Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spiritual vs Religious again... A.A. Style

So I went to the noon meeting this last Thursday and the chairperson is one of the meeting founders. He opened the meeting up and proposed the topic... which I like If you're going to chair the meeting, then chair the meeting.

The topic? The Joy Of Living... as suggested due to the Daily Reflections reading. You know... 12th Month... 12th Step sort of thing.

Many of us had our relationship with our Creator as inspiration for this new-found Joy. But near the end of the meeting, the chairperson felt the need to let the "newcomers" know that being this is a spiritual program and not a religious one... that it could be misleading to think that someone must find a "God" as their "Higher Power" and that agnostics can go on being agnostics and remain sober in A.A. and atheists can go on being atheists and remain sober in A.A.

Same "Don't let the God Talk run you off" bullshit.

It is my opinion that the chairperson is wrong. It is my understanding that "We Agnostics" is a chapter written for most all of us, if not exactly all of us. It is my belief that our original founders... about half of them came in as agnostics and became believers of God... or even better, had formed a relationship with God and walked away with faith... and sobriety. That, in my estimation, makes them no longer agnostics.

Our co-founder said that it's his belief that very few of us... those that walk the earth... are atheists to begin with. Go look for yourself and see.

But I live in a world of many many atheists... true atheists, and coffee-shop God-killed-my-puppy-dog-atheists.

So, I disagree that you can come into A.A. and do the program and remain agnostic or atheist.

This ought to stir the pot.

What say you? More importantly, what's your experience? If you're a true atheist and you are "sober in A.A.", I say you're perhaps sober, and you may be in A.A., but you ain't doing A.A.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Alcoholics Anonymous Tradition 7

Ok you fucking cheapskate drunks... pony up.

I will not enter an A.A. meeting if I don't have a buck on me. I usually have two bucks handy and I'll put that in... but sometimes I'm running late so... if I can't dig up 4 fucking quarters, I just won't go.

I can turn the couch upside down and find two bucks. Any bum can scrape up two bucks.

But that's just me. I could care less what you put into the basket... unless it's our 4 member home group. There, if everybody doesn't contribute 2 bucks minimum, then come rent time, somebody has to pony up the rest.

If you're a cheap drunk who had to steal or mooch or drink mouthwash, then I say you weren't/aren't alky. You're just a fucking cheap-assed bum. Or worse. You're a fucking thief.

Ask yourself... how much does one drink cost? Now how much does one fucking A.A. meeting cost?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas Sunday, Happy Hanukkah, Zippy Kwanzaa, Jolly Festivus, and Happy New Year!

Thanks for authoring, posting, following, lurking to all!

Hope y'all have a sober and happy holidays and enjoy your fellows about you.

If you're not sober, have one on me.  As my dad says, "There's a baby in every bottle."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scientists that "know" don't know shit. Scientists that are confused are where they operate best.

Watching a CSI program, I'd overheard the notion that "Every society discovers what they need to know."  But then, "Each subsequent one forgets... until they learn it again."

This describes the efficacy of the recovery "industry" pretty well... imo.

This is why books would seem so vital... and why some feel so threatened by such books... if they are trying to "invent" a more profitable "industry".

Look back at the conditions of the early/mid 30s with regards to alcoholism and addictions.  Was this not a hotbed of "stock" for this recovery industry?  Was it not also a hotbed of spiritual application and practice?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spirituality vs. Religion

Went to a meeting today and the chair person made step two the topic, but more specifically, he was trying to inform a lot of the newcomers in the group/meeting to understand that with all the God talk lately, that they do not have to buy into some organized religion form of God.

I think it's a good point in the fact that I need to come to terms as to whether I'm an alcoholic or not and if I need divine help to get and stay sober... or at very least to stay sober.

I see nothing wrong with organized religion... if used properly.  A lot of folks in A.A. seem to have had a hellfire and brimstone God shoved down their throat.  I did not.  But regardless of how wonderful a person's religious upbringing, if they're alcoholic now, how good could that religion be doing with regards to the booze?

Can a person who is accustomed to some religious path do A.A. and come later to incorporate that discipline into their life as well?  Can someone who was never too strong in religion come to incorporating some religion of their choice whilst also staying plugged into A.A.?

Can a person who walked away from religion long ago but found sobriety in A.A. find a way to just keep their trap shut as to suggesting others to do likewise so as to solicit some form of approval or whatever it is they do?

It just seems to me that many bleeding deacons who go to meetings feel the need to paint a rosy path for the newcomer so as to not let any mention of God scare the new man off.

