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(1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
(2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
(3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
(4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
(5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
(6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
(7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
(8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
(9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
(10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
(11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
(12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The above are the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous folks.  They aren't perfect, they are subject to change, and in fact, have changed several times already.  Let's address the "God" thing right here.  It is the number one reason some heavy drinkers never go to a meeting.  To be clear, you do NOT have to believe in God to get sober and attend AA meetings.  Anyone, any group, or any thing can be your higher power.  The only person that CAN NOT be your higher power is... you.  Your thinking is what got you where you are now.  

A bit more below the fancy orange noodles -

This open thread was suggested, and discussed at length before being created, with several "Old Timers" before it went up.  Old Timers are people that attend AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous), and have kept their sobriety over a period of years.  Old Timers themselves, are not perfect, and liable to go off on a bender like anyone, but just less likely to do so than a newer member of AA - simply because they have new tools to use, and a good social structure to fall on. The Evolutionary you know and love has more than ten years of sobriety.

DISCLAIMER:  Advice, quotes, facts, suggestions, links, etc., in this Diary (and future Group), are just what their title suggests - suggestions/advice. We are NOT doctors (generally speaking).  Take everything you see and read with a grain of salt!  Look things up for yourself.  Check meetings out for yourself.  If you want to get sober or get off drugs, it's a good start, but by no means the only pathway to that goal.  Folks get sober and clean in many, many ways.  That said, meander on through...

Our own Webranding is working on putting together the bits and pieces needed to create a new group here at Daily Kos for the purpose of discussing Alcohol, Drugs, and Politics. He might need some help from those that are more experienced with Kos Groups.

I intend to continue posting an Open Thread for this discussion each Sunday at 2pm Pacific Time.

For today, just for fun, I'd like to start the open thread with a question of my own!

 - What or who is your Higher Power?  Is it/he God?  Is it the AA Group?  The Doorknob? Your latest ex girlfriend or boyfriend?

Here are a few useful links for those that would like more information:

12-Steps Wiki

There are other 12-Step programs for other issues.

Alcoholics Anonymous was started in 1935 by two men named Bill Wilson, and Doctor Bob Smith (Bill W. and Dr. Bob to us).

Narcotics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous, New York Central Office

Local Resources that provide A.A. Meeting Information (In the United States and Canada)

And, Alcoholics Anonymous has meetings around the world.  Here is the International General Service Offices (for links and locations of meetings outside of North America - uh, but there are meetings in Mexico ;)).

Please feel free to add any tags you think should be here.

Let the games begin...

Originally posted to Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 02:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for the sober bartender... (16+ / 0-)

    #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

    by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:30:50 AM PST

    •  Afternoon "Evolutionary." Your Advice Was Spot On (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Evolutionary, oceanview, sfbob, aravir

      I tired a few other meetings. As I mentioned to you the couple places I went were, well too religious for my taste (as an atheist). I mean at one I felt like somebody might start speaking in tongues or start handling a snake.*

      I think I found the one. Many active duty or former military folks. A lot of coal miners and farmers. Now I mentioned to you it worried me a little, cause I come from a place (by education, work, etc.) where we don't have a lot in common with them.

      Heck there is a long on-going Reddit meme called "First World Problems." I've kind of felt that way there. I don't mean this to sound remotely the wrong way, but a lot of the problems my drinking caused were not remotely as terrible as the problems drinking cause many of those in this meeting.

      But people, when I brought this up seemed to maybe understand this better than myself. Plus these are "salt of the earth" people, and although I am somewhat "metro-sexual" I don't cotton much to being handheld. I like people to speak bluntly and even slap me upside the head if I say or do something stupid.

      This isn't a place I will have to worry about anybody being remotely scared to do this.

      *I joke cause humor helps me cope, not cause I don't take this topic very, very seriously.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 02:33:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Secular Sobriety (4+ / 0-)

        is currently my home group. Many have not found the concept of a god or higher power to be beneficial to our sobriety and thus our discussions tend to look at other issues.

        I've also been to a lot of meetings of Atheists and Agnostics in Alcoholics Anonymous (let me recommend the 100% Natural Group in Olympia, WA) in which god/higher power is not the focus.

