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Frustration or Insensitivity?

Old 07-05-2014, 05:40 AM
  # 61 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by jaynie04 View Post
I disagree. I think a lot of us drink because we live our lives like shock absorbers, and many of us don't have a voice or are uncomfortable using it. I think it is sad when people who are already good at beating themselves up have more negative labels thrown at them. There are a lot of us who post here and share our struggles. But there are many more who read here and don't share, because they have already absorbed some nonsense that they are damaged, they are already full of self loathing and despair, tentative to stick their necks out. To label all alcoholics as anything, can keep people feeling ashamed and pigeonholed. Most alkies who are full of **** and vinegar don't have as many issues navigating through the hotbed of recovery views. I worry about the more fragile, vulnerable and already self defeated alcoholic who can't bear taking on any more self hate. I spent years crawling out of the hole of feeling defective and flawed, I will not allow anyone to tell me what I am.

When someone like me has not learned the proper way to process anxiety, fear, stress, anger….we look for ways to survive. I don't think I am always right, and I am not selfish, I also don't see the fact that I suffer from addiction as a moral defect. Alcohol served a purpose for a while, until it brought its own trauma.

A speaker stood up in rehab and told all of us we were courageous. I believe that. I believe that everyone on this board and in the world who struggles with addiction and tries to get help is courageous. In MY opinion, most of us thrive when our validity is acknowledged. In the corporate world I was consistently rewarded when reminding people of their individual strengths and expecting the best from them. I watched young green proteges finds their own rhythm. I watched other execs browbeat those with less experience, the results were usually depressing.

Entering the recovery world for the first time the newbie encounters a lot of new language. Newbies are usually vulnerable and overwhelmed. I get concerned when rhetoric is couched as fact or experience. I use the phrases "I believe", or "in my opinion" a lot here. I am always grateful for the mods who are quick to point out to newcomers that there are a variety of ways to get sober. Those of us who have been around a while can usually discern if someone is pushing an agenda, maybe that is because something has worked for them. To me, the most obvious sign of someone who has found inner peace is tolerance….and curiosity. It is a sign of strength to say "I don't know" or "tell me more".

I had an addictions therapist who took advantage of my vulnerability. Dogma that I did not subscribe to was consistently pushed at me, she refused to accept that there was any way to get sober but the way she knew. I resisted, and early on in my sobriety she labeled me as willful or naive. I kept thinking I must be doing sobriety wrong because I was doing it my way and it was working yet I was told I was likely to fail on an ongoing basis. Then I was told I was "doing it the hard way", or that I was tenacious. In short, I was told I was an aberration. As I gained strength I started to realize how narrowed minded her views were, how she was simply churning out a recipe and that I was supposed to find a way to fit into that equation.

Thankfully, I had years of CBT with another therapist (who I had not been honest with about my drinking). That therapist had worked patiently with me to learn how to honor my inner voice, not to be dismissive of my own feelings or thoughts, and to pay close attention when something made me anxious. She helped me realize I had an inner compass and worth, getting sober was a natural consequence of realizing I deserved more and in turn could offer more.

I spent years being beaten down, at home and in school. The last thing I need is to hear that there is some grave flaw built in because I am an alcoholic. All alcoholics struggle, it may manifest differently, but no one would choose this path willingly. Those full of bluster and swagger? Likely that is simply an amplification of a personality trait. I would guess the same folk who assert their opinions forcefully here would likely do the same thing in real life. Of course an active alcoholic with a big personality is going to come across as brazen. My guess? I imagine those alcoholics are but a portion of the few whose voices don't get heard.

So no, I don't believe alcoholics are always right, I don't believe women are always right, I don't believe people with left hands are always right,……

I didn't start to get comfortable with my own sobriety until I listened to my inner voice. The most precarious times in my life have been those in which I allowed other people to define me. Being marginalized doesn't feel good to me, and I imagine it doesn't feel good to people who are still struggling. My guess is more people who are still trying to get sober need a hand getting up not a hand pushing them down. I would feel physically ill after leaving this therapist, she would constantly reframe our discussions in order to remind me I was an alcoholic. "Don't get up on your high horse, don't be too sure of yourself, I know better than you"….years of that sort of crap came flooding back from childhood. This is exactly the sort of undermining language that likely caused me to not be able to speak up and instead smile and be a good girl while finding solace in the bottle. Thank god red flags were going up for me, and thank god I had this place to come find support.

