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Unread 12-09-2009, 01:44 PM   #1
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Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
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Unread 12-18-2009, 09:13 AM   #2
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This step is one that really seems insurmountable to many newcomers. For some who have some beliefs in a Higher Power, its not bad, but others really struggle. As in so much of the program, willingness and an open mind make all the difference.

I was raised in a church but stopped going as soon as I could get away with it. My problem was guilt, I simply believed God had either grown tired of me, or that I had done so much BS, I was beyond help. In the end, it was the simplicity of the program and the helping hands of members that got me past all that.

In the program, they said to chose my own interpretation of HP. Being of a somewhat scientific mind, it wasn't too big a stretch to grasp the notion that there was *some* higher power (and it sure wasn't me!). They said some folks chose nature, the sky, it really didn't matter. Another suggestion was using the acronym: Good Orderly Direction. That makes things a lot easier to believe in!
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Unread 12-18-2009, 07:34 PM   #3
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Well said Toms.

For me, when sharing with the non spiritual person, I try to suggest things in a fashion which would work for me, if I were in their position. For me, keeping things simple and practical works well, while applying them realistically.

The "Good Orderly Direction" theme IMO, is a combined result of the steps for anyone spiritual or non, working the steps.

However, for something realistic and practical when helping them find a workable High Power I try to steer them towards either their AA Home Group or their AA Peer Support Line. I use the combined understanding, knowledge and power of the group of peers, as being a High Power of direction than what they can produce with their single understanding.

I feel that the Higher Power needs to be something which one can truly connect to and use for practical daily help in navigating the program and recovery in general.

By the way, I really connected to your sharing about how you moved away from God, as I did the same thing and felt for the longest time that God had actually moved away from me.

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Unread 12-19-2009, 09:38 AM   #4
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I think the spiritual aspect of the program is yet another issue that we addicts over-complicate. I've found that most nay-sayers are the ones who haven't tried shifting their point of view and are, instead still looking for reasons why the program is not for them or why they are unique. Willingness to change one's thinking and a little effort are all that are really required.

Like most parts of the program that appear at first glance to be irrelevant, working this step requires that pesky little word: humility. I assume most addicts are like I am in that we tend to have ego problems, feel *we* know what is best for ourselves, and can determine just what we need to do in our own lives.

Part of what has happened to me from working the steps is that I have slowly accepted the fact that my own best efforts are what landed me in situations where I was forced to consider treatment, the program, etc. I've had to learn that, even though I feel strongly about a given course of action, that it is probably best to seek another point of view. Its rather amazing how far a little willingness goes. Inevitably, I find that if I take a little time to listen, I tend to hear the "right" answers.

Perhaps a good summation would be: "I came to believe that there was some Higher Power directing things.....and that Power (whomever or whatever it may be, it sure is NOT myself". Those final five words are, by far, the most difficult part!
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Unread 12-19-2009, 01:36 PM   #5
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Toms, some people simply are not religious or spiritual in any fashion or form and don't care to be. In my eyes, this by no way means that they cannot grow within the fellowship and benefit from the steps, just as I have and just as I try to continue to do.

I found this hard to accept as a Christian and even harder when considering the 12 steps and how they helped me, along with my faith and trust in my High Power.

However, in regard to AA/NA I was able to be more productive in helping myself and others, once I did learn to accept this and more so once I found solutions to helping without imposing!

Each time I work with a person who is simply not religious or spiritual I feel that the "process" and personal growth within the fellowship will offer to them their own personal awakening to personal spirituality, but, I am realistic enough to not expect it each time and to be prepared to help them apply the steps productively without it and without any stigma from me, towards them because of it.

Some people simply feel that life has no predetermined direction and that their is no control other than what is seem and/or felt in the physical sense. So be it, though that differs from my personal belief and experience, I cannot treat them any differently than I would another because of that, nor can I expect unrealistic expectations of them.

Ego is a human trait, addiction or not and as we need it to a degree, as with most things in life, too much can become counter productive.

Humility IMO is often a learned trait which can be learned in various ways for each of us. Yet again though, as it is vital IMO to being a complete person, addiction or not, too much of it can also be counter productive.

When looking at my AA program objectively and honestly, along with my recovery as a whole, I tend to realize that if I put half the effort into my healing, as I did into being a slave to addiction, then I can succeed, grow as a person and grow within the fellowship of AA.

Just my thoughts.

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Unread 12-20-2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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Yes, that effort expenditure is mighty important! I think a lot of the problems encountered by newcomers happen because they haven't grasped the meaning of surrender. I spun my wheels for a long time and, looking back, I'd have to say it was due to my outlook (perspective). I was still trying to look for reasons why the program was not for me, as opposed to seeking ways to apply the principles to my own life. It seems a subtle shift, but it is SO important.

The AA literature (namely the Big Book and the 12&12) address these core issues far better than I can. It becomes very cliche' to continually direct people to these books, but sooner or later (if we live long enough) we come to realize that answers to life's problems lie within. The very phrase, "came to believe" suggests that this is a process, rather than a static event.

I've found that, given time in the program, that even staunch agnostics, with time, come to learn that, deep down, the concepts are far easier to swallow than when first considered. Another cliche' comes to mind: "no one has ever been too stupid to achieve recovery in AA, but many have died because they were too smart!"
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Unread 12-20-2009, 10:54 AM   #7
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Toms said:Yes, that effort expenditure is mighty important! I think a lot of the problems encountered by newcomers happen because they haven't grasped the meaning of surrender
God that is so true in my case, once I finally surrendered and worked step two, (and still doing so) it seems as though things would fall into place, it just seemed to easy, and I know its not IMO for me.
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Unread 12-20-2009, 11:35 AM   #8
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Yet, like everything else, what is important is to give it our best shot...on any given day. Just because something seems "too hard", or we don't understand, should not prevent us from doing what we can at that point in time. No one can attain perfection, we simply do our best each day....and some days will be a WHOLE lot better than others!
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Unread 12-22-2009, 04:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by OhioMike View Post
Toms, some people simply are not religious or spiritual in any fashion or form and don't care to be. In my eyes, this by no way means that they cannot grow within the fellowship and benefit from the steps, just as I have and just as I try to continue to do.
Mike, this is the attitude which I was seeking when I came to AA, and it it Toms attitude that because I am not religious that I am looking for an excuse to not work the steps that I left.

