It’s been a little over five months since I published my story “Walking Away from AA” where I talked about my decision to leave Alcoholics Anonymous after almost 22 years. I stated then that I didn’t have a desire to drink, but I had a desire to be more honest and truthful with all aspects of my life.
Being sober – living a life without drugs or alcohol – is for me. It’s a cheaper life, more enjoyable and less messy… things I need and want. Belief in a “higher power” or “faking it until I make it” aren’t for me, I can’t live that lie anymore. I gave it a fair shot – lying for AA, lol.
So what’s changed really?
I’m actually angry less often than I have ever been. Granted I’m the judge here so it may be a skewed study… but I find that I’m less irritable, grumpy or pissed off in general. Now some of that I’m sure has to do with not having to think about going to, then going to and then escaping from a meeting… lol
I would dread the day before having to go, then dread being there early, dread being at the actual meeting and then regret having gone on the way home… that was 2 – 3 hours of wasted time I could have been reading, writing or playing with myself. I don’t have to pretend to be interested in conversations, people or places besides those people I have to fake it around work (not everyone at work, a select few). I resented having to go to meetings, pretending to like people, or even pretending to listen (more often than not). So I have less of that… which is a good thing.
I still talk to people from AA, some of them, many of them dropped off which is kind of what I expected really. The people I talk to don’t pressure me to go back to the rooms, nor do they ask me about urges or desires to drink. I haven’t had any, if you were curious, doesn’t cross my mind – hasn’t for a long time, not even any drinking dreams.
I was thinking about about quitting smoking and that process just today and how difficult that was at first. Similar to drinking – at the beginning it was all I could focus on and the only answer I knew of. But eventually that craving/desire went away – like alcohol – I separated myself from it and put structure in place and it’s better.
I have unfriended some folks from Facebook recently but that’s about political or religious nonsense not AA or being sober.
People dropping off reminds me of the people from the bar when I sobered up – they were uncomfortable about being around me when I wasn’t drinking the kool-aid anymore. I haven’t really picked up the phone or email myself – so it could be just me, I’ll take that on.
I have started therapy – but I have a plan to complete treatment and leave. It will not be an ongoing part of my life that I will grow to resent and regret. I’m not talking about alcoholism, drinking or AA – I do reference AA principles that are ingrained in my frequently in my daily life and in therapy. AA’s not all bad, it helps some people, it helped me… and I’ve taken what I could use and left the rest. lmao
In therapy we’re dealing with a particular issue from my past and using EMDR therapy… which is different but good. Part of that has had me look at some other things from my past and how those types of things affect me today – it’s been illuminating really and healing – I’ve managed to change my way of thinking about some really old behaviors. Check out EMDR therapy to learn more about it. It’s for PSTD, trauma, stuff … It’s giving me some tools that I’ve implemented into life.
I don’t sit around and bash AA either – that’s what I didn’t like about atheist/agnostic AA, they were all very angry at AA for being god centric. I’m not angry at AA – they helped me for a good long time. It’s just not for me.
I will say that AA is rather narrow minded in it’s insistence that they are the best way to get there, which generally comes across as “only way”. I’m a spouter of it myself – “we have a better success rate than any other program”. But the system is flawed – treatment centers, though teaching psychology really, are entwined with the 12 steps of AA, that program and how that program operates. No other options are given really – you wont find a directory to Life Ring, S.M.A.R.T. Recovery or other non-theistic way to find sobriety in most of those places. It’s hard to grab on to that “flimsy reed” when you don’t believe and don’t ever want to be coerced into believing.
Fake it til you make it, doesn’t seem to feel right to me for an “honesty program”.
My favorite part of not going to meetings really … is the alone time. It’s something I was constantly advised was bad for me in the rooms… but it’s so much nicer this way. I do have a roommate, she’s very quiet and does her alone time too… so I’m not totally alone, and of course I spend countless hours at the office with people.
Time alone though – to think, to write, to read… it’s so precious and special to me. It’s so noisy out there and the peace I get alone is ideal. When I was drinking or newly sober – the committee would follow me everywhere and start having arguments with myself… but it’s been a long time since that’s been the case. Mindfulness meditation, deep breaths, scanning my body for tightness and stress… and I can zero in and change it with minimal effort. I like it.
For me it takes some preparation and consideration before I go off and do things with other people – it’s disturbing the silence I enjoy and I never want to do it. That was true in AA too, but I muddled through with the belief that eventually it would improve and I’d start to “love people” or some other cheesy thing.. but it’s not true for me. (there is a similar theory about exercise creating endorphins that make you happy – never happened to me… hate, hate, hate exercise… always will).
I was talking about hate the other day – the Big Book I frequently took literally. “The Grouch and the Brainstorm are not for us, the are the dubious luxuries of normal men” or something like that… Bill’s original writing was “Grouch and the Sudden Rage” which makes more sense to me and I could relate better…
It was in my head that we weren’t supposed to hate, or fear… that we were to move beyond that through the practice of the 12 steps and program of alcoholics anonymous. Somehow I would wipe anger and fear from my consciousness – but I think that’s crazy (even though I still interpret the writing that way). Fear and anger are a part of what makes us human and help us protect ourselves and those around us… like Spider-Man says “with great power comes great responsibility” and so we have to use those powers for good…
Just yesterday I raised my voice at my boss… he said to me “are you yelling… at me?” and I wasn’t “yelling” but it’s a matter of perspective I guess… he’s the boss and I don’t get to raise my voice at him (later on though we were both swearing at one another with the other boss… they started it). I still value and integrate tools form Alcoholics Anonymous.. the ones that make sense to me. I apologized to my boss, the set in my head that this is something that I don’t want to happen again and I set about changing my behavior.
But sometimes I get angry, I’m human – sadly.
What I never liked about AA – was apologizing when I really didn’t do anything wrong or when I didn’t really feel sorry – more dishonesty to practice. Change your way of acting to affect your way of thinking – wouldn’t that just teach me to lie to people so they feel better, why is that a good thing? So being creative (lying) about my feelings or intent, never sat well with me.
Recently one of my old – we’ll use an AA term – shortcomings cropped up and a friend was upset with me. That friend blew up at me for a separate reason and cited that character defect, even though it had nothing to do with the particular instance… I had to apologize to him in a way that allowed me to be honest but also secure the friendship… which is hard to do when you don’t think you did anything wrong. So I can apologize for the long term behavior and not consider the particular instance.. something like that. But the long term behavior (character defect) is a part of me… it helps me be who I am and at 45 years old I’m not going to want or need to change that.
I am still on an anti-depressant. It’s truly changed my whole world. It likely has been a significance in me being less irritable. It’s allowed me to not have the dark, dark days that used to come pretty regularly and there has been no return to the absolute darkness of last fall.
A friend was recently sharing about his depression – citing that he never took medication for it. It wasn’t a slam, it was just him sharing on his experience and how he got through it. It’s good and relatable to talk about depression so others know. Most people don’t experience it to the level that I did or others do – and it’s a hard place to get out of.
I don’t intend to take medication for the rest of my life, but we’ll see what happens going forward.
So that’s about it for me at the moment – I plan to continue on my present course, it’s rather pleasant.