Biochemistry of Love, Relationships and Recovery

A discussion of topics about relationships in Recovery
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Postby Dallas » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:24 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

And, how does it all tie in with the 12 Steps -- and actions that are taken as a result of the 12 Steps?

1. We're instructed in the book, that "our main problem centers in the mind"... the physical allergy to alcohol and the phenomenon of craving (the physical body) would be a discussion of pointless academia... if we never took the first drink. :wink:

2. The 12 Step Actions -- produce a "change in the mind" (psychic change) that results in a transformation of thoughts and attitudes (the spiritual experience defined in the Appendix in the back of the book, Spiritual Awakening and Spiritual Experience). And, our book does differentiate a difference in the mind and the physical brain... it refers to and mentions both, the mind and the brain.

3. This transformation in mind (mind) produces the biochemistry changes in the brain (physical brain)... that allows us to recover and live happy, joyous and free... often feeling like we've been rocketed into the fourth diminsion of living... a kind of substitute (natural state of ) euphoria that replaces the chemically induced euphoria that we were getting from the drug alcohol... which means we no longer have to drink to feel good. We naturally feel good... sober, because of this transformation in mind, and the biochemistry change in the brain... that takes place as "the (Step 12) result of these Steps" ... Therefore, we have no need or desire to drink... which would screw it all up! :wink:

4. In Step Four, in the book, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions (now on to relationships)... Bill, refers to the "natural instincts" which were God given (a natural part of our life)... and that we were given these instincts to help us survive.

5. If we look at one of the religious and spiritual Big Black Books, we read something like "God decided that it was not good for man to live alone." :wink: So, He made arrangements to hook him up with a woman. (Not a dog... not another animal... not money, not power, not a new car... and not the same sex... even though that statement will rile a few, who will say that it's politically incorrect! )... I made this into a separate paragraph for those who would like to omit it. :lol:

6. The "instincts gone wild" that Bill first addresses in the 4th Step chapter of the 12 & 12, is "the herding instinct"... or the "instinct for companionship"... and he lists a few of the ways that we have let this instinct control us -- and run wild -- as a result of our miss-use and abuse of the instinct.

I'll stop with the relationship part there... and let someone else opine on it if they choose.

The summary note that I would like to add, is on the freedom to live with and maintain personal integrity. (which effects our conscience and can be so troublesome for us highly-sensitive and emotional types).

I think this is why on our old chips and medallions -- it was inscribed "To Thine Own Self, Be True."

If we are entering relationships and maintaining relationships for the purpose of selfishness... or "to survive with benefits"... we should heed to the alarms conveyed by our Rev. Finch. :lol:

We would be using the relationships (and/or sex in the relationship or out of the relationship)... as we would be using an "outside substance" (chemical or otherwise)... to produce for us... that which can only be achieved, on a natural level, by living a life that maintains personal integrity. (The theme of the 12 Steps and AA Recovery... and the reason that principles like honesty... are imperative to successful sober living).

We would be developing a "dependency on the sex and the relationships"... and as we know, where an outside dependency exists... true freedom cannot survive. And, without freedom... it will be extremely difficult to live a life of happiness... with "joyfulness".

Sorry for those that this might offend... by referring to one of the religious big books... but ... in some of those books... they refer to "joy" as something that is experienced as a result of spiritual fulfillment.... as if, it's a "gift from God" that comes by living a life based upon spiritual principles. (Integrity?).

Now... if you read #3, that I wrote above... and substitute the word "relationship" or "companionship" for "chemically induced"... the same principle will apply.

We no longer need the relationship or companionship... to "feel" and to experience... happy, joyous and free. And, "we feel good"... as "the result of these Steps."

If you are going to be in a relationship and have companionship... you are bringing with you... your happiness... and you are able to "pass on and share what you've got"... rather than getting what you've got from the other person.