Having faith is a wonderful thing, but you should be able to have faith or not, or have any kind of faith you choose.

Toms, I've heard you say, "Don't get hung up on religious matters," as if it were that simple. What if the steps involved you changing your religious beliefs? Would you like it if someone dismisssed yours as insignificant?

Mike, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your thinking, and even more so as you are a Christian. It just shows that the close minded stereotype of a Christian man is not true, and that comforts me.

Thank you,
Lily
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Unread 12-23-2009, 04:38 AM   #10
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Lily ............. Thank you for your kind words.

For me, as a Christian I follow some personal spiritual guides. Two of them are as follows, first as a Christian I feel it is my duty to spread the word. I try to do this in many different ways, but, I try to not be intrusive onto others. I feel my duty is to share, not push or brow beat my personal religious or personal beliefs on to others. Second, I feel it is my creators place to judge ones religious and spiritual beliefs, not mine. So I don't, simple as that. Even if I disagree with a person on that subject, so long as they are not trying to push or brow beat their belief onto me, then I believe in live and let live. I can disagree with them and still be their friend. I can disagree with them and still respect their beliefs and listen to them share them, so long as they are not being intrusive.

In regard to the disease of addiction, I really detest barriers which prevent a person from getting into recovery and from the good tools available to them. I try to personally bring down any barrier I can to help another find their own path to healing. If that means working the steps in a non spiritual fashion, then so be it, so long as the steps are a positive force in the persons personal recovery effort. Again, it is not my place to judge.

Over the years I have watched as the new comer leaves a meeting in tears because of issues like medical treatment for addiction or the spiritual issue. It infuriates me when I see this take place and it only motivates me more to see those barriers brought down so the program can be more welcoming.

Please understand, as a Christian and as a spiritual person, one who believes in the 12 steps, the traditions and yes, the promises, I do feel that if the non spiritual person embraces the program and works it earnestly and honestly, that in time they too will have a spiritual wakening, one which though might be different from mine, one which will be correct for them. However, I do not harp on that or try force it. I feel if it is meant to take place, then it will and if it doesn't, that's OK too.

I am Greek Orthodox and I simply love my religion. I feel it is one of the most originally traditional Christian religions out there and by far the most beautiful. However, I rarely attend church services. I am not a fan of organized religion in the real time, as it is always altered and bastardized by humans. We humans have a hard time leaving things alone and this same thought also applies to AA and NA. Instead of taking the founders words for what they are, too often, too many wish to bend them to fit their own personal biases. Cliques form, back biting takes place and something beautiful like a room full of strangers coming together to support each other selflessly can get ruined.

That is why I was so excited when Nancy mentioned this idea to me. We can each share what has worked for us in the fellowship, how we view it, but, without malice towards one and other. With the common goal of helping each other find their own workable path to making the steps a positive force in our new life of recovery!

Whew, sorry to lay all that out there, it just kept coming out! lol

Mike
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Unread 12-23-2009, 10:06 AM   #11
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Sorry if you misunderstood my post. What I was trying to say is that getting hung up on certain beliefs going in has turned many away. Religion is a biggie! However, as I at least tried to say,, it doesn't matter what our beliefs are going in, as the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking/using.

Many, many folks approach these programs as though those within were in a walled compound. Instead of simply entering, they stand before the gate telling themselves reasons why it is not for them, why it won't work, or why some internal belief of theirs cannot be accommodated. At that point, we stand at a crossroads with a decision to make. This is not an insignificant choice, more so for some than others. It may be an opportunity to have a little faith, jump in and give it a try.

I didn't have a terrible time coming to believe in a Higher Power (I believed in God). My hang-up was that I was convinced that I had done so much crap over so long a period, that I firmly believed I was beyond saving. Furthermore, I looked at all the times I had cried out to God in my times of need and been ignored, that He had decided I was a reject. This was, of course, pure bullshit, but that never stopped me from believing it! What I was really doing was putting conditions on God, challenging Him to do my will.....which is NOT the way it works.

Initially, I guess my HP was the group. When I dragged myself to groups, I had my doubts that the people within were for real. They were laughing and smiling and appeared content. I though that, even if they had some experience with booze and drugs, they obviously hadn't done things like I had (look back at the last couple paragraphs...its "I", "me", etc.) What I was doing was (here it is again) seeing myself as unique....they simply didn't understand. I didn't talk about this with anyone because (of course) I *knew* they couldn't understand.

Looking back at this, I can now chuckle, as I'm sure others chuckled at me. All the crap that I *knew* made me unique was as common as dirt. Not only was I NOT unique, many others had done things FAR worse than I, and had beliefs that were FAR more entrenched than my own. As I slowly caught on to this, I noticed that, little by little, I began to change.

Someone once pointed out that, in the Steps wording, it says "came" to believe.... That means that this is a process (as opposed to an instant change). So, my tendency when addressing someone at the crossroads is exactly the same as the ones who guided me. Simply stated, the advice was to set aside all those self-imposed roadblocks, and to walk in and give it a try. I had a bit of extra force behind me, the legal system. What they were advising me to do was not to ignore my beliefs, rather it was to set them aside, sit my ass in a chair and listen.....and to do it for months, years, or whatever it took.