        •  Let Me Stress I Don't Mind The Use (6+ / 0-)

          of the phrase "higher power" and I don't even mind people talking about Christ being their higher power. That doesn't bother me in the least. Of the first three places I went one literally said I had to find "Christ"  and be "born again" and the other two were close. The last place (been there three times in the last week) the first night some "older timer" said:

          I don't care if a fucking salt shaker is your higher power. Just pick something and realize you alone can't control everything, much less your drinking.

          I am not saying a salt shaker is my higher power, heck I might pick the Flying Spaghetti Monster (again I joke to cope with stress).

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 02:48:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah those kind of guys won't sign on to anyone's (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding, mikidee, burnt out, oceanview

        bullshit ;).  They tell it just like it is, and pull no punches.  No one, of course, should be smacking you around :).  
        I listened to a "new" person at a meeting one time, who was complaining that people were laughing at him in the meeting, and the response from the crusty old guy at the back of the meeting, with the ballcap on - "You better learn to laugh at yourself.  We'll just do it for you until you can".

        Then, everyone in the meeting laughed uproariously.  The new person shut up and sit down and listened.  Eventually they were one of those 'old timers' too.  Learning not to drink is a skill.  Takes practice.

        Rule # 752, Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously.

        #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

        by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 02:45:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting Story. Long Ago Learned This (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, Evolutionary
          Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously.

          I was in grad school. Taking a MBA course that wasn't apart of my major. You know just taking it to take it. The teacher one day made fun of me. I don't even recall why. I got all upset.

          He said, "Tommy you really, really need to learn to not take yourself so seriously, otherwise you are going to live a pretty miserable life."

          I don't know why, but of all the things my teachers through the years told me that stuck with me and something I think about very often.

          Oh and to be clear he was 110% correct!

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 02:54:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  My higher power is, well, (6+ / 0-)

    the whole damned universe. It's bigger than I am, and it'll sweep the floor with me if I try to tell it how it's supposed to behave.  

    I've become very very grateful that, with all of this going on around us, I'm responsible for so very little of it, and for so blissfully short a time.

    •  An old timer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, Evolutionary

      At my meeting last week, I spoke about an old-timer with 5 years, and got a few snickers.  I was referring to advice and suggestions received in my first year when I had a hard time believing anyone like me could stay sober for more than a few weeks.  I didnt like your god stuff either, but by listening to those who came before me, I guess I "got it".  Now, 36+ years sober, I really dont give a shit who God is, but figure god is a part of the whole damned universe, just like I am .

      •  Even those that believe in a God, have inside (0+ / 0-)

        them a very unique belief and idea of what that means.  When I had 30 days (for the 3rd or 4th time), I was just in disbelief that all of those people around me didn't at least sneak a drink now and then - I mean how could anyone not take a single drink for 5 years?  Now I have done just that for ten years.  I still feel new.  I still have that brain that is forever arguing with itself - my committee.  It never quiets down unless I am okay with who I am, and where I am, and happy with what I am doing and not doing.  You have to be a consciously good person the whole time, or guilt will trick you and tell you that if you are already guilty of something, you might as well enjoy it with a drink.

        Don't do bad stuff, treat people well, be nice, do what you say you are going to do, and you will eventually be guilt free!  Making amends is the most relief I have ever felt in my life.  My side of the street is clean.  My skin fits again.

        #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

        by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:11:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wish my husband would hang with you. (5+ / 0-)

    he's in quite an arrogant phase, but you guys might actually be able to get through to him.  

    •  Well, it's only possible to get through to someone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rk2

      if they want you to get through to them.  You can never really force someone to go to AA.  You can get a court order requiring you to, but they only really look at the signatures on the little cards the court guy gives you.  I've signed many of them, as the chair of the meeting.  But really, you can sign them yourself and no one would know the difference.  We have no rulers, only willing servants, no officials, only members.  Some folks that the judge orders to AA actually do get sober, but it's usually because they have already realized that they need the help.  Many just walk in, read a book, play with their cellphone, or whatever.

      The ones that usually stay sober are the ones that came there voluntarily.

      I recommend Alanon for those that have to live with Alcoholics.  It will help you understand the idea of stepping over the passed out drunk instead of helping them to bed.  Let them lie in their puke - it is a lesson.  A disgusting lesson, that works.  Never enable someone to continue to kill themselves.

