Be Kind, Please Rewind

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Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby pterodactyl » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:31 pm

So here I am again.
The sky finally fell a third time - nearly 10 years after I mended it last.
Like before, it crashed right in my face, shattering bits of my life all over and making a general mess of things.

I wasn't really a drinker in my 20's - I had gotten hooked on stimulants first - my first time away from home, I went to school in Berkeley. I loved getting lost and meeting new people. I loved it so much in fact, I spent a lot of time exploring but had to maintain a solid GPA - and being the "free spirit" type, I found a way to do everything I wanted, except sleep.

I'm a bit of a chameleon - I develop few but very close friendships and I like to romanticize our adventures together. I find the friendship more exhilarating than the adventures shared. Three times in my life, I've made a friend so close that I fell in romantic love too. My favorite memories come from the adventures I spent with those three people.

The first - ended very badly with me in rehab, repeatedly - and then it finally stuck. I had my first drink two weeks after I earned my 2-year chip in NA.

The second - ended amicably enough but little did I know another crisis - this time, not of my own making - would bring the sky crashing down on my head again, right after I managed to glue it all back together. The US financial crisis beginning in 2006 had me in an employment-unemployment tailspin for 5+ years.

The third is upon me now.
I fled the finance industry and landed in lawschool. I was always good with both numbers and people - but not so good with groups of people. I did well, graduated and I met a nice person to date. I enjoyed myself so much that I forgot I hadn't finished building up my new career. I tried to juggle new adventures and bar study - but I didn't have the stimulants like before. I turned to alcohol and I had found a fellow enabler. Then I fell in love . . . hard.

Like it was the very first time ever, hard. It could've been hormones or perhaps my free-spirit finally clawed back out - but we enjoyed a lifestyle full of excesses. I tried repeatedly to launch my career - but again, luck was not on my side and I was up against the hardest bar exam in a generation. I failed again, and then again - and each time it took a chunk out of my self-confidence.

Finally, the exam won. I hid - afraid I'd lost my edge. Afraid of my future and where I was headed. I drank and I again turned to stimulants. This time, diet pills because I couldn't fit in my fat shorts anymore. Sure enough, I lost weight but I also damaged my relationship with my lover. I gave up the pills, kept drinking, worked out to compensate, and submitted endless resumes into the internet ether, to no avail.

All that tension finally exploded and now I've lost nearly everything. Again. It may have even ruined my unlaunched career and any other career I might be good at.

I've got to pull it together now, this time for good. I'm getting too old for this.

Can there be a silver lining after the sky falls?

I hope so. At least I am fitter now than I was in my 20's.
I've certainly been here before and I know what it takes to claw my way out of the darkest holes.
I also believe in the Kantian moral point system . . . you can't earn any moral cred unless you submit to having your moral worth tested.
Hardship builds character and character begets greatness.

I hope I have what it takes.

Does anyone have any recovery information or resources for the nonreligious? agnostic/athiest/zen, etc.?
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby Brock » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:00 pm

Welcome here pterodactyl, I thought my route to sobriety was a hard one, and it was, yours however is a rough ride indeed. I take great faith in your ability to succeed from words like these - “I've certainly been here before and I know what it takes to claw my way out of the darkest holes.”

As you know we in AA have stories, which reflect our wiliness to jump into holes and help a fellow alcoholic get out, I hope you find people both in person and here, who will encourage you and assist where we can. You have been to NA maybe not to AA, but the meetings are similar so you know what to expect, get into the steps of the program and in the near future the obsession to drink will be gone. The bar exam will still be there and you can rebuild, as you know in these recovery programs we remember ‘this too shall pass.’

AA is so accommodating to atheists and other ‘non believers,’ that most find no need to look for special groups. We do recommend you find a higher power, but that is one of your own choosing, we have many atheists both here and in regular meetings who have recovered, they are still atheist but happy recovered alcoholics.