So, Lilly, I'm not suggesting that you ignore any of your beliefs, I'm simply suggesting you set them aside, open yourself to trying on some new ideas, and (most importantly) simply go and do what they say. Give each step a try, doing whatever you can at that point in time. If you have one iota of desire to obtain any of the promises of the program, that can be enough to get started. If you do those things, even if you think you are doing it wrong or half-assed, things will change. I can tell you that in 30yrs going to AA, that I have never encountered a person, of whatever belief, that could not "get" it.....if they kept trying. You ways of thinking and living will begin to change, and you will find your own niche!
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Unread 12-23-2009, 12:11 PM   #12
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Toms,

I have worked all the AA steps, I have had a sponsor, been a sponsor, been to all kind of meetings. I have seen AA do wonderful things for people, and I have also seen family's driven apart by it, because of people who try to force it down someones throat before they're ready. I believe I am powerless over alcohol/drugs. I do not believe the sins i've committed are unforgiveable. There is nothing about the program that I haven't explored, but guess what? I'm sober, healthy, and happy. Are you telling me that in 30 years, in all the thousands of people in AA, you have never seen one relapse? How would you know? I don't mean this to be insulting, but if I was having doubts about the program because of it's religious insinuations, you would not be someone I would come talk to. I would talk to someone like Mike, who is so much more convincing, because he is happy in his beliefs and doesn't feel the need to force them on anyone.

The reason I am even taking time out of work to write this, is if someone had told me that I WOULD find my spirtual path, and insinuated that all I had to do was keep trying, I would have left the program a long time ago. And it frightens me to see you do that as in what you write above, because that scares people out of the program.
I would love to be able to pass all my problems over to a higher power and be released. But I CANNOT FAKE IT. No matter how much I try, if I don't believe I can't force it. And I would hate to think that I, or anyone else like me, would feel that the program was unavailable to me because of it. If you really want to help people regarding the program, it would serve you well to follow Mike's example. I have never heard the words I needed better expressed than I have in the paragraphs above.

Thank you,

Lily.
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Unread 12-23-2009, 12:16 PM   #13
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True Toms and boy can I relate.

I was unique too! lol

I wondered as well if the people were for real! lol

your right, the important thing is to stop active addiction and yes, in time we each find our own special place within the fellowship or maybe as well, a special place for the fellowship within us!

Mike
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Unread 12-23-2009, 12:37 PM   #14
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Lily Shared .........

[I would love to be able to pass all my problems over to a higher power and be released. But I CANNOT FAKE IT. No matter how much I try, if I don't believe I can't force it. And I would hate to think that I, or anyone else like me, would feel that the program was unavailable to me because of it.]

your not alone Lily, please know that and its OK to feel as you do, that you simply cannot give it all up to a spiritual higher power.

I also want to say its good that your not going to try and fake it either. IMO, that can do so much more harm. We need to keep our recovery real and honest for ourselves!

Listen, we each handle problems and the struggles of life differently. The only correct way to handle them, is the one which works best for us.

Take me for instance, I'm weird to many as I mix the rational approach with the spiritual. I need both to be able to deal with things. For others, only rational works or only spiritual works and that's fine.

If I were to make a suggestion to you about the higher power deal, I would most likely suggest that you try making your home group, support line or a select group of peers in recovery who have good time in and who work a good personal program, as your higher power. Using their "collective" strength as your higher power. If that makes sense? And if the spiritual fits in there if even a little bit, use that as you can. If not, then just keep it structured in a positive fashion for you, as that is the goal, that you progress and that you can find personal ways to make the steps and the fellowship improve your life in recovery!

The awakening I feel we all share is how truly wonderful and remarkable recovery is and that we can do it. We can make it and in the fellowship, that the steps can work for each of us as a positive force!

Personally as I said, I pray for each person that they have a spiritual moment with the fellowship and that they come to know that. That is my wish for each person, but, I know that won't happen for everyone and simply isn't meant to. I share with them, as I do with you Lily how the spiritual helps me, but, I don't expect it to be the same for you. And if I am to help by offering suggestions to you, then of course I have to accept that and respect that. All the time praying that at some point that might change for you, not because I feel it is the only way you can benefit from the program, but, simply because I wish for everyone to feel what I do from my spiritual life.

Mike
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Unread 12-23-2009, 02:33 PM   #15
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Hey, Lily....I'm glad that you have given the program a shot. Of course I have seen people relapse, and no, I'm not trying to ram anything down someone's throat. I have no idea what your beliefs are, and I assume you have been able to find *something* to see you through. No matter what your definition of a Higher Power is, I think the key point we must all come to terms with is that, whatever it is, that HP is not ourselves. I know, from what you have shared, that you are working on your recovery. Its obvious that *something* is working for you.

You must have some interest in the steps and some belief in their value, or else you probably wouldn't be reading this section. Perhaps the "awakening" you've never found in AA/NA could happen by working through Steps w/o Stigma. There are no time limits on any of this stuff, so, never say never.

If you took offense in something I wrote, I apologize as it was certainly not my intention. When I read a comment online (as in meetings), I respond with whatever thoughts that comment triggers. So the posts are simply my thoughts on the issue as opposed to a lecture or specific advice. And I can state unequivocally that I have never seen anyone who worked the steps to the best of their ability NOT be changed in a positive way. It can be as simple or as complicated as we want: we come to a point where, no matter what we do, or how much effort we put into it, we cannot beat these addictions. That statement describes powerlessness to a "T". Then, through working a program of recovery, our lives change for the better. So....why, who did it? We know *we* did not....but *something* has happened. What other way is there to explain that Higher Power.....could it just be random chance?
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Unread 12-23-2009, 02:59 PM   #16
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=And I can state unequivocally that I have never seen anyone who worked the steps TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY NOT be changed in a positive way. It can be as simple or as complicated as we want: we come to a point where, no matter what we do, or how much effort we put into it, we cannot beat these addictions. That statement describes powerlessness to a "T". Then, through working a program of recovery, our lives change for the better. So....why, who did it? We know *we* did not....but *something* has happened. What other way is there to explain that Higher Power.....could it just be random chance?
To the best of their ability? So is that implying that if you failed to find a spiritual awakening that you are in some way defectual?

