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Old 07-16-2014, 12:27 PM
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My Secular Recovery

Hi All,

Just needed to express some stuff today - moreso because the physical effects of detoxing are wearing me out this week (fatigue, vertigo, and tinnutis), and I know I still have some major hurdles to get over to complete week 2. Almost feel a need to discuss where I am, and if this is where anyone else has been.

More importantly, has it worked for you?

For a bit of background, I do come from a traditional Christian protestant background, and my family self-identifies as Christian. This being stated, I still have a very Sunday School view of religion - I do not have a warm and personal relationship with God. I live in fear of my angry Father, and only Jesus is keeping me from being thrown into the Lake of Fire for all eternity (with the accompanying gnashing of teeth).

Therefore, I have a belief that God does not get very involved in the minutae of our daily lives. He created us, and left the rest of it up to us and our free will. To me this includes deciding to drink or not. It is not God who makes me drink - it is not God who keeps me from drinking. God gave me the ability to make these choices, and make them I must.

Besides being an addict, I have also worked in such wonderful industries as gambling. What I saw was the evil of substitute addiction - many people who developed gambling addictions did so as a substitute for drinking or drug addictions. I have also seen this with religion as well - people developing an addiction (yes, addiction) for religion as a substitute for other forsaken addictions in their lives.

And as much as we'd all like to thing spirituality and religion are positives, I have equally seen them become negatives. Families split, people taken advantage of emotionally and financially. And worst off, if they find that this religion is not a "true" belief, but instead is just another addiction, they then become disenchanted, and go back to their old (or sometimes new and improved) addictions.

So for me, I acknowledge God is there. But I also believe He has given me a brain to work things out for myself - I must own my addiction. As I said to one particularly evangelical relative of mine when I was told God was looking out for me, "If he was looking out for me, then why am I in this situation in the first place?"

So my recovery plan so far is:
- To admit to the people who really matter to me (wife and children) that I have a drinking problem, and must no longer drink
- To not purchase or hide my addictive beverage (beer) at any time
- To let others know that I am "on the wagon" when they offer me drinks, and let them know why if they ask. Then they quit offering.
- To find substitutes to drink in social settings. So far these have been NA Beer, water, and Pepsi. All work in different situations.
- To deliberately seek out situations that would have triggered drinking in the past, spit in their eye, and overcome any urges I have to drink at these times through sheer willpower, and the merciless beat down of my AV
- To realize this change is for life, but to focus on one day at a time; in other words to understand both the journey, and the destination
- To be attentive to any possible substitute addictions that may try to come sneaking in, and squash them like bugs. The addictive behaviour needs to be addressed, as much as its manifestation
- To deliberately look for the positive reinforcements in a sober life, including my enjoyment of activities, and the positive effect this has on my relationships with others
- To find a healthy way to let all the stress, anger, and resentment of my childhood go, so that the rage that fuelled my drinking can finally be extinguished
- To seek others who feel the same, and can offer encouragement and a shared experience (this is why I am on SR!)
- To try and help others recover as well. We all need a hand, and I'd like to offer a hand based in reality and experience (not belief) to those who want and need it

Wow, that was almost a rant, and almost worthy of a blog entry.

At least I get to go spit in the eye of one of my most nefarious triggers tonight. I will do so with relish, just to prove that I can be an adult, quit making excuses, and can take control of my life.
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:33 PM
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Decent plan--get some vitamins, eat well, let us know how yer doin..Best wishes..
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:38 PM
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Wow, that was quite a list. Congratulations on your decision to lead a sober life.

Originally Posted by SparkyMcSparky View Post
- To deliberately seek out situations that would have triggered drinking in the past, spit in their eye, and overcome any urges I have to drink at these times through sheer willpower, and the merciless beat down of my AV.
Why is this important to you? Is it a thrill-seeking thing? There have been a few people who want to do something similar and I never felt that way so I wonder why.

Enjoy Your Sober Journey!
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Nonsensical View Post
Why is this important to you? Is it a thrill-seeking thing? There have been a few people who want to do something similar and I never felt that way so I wonder why.
LOL, it almost looks a bit masochistic, doesn't it. Although a bit of a thrill-seeker by nature, no that's not it.