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:16:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am realizing this and am making (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Evolutionary, aravir

        contingency plans. The only realization he has come to is that he won't drink and drive, and he can't drink around me. So he goes to the detached, heated garage and drinks and broods. It takes him away from our daughter. Unfortunately, he doesn't get sick, etc., so there isn't much to let him suffer through. I hold my tongue, but its getting hard.

        •  Meant to also say that I will be (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Evolutionary, aravir

          checking out al anon. I think I might be too forgiving.

        •  That sounds awfully familiar ;). (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rk2

          BUT, no one gets to say that anyone else is an alcoholic.  Only the alcoholic can do that.  It's the only possible way to get sober.  Admitting it.  If you can't admit it, then you don't believe it.
          It is always strange to the spouse when a spouse (alkies come in several genders ;) goes and drinks alone.  If you give them a hard time about it, they will do one of two things.  (1) Get mad at you and ask to be left alone, or (2) hide the booze all over the house and pretend they are only drinking a little (just enough to smell on their breath right?).

          Drinking alone is a miserable way to live.  The worst thing to do is offer an ultimatum.  Things get through to fogged heads given a little time and obvious hints.  Some folks may just be really, really depressed and are drinking heavily because it takes the pain away.  Some are like me.  If after a little time has gone by, and the situation hasn't changed, well then you will have decisions to make won't you?

          #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

          by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:20:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Two of his friends have joined AA and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Evolutionary

            as far as I know, have had a relatively easy time of it. They didn't have physical withdrawal. He has curbed his drinking a few times and has symptoms that I recognize, tremors, insomnia, etc. In the summer of 2009 he got out of control, picked fights, said awful things. He got in a DUI accident, with a baby in the other car, that September. .158 BA. He learned not to drink and drive. Then he went to jail for a weekend. He was pissed he didn't get ARD for a first offense like everyone else. He has missed school meetings for our daughter. He has humiliated me in front of his friends. He doesn't remember the next day.

            I'm sorry. I've never told anyone. I'll call al anon tomorrow.

            •  Excellent. Al-Anon is incredibly helpful! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rk2

              When your spouse is putting you or your children in danger - for no good reason, or is neglecting you, I would think that perhaps you need to reassess your relationship with your spouse (and not make any assumptions) about what your expectations are.  If you have expectations, remember that they are premeditated resentments.  If you learn that your significant other is not ever, ever going to be able to meet your basic expectations, well, you get the picture.

              It's easy to feel all alone and helpless.  Al-Anon will take care of that for you.  Al-Anon isn't going to come Occupy his garage, but they will teach you a lot about you.  You are a decent human being, and you deserved to be treated like a decent human being, would you agree?

              It's an insidious (alcoholism)  mental and spiritual disease.  What do you do when your own brain is out to get you?  It would just kill you, but it needs you to keep carrying it around.  Most don't make it rk2.  They have to want it.  You have to do what will make you happy in life.  Safety in all respects is paramount.  Anger goes away, blood, death and pain do not.  Everybody's "bottom" is different.

              #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

              by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:46:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  He comes from a family of alcoholic deaths. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Evolutionary

                I think he thought it wouldn't happen to him.

                I hear you about deserving human decency, I know other spouses would have left long ago. I only realized 2.5 years ago that he has a problem; he had convinced me it's all my fault. I don't know where the line for safety for my daughter is. She is 13 and doesn't know he's drinking, and he's an excellent provider. I don't know what would be worse for her. and I can't figure out how to provide for myself, as I work with him in his business.

                There was a post the other night from an abused woman. It resonated, but it's so hard to say "that's me." you don't want to be weak, to complain. If his brain is killing him, doesn't he need help? Maybe I can't help him now, but shouldn't I honor him? Alanon covers all this, right?

                •  No, it's not your fault. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rk2

                  No, it's not your fault (x 10,000,000)...

