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AA and me

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I read a blog from a spark friend who needed to get sober but thought AA was too religious - it made me think about me and AA - I have been a member for seven years and sober as long. I sometimes joke and say that I am one of the few alcoholics that joined AA even before I became one... which is true in the sense that I only had one "yes" -answer to the twelve questions that AA has on their website to "rate" your problems with alcohol - they say if you answer yes on four or more, you are likely having or going to have problems with alcohol. All I had was my own anxiety that it was going the wrong direction that I might be in trouble some day if I did not do anything.

I live in Sweden that is very secular so the concept of God is not easy around here... but there is nothing like a little cancer if you want to become religious.. joke aside I entered AA and could not believe that it would help me because I just couldnt understand how. But I had tried so many ways and I used to succeed for one week, two weeks, sometimes months, but inevitably started to drink again, telling myself that I had no problem really, that I was exaggerating and fuzzing over nothing...Still I was not in big trouble but I could see that it was slowly progressing and I knew that I needed to do something before I passed that point of no return where I would no longer admit that I was having problems...

So I went to AA - and from that moment I was sober. I did not understand how it worked, I did not believe in the texts, I did not particulary liked the people, I felt awkward and strange and I was filled with doubt all the time - but I was sober and I did not have to put any effort into that.

And then the miracle happened that I had not counted on - I also changed inside. Very slowly I started to feel better about everything. I started to feel hope and trust, I started to be grateful for being me. That was a gift I had not counted on...

I still have not truly learned that lesson - for the moment i have not been to an AA meeting for two months - I have been to Acoa but I know I need the AA too. And what happens when I don´t go to meetings is that I start to change a little inside again. Not fast and I am very far from wanting a drink. But I start to get some of the old anxiety back and I know that if I don´t get myself to a meeting, I will sooner or later be back in the mental state I was before I joined AA.

As AA worked for me I went to other twelve step programs - OA and ACOA. OA has not helped me to get abstinent - I still overeat and binge. ACOA has been great lately as we started a studygroup and really started to talk about our "Inner children"

I have - of course - tried to analyze what it is that helps, it is certainly not the people as such or the strenght of the message or even the program of the twelve steps. Maybe it is the security I am getting from the meetings and the program. I can trust it even when the people being there does not "behave". I can share whatever I need without the fear of being commented or adviced or rejected. Maybe even more important for a codependenant as I - I can listen to other people sharing problems and fears without having to advice them, help them or even comment. It is SO relaxing, not having to "be there" for anybody, I just have to be there at the meeting.
And I learn that I am not alone, I get reminded that all my feelings have been felt by other people and even though we are not the same, we share the difficulty of balancing our lives in a healthy way.

The experience of AA meetings has helped me with ordinary meetings also. I have become a better listener, I am not as eager to interrupt or prove myself and my opinions as I used to be. As I write this I realize that I need to be more active in using twelve step principles in all my affairs...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you, Meddypeddy. I am about to celebrate 3 years of sobriety and 3 weeks of Sparkpeople. As a non-Christian AA living in a rural part of the South (USA), it was difficult to come to AA, as the meetings here are generally closed with the Lord's Prayer. I'm hanging in because the principles of AA are brilliant. Yesterday was not a good day for me - unfocused, constant hunger, the urge to cancel all plans and hunker down - complete with a dinner that was total comfort-food and excessive. Although my total calorie intake was only 11 points above my daily goal, this morning I recognized my behavior as a dry drunk, and tonight I will go to a meeting. I chose my sponsor because she was a non-Christian and a therapist - she was perfect for me! Unfortunately she moved to Vermont last summer and there simply isn't a replacement around here to be found - at least not yet. I am grateful to have found your blog today. Cheers!
    2571 days ago
    Meddy~ This is an awesome and eloquent expression of the value of AA. It is a program of the people and since people are fallible, it is not always "perfect" but it has saved my life and sanity too. I love your perspective from a country that is very secular. The spiritual aspect of the program, not religious, is a freedom I love. Everyone is free to chose their own conception of Higher Power.