I got the sense at some point that it annoyed the therapist who was trying to get me to conform that I was finding my own way. I left her. I was afraid to speak up at first, I am finding my voice. Sobriety has reinforced my belief that recovery is not a one size fits all proposition. My guess? Boards like SR will thrive and continue to deliver support to many who need help, especially because they give people room to find their own way.
This is so beautifully written and reflects much of how I felt when I was drinking. It also somewhat describes how I felt after writing my OP.

It was strange, uncomfortable and painful. As someone who finds it extremely difficult to share my feelings I kind of felt I was going out on a limb with my OP and was surprised at the negative reactions I received; particularly those that, IMO, wield criticism under the guise of caring and concern.

"We care so much about you, let us tell you how wrong you are. Let us point out your character flaws, embarrass you and shame you into submission because we disagree with what you think. We ask you to be tolerant, yet we offer little tolerance in return. We care so much we want to tear you down to the nub and rebuild you in our image. It is for your own good, right?"

Oh well, "whiskey under the bridge" as my daddy used to say! I have learned a little bit about myself and that is the most important thing.
I think you made a tremendous contribution here, thank you. You are a gifted writer and really made me think.
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:51 AM
  # 62 (permalink)  
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Boudicca and jaynie04, thanks so much for putting into words exactly how I feel.

I think I've learned over the years to not complain to anyone unless I completely trust their answer or advice will be gentle. That has cut down on the amount of unsolicited advice I receive - but people being people sometimes they can't help themselves and want to "help."

There are a lot of those people around here and in AA and in other parts of life. I've learned to trust my spidey senses. Sometimes if I'm feeling particularly feisty, I'll throw a reply to them, but most of the time I just stare at them in my, "Are you kidding me?" way - and make a note to stay far, far away.

You both are awesome. Thank you again.
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Old 07-05-2014, 06:02 AM
  # 63 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
I must reiterate....just because others have started drinking again after using AVRT does not mean that I will. However, it is possible. I'm just not going to spend the rest of my life pondering that possibility, LOL!
Pondering the possibility of failure, even knowing that others have failed, is simply AV. Someone telling me that I could relapse at any time is going to be met with disdain and denial because that that reaction forms part of my sobriety and my full confidence in self. This is not to be dismissive or trite, but recognizing beast activity in our thought patterns, and in those of others too, is part of effective use of AVRT.

It is wonderful to see someone decide to quit alcohol and succeed, Boudicca, and release herself from that prison of misery and despair that we know very well. Thank you for the opportunity for discussion that you are bringing, and for the example you have made for others to follow. You are rocking this. Onward!
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Old 07-05-2014, 06:11 AM
  # 64 (permalink)  
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Boudicca,

I think that is a very interesting observation. How does the concept of tolerance fit with the notion of assertion?

I find I am much more likely to be an advocate for someone else than for myself. Part of my previous post was written because of concern about people who are still in the early throes of sobriety, uncertain and floundering. It bothers me to see then being given directives or stringent predictions. There are instances here where I see someone who is barely sober 12 hours being handed heavy duty gibberish when they are just trying to figure out how to keep their breakfast down. Perhaps it is patronizing of me but if someone finds their way here I believe they deserve a chance to come up for air first. I read somewhere that rehab is less effective because the first few weeks most people who are newly sober are processing very little.

When I read threads in which people who have been around a lot time are kicking tires and rehashing minutiae it doesn't bother me at all. I see a lot of it as verbal jousting, addiction certainly provides a lot of fodder for those who like to parry. For the most part I don't feel threatened even when met with statements like "someday you'll see". The nuns told me that 30 years ago….still waiting.