To me, it is about proving that you are making the choices, not your addiction. However, only once one is tested by fire do they really know.

So if I face down my triggers, then I know I am beating my addiction. If I hide and avoid my triggers, then I always live with an uncertainty that my addiction could come back if faced with the wrong set of stimuli.

I'm also a bit of a black and white kind of guy - I'd rather face a trigger, lose, pick back up and try again, than avoid it, and fall down once I think I'm good.

Last edited by SparkyMcSparky; 07-16-2014 at 12:48 PM. Reason: Edit - Love your siggy by the way. I know that voice well.
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:50 PM
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Great list! You've put a lot of thought into this. Interesting, given your Christian background, your choice to go secular in recovery while retaining belief in God

This is an important one, I think - "To realize this change is for life, but to focus on one day at a time; in other words to understand both the journey, and the destination"

Also... you sure you wanna go spit in the face of your big triggers right away? My suggestion is to take it easy at first, and kind of ease into that later. But to each his own, of course.
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SoberJennie View Post
Great list! You've put a lot of thought into this. Interesting, given your Christian background, and your choice to go secular in recovery while retaining belief in God

Also... you sure you wanna go spit in the face of your big triggers right away? My suggestion is to take it easy at first, and kind of ease into that later. But to each his own, of course.
Thanks SJ,

Although I may have Christian beliefs, I do have very old fashioned ones. I don't have a "personal relationship" with God. Church is a place to kneel, not "rock out". So to me, a secular recovery makes sense.

One of the challenges with being an honors Philosophy student in University is that it makes you separate belief from reality. I may believe in God, but my reality is I have a drinking problem that I need to fix.

Funny enough, I already was forced to spit into four big ones in my first week od sobriety already. So why slow the roll in week 2?

Maybe I view it like dinner. If I eat all my peas first, I get my roast beef later - in other words, by dealing with these triggers up front, I get to remove a lot of self-doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety right off the hop, building confidence in my recovery.
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:04 PM
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So you're a Deist then? Oh, hey I was a philosophy major too And I come from a Christian background and consider myself an agnostic (knowledge) atheist (belief).

Ok, well your approach seems to be working for you, regarding triggers.

Keep us posted
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:25 PM
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Ah, another philosophy student. I remember how the discussion of free-will versus determinism absolutely blew my mind, and wiped out 18 years worth of certainty I had in my life. Can't say that contemporary epistemology helped much either. If I cannot prove even tangible, rational things, how can I prove an irrational belief?

I guess Deist is as good a label as any (with strong strains of Pantheism). For me, my engagement in organized religious activity is more based on family tradition, and as a way to keep a link to the most important person in my life (my paternal grandmother). I find a certain comfort in its rhythms and traditions that I find in very few other things.

However, like I said in my OP, if it's not God who makes me drink, why would I expect God to keep me from drinking?

Grr...this is also what I get for taking humanism and social liberties as Political Science electives in its honors program.
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:26 PM
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I sometimes don't get the use of the term 'triggers'.
I drank because I wanted to, I chose to drink. I don't drink now because I choose not to.
There were situations in which I drank and then regretted drinking and I would try to convince myself that somehow the situation was the cause, the trigger but that , in hindight perhaps, was me making excuses or rationalizing my choice(s) to drink.
As a purposeful nondrinker, I now can't really imagine what I would term a 'trigger'. I have made up my mind to not drink, I no longer want to.
Sparky you have a great list and sound resolute as all get out, good on you , you got this!
I like philo too, so I tend to focus on concepts and such and that may spill into 'just' semantics at times, then again if it didn't what fun would philo be ?
wish you well
and always feel free to disregard any ramblings from this quarter
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:48 PM
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Hi sparky,
There are many believers who chose a secular road to quitting, so you'd be in good company.

This jumped out at me, because it is the same way I approach these things. It's not popular, but it's how I roll too.
To deliberately seek out situations that would have triggered drinking in the past, spit in their eye, and overcome any urges I have to drink at these times through sheer willpower, and the merciless beat down of my AV
"keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." It is not my wish to sit back and wait to see when and if that little voice will come around and wonder what I will say or what I will do. I actively sought that little b*tch out and had a little sit-down-coming-to-Jesus, if you know what I mean. I don't do it for thrills either, I run naked or skydive for that. I do it because it's easier for me to clearly see what I'm dealing with. Often when bringing something into the light, it's not near as scary as imagined. Through exposure it has no power. Like the All Powerful Oz...nothing but a little man with a microphone behind a curtain.