    I am like you, when I stray away from my regular meetings, calling my sponsor, or reading the Big Book I don't have the desire to drink, but I become very "restless, irritable, and discontent". I know that that agitated state of mind will eventually lead me to finding SOMETHING unhealthy to soothe the feelings. I don't care to put any of that to the test.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope with us all.
    2676 days ago
    I love the twelve steps and AA. I learned how to do life sober in AA. It is an interesting journey. I love your blog. I am very spiritual and love the peace I have in my life most days. Thanks for the share.
    2676 days ago
  • SILLYHP1953
    People do get the spiritual aspect of the 12-step meetings mixed up with religion. Probably because some members do bring their religion into the meetings even though the traditions say not to. Many members also name their higher power "God" as I do, though I do not think AA or any of the 12-step programs are religious. Spiritual, yes. Many atheists and agnostics have found sobriety using AA. The meetings have helped me be a better listener, too.
    2677 days ago
    Thank you for this!

    2677 days ago
  • CANNIE50
    I truly grew up and began taking responsibility for myself and my actions by working the 12 Steps. I recently celebrated 27 years of sobriety (and freedom from smoking) and I attribute it to continued gratitude and willingness to believe there is a power greater than me (thank God). AA completely changed my life and the direction I was heading. I am glad you have found sobriety and peace of mind - you fully deserve both!
    2677 days ago
  • LIONESS678
    Oh no, Meddypeddy, thank YOU so much for writing this. It is just what I needed! Your point of view sounds more like where I am coming from. I've caught some flack for saying what I said about "the God thing" but I think you maybe come from my corner a little more. Not that you are defending me in any way, but that you maybe understand my doubts. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Have you ever read or studied the Big Book much? I'm just curious. Are people able to take as much or as little (and give also) as they need/want from AA?

    I had to look up ACOA. I'm that too! I'm thinking I will check both out, go to some meetings. I know I'm doing well right now, but I know there will be times ahead, because I already have them, when the urge to drink just hits. I'm not going to be on the Antabuse drug forever and I may need more strength than is just in me.

    Anyway, thank you again. I am blessed. I think I know who you had in mind when you wrote this! -Marci
    2677 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/14/2012 12:00:24 PM
    Wonderful testimonial! I came to AA meetings through Alanon and found a spiritual strength there that I was never able to find in church. Those 12 steps have helped me in all areas of my life and you definitely don't have to be an alcoholic to benefit from them. There is "A spiritual awakening, as a result of these steps". It doesn't matter what you call it. I don't go to meetings today; but the steps are still a very important part of my life.
    2677 days ago
    Congratulations on realizing your problem early and taking steps to correct it. There is alcoholism on both sides of my family. It was always in the back of my mind that I wasn't going to go that route. I drink but very rarely. Some times it will be years and then just a drink or two. It took me decades to realize that my weight problem was because I used food to handle my stress instead of alcohol like my father. I didn't get any kind of handle on the problem of overeating until I accepted that food was my drug of choice, my father's was alcohol and still others go the way of drugs. As for AA being to religious I think that you choose what you take out of any program and saying it is too religious is just an excuse not to go, not to try.

    Good look on your continues success.
    2677 days ago
  • no profile photo KAYTEETOO
    This is very inspiring thank you.
    2677 days ago
    I've so often heard people say you have to 'hit rock bottom' before you can recognize and begin addressing problems, whether it be alcohol, over-eating, drugs, or any other addictive behaviors. And I think what you went thru when you realized you were in the process of developing a problem - in early stages as opposed to years of hard-core drinking, for example - demonstrates what I've long thought: it is possible for people to see the direction they're going, to see the potential for greater problems from addictive behavior, before they reach the so-called 'rock bottom.'

    For what it's worth, I'm a real believer in the 12-step approach not just to drinking but to other areas of life as well; I see no reason it wouldn't be a good approach for you in terms of the help it can give you in addition to alcohol.

    As for religion... oh, you have a wonderfully wry sense of humor, Meddy. To people who say 'AA isn't for me, it has too much religion' I would say 'I understand your viewpoint... so what have you come up with in place of AA to address the problem--?'
    2677 days ago
    Wow, intense story!
    2677 days ago
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