There is solid sobriety and friendship on these forums, although miles apart we are together rooting for one another, it’s good to have you here with us.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:39 pm

I find that AA fits in OK with non-Christian philosophy. You just need to find a conception of a power greater than your (old) self that makes sense to you. Why? Because if the power we already had was enough, we wouldn't be here.

So whether it's the Christian God, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen or whatever, if it works for you, that's fine. My thinking is they're all much the same sort of thing, fundamentally. Eg the sermon on the mount seems remarkably zen-like to me.

I found it important to put sobriety first in life. When I focus on that, many other things seem to have a curious way of working themselves out.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby pterodactyl » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:46 pm

Thank you Brock.

There weren't online forums when I was in NA - so the online aspect of this is a bit new to me. I know I should immerse myself in the materials left by those who came here before me. It is very hard for me to let go of my former self - hard to acknowledge I can't rewind all of this to make better choices and travel a different path.

I used to love getting lost, but this is the nightmare kind - where you've just climbed over the ridge and through the quicksand, just to reach the point where you started from.

Nobody said life was easy though. I won't go down so easy this time.

Are there e-AA sponsors or is that for face-to-face meeting recovery only?
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby Brock » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:09 pm

We have an online sponsorship program here, please check - http://www.e-aa.org/form_sponsors.php

And feel free to ask any questions or post any comments, we enjoy answering and it helps us as well.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby pterodactyl » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:29 pm

Thank you again Brock.
I definitely need someone to talk to. I will request an online sponsor.

Blue Moon wrote:I found it important to put sobriety first in life. When I focus on that, many other things seem to have a curious way of working themselves out


And thank you Blue Moon. You are right. I must shift my focus from what I lost and aim it instead on what I have yet to gain. I think I am ready to move forward.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby 1Peter5:10 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:17 pm

pterodactyl wrote:.....
I also believe in the Kantian moral point system . . . you can't earn any moral cred unless you submit to having your moral worth tested.
Hardship builds character and character begets greatness.

I hope I have what it takes.

Does anyone have any recovery information or resources for the nonreligious? agnostic/athiest/zen, etc.?


There is a somewhat similar thread on this forum exploring similar questions. "On a Nonspiritual Basis" You might get some information there.

It would be a little tacky for me to copy-and-paste from there to here.
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=24521

I know that in early white-knuckle sobriety, my sick objection-filled mind made a tremendously complex process of Step 3.

One thing that helped is I was a wretched and desperate low-bottom drunk and I TOTALLY surrendered. I decided if I had to grow a beard and become an Amish farmer to stay sober, "My life would be better." If I had to shave my head, wear a robe, chant 'hare krshna' and sell flowers, "I'd do it. I am willing."

Fortunately I found this great AA meeting with absolutely no Amish farmers and no Hare Krshnas at all. I realized if I want what they have ALL all I have to do is whatever they did. THEY live normal lives, are gay and straight, etc.. Whatever it was I was afraid of about the god thing, I really didn't have to do that.
My fear was probably a symptom. My objections were my disease clawing me back in. (Cunning, baffling powerful.)

Please check the other thread. I wish you well.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby pterodactyl » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:30 am

1Peter5:10 wrote:
There is a somewhat similar thread on this forum exploring similar questions. "On a Nonspiritual Basis" You might get some information there.

It would be a little tacky for me to copy-and-paste from there to here.
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=24521

I know that in early white-knuckle sobriety, my sick objection-filled mind made a tremendously complex process of Step 3.

One thing that helped is I was a wretched and desperate low-bottom drunk and I TOTALLY surrendered. I decided if I had to grow a beard and become an Amish farmer to stay sober, "My life would be better." If I had to shave my head, wear a robe, chant 'hare krshna' and sell flowers, "I'd do it. I am willing."


Thank you 1Peter5:10

That other thread does help.

