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Old 01-14-2009, 05:12 PM
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Newcomer says hello :)

Hi, not sure of the forum etiquette and couldn't find a general newcomers thread, and wanted to say hi!

I'm a few months sober - not really counting the days... Last drink was around last August. Been going to AA for about a year and a half. Really struggled with the religious aspects of AA, as i'm an atheist.

Was looking around on the web for some sort of secular recovery / support things and found this site, so joined up! Seems to be a really cool place.

Does anyone know of any agnostic or atheist support groups in the uk? I can't seem to find anything, yet i have heard people mention them elsewhere... Perhaps in the States there is more choice and variety?

The difficulty i have is that there is a definite tendency in the big book to be quite disparaging of agnosticism or atheism, and it's quite clearly talking about a supernatural creative intelligence when talking about "god". It just feels like it prevents me from getting the most from the program.

Anyway - hi! And thanks for a great site!
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:52 PM
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Welcome to SR! You may want to check the stickies as I believe there are some secular programs that have meetings in the UK.
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:54 PM
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Welcome, Spark!

I don't think there's any etiquette in this forum...
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:07 PM
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thanks! I'm really glad i found this place - i have a couple of meetings i'm comfortable in, but it's really good to be able to have contact with like minded addicts...

I'll check out the stickys too!
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:10 PM
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Hello, spark. Welcome to the secular side of SR.
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:23 PM
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Welcome to the British area of The LSR website
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:37 PM
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Thanks mate. They don't have any "face to face" meetings in the uk, but it looks a good resource all the same - really appreciate the link.

Hopefully it'll grow - unfortunately in the uk we're behind you guys over the pond when it comes to an honest / open attitude towards alcohol misuse! Imho of course.
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:29 PM
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Hi Spark,

Yes welcome to our little nook here.

I live in a very large city in the U.S. and there are no face-to-face alternative meetings here either. I also go to AA for the group support.

Hope to see you around more.

Also, on the main forum towards the top is the "Newcomers to Recovery" section; feel free to introduce yourself there as well. Lots of action there and in the "Alcoholism" section.

Last edited by desertdonna; 01-14-2009 at 07:34 PM. Reason: additonal info.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:23 AM
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The thing that made the most difference for me was AA, i stayed away from there for a long time because of the religious part. I had to get desperate enough to try it, and i'm glad i did!

Makes a real difference to know you're not alone (kinda like this place!). And other addicts are really the only people who understand.

The other thing that made a difference was how horrible my last relapse was - drunk driving, in blackout so don't remember much, was very uncooperative with the police and nearly went to prison. That really was my wake up call. It's true what they say about needing to find your own rock bottom. Whenever i crave a drink the memory of that night is strong enough to remind me just where alcohol takes me.

Unfortunately for some, i guess their rock bottom takes everything away, including their life in some cases.

With my AA groups, the two i attend are quite ambiguous about "god" and i don't get too much of a bad reaction if i share that i'm an atheist.
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Old 01-15-2009, 11:41 AM
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I'm glad that you've found some meetings that are more agreeable to you.

I don't share often unless it's a small bit of experience, but always in a secular way. Of course, HP themes abound during meetings, which is fine as that's the way the program is written. I don't share my personal beliefs in meetings as they aren't relevant to what's transpiring in the group. However, of all the people I've chatted with either before or afterwards, there's never been a mention of beliefs, HP, etc., for the most part.

Do you have a sponsor and/or working the steps? I don't and haven't. Not sure if I will or not. I think Ananda and SelfSeeking are the only ones here that are doing that, unless Paul is doing them on the side without telling us.

Yep, I don't think anyone wants to return to what our lives were like under the influence.

Good to hear from you again.

Hugs,
Donna
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Old 01-15-2009, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by desertdonna View Post
I think Ananda and SelfSeeking are the only ones here that are doing that, unless Paul is doing them on the side without telling us.
Yeah.. I'm a closet 12-Stepper...

