Where am I with AA?

I posted a couple of weeks ago about how I was feeling about AA.  There wasn’t a real conclusion in that post other than I was disturbed with AA a bit and how I was feeling like I should drop out for a bit.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and spoken to a few of my closest friends in AA and some others who I trust and value their sobriety even if I don’t know them well.

Do I have a conclusion?  Not fully.  However I have decided to stick with AA – why not?  For 9 and a half years it has kept me sober, helped with with life and been a vital part of what I am all about.  So why fix something that isn’t broken?  There in lies the issue why am I dissatisfied?  I’ve come a few conclusions on that.

Firstly due to the course I’m on I can no longer attend a meeting on Monday night that frankly had been my home group ever since I came out of rehab.  It was the second meeting I attended out of rehab on my own and I connected with the feeling of that group.  Members have come and gone but there are a few stalwarts who still regularly attend that meeting including the man who is closest to fitting the bill as my sponsor.  I miss not being able to be at that group – it has upset my rhythm and pattern and that is one of the issues.  How to fix?  Well find other groups to go to.  Find ways to keep in touch with members of that group.  

The ego thing was just a passing thing and one that disturbed me more than it should have.  Partly as I think there was a bit of me wanting to dive in and fix it all – but in reality it had little, if anything, to really do with me.  I didn’t dive in – that was good.  The problem isn’t apparent to me any more.  “This too shall pass” – I know we all regret.

In speaking with my sponsor I told him what I was thinking.  As he did he didn’t make the case for AA or say “Do this” or “Stop thinking like that” etc.  He just asked why – as I told him he listened and then said “Have you considered going back over the steps?  You might find that reaffirms or not if you feel part of this”.  I was going to dismiss this out of hand – “I’m 9 years sober… blah blah”.   But then I thought – Hang on a moment.  When did you last seriously consider yourself in relation to the steps?   So I’ve started again – instantly on step 1 it hit me how I can easily diagnose myself as an alcoholic of the type AA mentions a lot in the big book.  You can see on this blog some of the outcome for this – that is why I ended up writing out My Drinking Story again and My Recovery Story.

I was approached by someone in AA who I have a lot of respect for, even if we’re not especially close.  He asked me something I found an odd question so I probed back and he indicated he was considering whether to suggest I consider a position within AA that will soon become vacant.  I was somewhat taken aback by his thoughts.  We talked for a while and I said “Look, honestly, I’m having some issues with AA and why I’m in it”.  He again listened and he just then replayed to me why he thought I’d be good for the role he was thinking of.   Funny the view of others vs your internal view – never the twain shall meet and all that.  One thing I will say though it got me thinking about all this stuff I was wrapping up about me… me… me – all about me…  he placed some of it in the context of others and about thinking about helping others.   Hmm – that has me pondering some more…

Finally – in another conversation with my sponsor when he was asking “Where are you now?”  As we talked he pointed out the change I’ve gone through and am still going through that started probably 5 years ago when my son left for university.  I’ve gone from parent of two children to the cusp of (as of this weekend) the father of two adults, facing the “empty nest syndrome”, being made redundant and watching the company I’d worked for 19 years totally dismantle my old work environment, a period in a job I really struggled with, the job I now have which involves a long commute to London, going part time in that and starting the counselling course with a view to possibly a complete and permanent career change.   Most of that since middle of 2010 as well once I was made redundant.  He just said “Sometimes doesn’t change bred a sense of needing to change things that maybe needn’t be?”   Great observation.  He should know as well, he’s been through some tough changes in the last 5 years himself and he reflected on needing to sometimes just compartmentalise things so something in this part of his life doesn’t have to effect over here.

Also Paul from Message In a Bottle commented that I’d appeared on the periphery of AA in my comments and posts before.  I can see now how that may have come across but I have been well engrossed in it in actuality.  Sometimes on here I’m wary of that, I’m not a mouthpiece for AA nor do I want to be, I don’t want to seem all preachy that there is only one way etc. but actually I perhaps am not totally honest here at times.  The answer is AA helped get me sober and has kept me sober since May 2004.  I tried for 13 months to do it on my own and I failed spectacularly so the fact I did it through AA should be something I say to others because I shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to find that success for themselves should I?