Toms-I am not going to respond to your posts anymore. I have see your type before, and unlike Mike you feel the need to FORCE your point. "Who did it? Was it random chance?"

I'm not even going to waste my time talking with you anymore, I only ask that when a new person comes looking for help that you don't tell them they are defective if they do not find that spiritual awakening. We have enough stigma against us as addicts, we don't need it from our peers.

-Lily
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Unread 12-23-2009, 03:24 PM   #17
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Sorry you feel that way. Something must make you react to my posts and I'm unsure what it is. You seem to take each comment personally, as if I am talking down to you, which is certainly not my intent. All I can do is post my honest thoughts and my own experiences. If you choose to see them as insulting, even when I specifically indicate that is not my purpose, then I'm not sure what your motivation is. These threads aren't "owned" by anyone, so if whatever is said isn't helpful, read on.

Does anyone else get the impression that I was talking down to her? I'm not into lectures, and have always considered my statements to be more global as opposed to shelling out "must haves" or other edicts. When someone makes statements that specifically remind me of my own erroneous thoughts in the past, I mention it. Telling someone "whatever you think is best" serves no purpose. I've often found that, at least in the program, that I need to accept whatever is shared in the spirit it was given. Reacting negatively to someone else's statement is MY problem....and often a good clue that they may be on to something. I'm not about to say, "hey, I don't like what you say, so I'm going to ignore you and listen to someone who tells me what I want to hear". Had I done that, I'd likely be dead or in jail.
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Unread 12-23-2009, 03:36 PM   #18
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TOMS-

I have not once said anything in regard to how your posts affect me. Because they don't. To quote you, I give a little chuckle when I see you try to reverse phsychoanalyze what I am saying.

My point, and the only one I'm making, is that I don't want people like you to scare away newcomers with your attitude.

Now please, you are obviously elderly so please stop acting like a child and just drop the subject. I am obviously not going to change your opinion and you surely won't change mine. Please don't make me leave this site because you will not just DROP IT.
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Unread 12-23-2009, 04:10 PM   #19
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Lily29,
No need to get so upset, people have different views. We can have different views and still support one another. When newcomers come here they can read different views and see what works for them. I donÂ’t believe in spirits of any kind or any higher power, let alone an awakening, but I can still respect toms views and use the steps and apply them to my beliefs.

Toms,
I think sometimes you come across a little rigid and inflexible. (I know youÂ’re not this way because IÂ’ve read post where you show open-mindedness) I know that your beliefs work for you and I wouldnÂ’t try and change your mind, but also keep in mind that people with totally different belief systems have to recover too and may need some flexibility so they can get the most from the steps too.

For me I used this step to tell myself that “education could restore me to sanity” so I guess you could say my higher power was education. I learned as much as I could about addiction and treatments and empowered myself in a way that didn’t exist prior. Whenever I felt I couldn’t do it, it was my cue to learn more. Education gave me a clear path and restored my sanity.

Merry Christmas,

Sarah
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Unread 12-23-2009, 04:15 PM   #20
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Sarah, I appreciate your post. I try not to get so upset, but when someone makes a person out to either be not really trying or being defective because they can't or don't want to apply the spiritual aspect of AA, it worries me that someone will be turned away from a wonderful program because of that.

You are right, though, I shouldn't get so upset. It's only one persons view out of millions. I love the point you make about education and empowerment, I used that often myself when I first joined AA.

Thanks again,
Lily
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Unread 12-23-2009, 04:35 PM   #21
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Thanks Lily,
I haven’t been spiritual for a long time now, so I’m used to the reactions of religious people and it no longer bothers me. But in the beginning I’d get upset too by the constant judgmental overtones. I think it is very hard for people of faith to understand someone who’s non-religious and sometimes they react harshly. Before I moved I was in a good 12 step group, but where I live now they aren’t accepting of non-spiritual or Suboxone, so I stopped going, but still use what I learned.

The first group was great, they were up to date, understood Suboxone, methadone and naltrexone, and were willing to change to fight the stigma. It sounds a lot like OhioMike’s group. We didn’t call ourselves addicts either, which I liked. It was like, “Hi I’m Sarah and I’m a student, I’ve been addiction-free for _ years” It helped me not feel like a loser. But they are too far away now, so now I come here, which is working just fine, even better in some ways.

Sarah
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Unread 12-23-2009, 04:58 PM   #22
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Elderly? Could it, just maybe that some folks who have fought and relapsed for years may have a point? I can tell you that I used to feel exactly the same way. I couldn't stand the old timers, especially the ones who quoted the Big Book chapter and verse. It took years to catch on to the fact that they didn't have a problem, I did. I'm not saying anyone in particular is like that, but I had to learn to search for whatever tidbits were offered, extract what helped, and at least consider the rest.

My motivation for being here is ultimately for myself. I read what is written and say what comes to mind. I specifically attempt to illustrate whatever point I'm making with something about me. Perhaps what I offer is applicable, perhaps not....but it is as honest as I can be at that point in time. I don't believe I've ever singled anyone out, told them they were wrong, and laid down some course that they must follow...or else. What is up with the insults?

The statements that I really react to are the ones in which I see myself...today or in the past. What does anyone have to offer? Our experiences. Blatant name-calling or publicly getting onto someone's point of view does no one any good. If I did any of those things, I was wrong. Everyone here is pretty much equal in my view and has some angle to offer. No place is easier to interact than online.....we can take what we want, offer what we will, and move forward. We all control the context in which we choose to view one another....if you disagree, it is always possible to state why, state what comes to mind, or simply move on. Its not so much what is said, that is beyond our control. How we choose to react or view what is offered is up to us.
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Unread 12-23-2009, 05:07 PM   #23
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Sarah,

That's exactly what my AA group was like, I revealed I was on Suboxone the the judgements began. But they were very accepting of the fact that I wasn't religious. I tried, I really did. I heard all the arguments about fake it 'till you make it and did everything I was supposed to before I just realized it's not for me, and I can work a great recovery program just the way I am.