                  And yes, Al-Anon does cover all of this, and more.  You can't possibly learn all you need to learn in one Al-Anon meeting.  It will take time.  It might encourage your husband to know that you are, in fact, going to Al-Anon meetings.  If he knows what they are, he'll be forced to think about it.  If he doesn't he will want to know what they are and why you are going to them.  Nothing to be afraid of, just a bunch of people trying to be warm and fuzzy ;).  Some alcoholics despise Al-Anon, but they usually aren't sober ones.  In fact, two sober alkies that marry one another (this happens frequently), often also go to Al-Anon, as they are both living with an Alcoholic.
                  The irony.

                  I got smart and married a "normie".

                  #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

                  by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:43:27 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Many thanks. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Evolutionary, bws

                    I hope I haven't crossed a line by being off topic. I don't want to make things harder for anyone here. I really appreciate your advice.

                    •  Actually, in my mind, the purpose of this thread (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      rk2

                      is for people just like you, and people just like your husband to be able to basically, anonymously speak up about things that are feeling wrong, with regards to booze and drugs.  It wasn't just for people that are alcoholics, it's for anyone that wants to know what they are and why too.  It's a great place for those of us that know the ropes and can offer decent advice - to those that want to hear it.  This is also a place for people from Al-Anon to speak up and answer these types of questions.  Lucky you!  I am both a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Al-Anon.  
                      You won't regret meeting some regular folks that aren't doctors or shrinks - that will understand you completely.  You will be instant friends.  You will feel relief.  Bring your happiest thoughts with you too ;).  They are all about letting you know who you are, what you can do, why it isn't your fault, and reasons for all those unanswered questions.

                      You serve the purpose of this thread's existence.  Thanks.

                      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

                      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:09:54 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks for sharing (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Evolutionary, rk2

                      here there is no off topic, only acceptance :)

                      I was raised in a functioning alcoholic's family, hell I am at least a third generation alkie.

                      I was 22 when my mother finally said me or the booze to my dad, but the damage to the kids being raised in that environment was long done, hell my Dad even blamed me for his drinking at one point..if i was a "better" daughter, more compliant, more towing of the line he wouldn't need to drink.

                      My older brother turned out a normie, but he left home at 18 and basically never came back

                      I became the full fledge alkie, now sober 21 years

                      My younger sister in the past two years finally embraced ACOA, after years of misery but I couldn't help her until she was ready.

                      Good luck, and keep coming back

                      Barn's burnt down -- now I can see the moon. Masahide

                      by bws on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:49:07 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wow, we share similarities - (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        rk2

                        and that's one of the sayings we hear over and over -

                        Look for the similarities, not the differences...

                        For those of you out there that don't understand the acronym that was just used, ACOA = Adult Children of Alcoholics.

                        And here's one we use every time we go to a meeting when we speak to new folks -

                        Good luck, and keep coming back

                        For as long as it takes...

                        #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

                        by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:30:58 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

  •  How wonderful is this! Someone I love very much (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, tporky, oceanview, Evolutionary

    was saved by this program and I have had the opportunity to see it, up close and personal.

    the 12 steps, with one or two modifications, should be the foundation for every religion.

    GREAT program.  Bless you for bringing it to those on this site.  What a wonderful idea.

    •  One of my favorite 'tenets' of AA is that we are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      real world chick

      an organization of attraction, not promotion.  People are attracted to AA because it works, and because it's positive - and gives people a social life they may have never had.

      If Churches worked on the principle of attraction, rather than promotion (evangelism), they might not have any members.  Some religions are more attractive than others.  If you must force said religion on others, then it might not be all that attractive eh?

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:18:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are they really? I mean, subject to change. Maybe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Evolutionary

    as adaptations from one 12 step group to another, but I think it highly unlikely within Alcoholics Anonymous. Do you know something I don't about a fifth edition or something?

    •  No, no new editions recently! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socalmonk

      But, yes, they are changeable.  It would take a very big meeting indeed to do so.  It has happened.  Delegates are sent from most larger meetings to both Nationwide meetings and International ones.  AA is extremely Democratic.  Everything a particular group may do, use, talk about, allow in the rooms (like weapons, kids, and pets - and sometimes meetings are gender specific), are specific to that group and no other.  All decisions for the group are made at "business meetings" that all members are encouraged to come to.  Everything, and I mean everything, is put up to a vote by hands.  The majority rules, and that's it.  There is no filibuster.  The highest rank in an AA group is, "secretary" with a small "s".  More responsibility for providing services than a position of power to give guidance.