Eta: my advice would not be to examine every situation, rather it was easier for me to just lump it all into one like this. Any thought I had that had any thing at all to do with drinking or future drinking is AV, and should be dismissed (laughed at as ridiculous). The AV can link drinking to an endless number of situations. Don't fall for that.
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:48 PM
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Sounds like a plan, man.
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:02 PM
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What an interesting thread! I admire you philosophers. I took an introduction to philosophy recently as an undergrad, and I loved it thoroughly; found it fascinating. I could tell, though, that I just didn't have enough elasticity to my intellect to really get a grip on the intricacy of things.

I would have to have concepts hammered home again and again--and there doesn't seem to be time for that in philosophy; the mind encompasses so much, it has to keep ranging.

Sorry to hijack--I just wanted to tip my hat!
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:08 PM
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dwtbd - Interesting comment about triggers. I agree with your outlook on it, and there may be a semantical situation here I need to address. When I state a "trigger", I am referring to a situation where I was in the comfortable habit of drinking. I did have a number of triggers, but most of these died with my mother. From now on, I will use the language correctly, as I likely don't have many triggers, but I do have many situations where I'd like to drink.

SL - I'm fortunate that I didn't drink all the time (I just got wrecked when I did), so my AV only has a limited number of situations (see, I learn) that it can latch its hooks into. But that little b*stard is super sneaky, so I'll have to drag him out kicking and screaming whenever I hear him whispering, and give him a solid punch in the teeth. Got a feeling he'll shut up after a while.

trachemys - Thanks, and we'll give it a whirl. The one thing I've learned in my 8 days on SR is that no two drinkers are alike. The right plan is the one that works for you. Hopefully mine works.

I'll have a better idea after golf tonight. I haven't golfed a league night in the past seven years where I didn't get close to wrecked. Time to punch the b*stard in the teeth.
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:17 PM
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Time to punch the b*stard in the teeth.
Haha! Punching is always fun to do, but trust me it doesn't take brute force to make it go away, it takes quiet consistency. No engagement. One word with a smile. No.
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by soberlicious View Post
Haha! Punching is always fun to do, but trust me it doesn't take brute force to make it go away, it takes quiet consistency. No engagement. One word with a smile. No.
Ahh, but that wrecks my visualisation!
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by SparkyMcSparky View Post
Maybe I view it like dinner. If I eat all my peas first, I get my roast beef later - in other words, by dealing with these triggers up front, I get to remove a lot of self-doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety right off the hop, building confidence in my recovery.
Haha.. I really liked this pea analogy. Anyway, I think whatever works for you works, so more power to you! I also believe that it doesn't help to hide from our triggers, because unless I plan on cutting certain things (like going to parties with alcohol) out of my life, I'm going to have to face them eventually. I still get wary beforehand though, but I can see how if you go into a situation with the intent to face it down, it might make it easier. I'll try that next time, to welcome the challenge rather than feel anxious about it.

Anyway, glad you joined us Sparky!
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:04 PM
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Ahh, but that wrecks my visualisation!
Punch away...b*stard deserves it!
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:25 PM
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Yes great thread, great list Sparky. I myself refuse to hide from social situations/triggers also. Been working on this long enough to just sit back. Practice makes perfect. Eventually.
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:52 PM
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Sparky,
there aren't just two choices about what to do with triggers: search and destroy or avoid.
the way that's worked for me is to just experience them and basically shrug. "yeah okay, there you are...so?"
they have no power in and of themselves.
if i "fight", then i give them power.
so why would i?
looking at your plan, i'm thinking if you change "must" to will" in your first statement, you can dispense with the second statement entirely.
simplify
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:24 AM
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Keeping with the military feel of your posting style, I am reminded of an old military adage - No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Not exactly a military plan you have there, and there isn't any reason it can't work just as written. But don't be afraid to adjust if necessary to achieve your ultimate goal of happy sober living.

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