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Left AA?

Old 05-24-2007, 09:36 PM
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Left AA?

Hi,

I am a recovering alcoholic/drug addict who took his last drink or drug on March 25,2006. I quit smoking cigarettes about a month later, joined a Zen Buddhist sangha, and began to meditate daily. In the Summer of 2006 I went vegetarian, and have been so ever since. I also started running, and have kept that up at least 5 days a week for some time.

In addition, especially in the beginning, I went to AA meetings, a great many. I am a Buddhist, and do my best to practice Theravada now, the oldest tradition, though I like the other schools a great deal as well. So I meditate each morning, and read the Dhamapadda or the Sutta Nipata, and sometimes I do a loving-kindness meditation at night, as well, if I am not too tired. My Buddhist practice, including visiting a local monastery with Theravadan and Mahayana monks, has changed my life for the better.

Buddha taught his followers to think for themselves, and to rely on themselves, and to work out their own salvations with diligence, which goes against the entire AA grain of depending on a HIgher Power or God to save one from one's self.

I constantly hear people debating out loud whether or not what they want to do is "their will" or "God's will". I hear people who drove to themselves to meetings that night say "Left to my own devices, I get drunk", and think to myself, "Then why aren't you drunk right now? Why did you drive here? Did God drive you?" It is as if all these people are caught in a war with demons within themselves at all times, as if Satan (my disease) is perched on one shoulder, and God on the other.

I guess I am asking if anyone on this board has left AA, and what other options for non-theistic types are out there? I stopped going to meetings for two weeks, and I did not want to drink, but I went back a week or so ago. I am seriously debating whether or not to leave the group, not because I want to drink, but because there are so many unhealthy, crazy, egoistic people who use the meetings as a grand stage for their "recovery". There is a great deal of talking about spiritual values, but very few genuine examples of these values, other than a lot of rhetoric. There are some wonderful people I have met, too, including my sponsor, who is a very good man, but I grow weary of the fear and repetition of sacred ideology I find in most meetings. Free thinking is discouraged, as is excellence of any kind. The old "crabs in a barrel" metaphor always come to mind. Fit in at all costs, I tell myself, and then hate myself for lying.

The Buddha taught that not by words, debate, logic, disputation, consideration or tradition can a view be held to be healthy and wholesome, until one knows FOR ONE'S SELF, that "this view leads to happiness, to peace, to dispassion". I agree with the Buddha, but if I said this in a meeting, that philosophical opinions are meaningless expressions of subjectivity, I would be attacked as an unbeliever, I think, though it is true.

AA seems like one big battle over views and opinions, sometimes, like a ritualistic tradition where the tribe comes together and affirms its belief in its core principles. Many, such as acceptance, tolerance, patience, kindness, and honesty, as expressed in the Big Book and 12 and 12, are wonderful. But interspersed with all of Bill Wilson's wonderful insights is the notion that a "Tsar of the Heavens", a "Creative Intelligence" is "running the show", and that we must rely on God, and not ourselves, to save us from ourselves. "(No human power could have relieved our alcoholism/God could and would, if he were sought)"

Essentially, the vision is that of a time bomb that must be defused on a nightly basis by attendance at meetings, lest it detonate in an orgy of booze. This is insane, to me, at least.

Could you please share your own thoughts on recovery, the 12 Steps, and your own beliefs, whatever they may be? I would like to learn what other people have done in similar situations. I have read some of your posts, and they have been very helpful. I will continue to visit.

Thank you. Be Well.

-Angulimala
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Old 05-24-2007, 09:49 PM
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Congratulations on finding your path of sober happiness


Others will be along later I hope to share
I only want to say...

Welcome to SR!
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Old 05-25-2007, 01:48 AM
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One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps by Kevin Griffin
This is a book I enjoyed and available from Amazon The author compares these two well.
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Old 05-25-2007, 03:42 AM
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Welcome, I really enjoyed your post. I have been in and out of the AA program for 20 YEARS now..always trying to get it right..yet never making the grade to long term sobriety. I find I am starting to think myself as some defective individual that just can't work it right,,,
I am still going to go to meetings but think I will do so with much more of a open mind.
I have been reading some buddhist material myself and find it is the one thing that slows my mind down so I am going to stick with it.
I am not downing aa...I just have to find what is truly going to bring me sobriety and some peace within myself...my life depends on it right now..I just had a relapse that scared me so bad..I never thought I would do what I did again,,,I have to look for other solutions at this point,
really appreciate you sharing your experience..strenght and hope..
love north
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Old 05-25-2007, 04:43 AM
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I ain't a buddhist or an anything. I'm just a simpleton. I left AA for pretty much the same reasons as you. I recover by myself and it is working.