      Another AA saying is that the only thing you need to start a new meeting is a coffee pot and a resentment.  Plenty of groups were started because they didn't like the brand of AA they were seeing.  Schisms if you will.

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:24:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know about AA conventions...most people think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Evolutionary

        they are parties, but I have attended as area, state and regional representative. I have been enjoying service and sobriety for...quite a few 24 hours.

        •  LOL! We have a "Spring Fling" here each year, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          socalmonk

          and use the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.  Average attendance was about 10-12,000 of us!  I wanted to attend the world conference in Canada it being so close (across the continent though), but couldn't make it there.
          The real old timers wouldn't ever bring up how many years they had when they had a conversation with you.  I personally thought many of them were new like me until they gave advice to me.  Still wasn't sure after that - until I saw them receive a 30-year chip or something.  They would all say the same thing - "I've been sober for a few sets of 24 hours...".  

          #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

          by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:53:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We have a thing down here in Ventura County, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Evolutionary

            "Serenity by the Sea." Also commonly called "The Commotion by the Ocean." It is a round-up, and is frequently and erroneously called a convention. No AA business is conducted there. Only monkey business.

            •  Those are my favorite ones. Having fun and (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rk2, socalmonk

              remembering every second of it is just like being in the movies.  My first AA party was a Halloween party.  I had been sick and pasty and white for a month or two, hadn't had any drinks, was bored as hell - and someone says, "Hey come with us to the costume store."
              So, we went to the local strange costume store, "Evangeline's" (you can get seriously strange stuff there), and we got masks/costumes.  I kept thinking, 'this is way dumb.  We are a bunch of adults at a costume party, looking like fools, and who the fuck dances sober anyway?'

              I was up until 1:00 in the morning, dancing with hot looking girls, eating every snack ever created, drinking coffee and having the time of my life.

              The next morning, I felt dread in my bones, serious dread.  Like the morning after any party I had ever gone to, questions came into my mind, "Did I act like a jerk?", "Did I get laid and don't remember?", "Does my car have any new dents?", etc.  I stepped into the shower, and the realization hit me that I had a wonderful time, remembered every moment of it, and didn't do anything bad at all.  It felt great.

              Alcoholics, when they change from wet to sober, aren't any different in their other habits or hobbies.  Bikers are still bikers, Doctors are still doctors, cops still cops, etc.  Those that like to have fun, still do.

              #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

              by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:55:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Different spin... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Evolutionary

    I like to think I'm a Christian.  I like to think I try, anyway, and maybe even sometimes get it right.  After many years of agnosticism, I came to the church late in life.  The ritual, the liturgy, the beliefs have come to be very much a part of me.  In short, I'm religious, and my Father through the Trinity is my High Power.

    What gets me then are those meetings where I hear that religion or the church -- any church -- isn't good enough.  You have to leave the church and become spiritual rather than religious

    I said it gets me... I should say, it used to get me.  It really irritated me for quite a while.  Now, I kind of figure that you have your Higher Power who works in you and through you and with you... and I'm happy for you.  I have mine, and I'm happy for myself.  Yours isn't mine, and mine isn't yours.

    •  There are meetings in which the members vote (0+ / 0-)

      to be a religious meeting.  They can do that.  It only takes two alcoholics to have a meeting.  There is every flavor of AA meeting under the sun.  They all interpret the God/Higher Power thing differently.  

      Don't like the meeting you went to?  Go to a different one.  Don't like any of them?  Get two of you together, buy a big book (you can order them if you like on the internet), get a coffee pot, and discuss your problem instead of sitting alone and drinking.  Write about your problem.  Make notes.  Make a list of crap you feel bad about, spill it all to someone, anyone.  Don't do bad stuff.

      That's the basics, and it works.

      Any meeting that tells you your Higher-Power cannot be God, or Jesus, or whichever deity you worship, is being as ridiculous as those that think you must be a believer.

      I recommend that you ask your church leader - priest/pastor/teacher, etc. about any meetings associated with the church, temple, or mosque, or whatever that you belong to.  Many understand completely, and may be willing to spend time with you to help you one-on-one (no snide jokes).  Religious leaders can be a wonderful person to confess your guilt to.  I've had deep conversations with many.