Just imagine two people coming together to form a relationship and have companionship... who are both "bringing with them" happiness, sanity, wholeness, and well-being (as "the result of these Steps")? What would it look like? What kind of example could it be? How would it feel to experience it? Would it prompt you to feel like saying something like "Wow! This is probably what God intended for us! I never imagined it could be so good!" :wink:


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Postby Susan » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:23 pm

You said it great Dallas, I will just add a few more items to the list.
1. Constantly seeking a sexual partner, new romance, or significant other.
2.An inability or difficulty to be alone.
3. Choosing partners who are abusive or emotionally unavailable.
4. The inability to leave unhealthy relationships.
5.Returning to a previous unmanageable relationship

These are really only a few but the 12 steps teach us our real value and the value of others. :D

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Postby garden variety » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:11 am

Thanks for the tips.

I agree with all that both Dallas and Finch said.

I was going on and on about what I read, but just to make it clear, it's not what I get out of a relationship that I'm glad I get into one every now and then (like the good health thing). It is what Dallas said about bringing into a relationship those "principles" that make a difference to me.

I can live without a relationship, and I would if I couldn't live out the steps in my life with a "companion". For me spiritual growth is the key ingredient in a relationship - it's the "common denominator". If we can grow together spiritually, then I will know what it means to be happy, joyous, and free while being committed to a loved one at the same time.

For me, sobriety is the most important thing in life. It is life. In any relationship, I have to guard my sobriety. I guess with some folks that is an easy thing, but with that dependency euphoria and the euphoria Dallas talks about in early sobriety, it makes relationships early in sobriety risky business.

Let me throw in a couple things so you know how this plays out today in my life:

-The "lady" I found just recently, has been sober as long as me and is a very active member in the fellowship. She calls her sponsor, and she has a bunch of girls that call her - EVERY DAY!

-I talk to my sponsor about relationships on a regular basis. Before the lady and me started seeing each other, I gave my sponsor the "run-down" and answered any questions he had BEFORE the lady and me kissed.

-The lady went with me to my home group and met my sponsor AND support group of fellows that I talk to regular.

I guess what I'm saying is, there really isn't room for me to be getting into any relationship "on my own" or trying to keep secrets. I know if there was something unhealthy, I would hear about in no uncertain terms.

Do I have to talk to my sponsor about every relationship I get into? Do I have to choose a lady with longer-term sonbriety to date or have a relationship with? Do I have to take her to my home group?

Nope. I don't have to do anything like that. I get to do all of those things, and from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate that. The fellowship is a blessing and it keeps things "real" and "sane" for me. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Dallas knows where I "found" this lady. I made it a point to be accountable - I couldn't get ahold of my sponsor just then, so I went to a man I know I can trust in this online fellowship.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:00 pm

Paul, if I were you... I would consider myself extremely lucky!!! :lol:

Enjoy the experience of what you've discovered. Those are the experiences that make sobriety worth -- going any lengths to maintain it.

You're both lucky. You and the lady. Not only do you have each other you also have the tools and a healthy personal-support network in place to keep it good and to let it get better and better and better.

And, you both have the tools and resources that you'll need if and when problems come up. And, if either one of you ever need to walk away -- you know how to do that with dignity and integrity and respect for each other.... without it crushing you to the point of no return.

Healthy relationships require more than just two healthy people to have a healthy relationship. And, without two healthy people -- the relationship will not be healthy. To try to illustrate it, my explanation is that if one person is 85% healthy and the other person is 45% healthy -- the relationship can never be more than 45% healthy... which means it will be 55% unhealthy... and it will have a definite health-drain on the person that brings their 85% healthy into the arrangement. Can you imagine how much of a healthy-drain it will be to the person in a state of 45% healthy?

Once upon a time. Many years ago... I was in real good healthy state. :wink: I met a lady and she just rocked my socks off!!! I just knew that this must be some sort of reward from God, for me living such a good and self-sacrificing and active life of service... of doing His will and helping many of his unfortunate children!!! :oops: ( :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: )

Everything looked perfect. It was heaven. It was paradise.... until the euphoria wore off and I began to see the problems that we were having as a result of the problems that she was having. And, that was when I discovered that I had been living in a fantasy that was colored with all sorts of illusions... because of the euphoria or "ether" that I was under.