12 Steps?....I never understood them.
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Old 05-25-2007, 04:47 AM
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Hi Angulimala!

What a great post!

I'm a big fan of Bill Alexander's books - Cool Water particularly. He too is a Buddhist who got sober in AA. I identify a lot with him and his outlook.

My own experience is that my life of sobriety within AA has a great big set of imperfections. But I would not, under any circumstances, swap those imperfections for the imperfections my life had when I was a practicing drunk outside the fellowship! My challenge therefore, is to live with the imperfections of the fellowship and find peace. It's easier than the alternative!
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Old 05-25-2007, 05:04 AM
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Hi Angulimala. Welcome to SR.

There' s a sticky at the top of this forum with some useful links.

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...cular-web.html

I've had some success practicing REBT and use the tools from Smart Recovery, but I also like to read about these other programs what people have found helpful for their recovery.

I choose not to involve my spiritual beliefs in my recovery and have not participated in face to face meetings. This has worked well for me and I've had some major life improvements over the past year and expect more positive changes yet to come.

Keep well

Ron
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Old 05-25-2007, 05:18 AM
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angulimala... welcome to the world of recovery, and congratultions on a better existance...

nice first post...

as far as your question, and A.A.


for years i was searching for the spiritual answer to life, and mine...

it brought me to Hell with the bottle, drugs and myself...

yep, the rooms can be a tad nervey at times... the pride, the control, and the whoping egos...

bottom line, all of that put aside, the real power of people gathered together that share a common bond... staying clean and sober made, and stil makes sence to me... such as this recovery board...

the reading... "its when our will comforms with gods will" makes sence for me... its a combo thing...

that god, HP, or power greater... for me, i see it as equal...

the hidden clause in A.A. lol

these keywords regarding the 12 steps of A.A. is what i do for my life, and my recovery...

step-1... acceptance

step-2... faith

step-3... surrender & trust

step-4... honesty

step-5... courage

step-6... willingness

step-7... humility

step-8... forgivenes

step-9 freedom

step-10... perserverance

step-11... patience

step-12 charity & love


i try to do the above, and have stayed clean, sober, and relativaly happy for some time now...

i like to keep it simple, and save the time and energy to enjoy whats rest of my life...

i still go to meetings, and yep, i can get crazed at them from time to time... part of my wisdom to know the differance at them... is knowing when to get the hell out if need be...

good wishes Angulimala

xxoo, rz
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Old 05-25-2007, 01:27 PM
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I am too new to sobriety to be able to speak with any authority about what works and what doesn't, even for me. I do know that AA didn't, and I did try, for a long time. This, though, is working for me, far better than AA did.

Being a logical girl, I decided to break the disease down into every possible element and assault it on every front. I've seen a Dr. who has some understanding of brain chemistry and addictive disease, and am on a medication that makes cravings almost non-existent. That helps a great deal. I find the SMART website very helpful - they have online meetings, and I've found a therapist in my area that specializes in REBT.

On the holistic front, there are a number of supplements and amino acids that help with cravings and can help repair the damage that years of drinking have done. I've also heard that acupuncture can be helpful, but I haven't tried it.

I exercise daily, mildly, yoga or long distance walking, and eschew sugar in my diet.

Now- the spiritual front - I've left that for last.

*knows she sounds like a new age nut, but damn, it's working*
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Old 05-26-2007, 09:31 AM
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For an interesting interpretation of the 12 steps and aa see the paperback book titled powerfully recovered by Ann Weyman. She proposes that the original message of AA has been lost /diluted by myths that have grown thru the years that propose people never recover and for ever stay powerless of their addiction. She builds her case largely with quotes from the big book itself. She believes that people with long term sobriety can stop going to meetings or limit their contact with aa. She stops short of saying people should stop going to meetings but if it does not "nurture your recovery" you can. You also can check out her website for a summary/overview of her work. The fact that she herself used the 12 steps to get sober makes the book even more interesting.
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Old 05-26-2007, 10:34 AM
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I consider myself an orthodox, by the book AA'er.

