The Sober Blog That Alienates Everyone….(or maybe not)

Lately I have read some absolutely brilliant posts on a host of great, sober topics.

The authors write beautifully and speak eloquently about  all the new things that are realizing about not drinking. How great they feel, how well these new habits are working for them, how a year or so in they are learning so many new things from their therapists, or  a  great book, a sober blog challenge or a flash of inspiration….

Pause when agitated.

What anyone thinks of you is none of your business.

One day at a time.

Etc, Etc, Etc…

I cannot help but realize, and be grateful, that I had all of these ideas available to me from the very first AA meeting I attended.

I completely get it that not everyone wants to go to AA. I honor everyone’s choices that got them sober, because, DAMN! you are sober and that is awesome! I understand that people sometimes have strong opinions about AA, both negative and positive (I still find myself with a lot of differing feelings about it).  I particularly resonate with those who have a problem with the “god” thing, oh how I identify! That pesky “higher power” issue almost kept me out of the rooms. But I wanted to stop drinking more than I wanted to argue about a higher power(or any other excuse) so when someone offered to take me to an AA meeting I accepted.  So when I read about an incredible “new” concept that I have been working since day one (not perfectly, these things take time) on someone’s blog, and they are just seeing it a year or sometimes longer in…..well.

I get real grateful real fast that I decided to barrel through all my huge difficulties with AA and just do it.

Because taking that pause ALWAYS works, and has since the day I heard it. And letting go of others opinions of me has been hard, but I knew, from day one, that I needed to work hard on that and I have. And staying in the now, that one day at a time thing? Well, it’s genius, and the longer I stick around the “geniuser” it gets. I can do ANYTHING for a day. And then I can get up and choose it again.

I am only mentioning these three points because I have seen a lot of revelations around them in the last couple of weeks, and all from people who don’t “do” AA.  There are many others.

I am SO happy to see others coming in to these ideas on their own, or with their therapists or maybe from some other sober blogger ( maybe even me!). But I feel so lucky that I was able hear these things early on. I am grateful that I was able to throw aside all preconceptions of AA and just fucking do it (and that is what it was, and often continues to be for me).

I know other things work. I honor everyone’s path. The fact that we are all sober speaks volumes. Yet there is the rub, too. We aren’t all sober. I’m also writing this because I spent some time recently on the phone with a woman who cannot stop drinking, has tried everything that she is willing to try over and over, but refuses to try AA because she “thinks it’s weird”. All I could do was tell her my experience and wish her well, but I don’t understand her attitude. Or maybe it’s just simply that she isn’t ready to quit. Until you are honestly ready to quit, nothing will work for you.

I guess at this Holiday time, as a New Year is about to begin, I needed to write a little love letter to what helped ME get sober. A thank you, as it were.

So thank you AA for being so available. For being FREE. For introducing me to some kick-ass life concepts and some really kick-ass people. For letting me know there are other ways of doing and thinking, and allowing me to accept that little by little, with no pressure or agenda other than to help me get and stay sober. Period.

And maybe this is a little push to others who are about to jump on this crazy sobriety train to give it a try. AA works, for a lot of us. If you have any questions, ask me. Feel free to complain too, I have no problem with that, I can bitch with the best of you. The New Year always brings new people into the rooms of AA, that resolution thing, right? Some stay, many don’t. If they don’t it’s not AA’s fault. I am sponsoring someone right now who came into AA a couple years ago but left. She wasn’t ready. She’s back and has almost 8 months sober. This time it’s working for her, AA didn’t change, she did.

I just made it through my 4th sober Christmas. I know it can be done, I’m willing to talk about it.

I have a fantasy about entire world domination of fabulous sober people, no matter how we all get there!

But the sooner the better and, for me, AA has been the bullet train to a new, sober life that is SO much better.

Peace all, and lots of love.

 

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15 Comments

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  1. I usually recommend AA because it helped me so much in the beginning. Then I got to a point where another approach felt better, so I respect those who aren’t interested or who tried it and didn’t think it was for them. I read blogs by newly sober people, both in and out of AA, who write about things I didn’t “get” until well into my first year or more of going to meetings. It’s all such a unique, personal experience. I’m so grateful for the blogs because I saw how many people are getting and staying sober through a variety of methods. There’s real freedom and hope in that.

    • I completely agree Kristen.
      I think I have just been frustrated with the unwillingness to even try, the judging before trying.
      I have my own issues with AA…I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Mine mostly have to do with meetings right now, but I’m sure it will pass.
      The things I have learned though…I can never be grateful enough for the tools that are in my head, the ways I have of staying sober.
      Like I said, if you’re sober then whatever you are doing works, and I think that’s great. I’m not for arguing anyone out of anything that works.