I think I have become more aware of ego (a subject that is the crown jewel of many discussions here). Having spent a lot of time in individual therapy I have found it enlightening to read what people share in a group setting. I am finding that I can often see in other posters something that is ego based….and then I realize it feels familiar. I think that is valuable, and often those twinges of familiarity come when I am reading a post that annoys the heck out of me.

The one line about assertiveness that I try to use to guide me is "not against you, for me". I think the notion that recovery has to be a zero sum game, "my concept is not a winner unless yours is a failure" is damaging. I find it to be a terribly frightening prospect to tell anyone who is struggling that sobriety needs to fit certain criteria in order to have merit.

Your statement "we care so much about you let us tell you how wrong you are"…that was the addictions therapist that I canned. She called me dear and boo even though I was only about 4 years younger. Patronizing, dismissive…ugh, but I sat there and swallowed it cuz what did I know right? And that is exactly where I now see something disturbing. I was flailing about the first few months, newly sober…in retrospect the dynamic of her being all knowing and me trying to do it her way but finding it was nails on a chalkboard seems so obvious. But it wasn't at the time. I was stifling my inner voice and I was becoming more and more miserable. I spoke up firmly once, and it was met with a harsh rebuke, "you don't really know much you are newly sober". Danger, Danger, Will Robinson.

My experience incited a strong interest in protecting the newcomer who is unsure and feeling uncomfortable about expressing confusion or resistance to any method. If I had not had previous good therapy this woman could have really done some serious damage. The rehab I went to was expensive, the bill grew exponentially daily. The last week we were brought in a room two at a time, handed a phone and told to call a service that would contact us weekly once we were home. Oh, and by the way, another $5000 on your bill. But, I was trying, really hard to do the right thing, to trust the system. And who was I to dissent, making waves was surely the beginning of a relapse. I got home and was encouraged by the addictions therapist to hire a very expensive sober coach. I resisted and was chided. It didn't feel right and even after meeting him a few times I had no idea what his role was. I wasn't white knuckling it, I am not Lindsay Lohan out at clubs in mosh pits. When I finally stated I didn't want to work this way, once again, pursed lips and the sense that I would meet my comeuppance.

So I have experienced pushiness towards a newcomer firsthand. In retrospect I think the fact that I was willing to hand the reins over to others who asserted that they knew better than me could have ended up with disastrous consequences. A year out I cringe to think of the forces that were swirling around me.."new blood, fresh meat". So I imagine my protectiveness towards someone who is saying this doesn't feel right has some deeply personal reasons.

I guess my initial response morphed a bit midstream, but I am sharply aware of the vulnerability of people who are newly sober and deserve to be treated with respect. And when something doesn't feel right, they deserve to be able to voice that or question something and have those thoughts met with understanding and honor.

And BTW, Boud, you are a crazy good writer!!! Oh, and nice job on a good thread.
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:32 AM
  # 65 (permalink)  
 
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Jaynie, excellent post. The undermining of confidence is what I find to be the most dangerous practice in recoveryism.

For me, I had that spidey sense when I first quit, I did everything related to conventional wisdom also because that's what I was "supposed" to do. I realize now that I often faced with a collective beast. The feeling can be overwhelming. Seriously, if I wasn't such an opinionated b*tch I'm not sure I could have gotten out unscathed.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:06 AM
  # 66 (permalink)  
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In Me We Trust

This...

'The undermining of confidence is what I find to be the most dangerous practice in recoveryism.' ~ Soberlicious

This Thread continues to literally bring me joy over Coffee this fine Colorado morning because it gets on down to those Self Realizations and Boundary assertions that help make Sobriety relatively effortless over time, IME.

Back in the Stone Ages in Psych Classes, we learned a neat lil trick. It can be applied to wide-ranging decisions like 'should I attend this BBQ or Concert where there's Drinking' to 'is the Sobriety or Program advice I'm receiving sound right for me?' It reinforces positive Trust in your 'Gut'.