I tell you what Paul. Sometimes I look back and remember and think "You know... maybe it did kill me!" It sure felt like it was killing me... the heart break and the heart ache and the confusion as to why my wonderful healthy level of spirituality and my proficiency with using God's tools... along with God's help... and the Fellowship and friends... and even an attempt at getting professional help... couldn't make it work out, and we had to part company.

I had never experienced such a high level of hope and happiness and such a high level of pain and frustration and depression and confusion in my whole life. I had been sober for five years and I had and was working a rock-solid program of recovery.... and, it still nearly killed me, when I knew that it was time that I had to go, and that the right thing to do was to leave -- and not keep coming back.

It was similar as to the day when I learned that I couldn't quit drinking for one-day-at-a-time ... that I had reached a place where it required me to make a decision that I must quit drinking for good -- and forever.

In that relationship I had to make a decision to walk out and leave, forever. To this day... even with many losses down the road, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life -- to leave that relationship. It was the first time in my life, that I could remember being sober and being in love at the same time!

And, I learned first-hand, the truth that I had heard from many old-timers, who said "Be careful, kid. You don't know what you're messing with. It's emotions. It's feelings. And, the longer that you're sober the more sensitive you get... in regards to your capacity to feel... both, the good and the bad emotions." And, that's what I learned.

It took a lot of time and hard work and a lot of help to get through that one! And, that's why I pass on what was passed on to me "Be careful, kid. You don't know what you're messing with. It's emotions. It's feelings. And, the longer that you're sober the more sensitive you get... in regards to your capacity to feel... both, the good and the bad emotions." The reason it helps me to pass it on -- is that it helps me to remember it. I'm a kid when it comes to feelings.

I'm a kid when it comes to relationships. It's easy to have a lot of head-knowledge about stuff, and the head-knowledge doesn't do you any good when your under the ether and the euphoria... of sparkly new companionships and friendships! It takes time for the euphoria to level out so that I can get back to sane non-euphoric thinking... that can make sound and sane decisions and choices that could effect the rest of my life.

I think a healthy suggestion for someone like me (fortunately... there is only one me)... is just like I heard about not getting into relationships for the first year of my sobriety (which I didn't follow that advice either.. until my 2nd to 3rd year... :lol: ).. I don't want to make any rapid choices and make any rapid decisions... in the early states of newly discovered romance.

Like I wrote... there is only one of me. :lol: And, I'm sure that other people can deal with it much better and much more different than I have to do it.


What is this? 5th Street Confessional Alley, or something? :lol: :lol: Or, the written-episodes of "As my sobriety world turns!" :lol: I know I'll regret it after I post it, but, what the hell!

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Postby garden variety » Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:04 pm

I agree with you brother. 100%.

On the first point about being lucky with all we have that can help us live the way God designed which comes from the program.

I would be a fool to not listen to your advice or suggestions either. I understand and agree completely. There is no doubt in my mind that relationships at any level can be risky business.

I really appreciate you sharing your story of love and heartbreak. I'm just like you, only a kid when it comes to relationships. Maybe the thing I'm most grateful for when it comes to realtionships (you've heard me say this lots of times) is: acceptance is the answer. What a blessing learning what that means has been to me.

If there was a flag out in front of me before I "charge ahead" into any relationship, "Acceptance is the Answer" would be the words that are written on it.

Just like that fellow in middle of the brutal desert windstorms spoke of acceptance -

How is it that you can live in the middle of all these "whirling dirvishes" ?

"I leave them whirl."

In any relationship, getting a broken heart is always a possibility. In fact, it's inevitable. The best relationships on earth will one day end when one of the companions journey's out of this realm. Heartbreak IS.

I know if I "leave them whirl", heartbreak won't kill me. It might seem like it and feel like it, but I've made it through and so have you. My worry can't be on what "might happen" - my track record has shown me that I'm the world's worst predictor of the future. Beyond 24 hours, I'm cooked.

But the thing I can never forget is that men and women in the fellowship have come before me, and will go after me enduring the pain of a broken heart - a love of a lifetime gone bad. Heartbreak is inevitable.