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Old 01-15-2009, 11:57 AM
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Yes, i know what you mean - it's usually enough to talk about a higher power in a fairly non-commital way, without it becoming a religious debate. As you say, it's not really relevant to the purpose of the meeting what that higher power actually is.

Occasionally there are meetings that end up with people giving proofs about god, usually in the form of coincidences. I remember one in particular where a guy was convinced god put a song on the radio as a message to him. The debater in me wants to respond to things like that but i have no need to convert other people to atheism. People are free to believe what they want in my book, so long as they're not acting on those beliefs to harm others.

It just seems ironic to me that religious people accuse atheists of arrogance and self centredness (this has also happened in meetings), when they believe the universe was created for them and that the creator takes particular interest in their daily lives!

I'm not bashing AA though, just want that to be clear!
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:05 PM
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Sorry - in answer to your question, i do have a sponsor, but unfortunately he has gone awol and relapsed. I'm not sure if it will continue.

He's pretty laid back and is cool with my higher power being non-supernatural. He's a big book person, if you know what i mean, but it hasn't caused any problems between us. He's very literal about the big book though and considers it to be perfect.

Steps-wise, we were working towards them, i feel i have a solid step one, and step two and three are ok with me too - with AA as my higher power, i believe AA can help me, and i'm willing to trust the program and do what it takes (except believing in imaginary friends that is!). That's as far as we got (and up to "we agnostics" in our book study) before he disappeared.

That chapter is particularly difficult for me, as it is for most of us unbelievers i guess, as i posted in the thread about it, over in the secular 12st forum!
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:40 PM
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I think it's perfectly fine to skip over the Chapter to the Agnostics. I've read it several times. So now what, I ask? Keep going, I say. I think the nuts and bolts to the program are working the steps in a manner that "fits" our beliefs so that it will work for us. Besides hanging out with other alcoholics for the group consciousness aspect, and being of service in any manner (not just in AA, for example). I think there is great psychological/psychosocial benefits to the program.

I've come to discover that there is a lot of mental illness in AA to one degree or another, and that requires my discernment and compassion. There's one guy who attends regularly, lots of tattoos across his body and face, kind of shakes and talks to himself during meetings. When he does share it's in a soft mumble that can barely be heard. Many people keep their distance from him. But even he can come out with an amazing insight if someone cares to really listen to him. I like him and always ask how he's doing.

Again, for me, if I'm resistant or see a problem, then I have to look at myself to see what's up. It's a process, to be sure.

Thanks for sharing here and letting me toss this about.

Last edited by desertdonna; 01-15-2009 at 12:43 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-15-2009, 01:41 PM
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Thanks, i agree - it is a room full of ill people, one way or another after all (myself included of course), but as you say, everyone contributes. Prejudices can prevent us from being open to what's there, and the experience strength and hope of the group.

Thanks for that - it's something i need to be aware of, i can often get a little resentment about someone and then disregard whatever they say, missing certain things which are more helpful or insightful.

I really like what you've said there. I remember being very angry at the world and it was a big part of my illness. Part of my journey has been realising it was me that needed to change. The world is certainly a different place than it was when things were at their worst!

Of course there are still things in the world i get angry about but that's another story!
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Old 01-15-2009, 04:31 PM
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Welcome Spark, I too have found that people in meetings generally aren't shoving God down anyones throat but that reading the BB can be extremely off-putting as it is clearly talking about a Christian God.

NoelleR who posts here said she sees the bb not as a text book on how to do the steps but a book about how those people did the steps...I liked that.

I think the spirit of the program can be worked fine without a belief in God (it is a practical program anyway), it took me a while to get passed the references to "the creator" etc though.
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Old 01-15-2009, 05:21 PM
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yeah Noelle's sharing has helped me alot and i am really on that bb is certain peoples expereinces with the steps. I think reading to the agnostic probably drives more people away from AA than anything else in the program

yet it's the listening to what people say, not how they say it and even better to the expereince they are trying to describe not the words they use to do so has been a real life saver for me.

I started my share with "well..you all know I hate god, so no suprise that my expereince has been....." We all chuckled...my group likes my "untraditional" shares
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