation. Just keep practicing the skills you've picked up in therapy. In fact, all the steps are an introduction to life skills designed to be useful for all, especially beginners, but with a spiritual spin.

The foundation of sobriety is abstinence. The steps may help point the way to a better life, at least better than the life most newcomers WERE living, but I have never considered them essential for joyful sobriety. Not everyone comes into the program or begins sobriety not knowing anything. We all enter the new life with varying ability and degree of skills.
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Old 03-31-2019, 11:30 AM
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I think you need to get a hold of a mod, and ask them to move this thread to Secular 12 Step forum , the stickie explains what topics are off limits in 'here'.

I'm for open discussion 'everywhere' but the mods have determined over the years how best to handle their site.
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Old 03-31-2019, 12:36 PM
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Well, you sound pretty well grounded to me, it's just a matter of doing what you need to do to stay abstinent. I'm an atheist, and I don't attend AA any more, but it did help me in the early times to get my feet onto dry ground. If there are things in the meetings that are helpful to you in your recovery, that's great; it not, and you need the face time, there may be other group meetings more suited to your thinking. These forums work pretty well for me in that, but if I needed face time I wouldn't hesitate to go to our AA group in my town. Whatever winds keep your kite in the air, that's what I'd follow.
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:29 PM
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It can be hard to get comfortable in AA because by its very nature it is going to be a poor fit to most. AA was conceived in 1939 by and for; white, middle aged, middle class, christian, men. When it was written in 1939 there was no neuroscience and nearly no psychology... and then there's the whole God thing.

But that all makes it too tempting to throw the baby out with the bathwater. AA has some excellent advantages too: it's free, it's widely available, it places you immediately inside a large support group, and strange as some of the 12 steps appear, most of them are actually therapeutically worthwhile.

I guess the best way is try to bend yourself a little to be able to take advantage of the benefits offered. That's what I do anyway. The rest I just let wash past my ears... it helps others, so I don't need to interfere with it, just let it past.
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Old 05-06-2019, 09:24 AM
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As I noted in another thread, AA emphasizes spirituality and escaping from ruinous selfish needs.

Accomplishing these things, one way or another, is probably essential to true sobriety.

We can't contentedly manage everyday life if we don't overcome the tyranny of our urge to use. The urge to use, essentially, is a very solitary and selfish need. So a way of life that embraces something bigger than ourselves is essential.

AA teaches both of these things. Its notion of God is flexible; it doesn't prescribe the nature, appearance, or history of God.

Something created the world I live in, and I need to find a way to embrace the wonders of that world to be content. In doing so, I'm tacitly embracing the power or essence that created the universe even if I don't need to define it or pray to it.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by zoobadger View Post
AA emphasizes spirituality and escaping from ruinous selfish needs.
ive been to >7k meetings and never heard it put that way before

i like it

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Old 05-07-2019, 05:02 AM
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^^^Interesting, january - I hear it all the time here. As in, most meetings, in some version. Def a reminder I need
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Old 05-09-2019, 05:01 PM
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My experience of AA is not that it is a cult, but some members exhibit cult-like behaviour. I also find the veneration of long term sober members, some of who are or behave like dry drunks and appear to have long lost sight of the core principles of the programme whose praises they sing to others, troublesome. Nevertheless for this alcoholic, there are enough positives to keep me coming back.
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Ustacallmelola View Post

I know I am powerless over alcohol if I ever have even 1.

There is one guy in my regular meeting who has never worked the steps and has 10+ years sober.
I suppose that it is quite important to define what you mean by alcoholism. Myself, I lost the power of choice in drink, which is not the same as being powerless after the first drink. That was only a part of the problem, and if that was all it was, then the answer would be to simply not take the first drink.

But that is where the real powerlessness kicks in. Unlike those who can " not drink" no matter what, I drank no matter what. I often found myself drinking again with no memory of how I got started. There were no thoughts to remind me why I wanted to stop. There were many good reasons, but these failed to appear in my consciousness when they were most needed. I was without defence against the first drink, and the only way to survive was to find an effective 24/7 defense that didn't rely on me remembering anything.

I often hear the saying "I am doing what works for me". What frightens me is the way we find out if we got it wrong and the price we pay for that.

People come to AA for all sorts of reasons, my sponsor told me many years ago. Some are actually real alcoholics there to get sober. But there are many others reasons, lonliness, mental illness and so forth. There are also the hard drinkers who can stop or moderate without needing to work the steps. It is often difficult to tell them apart.

Here is what happened to two alcoholics who were the "lost the power of choice" types who tried to follow the path your 10 year man was on. Both where real nice people, regular at the meetings, one was a meeting secretary for many years. They seemed to be able to stay sober on meetings alone, and they did, for as long as life treated them ok.