I also realize that what comes across to me as being judgemental are sometimes just people who honestly think that I'm not going to be ok because I don't follow the same path as them. It's so great to hear from you and to have others hear as well, because even though I'm completely happy and fulfilled with my choice, I want others to know that they have that choice as well if they want it.

I'm very glad that you are here Sarah.

Lily

I have a list of groups that use education instead of spirituality, if you would like them let me know you're location and I will find them for you.

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Unread 12-23-2009, 11:11 PM   #24
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When we think about the suggestion or statement "To the best of their ability" ............. for me the key is, to "their" ability. In other words to my ability, not another persons ability and not to another persons expectations.

For me this holds true in all aspects of recovery, including the steps and the fellowship overall.

As with pretty much most things in our lives, we get out of it, what we put into it.

In regard to: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves"

As it is mostly assumed that this is going to be a spiritual power of some kind, it is certainly not limited to that. For me it is, but, for my friend Doug it isn't, yet we have the same amount of time in the fellowship. We enjoy the fellowship just as much, the steps have helped us just as much, but, he is not spiritual.

He (without knowing it) helped me to understand this, when I was at a crossroad in helping another who was not spiritual. He put forth faith and trust into other power, it just wasn't in a spiritual power, it was in a group of fellows who were part of his support line who had some good time in and with whom he had built a great deal of respect for and understanding of.

So, though for him it was not spiritual, first it served the same purpose and second, it took faith and trust on his part to achieve being able to believe that a "power greater than he" could help restore his sanity and to help him heal. As the group of fellows collectively were more powerful of a force than he, in this particular situation and for these purposes.

I have learned other things from Doug as well, as I have watched him have to try and handle those who wish to tell him that he is working the program wrong. His common response is, your right, the way I work it is wrong for you, but, right for me! or something to that point.

Is Doug a minority in the fellowship? Yes he is, but, he is as much a part of the fellowship as anyone and honestly, unless one actually asked him, they wouldn't have a clue to what serves as his Higher Power.

Personally I feel that Doug has just as much faith and trust as I do in my High Power and that is what matters, so I suppose you could say that he practices secular spirituality! lol

The important thing is and I think this is what has made it work for Doug, he is true to himself, honest with and about himself and he keeps it real. IMO, pretty much what we each need to do no matter the recovery tool or tools we use.

A little side note here, Doug learns from my Christian spirituality just as I learn from his secular spirituality! I share with him and he shares with me and really, isn't that the glue which keeps us together?

It all begins with many vastly different souls coming together because of one common bond, to share with each other and to gain strength and hope from each other!

So for me the focus is the common bonds, the common goals and the common dreams.

Mike
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Unread 12-23-2009, 11:19 PM   #25
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Mike again you have the exact words that I wish to say.

Being in the minority, it's hard not to bristle when people make inferments about how "they used to feel that way but then realized they were wrong," as if my feelings are just a mistake that I will realize once I agree with people who are spiritual.

I certainly don't hold it against anyone for having faith and spiritually, and in fact look at them with a sort of envy. How easy my life would be if I could have that.

I know I've thank you a million times, but thank you again for saying what I wish I could, and uniting instead of dividing.

Lily
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Unread 12-24-2009, 12:25 AM   #26
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Hi Lily .............. I understand.

I think what many wish to convey when they say .......

"they used to feel that way but then realized they were wrong,"

Is that is was wrong for them or I feel that they simply grew in the direction they were meant to.

However, as we know, some do mean that you too are wrong and that anyone who does not pass through the same spiritual awakening is simply doing something wrong. And naturally, those are always the ones who seem to be a bit louder with their opinions! lol

You know the program, the steps, the traditions and the promises are one thing, but then there is the flip side of AA and that is, no matter how the pie is sliced, it is a social group and sadly will have the same problems which social groups have.

For me and my way of approaching it, this is where we need to be stronger and more confident in our own programs and our own skin. You know, these type of situations is where I rely on the serenity prayer the most, as I have to realize for my own sake, that I simply cannot change others, they have to do that themselves and I cannot control them. I can only control how I deal with situations and how I react to them.

You know the serenity prayer is another good topic for one who is not spiritual. It can still be said, it can still be a viable positive force, as it is simply good basic advice. The secular person can recite it, without using the word God and they can find comfort, reassurance and strength in it. Just as I the Christian does. OK, so a few words might have to be changed, the important thing is, the message, the lesson and the aid from it is not changed!

You know I use to fight like hell with some people at meetings, especially over the medical aid issue. Now when they begin to preach about what they have in their recovery and how well it is because they doesn't use a medical aid, I tell them I am happy for them, that their recovery seems to be as wonderful as mine is. I wish them a good day and then ignore them. Hmmmm ............ Well I try to do that every time! lol

And yes, I recite the serenity prayer in my mind. Just to remind myself of what I do control and what I don't and that I have more important things to do for myself and than to get caught up in their ignorance.

So hang in there, your making great progress and you will continue to do so. I have been in the fellowship since 83 and I have grown more in the past 4 years, than all of the previous years. So it's different for each of us and in time you will begin to simply over look the foolishness because life is be too enjoyable to waste time on it.

Keep your heart true to yourself and true to your personal mission of healing. Focus on the positive the steps can add to your life! Your doing all right and by letting our feelings out, we heal, grow and we shed the negative which might be hiding.

So don't ever cut yourself short!!!!!!

Mike
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Unread 12-24-2009, 03:30 PM   #27
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I gave this step some more thought, and the phrase that commanded my attention is the "as we understand Him" phrase. I think this concept can make the whole notion more palatable. Explaining all this is tough, but the Big Book does an excellent job. I wonder how many are put off by the terminology....they walk into a meeting, hear comments about God, prayer, then (the grand finale), joining hands for the Lord's prayer at the end. I have a good friend who, upon hearing these things, shook his head, walked out, never to return.