      They can be tricky at meetings though.   I wasn't sure what a 4th Step meant, and my Sponsor told me to make a complete list of anyone, and anything that pissed me off - and to be detailed and thorough about it.  Writing that was fun and easy.  Then he made me find my part (and there was always a part, no matter how small), in each and every single one.  I made amends for those parts - even to people I really, really hate.  It sucked.  But afterward, I had no guilt.  None. I was free.  My body felt light.  It still does, because I keep doing that over and over.  That's the 10th Step, but do them one at a time, in order.

      I feel like... Jonathan Livingston Seagull...

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:08:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question: What's my higher power? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rk2, Evolutionary

    Answer: I don't know. It changes. Much easier to say what it is not. Not me; not some other person, place or thing. Most definitely not the entity appealed to by some in certain religious establishments in order to demonize and condemn some portion or other of humanity (that likely includes me).

    I presume that in order to work, "turning things over" to the "care" of a "higher power" works only if that power's most important quality is "care."

    At certain points in my life I had little regard for myself even while I simultaneously functioned as though thought I had the power to control everyone and everything. The latter was patently false of course; the former is something it took me some time to see. I thought I liked myself but all the evidence, looked upon objectively, was that I pretty much treated myself like crap in every meaningful way. I ingested substances that were not good for me. I placed myself in harmful situations, I tolerated being emotionally abused and, what's even worse, I told myself I deserved nothing better. There were of course also opposing voices among the "committee in my head" telling me that I needed to be kinder to myself but not only were they generally drowned out by the louder, meaner voices, there was also very little comprehension of what "being kinder to myself" might entail. If anything, "being nice to myself" amounted to little more than indulging the same self-destructive behaviors I claimed I wanted to be rid of.

    There are people I encounter in my various meetings who clearly have far more compassion for me than I ever could. That is why very often the simplest working definition of a higher power is the collective wisdom of the group.

    Another pertinent thing here is this: it has long struck me that every person, in recovery or not, appeals (or can appeal to if they are so inclined) to their own personal deity rather than a collective one. I find this to be a good thing overall. It solves the problem of "Why would a supreme being care about my petty little problems? Doesn't he/she/it/they have more important things to deal with?" It also removes the spiritual aspect of recovery from the realm of religion and of having to embrace some religion or other in order to recover and stay clean and sober. Incidentally, one of the things often said in Al-Anon-- where the issue involves another person, often an alcoholic or addict fully in the grip of their disease--is that we need to turn them over to the care of his or her higher power (meaning, of course, not me, and not you). So when it comes to a higher power, everyone has their own.

    Finally I presume that any power worth embracing must be one that I cannot manipulate. If I can fully conceptualize it, not only do I limit it, I can also, in principle, control it. In that case it's not likely to do me very much good; it'll merely tell me to go on and do what I already had in mind to do. Apart from the "care" aspect, I presume that any supreme being worthy of the appellation is not only greater than me, it's also beyond what can be comprehended, labeled or even conceptualized. The term "God" or even "higher power" is simply a pointer at something that really is beyond naming (I can point to my Jewish upbringing for that little nugget). Ultimately a discussion of a higher power must take the form of talking around the topic rather than providing a simple, succinct and good-for-all-time-and-for-everybody definition.

    •  I like the Hula Hoop Theory... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rk2

      They actually bring a hula hoop for this one.  You stand in the middle of the room, your sponsor hands you a hula hoop, and if they are a jerk, they get you to try and make it spin round your hips, if not they just tell you finally to put it on the floor, and step into the circle.
      Once you are inside of the hula hoop, the sponsor tells you that you should look around your world.  Asks you what you see.  Tells you, "Everything inside the Hula Hoop is under your control.  Everything outside of the Hula Hoop is not".  

      So simple.

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:15:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  love what you said (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Evolutionary, sfbob

      When taking a class in college, the teacher kept saying, "By convention scientists say this about atoms."    I asked him what he meant when he said, "by convention."       He  explained that  not knowing all the factual properties meant people who thought about atoms came to agree on  certain things.  Hence the words, "by convention."