What happens between euphoria and heartbreak is the thing, bro, that is priceless: whether it's good, bad, or indifferent. The question I've asked myself more than once is this: Is heartbreak an acceptable risk?

Whether I answer yes or no isn't important. Through God's Grace, this fellowship, and the 12 steps, I now have a choice. For me, that's what the difference is between "love" and "euphoria". Love is a choice.

If you don't believe me, ask that carpenter fellow who hung out on that cross who felt just like you did, Dallas - thought his heartbreak was going to kill him.

Love IS a choice.

Thanks for your heartfelt words and wisdom.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:58 pm

Of course, if I was going to experience love... I'd prefer to experience love with more euphoria in it than less euphoria in it. :wink: I'm a euphoric! That's probably what made it so easy for me to become alcoholic. I enjoy euphoria. And, that's why AA's program of recovery is so appealing to me. It provides me with tools so that I can still experience euphoria in my life... and be sober. :lol: It's pretty cool, huh?

Paul wrote:If there was a flag out in front of me before I "charge ahead" into any relationship, "Acceptance is the Answer" would be the words that are written on it.

You know Paul, something else that probably made it easier for me to become alcoholic... is that I seemed to have born with this idea... that if "one is good... two is better!" :lol:

If I were going to carry a flag... why not carry two of them? :idea:

If I held the flag of acceptance in one hand... and was charging ahead... I would want to also be sure that I was carrying the flag of "willingness to change what must be changed"... in the other hand.

I know that this does not pertain to you, so I'm not referring to it in regards to you... (it's mostly for someone who might be accidently reading this)... it's something that I see in so many others that end up with problem after problem after problem.... and trying to accept problems that they need to be changing. They get the idea that acceptance will solve all their problems. And, if that were true... our Serenity Prayer would not make any sense, nor would it be appealing to those of us who have learned that acceptance is only half the equation.

God, grant me the serenity,
to accept the things that... I cannot change.
The courage... to change the things I can.
And... the wisdom...
to know the difference...

And, to understand...
that there is a difference.

We see this a lot with newcomers and some old-timers, a like.

They spend a lot of time trying to accept things that they need to be changing... (or situations or relationships or friendships that need to be changed, or ended...) and not spending enough time trying to accept things that they cannot change.

Sometimes, acceptance can be like turning the other cheek. Sometimes, it's the right thing to do to turn the other cheek. However, sometimes, it's the right thing to do... to walk away. And, of course... acceptance helps with that, too.

Sometimes it's easier to turn the other cheek... than it is to walk away. That's particularly true for some of us who are accustomed to pain. We can get whacked and say "Oh! That's nothing man (or, woman)! I can take it!" But, sometimes, it can be unhealthy to stand there turning the other cheek. The person that's smacking us may get a bigger hammer! And, then we're turning our other teeth! And, when the teeth are gone... it becomes the bones in the face! (Some people who are accustomed to hanging out in abusive relationships could tell us more about that one!) :lol:

One thing you mentioned strikes me as so true... (more than one, I'm just referring to this one)... we have a lot of examples in the Fellowship of AA, who are living examples that there is plenty of good reasons to hope for good and fulfilling relationships... because they have shown us that these were possible for them, and that they can be a possibility for us, too!

That's why whenever I see a couple together in AA, I hope the best for them. We need them. We need to see them. They are the positive examples for us. Sometimes, they've started out as "boy meets girl on AA campus"... sometimes, it's like your situation... you met her outside AA and was surprized that you met someone with so many things (including sobriety and AA) that you share in common!

For me... that's what makes your deal so awesome. You found her outside of AA. You had no anticipation when you found her. You werent looking for her nor were you looking for a relationship when you found her. You were just kind of having fun. It's almost like you accidently bumped into her... and it smacked you on the chin with "OMG! What have I accidently stumbled in to?" :lol: :lol: That's what makes your deal so cool (in my eyes). Heck man, you've given me hope that maybe I can be out somewhere and get whacked on the chin like you did! :lol: :lol: Thanks for showing me it can happen! I'll be watching! :wink:


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Postby garden variety » Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:08 pm

Thanks Dallas!