Dissecting the phrases yields whole topics of conversation....."came to believe", "a Power greater than ourselves", etc. Do the words divide, or are they a welcome mat for all? The whole notion of powerlessness was foreign to me, after all, the way I was raised is that as a man gains maturity, he's supposed to take command of his life. Did admitting powerlessness mean that I was a failure? These weren't insignificant questions. A huge hurdle to overcome was coming to terms with the fact that, whatever that Power they kept talking about, it obviously was NOT me!

So....as we begin to reap the benefits of recovery and change within....who or what is responsible? I had to exhaust every approach I could think of, set aside every pointless argument I engaged in while trying to beat the beast. It was obvious that *something* was different, and I was almost positive that something was not myself. There had to be something, and I chose the obvious label. Others used the group conscious, and some went so far as to call the doorknob their Higher Power. Didn't make sense to me, but it seemed to work for others.

I was fortunate to come into the program at the time I did. There were a number of old timers who came from the very first group in this part of the state. It worked a little differently, especially with regard to sponsorship. Choosing a sponsor was a BIG deal, and a major commitment. Once the choice was made, these guys didn't tolerate a lot of wandering....they'd show up each evening and you were going to a meeting no matter what. In their day, it was common for the newcomer to be homeless and in awful physical shape. Many told of being taken in by a sponsor, and being led (sometimes by brute force) toward progress. The only escape was relapse, and even then, the tendency was to pull you up by the bootstraps.

One old buzzard was named Cliff, and I'd often see him sitting by himself at meetings. When he spoke, it often sounded like a diatribe: "Boy (he always called everyone Boy) you gotta learn to get out of self!" Nothing about him looked like a drunk, but I soon found out that his antics were well-known, including the famous story of how he drove off into the Mississippi River while plastered, swam ashore, then proceeded to walk to a tavern. That old guy had 50+ years of sobriety! Like many others who initially considered him to be a senile old coot, I learned to love him!
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Unread 12-24-2009, 03:43 PM   #28
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Toms,

I appreciate YOUR story about YOUR experience in AA. It sounds like it worked great for YOU and that is wonderful.

-Lily
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Unread 12-24-2009, 05:41 PM   #29
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Well said Toms!

For me it was about accepting that I needed help and then trusting enough to accept it. Many say surrender, I guess surrender was easy for me, as I was beaten and knew it. But, trust was a huge issue as I am a naturally cynical person.

Being a spiritual person I had to let go and let God, trust, trust, trust .......... not so easy for me.

I also though had to trust on the non spiritual side as well. To me the elders of the program, those in my home group and in my personal support line, I had to let go and trust them as well.

The trust I had to place into my spiritual side came more easily, but, the trust I had to place into the human side was pretty tough to do. I believed that those elders could help me, I knew they were collectively greater than I, but, I had to trust, in order to truly believe.

The same on the spiritual side. I knew that my God was greater than I. I knew that my God could help me, but, I also knew that without my participation, that wouldn't happen and I had to actually find trust within and of myself, to follow direction and suggestion.

Lily, for you I would suggest finding your path to trusting those elder of you in recovery and believing that their suggestions, love and fellowship can help you to heal, in other words, to restore us to sanity.

Though it is different in many ways, as I explained earlier, you still have to have faith, trust and dedication to your high power, those who came before you!

For us who are spiritual we need to trust our spirituality and our own spiritual higher power that the same can be achieved, understanding that it is all for not, without our personal efforts, understanding and giving.

So we need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves about this disease and how it dictates our lives. We need to surrender to the fact that alone, we are powerless in battling it. We need to trust and believe that their are forces around us (our individual higher power" which can help to lead us out of this darkness, back into the light of personal healing and salvation!

Be it spiritual or secular, it really boils down to the same basic things. Though we each might walk on a little different path, we are still walking as one, in the same direction and towards the same shining light of recovery and personal healing! .............. and we support each other along this voyage, because together we are stronger!

Mike
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Unread 12-24-2009, 05:48 PM   #30
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I am really looking forward to chat this week, as I have always enjoyed learn about others higher powers if they feel like sharing about them. I find it inspirational and fascinating and very educational.

I remember my father use to get frustrated with me when I was young because I was always venturing off to religious services of other faiths, different variations of Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim and so on. I think he felt that I was searching for my own personal religious identity, but, that wasn't the case at all, as I love my religion. I just found it very interesting and I was always amazed at all of the common bonds.

As I got older and began to have friends who were secular that too was very interesting, because even though they were not religious or spiritual, the common bonds were still strong, as most people wish for the same good things.

Sorry, I got a bit off track there, but, I do find it really interesting.

Mike
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Unread 12-24-2009, 07:55 PM   #31
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I was at a meeting a few days ago, and I was called on to speak. I haven't spoke much since I became involved in this website and I spoke, about the journey I've been on back to recovery and the horrors that came before it. I also spoke a little about what has been going on lately.

When I was finished, a man came up to me. He was about 55, and had been in the program almost 30 years. I recognized him as someone who always seemed to say something profound, and he was someone I looked up to quite a bit. He said, "Lily, I've been coming here 30 years and today was almost a breakdown day for me. I heard what you said and it inspired me to try something new if the old isn't working."

I have immense respect for people that have been in the program for many years. But I have even more respect for those who have been in the program many years and yet still admit that what we need to learn is limitless, and as with new technology and medication, sometimes new ideas replace the old.

Mike despite the success I've had in my life, I always felt something missing. I tried, almost feverishly, to make it my higher power. I wanted it more than anything. But my view on the world, the wars that religion has started because everyone wanted to prove their God was the God has made it so I can't do it. And I don't feel it. I wish I did. But I don't.

Luckily, I came across some people who knew me and loved me, despite my inabiity to make a connection with a higher power. They showed me that it's all about how I live my life and how I ACT.