      When new to the program,  I went through the basic text and  crossed out all  He/Him words and  replaced them with 'god'.  I didn't  know if  'god' was male.

      For me, a higher power means something unknowable in every  single possible way.   My using the word 'god',  meaning by convention a  power bigger than me,  makes it easier to talk about a higher power in a meeting without going into a long explanation of what this higher  power is to me.

      My first sponser had me go through the first part of Alcoholics Anonymous and write down any word or phrase describing a higher power.  I particularly like 'friend' and 'comforter' and 'Spirit of the Universe.'

      •  Convention, or Consensus, or Group Conscience, (0+ / 0-)

        or all the other names for Democracy that we use - all mean the power of many - certainly not the power of the few like our current government.

        BTW - a Group Conscience for those that don't know is the basically just the final tally of any vote in our meetings or conventions.  It is the end result of Democratic action - the Conscience of the group.  

        #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

        by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:45:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  re HP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Evolutionary

    good on ya for creating this thread.  As someone who has 16 yrs cleantime , it has been dismaying to watch my small town ravaged by chemical abuse.  [I'm not speaking of "recreatonal"   use.  they can, i can't]  Meth , booze and the bubonic chronic have all done major damage.  I started an NA group a few years ago and it has finally attracted significant attendance .  Kinda helps that folk saw me change and now are watching a family member thrive in sobriety.  

    So on to HPtalk.  Mel Ash wrote 'Zen and Recovery' and this has been my goto book when i [or my sponsees] struggle with Christian centric god concepts.  I came in thru AA and will always be grateful for what i was given there- but i find NA to be less 'white male's god' oriented and far more accepting of all those other gods [as well as open atheists] I usually intro as "A prayerful Agnostic "
    This is important for my community.  Our group has : Christians, American Indians, Bhuddists [zen and others] Agnostics, Jews. Atheists, and Hindus.  As Bill W. said "Thank God for the atheists!"  they  forced the "God of our own understanding" clause to be inserted into the steps and saved our collective asses...  

    I have written at length on this subject on other forums so i won't go on here.  Just one more lesson i learned in meetings:  shut up and listen....

  •  Glad for the forum... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Evolutionary

    I am on my 3rd month of sobriety.  I tried AA and was SO turned off by all the religious BS.  When you do something like getting sober, why not take time to thank yourself.  I am my "higher power".  

    I worry about not having someone to talk with, but so far (this isn't my first attempt at sobriety) I have managed.  I live in a small rural community and don't really want everyone to see my vehicle parked out in front of the AA house.  Call me prideful.

    Again, thanks for the forum, it looks like there are a handful of pros out in Kosville.  Yeah!

    "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered:" Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Yo Bubba on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:40:00 PM PST

    •  My usual advice is to just go to a different (0+ / 0-)

      meeting, but in small-town areas, the gossip moves faster than the speed of light, and yes, it prevents many from checking it out.
      Ask lots of questions on line here  - and know that there are many on-line AA meetings.  They aren't too hard to find.  Maybe when you feel comfortable about it, you can meet up with another Kossack who isn't so far away.  It only takes two Alcoholics to have a meeting.  

      Get yourself a "Big Book". And, that's exactly what they are called.  The "Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous", 4th Edition (yellow and blue cover, available at most book stores, any AA meeting, and online at Hazelton (a life-altering book store) for $10.75. There are sometimes AA Clubs in town called Alano Clubs, which are places for sober and clean people to hang out together, read a book, have a meeting, a dance with DJ's, a coffee shop, etc.  Not every city has them, but here's the online Alano Club - meetings, books, etc., on-line.

      Read the Big Book, from front to back, and then do it again.

      What State are you in?  There might be immediate solutions for your issue.

      Again, ask lots of questions.  I only have 10- years, many have many more and more varied experiences.  I remain teachable myself.  I would be forever a student.

      And a note to all, we will have a Daily Kos group set up to bring everyone a place to ask questions and discuss Alcohol, Drugs and Politics, and all three - very soon....

      Invitations will be extended to those who are interested in joining the group.  Webranding is making that magic happen as we speak.  And a special thanks to him for doing it.  I think it's a great idea.

