Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts on Day 33

I've been sober 33 days. I have once again been visited by the grace that makes it possible for me to not only stay sober, but to enjoy myself and feel a great sense of gratitude that I have another opportunity to live. I worry about the future, of course. With my history of sobriety and relapse, there's no way not to and I've once again come to the realization that sobriety is the only foundation on which to build my life. It's been a difficult 33 days in many ways, but it hasn't been difficult to avoid the drink; I really don't want it, but I'm pretty sure the day will come when I do.

I'm putting together a plan so that when that day comes, I will hopefully get through it to see another sober day. Here's my relapse prevention plan to date:

Before I decide to drink, I will:

Call someone sober. (I actually have names and phone numbers here.)
Go to an AA meeting.
Post on LSR list.
Optional calls: more names and numbers.
Write here.
Check what seems to be working and what doesn't.
Go to someone's house.

I want to say a few words here about AA. I said in a recent post that I'd reopened my heart to the value of AA, and I have. It's not lost on me the value of a large group of people gathering together for a common purpose - to stay sober. I think it would be pretty stupid of me at this point to not take advantage of every means available to support my sobriety. But I have no more intention of getting a sponsor, or working the 12 steps, or immersing myself in the AA lifestyle than I have of going back to the Baptist church and expecting Jesus to save me from myself - and yes, I think they are very close to the same thing.

I was disturbed by a post I read recently in which the writer, a long-time sober member of AA, was railing about people that attend AA and don't do it exactly the way it says to do it in the Big Book. She even diagnosed all the rest of us that don't get sober through AA as not real alcoholics and this is not the first time I have heard this drivel. As a matter of fact, it is common enough in AA meetings as is the notion that if anyone veers from the structured program, not only are they hurting themselves but they could actually kill someone else with their ignorance should they speak this blasphemy aloud. I don't know. What happened to sharing experience, strength and hope? It seems more like judgementalism and condmenation to me. When I see a woman (and it's usually women and minorities, ever wonder why that is?) that comes in and out of AA, I don't automatically think, "Well I wonder what's wrong with her. I wonder why she can't get it. Poor sot." I think, "I wonder if a different set of steps or a different approach might be the key to recovery for this person."

I will continue to attend AA for now, while I feel I need it, on the basis of the third tradition which states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. I've long thought the traditions were more brilliant than the steps and I'm grateful for that third one because until the existing paradigm shifts, AA is still the only game in town for support meetings. Things are changing, they're just changing very slowly. In order to be part of that change, I need to be sober. There are too many people who give up (I know, I was one) because there are too few choices and too little tolerance in the choices that are available. Giving up is no longer an option.


Claudia said...

I'm not sure I'm right about this, but what you say here strikes me a little like choosing not to use the same tools that other people use to build their houses because:
a. you don't like the houses they build, and
b. you don't like their attitudes about those tools or the attitude they have about their houses.

Either way, I don't see how this should decide whether you use the tools or not -- you mention the 12 Traditions of AA, and one of the most important ones is the 12th, which states that we "place principles (i.e. the steps) above personalities (i.e. the way people behave or, in this case, understand or use the steps). Many of the personalities in the program are obnoxious to be sure, so much so that the tradition is there in black and white. I just don't get knocking the tools because you don't like the way some people use them. The whole point of the steps as I understand them is to use them to build your OWN house, and then share THAT experience at meetings, but I never would have found that out if I hadn't been willing to pick up the tools in first place because I didn't like the way other people used them, or the fact that they were trying to push they're housing designs on me. Fuck them. I don't want to live in their houses anyway. I'm so thankful that it was suggested to me that I find "someone who had WHAT I WANTED" in the program when I was looking for a sponsor. That meant to me that I was looking for someone who had used the tools to build the kind of house I wanted for myself, always knowing, of course, that in the end the house would be of my own very personal design. And believe me, the people who have what I want don't tell other people how to use the tools, they just share their experience, strength, and hope - no lectures, no pushing. Just because the majority of people in the world (and AA) haven't grown up yet doesn't mean I don't want to live here. I haven't grown up either. And I always think it's so amazing how many people have such strong opinions about steps they've never taken (this does not include you, A!) - like the spiritual path is one you can judge intellectually or by reading about it in a book! Try getting in there and finding the good in people you can't stand, I say. Try giving up a little ego for once. I've learned (okay, maybe only a little, but still!)about how to do that in AA, and I have no doubt that it's a healthier and saner way to live than being alone and "right" ever was for me.
Let's face it: I get really tired of AA-bashing, especially since it's really MEMBER-bashing that people should be doing, if any.
love and when are you coming for dinner?