I encourage people to think for themselves and don't consider it "anti-AA." In the book Alcoholics Anonymous, it tells me to honestly ask myself what these spiritual terms mean to me. Which I take to mean "Find out for yourself! Don't impose what I think I know onto them or take anyone else's word. Get a good dictionary and find out."

Prior to the Third Step, the book helps me to make sure I AM ready to take that step. No one knows I'm ready but me. Then in the sex conduct inventory (Fourth Step), it says that counsel with others is often desirable, in the end I let God (my conscience) be the final judge. I think that this applies to any and all situations in life, not just sex.

When, after a Fifth Step, I've returned home and been quiet for an hour reviewing the work I've done so far, it says this "If I can answer these questions to MY satisfaction (Not my sponsor's satisfaction), then I am ready to look at Step Six.

At Step Ten, I'm restored to sanity (right thinking) and proper use of the will. At Step Eleven it says that God gave me a brain to use and I can use it and rely on it all I wish when my thinking is clear of wrong motives and placed upon a higher plane. I come to rely on intuitive thought.

The people that helped me along the path of my spiritual quest in AA told me to follow my heart.l I encourage you to do the same, Angulimala, whether in or out of AA.

A sidenote-I've read the book "Powerfully Recovered'" and agree 100% with the author. I see too many in AA that are afraid to take responsibility for their own lives, but instead sit in AA meetings blindly following the heard, nodding their heads and talking what I call "fellowship speak" and spreading the myths that kill alcoholics.
Jim
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Old 05-26-2007, 01:20 PM
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I don't consider myself an AA'er at all, though I have tried to "work" the program and have attended at least a couple hundered AA/NA meetings over the last 5 or so years.

My understanding of why people with longtern sobriety "keep coming back" is to give back to the newcommer, which in turn "helps" the longtimer. I believe that is kinda the jist of Step 12. Most, but certainly not all, people I've known with longterm sobriety do not necessarily attend meetings every day. Many go once or twice a week, usually to their "home group" to keep in touch and do service work. That is not to say they don't beniffit in other ways by continuing to go to meetings, but many people find that as their lives become more "normal" (whatever that is!!) work and family obgilations that had been avoided while using and in early recovery take up more of their time. Again these are just my observations. I am by no means an expert. Take care.
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Old 05-26-2007, 02:50 PM
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Congratulations on finding your source to freedom.

I have always repected Buddhists aproach to self enlightenment and if there was any particular religion I feel I could align myself with it would probably a form of buddhism, however it would never work for me as a way of overcoming alcohol as I have never been any good at "meditation" A.s hard as I have tried I have never been able to "clear my thoughts" LOL. The HP concept practised in AA was what helped me.

It is not hard for me to believe that there is a Power in this Universe greater than myself.
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Old 05-27-2007, 01:09 AM
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Tyler, you seem to understand AAs 12th step well. I truly believe that service is a huge part of recovery. To me, there is no higher calling for me than to help others recover. I'm saving lives by sharing my experience. Thinking of others is the exact opposite of what was at the core of my disease, selfishness.

As far as will. I don't pretend to know Gods will, but I'm, pretty sure He wouldn't have a problem with me staying sober, helping others stay sober, and raising my children. This IS a secular forum, so I'll leave it at that.

To the OP, funny you mention conformity. I was just contemplating that tonight. The old me, especially in my 20s, would have railed against conforming in any way shape or form. Yes, there's buzz words, and yes, they're thrown around (regurgitated) by those who have no understanding what they're saying. I'll tell you what though, I don't see anything wrong with acceptance , faith, surrender...et al. Also, we are just identifying that we share common problems, and common traits. You could argue we're just re-affirming dogma, but that hasn't been my experience. It's true that most of us are selfish, self centered, self-reliant, sensitive, grandiose and control freaks. It's nice to know one is not alone.

Lastly, the self-reliance aspect. I was so stubborn before coming into the program. If I didn't do it myself, why do it ? I was the guy who would push his car two blocks when it ran out of gas, declining help. "Nah, it's OK, I'll get it" followed by (boastfully) "Yep, pushed it here myself !". Wouldn't it be easier to let the 4 X 4 with the big bumper give me a push ? By someone whos pushed a few cars before ?
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Old 05-27-2007, 09:44 AM
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((Angulimama)) We all have to find what is right for each of us.