Back in the days of our cofounders, did the folks who were agnostic/atheist generally stay that way?  Or did many come to believe in some form of God that may be associated with some religion?  I know many will argue that A.A. was generally based on Christianity.  I don't buy it.  I also hear the same garbage about the forming of the US of A.  To me, our great nation was formed on Spiritual Principles, not religious dogma.  But, this is something we can argue till the cows come home.  I argue that our nation is spiritual rather than religious because we generally have the freedom to worship how and if... without giving up our rights and freedoms.  Not so in many parts of the world during the forming of this new nation.  Same goes with A.A. in my experience.  I am not forced into believing and practicing the dogma of any particular religion.

The books itself tells us in very specific detail what we are called to do... be quick to point out where religious people are right... make use of what they offer.  I am called upon to be open minded.  As my mentor's mentor says, "I used to think open minded meant adding to the vast knowledge that I already possess.  What I found out was that I'm called to start anew with the whole deal... and to choose... all the way down the line."  That's a paraphrase, but I think I got the jist of it.

Yesterday in this same meeting, we had a group of gals graduating from the local treatment center, so the chairperson yesterday chose to cater to these ladies and let them share where they are now and what they plan on doing going forward.  Just about every gal talked about how they used to hate other girls and only hung out with guys and how they have come to open up to their female companions a bit.  It's a good thing I didn't get called on to share because I was going to explain to them my opinion about their tendencies.  Many of these women hate other women because they see them as competition.  They see men as providers.  It's about that simple.

I would have gone on to talk about how it is my opinion that these gals... whether they go on to get sober/clean or not, do A.A./(fill-in-the-blank A.) or not... they at very least try to get back on their own two feet and put themselves in a position to provide for themselves.  This would entail, get a job, pay the bills, don't cheat, steal, fight, break the law in general, etc.  Then maybe, if they can face up to the fact that the best deal they got is to look at those steps.  Am I alky?  Do I need God's grace and protection and care?  Am I willing to let God be my Provider?  Will God do for me what I cannot do for myself?  Will God provide for me so long as I do not place others or myself in the wrong position? 

It's got to be a bit tougher for women though.  See, they will not hear that shit that I would spew in a meeting... not ever... especially the cute ones.  Ever notice how women, specifically the cute ones, get treated different?  It's as if nobody has the balls to give it to them straight.  This particual meeting I have been going to has no recovered women in it.  The "elder statesmen" don't want to see the new man/woman get run off with God talk or ... perhaps step-talk.

But unfortunately, I think people get what they want.  They want the easier softer way.  I don't think they spend enough time discussing what an alcoholic is and if they are one or not and whether they have really come to terms with whether they are going to decide into this spiritual path or not.  Until all this stuff is ironed out, the God talk is just talk, imo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Newbie describes how awful her A.A. experience has been for her so far

So I went to the nooner by the courthouse yesterday and the one the day before.

This gal describes how things are going after about two months of sobriety now.

She's coming up on the holidays and is bummed she don't have much money. She knows she'll receive gifts from her folks and she is remorseful that she cannot afford to buy them gifts... again.

So her mom tells her, "This is the best gift you can give me." Just calling her sober is something new. She described how her mom used to call the hospitals and morgues trying to locate her.

It was sort of a touching moment... guess you sort of had to be there.

The topic of the meeting seemed to be reliance on God vs reliance on self and... something to do with pulling off the mask and being our true self in sobriety... as opposed to putting on our A.A. cloak and saying "I'm fine."

I liken the latter topic to locating our ego... drunk or sober. A lot of folks come from the place that they are free of this mask "now that I'm sober" and that's that. For me, it's an ongoing battle. Without diligent step work, the ego rebuilds and manifests itself eventually. I eventually go back to running the show, arranging the lights and the stage characters in my own way. In other words, I eventually play God in some way or... there's some area of my life I've not turned loose of or I'm not fully aware of where I'm off the beam.

For example, with my coworker, I felt bullied at times and taken advantage of. When I fought back, it was a battle between his character and mine. I wanted to shed light on each and everything he did wrong, whether I was involved or not. I wanted assurance and approval of me being in the right and him being wrong. With that, I'd gone to far. What was this lack of faith based in? Fear. Lack of control. Lack of power. I got away from doing my work for God rather than not doing it for him.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What Happened?