So back to how I started this – do I have a complete answer and a fix for this all… er no.  But I’ve decided to stick with it for the moment.  I will endeavour to get to more meetings and to fix up a potential replacement home group.  I still have one group I pretty much always attend on a Wednesday night – but whilst that one means a lot it is a very small group with not many members.  I need to balance that with another larger group I think.   I’ll continue with this rework of the Steps as that was a brilliant suggestion and something that has brought to me a feeling something that was probably overdue anyway, no more “idling in a retrogressive groove” for the time being.  

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About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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6 Responses to Where am I with AA?

  1. byebyebeer says:

    I was not in AA anywhere near as long as you, but the feelings of apart-ness got bigger than any comfort I felt while there. I thought it might go away but it did not, so the fact that you feel like staying and trying a new home group is noteworthy. The change in your life is no doubt stirring up other change. I too hope never to turn my back on the program that helped me so much, and still find comfort in knowing it is there. A dozen meetings a day within 10 miles, should I need them. Take time and listen for what feels right for you and I hope it brings you peace.

  2. I wanted to make a few comments:

    1) First, I have no idea why I got to this new wordpress blog of yours so late. I missed it, so I have some catching up to do…and I read your initial post just today from a few weeks ago…so I will reply to both tonight 🙂

    2) I must apologize if my comments about feeling you were on the periphery of AA were offensive or if they were off base. I guess I was picking up on something, and maybe it was your “should I stay or should I go” vibe. I never meant to imply that you didn’t work a strong program or anything like that! I do understand what you say about not being a mouthpiece. We are not really supposed to be (Trad 11), and I do realize that you don’t go about trying to jam AA down anyone’s throat. That is my goal (i hope I am successful). I know that is one of the gripes people have about AA – that we are trying to “convert” or preach AA. I certainly don’t – I have strong feelings for a program that literally saved my life, but I don’t jump on anyone who feels that it’s not for them. If this sobersphere and other places have taught me, and that is that there is no one-size fits all recovery model.

    3) I understand where you are coming from here. I haven’t fully experienced yet, Graham, but I get it. This is one of those things that I look to others who have crossed this path before to give some guidance…and you did exactly that. Kudos. I love how you have seen where things were starting to go pear shaped, and you have the open-mindedness and willingness to confront and address it. I am kind of in a place like that, but not so strong or frightening. So I look to you in how you are handling this is dignity and honesty. Thank you for that. It helps me.

    And to do the steps again – I love that too. I have done the steps one and a half times. I have to admit the second half time wasn’t as thorough as I wanted to do – half measures avail us nothing…lol. I did a second 4th and 5th. 6 and 7 are lifelong and I still (ugh) have the same handful of amends to make. I think for me it’s making those amends that will really help me in my program. But you see that it will work for you, these going through the steps again, and I am really excited for you.

    Anyway, thank you for this all. I know people who have left AA and have done quite well. I know people who have left AA and have not done so well. Each of us have our path. I know in your initial post a few weeks back some mentioned how they didn’t enjoy AA at all, etc. and that’s fine. I mean, I wish they didn’t have that experience, but I am not the type to defend AA or it’s members. AA members aren’t all saints…none of us are. Some are sicker than others, as they say. Some have massive egos still, some aren’t as spiritually fit as others, etc. and unfortunately newcomers base the entire AA on a bad experience of two. Hell, some *groups* are sicker than others.

    You’re a shining light here, Graham, and I have really gotten a whole different view of things on your side…so thank you for sharing so candidly. It truly helps me.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • furtheron says:

      Paul – please you don’t have to ever apologise for your comments. The point I was making was that someone I know is “into” the programme thought I was on the periphery due to my posts etc. It just made me question if I had the balance right in what I was saying on here – at times I’ve been very concerned about the I need to not be seen as a mouthpiece or an AA zealot etc. It’s made me question how I’m presenting myself.

  3. I’m glad you took your questions as an opportunity to explore your feelings and the situation. A mentally healthy sign. 🙂

  4. daisyfae says:

    Seems you’re working your way toward a balance. i admire your ability to reflect, consider, re-consider and sort your own issues. You seek external counsel to provide perspective, but in the end you do your own sorting and make your own decisions. It takes time to do this kind of work! i think you’re on the right track!

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