      There are, I am sure, plenty of alcoholic Liberals :).  Look what we've been dealing with for the last 12 years.

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:03:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the response (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Evolutionary

        I am in Texas, where all liberals are frustrated.  Look no further than the current and last govenors.

        The AA group I attended was in another city and I moved out here last June, hence the double edged sword of wishing to remain anonymous.

        My aunt is going to Alanon to help support me and one of her grandsons.  She lives in Houston, where there must be thousands of AA groups.  Here, there is only one.

        It is so easy to be an alcoholic, the product is available at your local convience store.  I have been known to purchase booze when I shouldn't have been out on the streets, in a store, much less in a vehicle.  But they continued to sell to me.

        Thanks for all you do!  I am relieved to have this forum!

        "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered:" Ralph Waldo Emerson

        by Yo Bubba on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 05:48:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yo Bubba I'd like to suggest (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Evolutionary

          that you find an AA group, any group. Go to their meetings and get a sponsor. If you want sobriety you will not allow an excess of religious talk, fear of a loss of anonymity, or anything else stop you from finding the peace in sobriety that you deserve. It all boils down to how badly you want sobriety. Are you willing to go to any length to find it? If you decide that you are willing to go to any length then start with three simple things: don't drink, go to meetings, and get a sponsor. It is the same beginning that millions of addicted people have all taken on a path to sobriety.

          Here's a hint to avoiding being turned off by some things you hear at meetings: take what interests you and leave the rest.

          Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

          by VTCC73 on Tue Jan 31, 2012 at 09:48:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for that! There will be another open (0+ / 0-)

            thread, same bat time, same bat channel - Sunday, 2pm, Pacific.  I would enjoy seeing more of what you have to say.  Meeting makers, make it.

            #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

            by Evolutionary on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 05:30:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, and as the Old Timers say, (0+ / 0-)

      When you get that big book open, read all the pages, especially the ones with ink on them.  Then they quiz you on what the first actual page in the book says on it, like the copywrite date or something.  And read the black, not the white, on the pages ;).

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:06:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  my favorite story about tyler's amanimity (0+ / 0-)

      He liked booze, but he also like ice cream.  The AA mtg was across the street from the favorite bar and tyler parked his car 2 blocks away, walked past the entrance to the meeting 5 or 10 times cuz he didnt want anyone to see him go in.  After a few years of sobriety he said he never felt the need to park so far away from the dairy queen and sneak in the side door so people wouldnt see him go in.

      •  LOL! I just saw this comment. (0+ / 0-)

        That rings so true.  My very first meeting, I drove into the church parking lot, in the dark, and sat in my car, watching the entrance of the school room made available to AA.  There were a bunch of people out there in front.  Some of them were smoking, some just talking.  It looked like I would have to Run the Gauntlet (make it through them).  I got up the courage to get out of the car, and walked up to them.  They all turned to look at me like I was prey.  Then they all smiled.  Then they started asking questions.  I felt shameful that these people probably knew why I was there.  They knew what I did.

        I just wanted to make it into the room!  Finally one of them reaches out with open arms, and attempts to hug me.  I said, "Whoooaah there brother!  We ain't that close!".  He just smiled too.  I listened to the guy that was speaking in the meeting.  He looked nothing like me.  This is where I learned a lot about my views about race - and where I had been ignorant (I have changed those inner views, having been educated about it).  The man I saw speaking was 6'x5" tall, black, bearded, and had dreads down his back.  I took my first look at him (I have never been, and will never be racist!), and thought, "I can not possibly have anything in common with this man, and therefore he cannot teach me anything.  
        Then, that man told his story.  I was floored.  It was like he was reading my mail.  I was so fascinated with the similarities between my life and his - and despite my initial fear of just walking in there - I had to talk to him!  I asked how he knew to say all those things.  He said, "Welcome home".  I won't say his name here, (anonymity), but I can tell you I have had that man as a very close friend for the entirety of my time sober.  I freely give and accept hugs with this man, because we are that close.

        I understand white privilege completely now - due to AA.  I no longer make assumptions of any kind.  I became humble, and therefore, teachable.

        Please come back and comment in the next open thread on Sunday, 2pm, Pacific Time.

        #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

        by Evolutionary on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 05:57:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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