I feel a little better this morning and I feel like sharing cheesy analogies.
Guess I'm getting an emotional balance again.

I think I'll look back on this someday and be glad it happened.
I was treading water just to stay afloat and I had lost my inclination to swim for shore.
When my fears became reality on Monday, I sunk- but the shock of it all made me realize I was living an unsustainable life.

It was going to keep getting worse until I did something about it and now that's precisely what the tragic events last Monday forced me to do.
I guess today, a week later- I no longer feel it's being forced upon me - today, it's something I both want and need to do.

Wish I had better floaties to help get me to shore- but I come from a line of strong swimmers. Guess I just need to use what I've got.
Ok. Cheesy Analogy over.

I decided I am using this inescapable downtime to renew my efforts to pass a bar exam - and go the reciprocity route to pass that other exam that won the last round.

Even if it turns out that Monday's events obliterated my future legal career- I will not let that Bar exam beat me. Not this time. Not ever again. Perhaps if I took the bar exam without being hungover, I might do better?

Thank you for the support. I am finally letting go of my former self and I'm ready to figure out who this new self really is and what it's made of.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby PaigeB » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:16 am

Hi there from an Atheist Alcoholic in Iowa. I haven't found it necessary to take a drink since August 1, 2009 and I have AA to thank for that. I cobbled my spirituality together from all over the place and I found something I can work with, but it is pretty far afield from the beliefs of my parents... But what is usually tell newcomers is "Your HP will some to you, IF you are willing." That is what happened for me. I was willing ~ beat down for the final time by King Alcohol.

So just what do I do in the meantime? All that god-talk in the book really scared me. I waited for the day that never came, where the members of a meeting would surround me and press me to my knees and proselytize me until I gave in and accepted Jesus or something. I am ever grateful for my first super smart temporary sponsor who reminded me over and over of 2 things... first she used to say, "do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" Of course, I wanted both, but over a short time I found that I would really rather be happy and I learned a bit of willingness to let go of my ideas. And most importantly she said one more word... SYMANTECS. When I heard "god" I trained myself to hear what I meant by MY Higher Power, which was AA... for instance, Step 2... "Came to believe that AA could restore me to sanity." And Step 3, "... turn my will and my life over to the care of AA..." To this day, when I hear the word "god" (in AA) what I hear is MY understanding of god - and there is no malice there at all. I even USE the word god or Spirit of the Universe.

I remain un-assaulted by ANY religious folk, even if they TRY to offend me, which I don't think they do. They just do not understand. I use the AA prayers - especially the Sick Man's Prayer on page 67. "Save me from being angry... help me avoid retaliation and argument." Yes, I still skip the word God & Creator. I do not pray out aloud with the group after meetings, though I hold hands and enjoy their voices as they pray.

They are a lovely Group Of Drunks and I "get" their Good Orderly Direction. :wink: GOoD!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby PaigeB » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:50 am

I never used this, but it was offered to me as a tool... Realistic Recovery. No meetings around me and not sure they would work better than the original AA... But here it is anyway:
A Buddhist’s Non-Theist 12 Steps:
We admitted our addictive craving over alcohol, and recognized its consequences in our lives.
Came to believe that a power other than self could restore us to wholeness.
Made a decision to go for refuge to this other power as we understood it.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to ourselves and another human being the exact moral nature of our past.
Became entirely ready to work at transforming ourselves.
With the assistance of others and our own firm resolve, we transformed unskillful aspects of ourselves and cultivated positive ones.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed.
Made direct amends to such people where possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In addition, made a conscientious effort to forgive all those who harmed us.
Continue to maintain awareness of our actions and motives, and when we acted unskillfully promptly admitted it.
Engaged through the practice of meditation to improve our conscious contact with our true selves, and seeking that beyond self. Also used prayer as a means to cultivate positive attitudes and states of mind.
Having gained spiritual insight as a result of these steps, we practice these principles in all areas of our lives, and make this message available to others in need of recovery.
by Bodhi. Sydney, Australia.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby pterodactyl » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:31 pm

Thank you PaigeB.
I take back what I said earlier.
I went from feeling better to worse.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby pterodactyl » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:33 pm

OK -
I guess i'm still emotionally-wobbly.
I am now in contact with a temporary sponsor - and I made a therapy appointment for tomorrow morning. I also scheduled my first AA meeting for tomorrow - now that I feel like I can be seen in public again without Monday's tragedy written all over my face.