  2. I am so glad that AA has worked for you. It is a life saver for so many. I have been in SMART Recovery since May and I feel as grateful for my program as many do about AA. In the end, it’s what resonates with you and what keeps you sober. Rock on!

  3. I was sober for ten months before I went to an AA meeting, so I can compare my before and after thoughts. Since I had never needed AA to stop drinking for any number of days (this is my first attempt at “forever” – so far, so good), and since I knew of people (the writer Pete Hammill, being one, and then the sober bloggers, Unpickled et al) who’d gotten sober without AA, I thought to myself that the people who get sober in AA are the very people who could have gotten sober without. I didn’t really give credit to the program, rather to the people. And the people for whom AA fails, and a lot of numbers get bandied about here, not sure they’re very accurate since at any AA meeting I go to, 75% of the people in the room have more than a year of continuous sobriety (I know because at the end the discussion leader usually says something like, “So people can see that the program works, will anyone with a year or more please raise your hands”).

    Jean (Unpickled) says it is a matter of working on your recovery (something she’s done very actively, albeit outside the confines of AA), but I disagree. When Pete Hammil stopped drinking after slamming down his last drink in a bar, he never went to a meeting and I guarantee he never picked up a Brene Brown book. What he did, and it seems to have taken him only seconds, whereas it takes some of us years, was become a non-drinker. And non-drinkers don’t drink.

    I know in my own early attempts at moderation, I’d stop for long-ish periods, for lent, until my birthday, etc. But in every case, I remained a drinker not drinking. Like taking a vacation apart from a lover. You have to deal with some unhealthy attachments, yes, but you don’t ever grieve. Not until you get it, that you can’t drink again. That’s step 1. You don’t need to be an alcoholic, necessarily (I’m happy to call myself an alcoholic in meetings because I do idenitfy with the emotional attachments so many alcoholics have to alcohol, and I was a daily drinker, but I was never the kind of person for whom all bets were off after the first sip, and I never built up any kind of tolerance – my body never really learned to metabolize alcohol, so I could never do more than three drinks – so it’s not a label I subscribe to generally), you just need to realize that there’s no more room in your life for alcohol.

    Step 1 is a final, definitive thing. I balked for years at the language – the admission of powerlessness – because I was never (so I thought) powerless over alcohol. In that, I could stop. But I couldn’t de-cathect. Even when not drinking, I was attached to that bordeaux glass. Drinking was constitutive of my identity (kind of like what happens to some women who lose their identities in marriage). I was always working or drinking, I didn’t have any other modes of being. I engaged in other activities, sure, but glass in hand. Anyway, I found Step 1 easier when I took out “over alcohol.” I guess because I’m a Christian I didn’t have a problem with the acknowledgement of powerlessness in general – it’s a kind of central tenet of my faith.

    As for meetings, I only go to one or two meetings a week. I enjoy them, that’s why I go. I like being around other people who’ve made the same (difficult) life choice and who are on the same path. If I ever stop liking it, I’ll stop going. I don’t credit AA with my sobriety, and I am certainly not a meeting away from a drink. A prayer away, maybe, but a meeting away, no. I guess, unlike Pete Hammil, my “transition” (to non-drinker) doesn’t feel quite as permanent. I am mostly there. But life is not yet wonderful – I was (I am!) an introvert, wine was my constant companion, etc. I like the reinforcement I get at meetings, by reading sober blogs, etc. I like the idea of “recovery” as a spiritual path. I don’t feel weaker or diminished by embracing a new identity as a “recovering alcoholic” (versus slamming down my glass and moving on, a la Hammil).

    Anyway, people come to Step 1, if not to the rooms, in their own time. I think it was 8 or 9 years for me from the time I first googled “Am I an alcoholic” to giving it up for good. To each his (or her) own.

  4. Earlier his year i was sober and freaked out. I was alone. My husband was in treatment. I didn’t know what to do. But i absolutely did not want to go to AA. I read qll the bad press. I thought it was a cult.

    I reached out to other sober bloggers and to my therapist and was encoiraged to stop reading and consider being open minded. To consider the possibility that my immediate negative response was a sign that maybe inside i knew i needed help.

    So I went to AA.

    I personally feel the power of meetings is just going. To show you face and admit your problems and relate to people who are drastically different from oirselves.

    How we work the progrqm can be very different. Buddhism and yoga are part of my recovery and i feel they have many of the same teachings as,the 12 steps.

    If someone is unwilling to try anything to get sober, perhaps they aren’t at their bottom yet. That is a tough thing. The goal should dfinitely be to quit while ahead.

    Thanks for this post.

