Blogging in the early days of recovery from alcohol abuse.
The value of Blogging to those in Recovery in their early days
I’ve been looking at lots of blogs and sites and seeing what I like and dislike about them. I think it is great that people have started to write about their experiences in breaking free from addiction and reaching out to others. Putting addiction behind you is really hard at times, especially in the first days and it is great to see this type of online support. I had no idea that all these sites existed and I had wished they had been around when I was starting out. There were just a couple of 12 step forums, which were mainly just saying the same things, that were going on in meetings. If people questioned the 12 step methods then they would just get a load of slogans from condescending enthusiasts. I could almost sense the shuffling of feet behind computer screens instead of dusty church basements.
I don’t care how people fix themselves, I just feel that people should be made aware of the variety of methods that work for people. I like the idea of one site http://tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com where you are encouraged to email every day for a 100 days. I think this is a great way of doing things for lots of people who are trying to change. Not everyone wants to join a group, not everyone wants to share in meetings and some are looking for a more private solution,or just don’t like the look of God based 12 step methods. I would have done this if I had the chance, back when I was starting.
A lot of the people who are writing stuff are fairly new to recovery and this is a good thing. They can really help those looking to start to find a solution, because the memory of drinking is very raw and real for them. They can still remember the struggle of those early days and really empathize with those starting. My sponsor in the time I was in AA had been going for about 20 years and I used him, as I felt he had loads of experience. With hindsight, this was probably a mistake for me, because I realise he could not really empathize with the way I felt, and I had a totally different lifestyle to him, with different issues at a different time. I would be like that with somebody new myself now.The thought of drinking is almost abstract now,it is not something I consider doing. I can offer support and sympathy but the things I do at the moment would notreally help somebody new. I have moved on and am much more grounded than I was at the start. I am not affected by the same issues, and I’m not troubled in the same way as someone who is starting out and may have many issues in life to deal with.I’m not sure I could give great advice. I think I got more from talking to people who were in their early days, when I was new, compared to those who had been going to meetings for years.
I think a lot of people that stick with the 12 step system for long become massive Big Book thumpers and are taken over by the dogma of AA,which becomes the focus of their life. I wanted to return to normality, or at least attempt to and I started to see a big difference between people in the rooms and people that I liked and respected outside the rooms. I know other people see this as well and some view AA as a cult as a result. There are certainly cult type meetings where those who are sociopaths that like to control people attempt to dominate and sometimes succeed. I went to these type of meetings and have seen other’s criticise them on sites such as http://www.aacultwatch.co.uk. I think that many can be damaged by this type of meeting. I did affect me and I felt like I had been partially brain washed for a while and am grateful for finding websites where others talked about the same thing.
Anyway, I think the most important thing with any methods that you choose is to really go for it, and I know other’s that think the same way. I made the decision to stop for good befor I went to AA, and was not interested in moderation. I did make it the focus of my life for a while and I got competitive with other newcomers. I also read a lot and did not restrict myself to the old fashioned stuff that was on offer at AA. Amazon was great for me as you won’t get much in your local bookstore (if one exists these days). I read a lot about self empowerment, which you can find in many general self help books, as well as the type of books written by Stanton Peele, or others. I started to fight the cravings I was feeling. I started to direct aggression at them. This is not what they tell you in AA where you are supposed to be passive and powerless. I do not like this idea. I feel it weakens people and it is not true. I was the one that decided to stop. I am the one that has decided to stay stopped. I am the one who has changed my life. I am the one who has overcome my problems. I’m going to take credit for that and not some program.
I have metioned before that I have used hypnosis, meditation and other techniques to relax and reframe some situations. These methods have all helped. None of these are an instant solution and after 25 years of abuse, my head was going to take a while to sort itself out. I have developed lots of new interests which are really beneficial. I cook good quality food, and I’m at a completely different level fitness wise. Most people who meet me, or work with me have no idea about my past. I do not look like a substance abuser and no longer class myself as one.Today I feel empowered and ready to try so many more things. My performance at work has improved under very challenging circumstances. All these things have come to me because I have fought back at my problems and put them in perspective and left them in the past. I do not need to relive them in public, in a meeting full of strangers, half of whom are simply going to spout cliches and quote the Big Book.