Then something happened. I don't know what it was with Zac, but out of nowhere the obsession came back, he drank. His 10 years sober and all the knowledge he acquired through all those meetings was wiped from his consciousness. He was a popular guy. the last time I saw him he was surrounded by his AA friends who were trying to help him recover. He never did. He died three months later.

Sally made it to about 25 years, had a lovely relationship with her husband, her life was looking pretty good, then out of the blue her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her world was shattered. She turned immediately to drink. Happily, she made it back from the abyss. Now she lives the steps and helps others in addition to her meeting attendance and she has been given the power to handle her situation at home without the need to drink.

It may not be too difficult to stay sober when life is going well, but what happens when things go wrong as they surely will? We have potentially two solutions to life. The old one and the new. Which one will we turn to?
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:49 PM
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It always helps me to remember that some of the original AA guys were into some werid occult stuff, so the fact that some see AA as requiring a christian approach gives me a chuckle.

I do not attend AA, but I have found that as someone who always identified with being an atheist, I have found faith in the universe. And now I see why the AA wrote the steps they way they did.

Having faith in the fact that if you do your best to do the right thing, the universe will have your back, makes it all just so much easier.

You do sound like you are on top of this though (to me).
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:28 AM
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It's your life and sobriety. If you like the community or any other aspects of AA meetings but don't want to work the steps, then just do it and forget what anyone else thinks. I use therapy instead of 12 Step, and I'm pretty happy with the results and rock-solid in my sobriety.

You're fine.
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Old 06-01-2019, 12:49 PM
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I tried AA numerous times and it always seemed like a cult. The reciting of the "god given" 12 steps at the beginning of every meeting, the total emphasis on a god that doesn't exist, etc. Accept totally, or even if you are sober, you are only a dry drunk. Totally turned me off.

I continued to drink until circumstances led me to a therapist who is exceptional. I've been to way too many. They listen and ask "how does that make you feel?" An effing computer could do that.

This guy calls me on my ****, actually discusses alternatives to how I feel and what I can do differently, offers suggestions, and has been a major difference in my life.

If you lived in the area I would give you his name and a reference. I would encourage you to do a serious search for a therapist that isn't the BS "how do you feel about that?" type and one that actually will offer answers and strategies.
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:00 AM
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That's gold 🤣
still have plenty of fight in ya there.
You do it your way, it's okay to do that.

The 12 steps will always be there for those who want or need them.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sortofhomecomin View Post
My experience of AA is not that it is a cult, but some members exhibit cult-like behaviour. I also find the veneration of long term sober members, some of who are or behave like dry drunks and appear to have long lost sight of the core principles of the programme whose praises they sing to others, troublesome. Nevertheless for this alcoholic, there are enough positives to keep me coming back.
Yeah, this sums it up for me as well. Completely agree
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:33 AM
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I go to AA once a week, used to be much more- to socialize and remind myself not to get complacent. I do not take the god stuff or the hardliners too much heed, it worked for them and are happy being who they are..a lifestyle thing for some.
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Old 08-18-2019, 12:00 AM
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There's plenty of room in AA for everyone, even atheists.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Ustacallmelola View Post
... Addiction does not have a one size fits all solution in my opinion.
It's very difficult for me to believe that you don't need or feel there's any value in the First Step, the Fourth Step, the Tenth Step, and the 12th Step.

No one I have ever met or ever heard of with a problem with alcohol can stay away from a drink without the First Step.

A certain amount of self-examination, and I'm NOT talking about dredging up the past, cannot possibly be a bad thing; adapt the Fourth Step to your needs.

Also, I find it unwise and counter-productive to try to get through life without at least trying to exercise daily honesty about my daily activities required by the Tenth Step, including admitting when I'm wrong....which does happen; shocking, but it does happen. People can believe or not believe anything they want about God, but I think we all agree none of us is God. At least I sure as hell ain't God.

I suppose you could stay away from drinking without ever putting yourself in the service of others as suggested in the 12th Step, but why would anyone want to live like that in the first place? One of the best things you can do for overall health, even, maybe ESPECIALLY, for people early on, is to engage in service to others, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, like just making coffee for the group, for instance.

I'm not a believer. But I decided very early on that it was more important for me to quit drinking (and stay quit) than refuse to take advantage of what the Alcoholics Anonymous program has to offer.

Having said all that, I think it's wonderful when people continue to go to meetings and make connections even if they struggle with the religious slant of the program.

Maybe find a healthy open-minded atheist for a sponsor; God knows* there's plenty of them in the program!

*That's just an expression, you know!!!

p.s. I'm perfectly aware that this discussion was started six or seven months ago, long before I got here, and I have no idea what happened to the original poster, but I'm assuming the discussion is still worth having.
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