I don't know if I should go to a Voluntary Participation meeting or a Women's-Only meeting - both are available in my area.

I've decided I am not going the reciprocity route any more. I am going to confront the exam that beat me - and I'm going to be tackling it with a new method: a sober mind concerned only with my own welfare.

My good friend reminded me of that tutorial that the airline personnel give us passengers before we take off . . . the flight attendants always say - in case of an emergency, put your own air mask on first, then tend to those around you.

I think I might have some silly martyr complex or something, because I'm always trying to get other people's air masks on first and suffocating myself in the process. Sometimes those other people don't even want or appreciate my efforts to help.

I realize now - I can't do that anymore. I'm no good to anybody unless I'm good to myself.
Apologies for all this self-analysis . . .

I just need something productive to focus my mind on while I'm sitting here in limbo.
Thanks for letting me vent here.

If any of the ladies out there have any advice or comments about women's only vs. co-ed AA meetings, I'd appreciate hearing from them.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:20 pm

pterodactyl wrote:Thank you PaigeB.
I take back what I said earlier.
I went from feeling better to worse.

When I came.in, feelings were all over the place. It felt like an emotional roller-coaster. Up and down, up and down. In time, I felt things even out a little. I just needed to do whatever I needed to do, no.matter how I felt.
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby 1Peter5:10 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:09 am

Can you confirm up part of the timeline for me please?

You see, I read:

pterodactyl wrote: .... I turned to alcohol and I had found a fellow enabler. Then I fell in love . . . hard.

.... I was up against the hardest bar exam in a generation. I failed again, and then again - ...
...

I've got to pull it together now, this time for good. I'm getting too old for this....



and then

pterodactyl wrote: I will not let that Bar exam beat me. Not this time. Not ever again. Perhaps if I took the bar exam without being hungover, I might do better?


If I don't misunderstand,
things happened in the following order

Having failed in one relationship started while under the influence, and one started in early sobriety:
1.) Your life turned crazy.
2.) You turned to drugs and/or alcohol.
3.) In the midst of drugs and/or alcohol you made really important decisions about relationships.
4.) Drunk, high, hungover, *OR IN EARLY RECOVERY* you attempted and failed the bar exam.
5.) You tried #4 again. You failed again.
6.) You tried #4 again. You failed again.

You know you. I do not know you.
I know nothing about the bar exam, but in my case, I would think
- "I'm not so good at studying while drunk, high or early sobriety"
and
- "Decisions I make about relationships while drunk, high, or in early sobriety were just as good as my study skills.

This may or may not apply to you, but for me, I would think I maybe my mind, drunk, high or in early sobriety is a pretty messed up place. (If ya go there, bring a flash light.)

"Maybe in early sobriety I don't analyze things well, so maybe I should stop trying."

Drunk, high or in early sobriety, my mind does not process information well. In any of those conditions, my mind is and
no good at studying
no good at providing analytical answers.
Maybe relationship results and bar exam results are two symptoms of the same mind-mess.

For me, I would look at that data and see that again and again, early sobriety is not a good time to start a romance nor is early sobriety a good time to study for the bar exam.

But that's me.
What's YOUR definition of insanity?
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Re: Be Kind, Please Rewind

Postby 1Peter5:10 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:20 am

First things first.
Keep it simple.
One day at a time.
The person who puts his relationships or his bar exam ahead of his sobriety winds up with neither.
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