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the best of all that is good. AA has and continues to save my life. If I took to heart all that is said by members of AA, I would be dead from drinking and perhaps taken other folks with me.
Going by everything that is said by anyone, anywhere, does not work for me. What does work is the BB of AA.
"Take what you need and leave the rest." This is what I hope for you. Take care.
Grateful, Love, beej

Angela said...


I appreciate your comment and in a way I see what you're saying. I didn't mean to bash AA; I only meant to offer my perspective on some of the attitudes that I see as prevalent there. It's possible, and even entirely likely, that I see what I'm looking for. I'm not sure how objective I can be about it now, but I don't see the 12 steps as being the answer to my drinking problem.

The answer, I think, is holding onto this grace that visits me - in the ways that feel right in my heart and soul. I'm still working on that obviously. :)

Dinner soon and I can't wait to see you, sweets!

Thanks for being real and being you!

Angela said...


Thank you. I hope you are well and happy!

vicariousrising said...

I know the post you're talking about, and I left my two cents in a couple comments on that blog. I think that attitude is very bad for newcomers and others struggling. I think it is very closeminded and rigid thinking and it can poison your recovery if you spend too much time around it. I love the tools of AA, but I don't think there's one and only one interpretation of how to work your recovery. For me it took a multi-pronged attack, with AA and therepy as part of my healing. I think most people need to go at it in more than one way - it's our whole outlook we're changing.

big Jenn said...

I have not had a drink in a very, very, long time and what struck me most about this post is it is day 33 for you. I had just gotten out of rehab on day 33 and I was squirrelier than a shit house rat! (just sayin')Anyway, I know the disease pretty well, I counseled for years. Breathe, relax, keep doing what works and take it one day at a time, or in the now, that's all there is anyway. Your spirit has the answers your head doesn't. jeNN

Pam said...

bless your heart. I am so sorry you misunderstood my post. I really am.
I have such dear friends who are very much alcoholic and have recovered thru other means than AA. And I mean they truly have recovered.
When I was talking about the real alcoholic I was refering to the exact definition of the real alcoholic in the big book. It is our text.
If it makes you and the others feel any better I got some threats and was called the "c" word and lots of other very bad things.
I can not help but say what is written in our beautiful program from our beautiful text. It hurts me that it bothers people. I really can not understand that.
Mainly I'm stopping by because I saw you had 33 days from someone elses blog....I think 33 days is freakin' AWESOME.

Olivia said...

You seem to be getting more and more to a very good place for YOU, Angela. That's what is important. I am so happy for you.
33 Days!
33 Days!
33 Days!
Whoo hoo, good for you! I appreciate your insights on AA as well, because you are living this path...this counts more than others' opinions.

Much love,


Angela said...

Thank you, O!

Paula and Skip said...

Wish you all your best - ODAT. I am at Al Anon, having moved to the USA for the love of my live - which doesnt drink anymore but doesnt seek recovery either. He cant get used to AA... Paula xx

BethAnn said...

I applaud your process, it is truly your own.
I spent 15 years in AA and never truly belonged. Many Roads One Journey, Charlotte Kasl, good read for anyone questioning. Kasl left AA after 23 years considered the organization patriarchal and demeaing. Jean Kirkpatrick left to form Women for Sobriety 35 years ago. I left to form my own group, Eco Recovery for women. The six women I mentored left with me. Our group supported the, "process," provided empathy and community. There are online groups that offer similar support, one of the best is SOS for Women, (secular approach). WFS has meetings online as well as an active board.
It takes courage to blaze your own trail and to post it in a blog. Congratulations on your efforts!