to each his own

it’s always interesting how god works in my life. just when i think i’m pulling away from recovery or whatever, something happens to make me realize … oh yeah, i like it and need it and want it. and i’m an alcoholic and that’s fine with me.

so. the last three comments on the heath post make me want to talk about recovery. and it’s weird. cause they make me have very powerful feelings about it. and i don’t want to come off sounding like i’m defensive. and i feel like that’s what it’s going to sound like. i’m not really sure what the commenters actual face to face experience *is* with 12-step programs, though. and that makes me a little ack about things. no matter -what- we’re talking about. it bugs me when people trash talk things they don’t know about. and trust me, i’ve done it for years. “you spot it, you got it.” but again, i don’t know. so i don’t know. so, i’m trying to be honest and get my biases out of the way before i speak to the comments or give my opinions about how i view them or whatever. and the other thing i’ve learned about myself, is when i have a strong reaction to something, there’s always cause to look and see what’s triggering that. so, let’s have a chat, shall we?

(i’d always like to remind everyone that anything i say on this blog is ONLY representative of MY personal experience being in a 12-step program and no indication of anything official on the part of any particular 12-step program.)

shalom says: The problem with this is that reminders don’t help. If people could stay abstinent by reminding themselves of the consequences of their drinking, they wouldn’t be addicts. So talking about other people’s using experiences is really just schadenfreude. Discuss.

generally schadenfreude is considered taking pleasure in other’s misfortune or misery (although it’s said it has no real direct translation from german to english), so i have to disagree with you right away. well, first i think we should clarify what exactly we’re talking about. my point was that hearing about someone -dying- is a reminder to me about how real the disease of alcoholism/addiction is. that if i can fool myself into thinking that it’s not deadly, it’s a real ‘in your face’ proof that i’m wrong. or when someone comes back from a relapse and says something to the effect of ‘yeah, i thought i could drink again or i had a few beers and very quickly i ended up smoking crack or ended up in jail or some really crazy ass bad terrible shit happened to me’ i know that it’s not just some casual thing i can take on again. and i don’t think that anyone takes pleasure from that. i think some people become jaded and cold to it. and i think some people aren’t surprised when some people drink again. but i don’t think anyone thinks it’s cool or funny.

on the other hand, if you are talking about people telling “war stories” and stuff, that could be classified as schadenfreude, i suppose. and it’s certainly not going to *keep* anyone sober, that’s for sure. it might start to –get– someone sober, as they start to relate other people’s experiences to their own. they start to realize if the person who is recovering is an alcoholic and has a solution to recover sounds a lot like them in their drinking and feelings, then they might decide they are an alcoholic or if they already concede that fact, they might decide that they have a shot at doing something about it.

however, in no certain terms do i believe that trying to “play out the tape” (remembering your last drink or worst experience or how bad it was) will keep you sober. like you said, if it could, then no one would need a 12-step program or a higher power or any of that. they’d have such a great memory of how horrible it was and that would be that. but for some reason, addicts/alcoholics have a broken brain, and we just *can’t* remember it. for some reason, our brain goes … ‘it’ll be different this time.’ ‘it wasn’t THAT bad.’ ‘try a different liquor/drug.’ ‘you’re with different people.’ ‘eat something this time.’ ‘it’s been awhile.’ whatever the case may be. we forget. there’s some stupid excuse or something and we drink again. so, yeah. that stuff won’t keep you sober. i was just saying when someone dies, it reminds me that yeah, i’m not immune from alcoholism, and if i drink again, i’m eligible for all the ‘yets’ (it hasn’t happened to me yet).

bob says:

Meetings are just a bunch of people getting off on other people talking about their last relapse?

I know that’s my take, but I’m sure the smuss will tell it different.

no. not even close. first of all, most of the people in the meeting are building up or have built up sober time. so they’re not talking about their last relapse, they’re talking about staying sober and how to stay sober. even better, if you are going to ‘mechanical meetings’ (meetings discussing the steps and reading from the literature — primarily the big book and the 12 steps/12 traditions), people are talking about working the steps, how to work them, how they worked them, what their experiences are/were, if they’re struggling with them, what that’s like, sponsorship and the 12 steps, etc.

people definitely talk about what it was like, but they also talk about what happened and what it’s like now. and sometimes that also includes shit about their day or their sigoth or their boss or who they cut off in traffic. because all that shit may have to do with them drinking, or it might have to do with the fact that it pertains to the 6th step or something. who knows.

but meetings are most definitely not people sitting around discussing joe’s relapse. if it was, i wouldn’t be in AA. i would have left a long time ago.

mr. crowley says:

No Bob another thing you and I agree on. I find AA to be much the same. Who can top who so we all feel better about whatever it is we did.

not sure exactly what this means. that people in AA all tell old horror stories so we can feel better about the fact that we did them? i guess if that’s what you mean, i guess i have a different take on that. again, most people i run into in 12-step programs have worked the steps, so they’ve done an inventory (4th) and read it to someone (5th) and then started to clean it up (9th). so these things aren’t hurtful to them anymore — they are some of their greatest assets, because they allow them to be useful to others. we laugh about some of this stuff at meetings, because we are no longer those people and because we have escaped death.

we tell those stories so other people who have not yet recovered can have hope … if they have done some of those things or felt some of those ways or gone to some of those places — they are not alone. we have been there and have recovered. we have gotten our lives back. our dignity. our grace. our self-esteem. and then, we went on to get our families back. our jobs back. our degrees. our houses/money/material things. we went on to flourish and prosper. and sometimes, we went on to lose it all in sobriety *again* and we still didn’t take a drink. this is why we tell those stories. not so we can top each other, but so we can all know we are not alone.

anyway, that’s what i got. hope i didn’t get too stupid.

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