You get a Coin. You assign one possible outcome to 'Heads'. You assign the other possible outcome to 'Tails'. Say, Tails = 'attending this BBQ right now might threaten my emerging Sobriety, and it ain't worth it'. Flip the Coin. At the apex of the Coin travel, your Subconscious will sort of shout out 'I hope it's Tails'! Or, Heads. It seems too simple, but it almost always works. Hey, do 3 outta 5 Coin Tosses if the first results seem fuzzy to you. It's simply a Mental ruse to see what you're really thinking on simple issues while skipping some hourly Therapist Rates.

THEE best and simplest description I've ever read re: the 'why' of Alcoholism was in the Outline of a Health/Sex Ed Course my Wife taught fo evah at her High School. And, Lawdy, you'd best believe she's got some funny stories from the Sex Ed section! The #1 Alcoholic Characterization of several listed was: 'Alcoholics process differently the minor setbacks in Life'. BAM! There it was [as I raise my Hand involuntarily while shouting 'That's me, that's me'!]. Clean. Clinical. None of the 'attitude' I learned as a Child in Seventh Day Adventism 'Oh, you're actually some Fallen Angel POS and you need to surrender all Self Identity to this Greater Power'. I bolted from going to that Church, and started at age 12 to identify 'Absolutes' and trust myself on what rang true in this Life. Freshstart57 identifies some Moral Absolutes above. The other day, I spontaneously posted here that 'I don't hit Women. I don't kick Puppies. And, I don't Drink'. There it is. My own lil Declaration of Independence, but from Alcohol. My Firewall.

My morning joy, here, is in reading such literate accounts that tolerance need only be personally clarified. No prolonged Hand Wringing required. One need not accept everything, and then feel guilt or reluctance in doing so. You learn in Hitchhiking, which I did plenty of back in my Hippie days on the California Coast, to trust instincts on when to accept or turn down a Ride.

Like the Coin Toss trick above, if advice here seems too overbearing, or Folks who have to prevail in argument are too insecure, your newly-'de-fogged' Inner Self can and should be trusted. When you cave and sell yourself out is one Life conundrum that can jump start the Drinking/Using. Solution: don't sell yourself out and try too hard to be tolerant of everything. IME, that's simple a 'Bait & Switch' tactic to woo you away from your own Absolutes. To me, this is but a 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing' form of Quacking. It can lead to frustration that is part of the OP topic.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:56 AM
  # 67 (permalink)  
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in other words, JUST DO IT!

sorry, couldn't resist. This has been a very enlightening discussion. Thank you all.
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:23 PM
  # 68 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
Sometimes, however, I believe weakness masquerades as "tolerance."
I don't want to apologize for standing up for myself; I won't make myself feel "less-than" just to worship at the altar of tolerance, fairness, etc. In some ways that accommodating behavior; "going along to get along," "gee, I want everybody to like me because I find my validation outside of myself, so I'll deny what I really feel" kept me drinking far longer than I would have liked.
That's one perspective of tolerance My reply was specifically concerning the context your original post was housed in.

When I participate in SR, continuing care, and any group that involves people with differing worldviews and philosophies of recovery, I'm willingly engaging and participating by risking to share my experience and personal opinions. They are also entitled to do the same.

I could go up against all sorts of groups of people and declare my opinions and feel quite justified and solidly strong in my stance. But I don't see the point, unless I'm fighting for the welfare of a helpless person or animal. I save that for the human and animal rights groups I participate in, and the women's shelter.

Strength doesn't always have to be vocal. Tolerance doesn't have to mean agreement or acquiescence.

Interesting thread.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:01 PM
  # 69 (permalink)  
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Your plan is "never drink again" and "never change your mind" - you wonder why this doesn't work for people? Really?
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Ohio1 View Post
Your plan is "never drink again" and "never change your mind" - you wonder why this doesn't work for people? Really?
And your plan is?
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:22 AM
  # 71 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Ohio1 View Post
Your plan is "never drink again" and "never change your mind" - you wonder why this doesn't work for people? Really?
There's no need to disrespect another person's path to sobriety Ohio1.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:43 AM
  # 72 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Ohio1
you wonder why this doesn't work for people? Really?
Actually, the contrary. This does work for people. Anyone reading for comprehension can see that the thread is not about wondering why this approach does not work for people.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:51 AM
  # 73 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by soberlicious View Post
Jaynie, excellent post. The undermining of confidence is what I find to be the most dangerous practice in recoveryism.