Cool Picture of F-18

Ok, enough frivolity about death and dying. Some more sober (?) shit here. This was sent to me a week or so ago. Don't know the pedigree, who wrote it or when, but it makes for some interesting reading. Many points the author makes have been made on this blog.

I was talking to my old (80 years) friend Millie the other night, and she was reflecting on the disappearance of 12-step calls. (Anyone gone out in the middle of the night to make a call with a pint of vodka in their pocket recently? ) I wonder if this observation isn't tied into society becoming more familiar with the concepts of Detox or Rehab being the miracle answer, and viewing AA as sort of an after care or something. "Got a drinking problem? Go to a Rehab facility" as opposed to go to an AA meeting.

Another thought that comes to mind is the idea that nobody, including AA in my opinion, screens folks anymore to see if they really ARE alcoholics. I look around some of the meetings I go to and listen to the shit that's spouted sometimes. I'm convinced that some people have no business being at a meeting as they're not alcoholics. Maybe insecure wanabees who drink too much and are looking for a little sympathy or something, but not alcoholics.

And I've got mixed feelings about the role of the newcomer. I've heard some wise words out of the mouths of babes and drivel from the people who've been around for "a few 24 hours".

But anyway, this will be on the test, so study it well. I threw in the cool picture 'cause it's a guy thing.

What Happened?

That question is being asked by a lot of alcoholics lately. What happened to our high success rate? 30 & 40 years ago, we were keeping 75% or more of the alcoholics who came to us for help. Today, we aren’t keeping even 5%. What happened? What happened to that wonderful A.A. Group that was around for 20, 30 or 40 years? There used to be 50, 75, 100 or more at every meeting. It is now a matter of history; gone! More and more groups are folding every day. What happened? We hear a lot of ideas, opinions and excuses as to what happened but things are not improving. They continue to get worse. What is happening?
Bill W. wrote,

“In the years ahead A.A. will, of course, make mistakes. Experience has taught us that we need have no fear of doing this, providing that we always remain willing to admit our faults and to correct them promptly. Our growth as individuals has depended upon this healthy process of trial and error. So will our growth as a fellowship.

Let us always remember that any society of men and women that cannot freely correct its own faults must surely fall into decay if not into collapse. Such is the universal penalty for the failure to go on growing. Just as each A.A. must continue to take his moral inventory and act upon it, so must our whole Society if we are to survive and if we are to serve usefully and well.” (A.A. Comes of Age, pg 231)
With so very few finding lasting sobriety and the continued demise of AA groups, it is obvious that we have not remained willing to admit our faults and to correct them promptly.

Seems that the Delegate of the Northeast Ohio Area, Bob Bacon, identified our mistakes and our faults when he talked to a group of AA’s in 1976. He said, in essence, we are no longer showing the newcomer that we have a solution for alcoholism. We are not telling them about the Big Book and how very important that Book is to our long term sobriety. We are not telling them about our Traditions and how very important they are to the individual groups and to Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. Rather, we are using our meeting time for drunkalogs, a discussion of our problems, ideas and opinions or “my day” or “my way”.

Reflecting on what Bob Bacon had to say, it would appear that we have permitted newcomers to convince the old-timers that they had a better idea. They had just spent 30 or more days in a treatment facility where they had been impressed with the need to talk about their problems in Group Therapy Sessions. They had been told that it didn’t make any difference what their real problem was, A.A. had the “best program”. They were told that they should go to an A.A. meeting every day for the 1st 90 days out of treatment. They were told that they shouldn’t make any major decisions for the 1st year of their sobriety. And what they were told goes on and on, most of which are contrary to the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous!
Apparently, what they were told sounded pretty good to the A.A.
members who were here when the TC clients started showing up at our meetings. And a lot of the A.A. members liked the idea of the treatment centers because the centers provided a place where they could drop off a serious drinker. That eliminated some of the inconveniences we had been plagued with before; having to pour orange juice and honey or a shot of booze down a vibrating alky to help them “de-tox”.

When A.A. was very successful, the folks who did the talking in meetings were recovered alcoholics. The suffering and untreated alcoholics listened. After hearing what it takes to recover, the newcomer was faced with a decision; “Are you going to take the Steps and recover or are you going to get back out there and finish the job?” If they said they “were willing to go to any length,” they were given a sponsor, a Big Book and began the process of recovery by taking the Steps and experiencing the Promises that result from that course of action. This process kept the newcomer involved in working with others and continued the growth of our Fellowship. Our growth rate was approximately 7% and the number of sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous doubled every 10 years.