In my opinion, religous people lead an extremely comforted lfe. And we can all exist and come together as people with substance abuse problems. There will always be people who talk about it with a faitly patronizing, judging tone, like Toms. And there will also be people like you who draw me to your faith because of the complete contentment you have and your happiness.

Mike you have inspired much thought and have said so many kind words. I just want to thank you this Christmas Eve and let you know that every kind word, and every informative word, has been a great comfort and interest to me. You are truly a wonderful friend.

Merry Christmas,
Lily
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Unread 12-24-2009, 08:59 PM   #32
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The statement that made all the difference in the world to me was this:
The goal is not to find God.....but....rather to seek! It is in that journey that we find what we are truly looking for!

Merry Christmas everyone!
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Unread 12-25-2009, 12:41 AM   #33
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Very easy as well as simple this step

"Are you willing to believe the fellowship will work for you?" that's it! In other words having admitted powerlessness, can we accept a way to obtain power?

Do not complicate this simple step just get past it and improve on it later.

Oh yeah, to return to using again is insane.

Glen
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Unread 12-25-2009, 03:42 AM   #34
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wow Lily, can I relate!

you know, I was in AA and recovery for many, many years before meeting up with vicodin and during that time I won't say that I stopped learning, but, I was certainly not as eager to learn as time went on and I know I let a lot go past me, without grasping it.

This time around it has been so eye opening. The flow of information and education is endless, what I learn from everyone else is endless, no matter how much time they have in recovery, hell this disease is so endless, with so many variables, I don't think it is possible to stop learning about it.

Great story and message about that elder members reaction to your sharing!

I agree Lily, many people have died over the centuries because of one religion or another. So many arguments take place as well, with people believing that their understanding of God is the only correct one, instead of accepting that it only needs to be correct for them!

Again, I think this is humanity getting in the way of and spoiling the true message of goodness which is shared by religion, faith and spirituality. Ego, greed and power get in the way, instead of simply living and let live, while enjoying each other and being happy for the next, that they are comfortable in their skin, no matter how different that skin might be from our own.

We humans sure can take little things and build mountains and take the simple and complicate the hell out of it! LOL

Lily, your sharing inspires me as well and helps me too!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Mike
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Unread 12-25-2009, 10:01 AM   #35
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Great discussion....all of you. Isn't it strange that something so (seemingly) simple can be so hard? I don't know as anyone ever completes this step. It seems to change in meaning for me as the years pass.
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Unread 12-26-2009, 01:20 PM   #36
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Good point Tom!

For me I have found that the steps are a ongoing work in progress. I never seem to ever be completely done working them and at times need to work them a little more carefully.

I think that we always evolve as individuals and of course life changes around us.

I don't have a hands on sponsor anymore. My sponsor is elderly and has moved out of state. We chat on the phone, as he doesn't really use the computer and those chats help, but, I don't have anyone local who is able to be hands on with me.

Well at times I get in what I call a funk. I personal rut so to speak and it normally happens when my life changes somehow. So I find a local fellow and either work the steps over again or focus on certain ones and that, along with my other forms of support seems to level me back out again. I work on my self now and problem solve, instead of bucking heads with life and each little obstacle.

In regard to Step 2 .......... I turn to my higher power, in my case God, but, I also turn to the secular side as well, as I need the strength and direction of others.

I think recovery teaches us how to grow more progressively and productively than we did in the past, even before our time in active addiction.

Mike
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Unread 12-26-2009, 02:45 PM   #37
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Toms,

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Unread 12-26-2009, 03:37 PM   #38
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Lily, I have put off commenting directly to you or Tom about any personal feelings or interpretations which the two of you are drawing from each other, but, good for you and I think you nailed it. Tom wants to help and he cares. I truly commend you for acknowledging that.

It can be hard at times, I know I have struggled with it, we are dealing with a very emotional disease and a very personal one and not every persons way of sharing is going to match right up with us. But it is important that we recognize the difference between malice intent and good intent.

Please both of you forgive me for butting in there, but, I see you both as giving and supportive people who only want to help others.

Anyway, all of this makes me think of these following personal thoughts.........

We each use the fellowship differently for our own healing and honestly, IMO I think that is how it works best. What works the best for the individual. With our fellows understanding and supporting that and of course offering us support and suggestions the best they can, always understanding that ultimately we will take what we can use and leave the rest and that is not anything negative against anyone, it is just working our recovery in the best way possible for ourselves!

OK, so with that said, I have to comment I have always found it interesting to the degree how different people apply the steps to their lives. Please understand, I am not being critical, just observant.

I always describe the vast difference application like this: Some refer to the fellowship to decide if they need to fold and scrunch the toilet paper before wiping and others only hit a hand full of meetings per year, yet, both works!

To me that is really miraculous. Just as the meeting rooms are and this site is, so many different people, from so many different walks of life, different educationally, socially, sexually, spiritually and so on, yet they can bond, care and support each other over one simple common infliction, addiction!

I find that amazing and to think the smartest minds in the world and the most advanced governments cannot get people to bond, yet, something like recovery, something like this site or the fellowship of AA can!

Amazing, it is truly amazing.

ah well, just wanted to share that.

I hope everyone is having a GREAT day!

Mike
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Unread 12-26-2009, 04:29 PM   #39
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That's how the program works, IMO. In my area, we typically have a topic, then go around the room with anyone who cares to talk can comment on the topic, or go off on a tangent. I don't think that it is entirely random, that often, whatever I need to hear (whether I tell someone or not) seems to get said in just the right way. We could have dozens of people discussing Step 2, and everyone will have their own take....which are often simply consist of things we have heard or read, filtered through our own minds, and repeated. If something is stated in enough different ways, someone might just click on it. It all has to do with the positive effect of simply showing up. Even subjects that I might think are absolutely settled in my head can change at any time, often after hearing some variation from another person.