    Anne

  5. I love this post! It’s so true! I love the line -Until you are honestly ready to quit, nothing will work for you.- I truly believe that, and this is exactly what I learned during my 4 years spent in and out. And I am actually really happy that I never knew that there was another prgram or that I could Google about it or anything. I had no clue! My last choice was between dying drunk or going to 12-steps, so 12-steps it was! And that last time I was ready, I was willing put all my judgements away and to do whatever I needed to do to stay sober!

    Thanks Mishedup! Congrats on 4th sober holiday season! Woot woot! Sending you many hugs and all the best wishes to you for the New Year!

  6. I love the post, and I can see all the points you mention. I have my opinions on sober blogging and sobriety and the paths that we all take. We all do. Do they jive with everyone? of course not. I think there is always that subtle (and maybe not-so-sublte) isconnection between the AA’s and the non-AA’s, but it’s a blurred line. In the end, like Maggie said there, AA is something I did because I knew nothing else. I was beyond the point of Googling stuff or stumbling upon sober blogs because I was too busy being stumbling drunk and so bloody egotistical.

    I respect those who don’t do 12-step and yet find that shining light, who change, who see things with clarity. I also respect those who want to white-knuckle it and distract themselves. I also pray for them because those are usually the first to stumble. not always, but often. now I probably sound like some judgmental fool, but I have seen it happen over and over again – even from AA’s who decide to go it alone…who figure they now “got it” and do it on their own. Hell, I can get complacent too.

    Anyway, love the shout out to what has worked for you and for so many of us. AA doesn’t pretend to have the monopoly on healthy recovery, and I am glad so many have found what they have been looking for, regardless of the path.

    congrats on 4th sober Christmas – it’s was my 4th as well!

    Blessings
    Paul

    • I think you touchéd on an important point, probably the most important….which is the doing it alone thing.
      That’s why there are so many sober bloggers who make it, because the support here, even if only virtual is tremendous. And as we get used to the support here we are able to go out into the world and ask for support, expect support, from others.

      I started my sober journey alone in my office, drinking from a bottle of jack yet reading sober blogs and participating in an online recovery group. I was “preparing” for sobriety, and it did me well, i learned a lot. one of the people from my online group is the person who took me to my first meeting…and a few weeks later i was actually sober.
      As we get and stay sober we invite others back into our lives, we get used to our new state as non-drinkers and so do others, and the support starts filtering in.
      Alone is impossible, in my opinion.
      Together, here, in AA, in any of the other myriad support groups, with our friends and family involved…well, we can do anything.
      Stopping drinking is just a blip….we can live again, and that is the best part!

  7. “But I wanted to stop drinking more than I wanted to argue about a higher power(or any other excuse)” I love this line. LOVE IT.

    Great post for me to hear today. Note to self: We all have our own path. No one is right, neither is one wrong.

    As for me. It’s my 11th sober Christmas (is that possible) and I continue to learn more and more about me and all the sh*t I don’t know about life.

    You are one of those eloquent writers. You make a difference in many life’s because you have chosen to share you journey.

    Blessings for the New Year. And love, Lisa

    • Thanks Lisa…

      wow, 11. amazing and inspirational…thank you for continually being here for others starting on their path…
      when i first started i’d wonder why “old-timers” would still be at meetings…wtf? i wanted to get sober and get out!
      but is see now how it is part of our recovery..this sharing the message, either in person or through these blogs.
      I love this sober network!

      happy new year to you too!

      • Adore your blog and this comment. I felt the same way when I was new. Funny now isn’t it?

        Hey, I’m still working on my word for 2015. I was just at Karen’s blog typing your name when this came over. Strange and beautiful.

        Cheers to our upcoming year of growing.

  8. I have been to three AA meetings during a stint in a psych ward. I resumed drinking when I got out, but I got sober about a month or two later. Now I’m 4 months sober at 22 years old, and I don’t go to AA but I do use the literature. It has helped me tremendously. The steps are profound. I don’t go to meetings because 1) being the youngest in the room is sad and 2) I’ve heard from a lot of people that it can get pretty uncomfortable for a young lady in there. And I quit smoking, so I don’t want to be around that either. But AA has helped others in my family. And I love them for it. 🙂

    • starting a blog is genius martha…
      lots of accountability and help here.

      there is young people’s AA, but I live in L.A so it’s big here…i know that it’s not so big other places.
      It doesn’t matter though…you have family support and blog support and hopefully friend support….you’ll be ok.

      here’s to a great and sober 2015!

  9. I just loved this. If I were to reply with all my thoughts, I fear it would be a whole blog post, so maybe I will save my thoughts for another day. I related to so much of this! Thank you. That is all. Happy New Year!

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