With the advent of the rapid growth of the Treatment Industry, the acceptance of our success with alcoholics by the judicial system and endorsement of physicians, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc. all kinds of people were pouring into A.A. at a rate greater than we had ever dreamed possible. Almost without realizing what was happening, our meetings began changing from ones that focused on recovery from alcoholism to “discussion or participation” types of meetings that invited everyone to talk about whatever was on their mind. The meetings evolved from a program of spiritual development to the group therapy type of meeting where we heard more and more about “our problems” and less and less about the Program of Recovery by the Big Book and the preservation of our Fellowship by adhering to our Traditions.

What has been the result of all this? Well, never have we had so many coming to us for help. But never have we had such a slow growth rate which has now started to decline. For the first time in our history, Alcoholics Anonymous is losing members faster than they are coming in and our success rate is unbelievably low. (Statistics from the Inter-Group Office of some major cities indicate less than 5% of those expressing a desire to stop drinking are successful for more than 5 years; a far cry from the 75% reported by Bill W. in the Forward to Second Edition). The change in the content of our meetings is proving to be death-traps for the newcomer and in turn, death-traps for the groups that depend on the “discussion or participation” type meetings.

Why is this? The answer is very simple. When meetings were opened so that untreated alcoholics & non-alcoholics were given the opportunity to express their ideas, their opinions, air their problems and tell how they were told to do it where they came from, the confused newcomer became more confused with the diversity of information that was being presented. More and more they were encouraged to “just go to meetings and don’t drink” or worse yet, “go to 90 meetings in 90 days”. The newcomer no longer was told to take the Steps or get back out there and finish the job. In fact, they are often told, “Don’t rush into taking the Steps. Take your time.” The alcoholics who participated in the writing of the Big Book didn’t wait. They took the Steps in the first few days following their last drink.

Thank God, people in our Fellowship, like Joe & Charlie, Wally, etc., recognized the problem and started doing something about it. They placed the focus back on the Big Book. There have always been a few groups that would not yield to the group therapy trend. They stayed firm to their commitment to try to carry a single message to the suffering alcoholic. That is to tell the newcomer that “we have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps and if you want to recover, we will see that you have a sponsor who has recovered and will lead you along the path the 1st 100 laid down for us”. Recovered alcoholics have begun founding groups that have a single purpose and inform the newcomer that until they have taken the steps and recovered, they will not be permitted to say anything in meetings. They will listen to recovered alcoholics, they will take the Steps, they will recover and then they will try to pass their experience and knowledge on to the ones who are seeking the kind of help we provide in Alcoholics Anonymous. As this movement spreads worldwide as it is beginning to, Alcoholics Anonymous will again be very successful in doing the one thing God intended for us to do and that is to help the suffering alcoholic recover, if he has decided he wants what we have and is willing to go to any length to recover, to take and apply our Twelve Steps to our lives and protect our Fellowship by honoring our Twelve Traditions.
There is a tendency to want to place the blame for our predicament on the treatment industry and professionals. They do what they do and it has nothing to do with what we in Alcoholics Anonymous do. That is their business. That is not where to place the blame and also is in violation of our Tenth Tradition. The real problem is that the members of Alcoholics Anonymous, who were here when the “clients” began coming to our Fellowship did not help the “clients” understand that our Program had been firmly established since April 1939. And that the guidelines for the preservation and growth of our Fellowship were adopted in 1950. That they must get rid of their new “old ideas” and start practicing the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous as it was given to us. That until they had taken the Steps and recovered, they had nothing to say that needed to be heard except by their sponsor.
But that didn’t happen. To the contrary, the old timers failed in their responsibility to the newcomer to remind them of a vital truth, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program.” We have permitted untreated alcoholics and non-alcoholics to sit in our meetings and lay out their problems, ideas and opinions. We have gone from, “Rarely have we seen a person fail” to “Rarely do we see a person recover.”
So there we are. We have had 30 years of unbelievable success by following the directions in the Big Book. We have had 30 years of disappointing failure by wanting to hear from everyone. We now have something to compare.
We now know what the problem is and we know what the solution is. Unfortunately, we have not been prompt to correct the faults and mistakes which have been created by what would appear to be large doses of apathy and complacency. The problem we are trying to live with is needlessly killing alcoholics.
The Solution? For those who are willing to go to any length, recovery is promised. They will find a Power greater than themselves by closely following the clear-cut directions found only in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Do you want to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution?
Simple, but not easy... a price has to be paid.