I view these discussions as simply another meeting. As such, all I have are my own experiences
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Unread 12-27-2009, 11:55 PM   #40
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I really like what both of you said. Omike and Toms.
Omike....as far as working the steps throughout our lives over and over I think it is because we grow to different levels of spirituality. As the years go by I find myself understanding the exact same thing differently. How weird is that? I believe it is because I am at a different spiritual growth phase. Same material just different ears! ha
Toms...you are so right about nothing we say is original. I know that everything I repeat has defiantly come from something someone else has said! We need it to be that way so all the different personalities get hit with the message anyway! lol
I'm tired! I'm starting to sound rummy! Good night guys! Sleep good!
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Unread 12-28-2009, 06:57 AM   #41
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Hi Tang ............ You know, year ago I read in physiology today magazine or some damn magazine I subscribed to which some kid at the door was selling for a fundraiser! lol

Anyway, I read the we humans go through a value and moral change every 8 - 12 years or so or something like that.

It's been a while but if I recall it explained that we do not go through any huge total change, but, we adjust how we view things important to us and social issues in general. Now to what degree this takes place I guess would depend on each persons life and situations, what they have been living with and through.

So Tang this pretty much supports what you just shared and yes, the steps fall into that in regard to reworking them, adjusting our methods and so on.

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Unread 12-30-2009, 12:26 PM   #42
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Hi,

Great discussion. I usually post on the Alcohol forum and only have a few months sober. Never having attended an AA meeting I've been trying to get some background info. I've got to tell you the hole God thing has been one of the big obstacles for me. The other being I like to listen to others, not talk about myself. It's not that I don't believe in a higher power - because I do. I have trouble accepting how turning everthing over to a higher power is going to solve my problems with addiction.

With that said, from just reading through the steps and subtracting the GOD issue - the steps do seem to provide a healthy and positive way to live and learn, which is what bible is about. I do agree with living a healthy and positive life.


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Unread 12-30-2009, 01:06 PM   #43
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Saint,

It's good to hear from you, a fellow sober person for whom the God thing has always been an obstacle. It took me awhile to bring that up, but once I did everyone here was supportive, except for one guy who never had the guts to come out and say, but always implied I wasn't trying hard enough, I was deficient in some way, or in time I'd come to see how it really is. If you like the steps you should try a meeting, people are more accepting than you may think. My first sponsor told me to fake it until I made it, and when I realized I just wasn't going to "make it", I made education and empowerment my higher power. It's not that I don't believe in something greater than myself. I have the exact same problem as you.

Ohio Mike has the way with words that I don't, and has a great way of explaining on you can be all the way religious and not at all, and still utilize the program to help you with your sobriety, or way of life for that matter. If you're not ready for an AA meeting maybe think about joining us for an online meeting.

Welcome!

-Lily
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Unread 12-30-2009, 01:14 PM   #44
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Hi Saint ............ Welcome to the Steps w/o Stigma Folder!

I'm really happy that they opened this deal up to you folks on the other side of the site as well. Though alcohol wasn't my drug of choice, at one time in my life, it sure was a large part of the problem and the disease of addiction is still the same no matter.

IMO, We each recover differently and there is no perfect blue print. So things like the higher power is one which works for you, it does not have to be religious or spiritual and the same goes for how much you share in a discussion meeting. What is important is that you find positive ways to incorporate the steps into your recovery and life, so they increase your healing and your enjoyment of life.

Remember, your recovery only has to work for one person, you! Getting suggestions, advice and support from others is wonderful and important, but, the bottom-line is, it's up to you to decide how each recovery tool is going to be used in your program, not anyone else's!

It's great to have you here!

Mike


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Unread 12-30-2009, 01:17 PM   #45
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Lily .......... you said it just fine!

Don't short change yourself! ......... You have a lot of strength & hope to share!

Mike
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Unread 01-01-2010, 01:57 PM   #46
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I agree Lily....you do a great job of explaining things and your input is valuable! Just sharing that education and empowerment works for you gives others somewhere to start! Very helpful!
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Unread 01-02-2010, 01:54 AM   #47
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Awww, thanks guys
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Unread 01-04-2010, 10:25 AM   #48
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Okay, I'm following the step threads, just posted on step one....thought I would here too. Step 2:a few things have happened to me that make me believe something greater than myself can restore me to sanity...while once at work, I was out of pills, having terrible withdrawals....I thought I would go insane by how terrible I was feeling, I just wanted to break down and cry....so i felt there was nothing I could do, I said the only prayer I knew, the serenity prayer, over and over and over in my mind...and somehow, i got through the day....another night, again in terrible withdrawals, trying to sleep, but having sweats and kicking, I prayed over and over for it to just stop, just let me sleep, please please....and, within 20 minutes, I fell asleep....another time, not too long ago, after completing 12 weeks of treatment, I graduated, and after my group had went around the room, after everyone had given me such nice and encouraging words, i felt something come over me as i stood to get my certificate and speak to the group, just an overwhelming feeling of relief and gratitude, and I broke down crying....i don't think these things are coincidences at all....I truly believe SOMETHING was helping me.........and if I just let go, and let God, I'll be okay. Just my experience
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Unread 01-04-2010, 10:53 AM   #49
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I had a tough time with the "insanity" part. Who wants to admit they're insane? I like the definition, "insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results" and found it helpful. The key point for me was coming to grips that whatever was needed to maintain sobriety was not going to come from within myself.
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Unread 01-06-2010, 06:55 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toms View Post
I had a tough time with the "insanity" part. Who wants to admit they're insane? I like the definition, "insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results"

Boy Tom, isn't that the truth!

Again, I think that some see the insanity deal as being something it isn't. It's about exactly what this simple definition says it to be. It's about the control this disease gains over not just our mind and body, but honestly our soul. It really creates that ultimate internal battle!

Thankfully it is a insanity which we can correct, which we can overcome!

Mike
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