Though I also see a lot of this:

there are so many unhealthy, crazy, egoistic people who use the meetings as a grand stage for their "recovery". There is a great deal of talking about spiritual values, but very few genuine examples of these values, other than a lot of rhetoric.
What I try to remember is that the majority of us are still learning... not just about how to stay sober, but how to live life. My job is to look for the shining examples of true recovery that I can follow. If I see someone struggling and recognize something in them that I really don't like... I might have a bit of that in me.
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Old 05-27-2007, 06:39 PM
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One important factor of my drug abuse recovery program and group experience is having my personally unique plan respected by others in recovery. Nothing turns me off faster than to hear someone say that their way, or that way, of doing recovery is the best way to get sober. I want to participate in a support group that respects and supports my choices for recovery. There are numerous roads to recovery and having the ability to freely share different ideas in a group would be refreshing. As addiction disorders research advances, so can treatment modalities. Imagine running a global business with 70 year old information processing technology today. Your competitors would run you into the ground. Sharing new ideas and information in a group without the fear of being lambasted or ridiculed (I tried this in an AA meeting once and was disgusted by the response I received) would be exceedingly rewarding. Having plenty of options to choose from works for me, if I get stuck in one particular phase of my or another program I want to have the option of trying some other healthy approach with group encouragement and support .
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Old 05-27-2007, 06:57 PM
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Well, I'm going to give the AA thing another shot. I've got 30 days clean from pot (yea for me!!) but have been drinking at an increasingly alarming rate. I'm not necessarily looking to "work" the 12-step program, but want to give it a shot with a truly open mind. Worst case, I go to some meetings, it's the same 'ol $hit, and I don't go back. Best case, I meet some people I can relate to, or at least aren't drug users or drinkers, and that would be good in itself. Who knows I may meet someone who I can "work the steps" with that I can relate to. I truly want to have an open mind to the whole thing.

The article that MG posted "The Addict's Dilemna" spoke to me in a way that was almost scary. It was like the guy was in my head. The last paragraph....well let me just copy it here:

The fellowship, interpersonal and social learning, and the spiritual and cognitive resources of 12 Step and other recovery programs can be of enormous assistance in helping the recovering addict to learn such new coping strategies. A kind of Catch-22 frequently develops here, however: many addicts are so impaired in their capacity to take care of themselves and manage their moods in a healthy fashion that even participating in an interpersonal recovery program may initially be beyond their resources. Thus it is often quite a challenge and stress for them merely to begin regular attendance at helpful support meetings – and many people who might benefit substantially from such meetings simply avoid them, offering as excuses for doing so a variety of familiar and predictable rationalizations. The characteristic addictive response is along the lines of "I’d rather do it by myself," an attitude that itself signals what is usually a longstanding difficulty in recognizing the need for help and in being able to request and accept it when it is in the best interest of the individual to do so.

I do all of that and unfortunatly 12-step programs are the only thing available to me here. So maybe I need to give it another chance. I don't guess it could hurt. So tomorrow nite, if you want to get ahold of me...I'll be at a meetin'!! Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it!!!
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Old 05-28-2007, 05:37 AM
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Good luck Tyler.
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Old 05-28-2007, 12:24 PM
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Thus it is often quite a challenge and stress for them merely to begin regular attendance at helpful support meetings – and many people who might benefit substantially from such meetings simply avoid them, offering as excuses for doing so a variety of familiar and predictable rationalizations. The characteristic addictive response is along the lines of "I’d rather do it by myself," an attitude that itself signals what is usually a longstanding difficulty in recognizing the need for help and in being able to request and accept it when it is in the best interest of the individual to do so.
I saved that. It really hit home.

The old me:

" Yeah, it takes a boatload of courage to swallow your pride and walk into those rooms. But I did it."

My new reality.

" Yeah, it took getting really deperate to walk into those rooms. It was my last chance. I didn't do anthing special really. But it works. Want some help ?"

Sorry to hijack a secular thread. Tylers post was uplifitng and illuminating.
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Old 05-28-2007, 07:29 PM
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I also do not wish to hijack this thread, so I will move further discussion to the SC Check-in thread.
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