Elusive Progress

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Elusive Progress

Postby highcostofliving » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:45 am

What I've found within these 90 days, that is slightly surprising, is an inability to find progress..... to realize just how far I've come. It's so easy, when the unexpected and unwanted thoughts of drinking blast through all my current thoughts and take front and center, to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, discouraged, and defeated..... how can I keep this up... 90 days and I still have to struggle with those cravings and desire.... as I feel better and get more time, it's easy to start thinking of ways I can drink again... to use the safety net of AA (If I try it and fail, I can just come back).... to give in to the exhaustion....

Here is an example... at day 82, I was driving to a meeting and started thinking how close I was to 90.... "let's see, only 8 days, then I'm at 90..... I could celebrate with some beer, I mean 90 days, wasn't THAT hard... what's wrong if I just drink once every 90 days or so.... " That is quite literally the conversation the squirrels in my brain came up with on my way to a meeting, I was planning a celebration with alcohol? HUH? It was then that the defeatest thoughts crept in... "you'll never make it a year"... "you dont' want to have to go to meetings every week of your life".... "AA is a pain in the ass"...... "you don't believe in a Higher Power, so AA isn't for you".... "you didn't have anything else to talk about, this might be a good share"..... "you don't believe in a Higher Power, but you're trying, which means your willing".... "didn't you just pray at the start of this drive for something to share"..... "that's odd, maybe there is a Higher Power"...

And then it hit me, I was no longer thinking of drinking, I was focused back on AA and my Higher Power..... and then it hit me again, 90 days ago I would have turned the truck around, skipped the meeting and drank the day away. 80 days ago, I would have argued in the convenience store parking lot with myself for 20 minutes, then went in and drank, promising to go to a meeting later in the week. 70 days ago, this would have consumed my thinking every waking hour for a week. 60 days ago, I would have Expletive about it on this forum. 50 days ago, I would have Expletive about it on this forum. 40 days ago, I would have dwelled on it until I met with my sponsor. 30 days ago I would have called my sponsor right then and talked it over. 20 days ago I would have laughed about the crazyness of those thoughts... and this particular day, in about 5 minutes of this 'stinking thinking' I was forming it into a way to share while I got my 2 month coin.....

I guess my point is, because those crazy thoughts are still there, and still jump at me from no where, it's real easy to forget just how hard it was the first 10 days, 20 days, and so on... it's easy to miss out on the progress being made, and the effectiveness of the program, even when my alcoholism tries to convince me it doesn't work, it still works.... thanks for reading.
"The high cost of living, ain't nothin like the cost of living high" - Jamey Johnson
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby positrac » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:47 am

You have a lot of stinking thinking and it is normal, you want or think you "want" to be fixed now! It is hard to accept those changes we have no control over. But you are at least mindful that something is different. Like growing up we go through phases in all parts of our lives as you well know; but IMHO the alcoholic phases of growth and awareness seemed to resonate more because I was doing this stuff for the first time in a responsible manner.

I would suggest two things:
1) try not to project so much
2) find a wide bodied rubber band and wear 24/7 and when you get to stinking in the thinking department pull back and let'r lose and feel the burn. If you do it enough I will promise you will learn to change some habits because it hurts. I know because many years ago my sponsor had me wearing a rubber band because I was having resentment issues and each time I went into the rent free section of my brain I'd sting myself and move into another area of my mind.

Keep up the good work you do inspire us because we can relate and have been in similar situations.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
George Allen, Sr.
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:55 am

Hey man, you are bringing up some valid points. I am not a fan of this 90 in 90 cliche. I would suggest you get hold of some good workshops or an able sponsor and understand the true meaning of powerlessness and un-manageability. See how both are connected. If we don't handle the life part (unmanageability) we get our ass kicked back into powerlessness. The mind starts talking. This sobriety is no good, you deserve more...There are 2 conclusions one has to make. That we are an alcoholic and then the 2nd conclusion is, get some belief that the 12 steps can help us too. Then we start cleaning up. Its all inside job. If you just go to meetings, with all the shares that goes on in the meetings we may get lost.

I think the 12 and 12 it talks about the program of AA as a set of principles if practiced to the best of our ability will have the obsession expelled. Until then we are walking on thin ice.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby PaigeB » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:55 pm

It says right in the Big Book that the alcoholics family & friends often know of the changes before the alcoholic. In fact, no matter where a person is in recovery, asking friends and family might get us the honest truth about the growth!

Just last night I gave out a 60 day chip. This gal who once had terror & tears in her eyes now had a little sparkle. :wink:
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: Elusive Progress

Postby anand » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:29 pm

oh wow, great post! I almost FORGOT about those crazy "squirrels" in the brain from early on! You will laugh about them in the future. I remember once a song came on the radio and I had this fond memory of getting wasted to it in a park/field or something - I started to feel sad and really missed drinking UNTIL I REALIZED: That Memory Never Happened!!!! Hahahahaha, my alcoholic mind made the entire thing up!!

