AA Meetings

Post image for 1705 Hours Sober, But Who’s Counting?

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged here. Too long, actually.

As my handy AA iPhone app tells me, I’ve been sober for 71 days, 2.33 months, or 1705 hours. But who’s keeping track?!

So what’s been going on with my recovery? Well, not much other than staying sober. So that’s a good thing, actually.

I’ve been going to AA meetings 4-5 times per week. Two of the meetings are open discussion which allows me to share. The others are speaker meetings which makes me (more importantly) listen.  As they often say to newcomers:

Take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth!

As with all meetings, I hang out and enjoy the “fellowship.”

I’ve been calling my sponsor every day, with the exception of a few busy nights. We had a little rough patch over the missed calls–he’s very strict — but we’re back on track. Checking in with a sponsor every day is definitely very beneficial. Prior to this last relapse, I didn’t have a sponsor, and it makes a huge difference now.

With my sponsor, I’m working Step 2 right now, which I previously wrote about in this post. As Step 2 implies (“came to believe…”), finding a Higher Power is a journey, and I’m figuring it out. I know my Higher Power isn’t me, and I think that’s half the battle. I find solace and empowerment in AA and the group, and that’s plenty powerful for me right now. Someday maybe it will be God or some type of divine power, but I’m just not ready to start God thumping right now.

I’m worried about Step 3. That’s when I will have even more difficulty. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” I won’t necessarily have difficulty turning my will over to something other than myself. The step, as read literally though, says God (although as I understand him), but even with that proviso, I’m not sure I can “get away” with turning my will over to the group. Being an attorney, I think I tend to over-analyze and read too much into the specific language of the Steps. It reminds me of constitutional law where every word of the Constitution is parsed and dissected. Hey, that’s what I do.

Things are good at home and at work. My relationship with my wife has dramatically improved. The drinking/relapse just created such a negative vibe all the time, and I overreacted and got over-emotional to every little thing. I’m much more leveled-out.

Work is steady and busy. Ironically, I had my two best months ever this January and February. Funny how that works…

I “fired” my therapist, however, because he lacked enough experience in substance abuse. I need someone to give me straight talk, not keep turning the conversation back to me and saying the same things over and over again. So I need to find a new therapist.

I’m doing the reading, both Big Book, 12 & 12, and Hazelden’s Daily Reader. I’m also reading the Jewish Steps to Recovery which is neat. I also ordered God of Our Understanding, Jewish Spirituality & Recovery From Addiction, to help me with Step 3.

Between all the recovery stuff, managing an active law practice, fathering my young kids, I workout to P90X and sleep.

Well, that’s it for now.

One day at a time….

~Dick

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Forget All The Myths Surrounding The Program: It’s All About The Fellowship (For Me)

Have you ever tried to do something really hard? Perhaps lose weight, start a new fitness program or stop smoking? Did someone else help you or support you? Was it less difficult with someone’s help and support who accomplished what you are trying to accomplish? Of course it was.

For centuries, humans have relied on each other to overcome life’s greatest challenges. Humans have always organized into groups to do what individuals cannot do on their own. This is the foundation for government, democracy and civilization.

Alcoholics Anonymous, in its most basic, primal form, operates under this ancient, indisputably successful model. The Power of the Group. Power in Numbers. Tribe Mentality. The Fellowship. Call it what you want.

When thousands of like-minded individuals get together to meet on every given night, in every given town in American to help each other with their drinking problems, this is a power immensely greater than the individual fighting alone. No other program of recovery can boast this power. That’s a fact.

Let me give you a few examples of how the power of the AA program has worked from my experience. Mind you, I have only been in the program for 15 months.

  • People in AA are the only folks who can truly relate to what I’m going through as an alcoholic. They know what it feels like to drive by a billboard ad for booze and start to salivate and cringe at the same time. They know the guilt and shame that I harbor for getting into trouble with alcohol. They know how difficult it is living “one day at a time.” They know the insidious power of denial. My “regular” friends, my family and even my therapist can never truly understand what’s it’s like to be an alcoholic. This is so critical for me, because being an alcoholic can make you feel like the loneliest person in the world. With AA, it doesn’t have to be this way.
  • People in AA truly care about me and others in the program. I don’t think I have ever met as many selfless, giving, and caring people as I’ve met in AA. When I last relapsed, there were 6 guys offering to pick me up and take me to a meeting. There was a roomful of folks at every one of my regular meetings waiting to give me a hug and welcome me back. There’s my sponsor who puts up with my b.s. on a daily basis. There are guys and gals who offer me rides to meetings every day. Last night at my home group meeting, there were 110 people (yes, I counted) celebrating someone who got a 25 year coin. But the biggest round of applause came when a high school kid came up and got his 24 hour coin! Amazing…
  • AA Teaches You How To Live Sober. AA gets a lot of unwarranted criticism for its 12 Step program and emphasis on spirituality. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to believe in God or any of that stuff in the program. The Steps are suggestions, not requirements. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. Putting all that aside, what I’ve learned through a year plus in AA is how to live happily sober. It’s a learning process and work in progress, but AA folks are generally very fun to be around with great personalities. At least that’s what I’ve found.
  • AA is but one piece in the recovery puzzle. Borrowing from good financial investing, I believe with recovery, you need to diversify, and not put all your eggs in one basket. That goes with AA. For me, in addition to AA meetings, my recovery includes private therapy, medication, exercise, daily reading/reflection, and of course writing this Blog! Granted, AA is a big part of my recovery, but it’s not my entire recovery plan.

Well, that’s all I got today.

One day at a time…

~Dick

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If you are just entering AA, a substance abuse counselor or AA member may have recommended doing “90 in 90.” That means attending 90 AA meetings in 90 days.

It may seem like a lot of meetings and overwhelming to the beginner AA member. But they say in the program that you should attend however many meetings per week as you drank. So for daily drinkers, that’s a daily meeting.

Listen, think of it as your medicine. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you take your medication, exercise and eat well, right? It’s no different for alcoholism and addiction. It is a disease.

It’s only 7 hours per week. But take it one day at a time.

Before long, you will look forward to the meeting. You will make new friends. AA folks will come up to you and offer help. Accept it. These people are the only ones who truly understand what you are going through. Plus, it’s a great time to decompress, think and reflect on what’s happened. I have always felt better after going to an AA meeting!

One day at a time…

~Dick

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