For me, I had that spidey sense when I first quit, I did everything related to conventional wisdom also because that's what I was "supposed" to do. I realize now that I often faced with a collective beast. The feeling can be overwhelming. Seriously, if I wasn't such an opinionated b*tch I'm not sure I could have gotten out unscathed.
I think it is this idea of "collective beast" I find most intriguing and unbelievably dangerous. My realization is that the feelings of frustration I am experiencing were a manifestation of the response my Beast has to this collective and an indication of its attempt to manipulate me. Truly an awakening for me.

This "collective" Beast is EVERYWHERE and insidious.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:57 AM
  # 74 (permalink)  
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Back in the Stone Ages in Psych Classes, we learned a neat lil trick. It can be applied to wide-ranging decisions like 'should I attend this BBQ or Concert where there's Drinking' to 'is the Sobriety or Program advice I'm receiving sound right for me?' It reinforces positive Trust in your 'Gut'.

Really cool example, MM. It is an interesting idea, no? Prob a topic for a new thread, but I am interested in learning how to utilize the positive aspects of the "Gut." Can there be a good Beast? A "Happy Monster?" for lack of a better term? Particularly those of us that use AVRT?

Can I learn to trust my "Happy Monster?" Food for thought.

I like the coin toss example very much. In our current world......where we worship the new, the technological....it is important to remember sometimes the simple methods work.
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Old 07-06-2014, 05:13 AM
  # 75 (permalink)  
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I sat down this morning with coffee and re-read this entire thread. Simply fantastic.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:43 AM
  # 76 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Ohio1 View Post
Your plan is "never drink again" and "never change your mind" - you wonder why this doesn't work for people? Really?
I am reminded of my second year Chemistry class. On exams when I did not know the answer I would take all of the variables in the question and use my calculator in creative ways. I would litter the page with a combination of answers hoping that the right one was in there somewhere and that my professor would see it amid the embellishments and flourishes. I didn't know the answer and was throwing up a smoke screen thinking that if I did a lot it would count for something.

When I did know the answer though, my page was clean, with that correct answer standing alone, pristine, without the need for all that excessive wandering cloaked as work.

Simplicity…divine.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by trachemys View Post
I sat down this morning with coffee and re-read this entire thread. Simply fantastic.
I've been rereading for the better part of two days. Every time I go over a post something else stands out at me.

I agree. Simply fantastic.
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Old 07-06-2014, 11:51 AM
  # 78 (permalink)  
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jaynie04 - I know exactly what you are talking about. cypherin away at the same problem, sometimes 1 problem took 50% of the time.

I suppose that philosophy applies to us as well. Going through a myriad of solutions for a simple answer. Just don't drink. Don't try to figure out why you drink/drank. Don't try to come up with a magic formula to get you through to abstinence. If you just resolve to never drink again, problem solved. That's it plain and simple. For some it is beyond reason. For others it is black and white. I fall into the latter group. Unfortunately there are too many who cannot just accept this as a solution to stop drinking.

Picking up the pieces of your broken life is a separate issue.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:11 PM
  # 79 (permalink)  
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Some relapse posts are irritating, I agree. Most know that they should quit drinking and they do for a short period but go back, why? The answer is they don't really want to quit.
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:05 PM
  # 80 (permalink)  
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If no one ever relapsed we wouldn't be discussing it. The attendance at AA would drop quite significantly. Most rehab facilities would go out of business. And I'm sure the participation on SR would also drop. If people didn't relapse they wouldn't have an addiction to overcome - silly as it sounds. I also disagree with the notion that people who relapse don't want to quit. Semantics shemantics.
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