Cunning, Baffling, Powerful indeed! And sure, AA is a pain in the ass sometimes - but SO MUCH LESS SO than life without it. I've also noticed that sometimes you don't even notice the progress unless you look in the rearview. Took someone else to point out my progress (after years) before I it dawned on me and I analyzed my situation in hindsight. Again, alcholic mind - it's weird that way!
Hi, I'm Anand and I'm an Alcoholic. And have been since 7/14/2003. Thank you for being here.
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby highcostofliving » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:56 pm

Exactly anand... it's really hard to notice the progress made... which was sort of the point of my post.... my brain had managed to dismiss all the progress and I was sort of believing that nothing had really changed... but in that moment, it sort of hit me of just how different my thought process was from when I began this journey to where I was at now. I hadn't even taken the time to realize it until right then and there..... it was a good moment for me, I think, to realize after 90 days, that my thought process was WAY better than in the first 10..... I was focused on 90 days, and that is a good accomplishment, but the bigger one in my mind was the slow change in mindset.... how the stinkin thinking went from a 24 hour struggle to not drink ending in exhaustion and wondering how I'll ever make it, to a two minute struggle ending with a good idea on what to share at the meeting.... and if you read my quotes, you'll notice I didn't force myself or consciously choose to change how I was thinking.... I've given up (trying to anyways) fighting it (Because I can't), and this all had come after I had prayed about a topic to share... and my mind, just naturally went there (in a round about way, but it got there).... I feel like it was a pretty powerful reminder of the powerlessness of it all.... I was powerless against the thought jumping into my head, and was powerless to get it out... it just happened.... I'm guessing because of the program, and all my work with my sponsor...

Just my thoughts on it all, thanks for reading.

FYI - anyone still reading, today is 3 months exactly for me.
"The high cost of living, ain't nothin like the cost of living high" - Jamey Johnson
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby PaigeB » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:19 pm

highcostofliving wrote:FYI - anyone still reading, today is 3 months exactly for me.

Wooohoo!!! Thanks for sharing this with us!

At 3 months, my group gives out a red poker chip - yes we could afford the fancier ones, but red stands for danger and for full stop. Now is the time to commit or recommit to working this program. The pink clouds have passed and it is time to knuckle down. Maybe ask your HP to light your path so that you will Know what your next right thing is. If you do not know what the next right thing is - take a hint from a kindergartner... be nice, stay in line, keep your hands to yourself (or over your mouth like me!) and listen!

Laughing but serious. :wink:
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby Turbo65 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:24 pm

Nice to meet you Highcost.

Many times in meetings I have explained to newcomers about my experience. I "SURVIVED" the early time in the program by attending, listening, working (the steps) and mostly by being afraid to go back to the horrible life of an alcoholic. Time went by and one day the thought occurred to me that I was pretty happy. After thinking for a while I realized I was "THRIVING" by attending, listening, working (the steps) and mostly by being happy with who I was and where I was. By this time other "oldtimers" are smiling and nodding. We don't have chips for this because nobody knows when it happens, we just realize it has happened. I relate this to you as encouragement. I first got totally drunk at 12 years old and absolutely loved it. I couldn't get enough of this for decades, but now I've been sober for 19 years. More importantly I'm content. I'm thankful for the long ugly road to get where I am now, because it might have been the only road. The point to this story is this; If I can do it, you can do it. So go to meetings, listen, work (the steps) and learn how to be content.
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby gaftech » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:04 pm

Congrats Highcost! I'm 3 days behind you, I hit my 90 day mark tomorrow. I consider myself lucky this time around, because once I had finally had enough, I quit and haven't looked back since. That's not to say I don't keep vigilant about recognizing those crazy thoughts that appear out of nowhere, but somehow or another, I can recognize them and properly deal with them much quicker than the last two times through this program ('86 and '96).

I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I finally reached my "bottom". I was tired of pretending that drinking beer vs liquor was OK. I was tired of coming home and guzzling down a 12-pack in a 4-5 hour period, get in 6 hours or less of sleep, then getting up hung over (despite my denial of being in said condition) to go to work for a 12 hour night shift. I was tired of not being able to do things outside the home because I was too drunk to do so. In essence, I was tired of making excuses for why I drank just for the sake of being able to continue drinking. I knew I had a drinking problem for years and it finally ate away at my soul enough that I finally said I'm done, I'd reached the end of my rope.

What I find fascinating is that as my mind slowly defogs after 45+ years of drinking, the memories that were once buried are starting to surface. Not necessarily all bad things, although those do arise, but memories of growing up, the things I did in high school, after graduation, the time I spent in the Navy, my wedding ceremony (yes, I was drunk at the time), my daughter's birth, all memories I thought were lost forever, are all starting to resurface. Now here's the cool part...as these memories come back, I'm able to start dissecting my life with a critical eye and truly see how alcohol has shaped me, and sometimes it's not a pretty picture.

None of this happened the first two times through AA because I wasn't ready. I didn't think I had a problem at the time, but I had to go because the Navy said I had a problem, not me. But I am convinced that something rubbed off on me, because when I finally admitted defeat, I knew exactly where to go, and I was welcomed with open arms.

So again, congratulations on 90 days and especially for recognizing the thoughts that led to the behavior that brought you here. You are welcomed with open arms.
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Re: Elusive Progress

Postby Brock » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:54 am

It is very nice to read others experiences of the brain clearing up and old memories coming back, it reminds the oldtimers of when that happened to them, and gives hope to newcomers of things to look forward to. I like a part from the book about remembering past experiences, it’s how we feel after the steps have removed any regret and resentment - “Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we bust into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn't we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”

Today's reflection speaks about this as well, both about how the 4th & 5th steps are healing and how it becomes a tool to help others see where we came from, it says - “The program's Fourth and Fifth Steps assisted me enormously in healing those troubling regrets. I learned that my self-centeredness and dishonesty stemmed largely from my drinking and that I drank because I was an alcoholic...Now I see how even my most distasteful past experiences can turn to gold because, as a sober alcoholic, I can share them to help my fellow alcoholics, particularly newcomers.”

My spiritual experience has developed to pretty well realize the past is useless except for reference, and I practice not thinking about it. The idea of living in the present moment is in many spiritual and self help books, and AA starts us in that direction with one day at a time and so on. I have found that developing on that and being able to really live most of the time in the present, has been the key to serenity.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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