It almost makes me want to puke when I bump into somebody from AA and they talk about “but for the grace of God” or some other crap. I hate all those stupid slogans .They hear the same old thing year after year in meetings,and never question it. They are often obsessed with trivial issues and emotionally imature. They have not conquered their addiction, they have transferred it to AA. This is better than killing yourself drinking, but being reliant on a group and considering themselves damaged and powerless can do real damage over time. Branding themselves as an addict or an alcoholic day after day, year after year simply reinforces their vunerability and sets themselves up for a relapse. When they do relapse and about 95% do, they tend to go on a much worse binge than others who are not in the fellowship. This is because they have heard that once they start they are powerless. They have humiliated themselves in their groups eyes, and have gone from recovery to raging addict in one move. They then have to start the program again which often results in a similar cycle of failure after a while. They never blame the program, they never say it their fault or choice. They say it was a disease. It is not.
This is rubbish and does not seem to happen as much to those who use meetings as a place to go for a while, get their life back on track and then leave. Unfortunately, those that walk away are lost to any knd of fellowship and are not there to help others. This means that most recovery meetings are full of new people and those with quite a few years,who are hard core fellowship members. There are not so many people who are in the middle and this is a shame because they are often the most rational,laid back and helpful. They simply get fed up with all the drunkalogues and bloody Bill Wilson worship and run away.
I just decided most of it was crazy. I found that many in meetings were quite sick compared to the outside world and I was fed up with hearing the same old sayings and excuses. I did not trust people and that could have been disastrous if it had happened early on. I don’t think the program was designed for long term use but it just kind of evolved that way, and nobody has taken the chance to change things or improve. People get sent from rehabs which are often staffed by fanatical 12 step members who could not get a job elsewhere and others come from prison. I just walked in, but would not have gone if I had known about other methods and the higher relative success rates.
I guess I am one of the 3% who are a success although many in the rooms would say that I have not got sobriety because I dont work the steps. The part about apologizing is good common sense, mediation (which is never normally talked about in meetings) helped and it is good to examine problems. It is not all about resentments and it is not all about God. I have never felt so stupid as when I attempted praying for people that had hurt me as all I was doing was talking to myself and bringing up stuff from the past that I want to move on from. It was a waste of time and I can’t believe I fell for it.
Looking back, I was a mess when I started out on this journey and ripe to be manipulated. However, although I felt that I had been sold a load of religious crap by the time I left, there were a few people that helped me and I’m grateful for that. I also think that my determination not to have to go back also helped me and made me more determined to find another way,which is what so many bloggers are doing. It is great that they are putiing new ideas out on the web where anyone can find them. I was told that I would never succeed without the traditional method yet only 3% succeed. Part of the dreadful statistic is due to the fact that many, just walk away after a bit because they do not like it, in fact you cannot really gauge the recovery rate properly. Whatever the true rate is, you are not helping people by denying that other methods exist and that many do succeed simply on their own. Most are going to have a few false starts and a few problems. Some simply don’t want to make the effort and others are too messed up, but at least give them a chance to find a method that helps. I should have started my recovery much earlier than I did and I probably would have done if I could have had some email contact with a few people who were trying the same thing. I did not want to go and sit in meetings every night with a bunch of strangers and I did not want to find some stupid higher power and so it took me until I was nearly destroyed to get help.
Perhaps you do need to hit rock bottom to work AA as it is so unpalatable for many, but you can get off the addiction path a lot quicker buy finding more rational help from a wide range of places before things get desperate.
I wish anybody who has stubbled across this page while in their early days the best of luck. What you are trying to do is hard, and most need a few attempts. Im not saying I have the answers to other people’s problems or issues, but I would strongly urge you to find as much information as possible about the subject and really try and get some support from a few people you can trust or if you can’t do that, look for a group that suits you. There are many helplines available and Dr’s can really help especially in the difficult time after you start to get straight when many are hit by depression which seems amplified but is really the result of not being able to self medicate with alcohol. You are brave for trying to stop, and I respect you for trying, whichever way you choose.