I might say maybe we can hope what you find is a "pleasant surprise" instead of "whacked on the chin". I'm not into that pain thing too much anymore.

I love what you said about if one flag is good, then two flags are better. Perfect alcoholic thinking! I love it.

You are so right about acceptance. That's something I take for granted, that it means the same thing to everyone else that it means to me. Well buddy let me tell you what - acceptance IS NOT RESIGNATION. The book says we don't crawl on our knees. We walk with our heads up with confidence that comes from the actions we take that build faith in a Power greater than ourselves - Who is also no weakling.

Let me raise you a couple more flags...I love what you said about "WILLINGNESS to change what must be changed". you know what's coming huh? Lets get a flag out there for "HONESTY to accept that I have personal limitations", and another flag for "OPENMINDEDNESS to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can do for me what I can't do for myself.

But seriously, I also love this one:

Dallas wrote:
.... and trying to accept problems that they need to be changing. They get the idea that acceptance will solve all their problems. And, if that were true... our Serenity Prayer would not make any sense, nor would it be appealing to those of us who have learned that acceptance is only half the equation.

Man you should get that one bronzed! That is just perfectly said.

Well anyhoot, maybe it's too early to tell with this relationship, so I'm not going overboard. Right now I'm letting the "Dirvish whirl" and hoping for the best. It's been fun and joyful so far. It's so good to be able to live today without regret.

Man if you can find hope in the goofy and maybe risky things I find myself in, then God bless you brother. But you also know that I want you to enjoy those same kind of "surprises" that pop up out of nowhere when you least expect them.

It's funny you should mention that "my deal" gives you hope. I've had a couple guys in the fellowship around who've seen me with a big grin and a nice lady next to me say the same thing. Maybe not as "kind" as you. "If you can get a girlfriend like that, then maybe it's not hopeless for me after all." I don't know if that's a compliment or what? Regradless, hope is hope no matter what form it comes in - so lets give it another 24 - you and me both!

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Postby Dallas » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:46 am

Paul wrote:It's been fun and joyful so far. It's so good to be able to live today without regret.

What more can we ask for? :wink:

I love watching what you're up to, Paul. It's fun... and you deserve the fun and joy!

Yep. I'm keeping my eyes open.... and taking some periodic peaks!!! :lol: :lol:

Funny, how so many women have said to me in my past (something similar to) ... "You seem so unavailable. A woman would have to run over you with a truck for you to get it that she's interest in you!"

Heck, and here I am thinking that I could stand on a busy street corner holding a big sign up that said "Will work for love and attention!" ... and, nobody would see me! And, if they did, they'd just look and say something like "what's wrong with that guy, anyway?" :lol:


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Postby Kelly » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:58 am

Wow, you guys are amazing! What great men you are! Please tell me where I can find some guys like you in MT. :wink:

First of all, Dallas, if you stood on any street corner with a big sign that said “Will work for love and attentionâ€

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Postby Dallas » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:00 pm

You funny honey! :lol: :lol:

Nice to see you join this thread, Kelly. Heck, I forgot someone else might be reading it! :oops: :oops: :lol:

Kelly wrote:but does that count as euphoria?

Yes, there is meaning to the words "is" and "it"... (Thanks to the other Bill? ) :lol: :lol:

If you're sober and it feels euphoric... it really is euphoric! :wink:

Top secret A.A. - Insider tip: Spiritual Experiences can be quite euphoric. (Ever wondered why... a couple of hundred years ago... they started referring to alcohol... as spirits? My guess is... they were alcoholic, too... and for them, like me, a few drinks were heavenly!)

Our book talks about "displacements and rearrangment of emotions"... in regards to "spiritual experiences"... particularly in Chapter 2, "There is a solution" and also in the back of the book in the Appendix: "Spiritual Experience."

From Chapter two, page 27: (This is in reference to a conversation by the famous Dr. Carl Jung, to Roland H. Roland "almost" became a member of the Pioneering A.A.'s... and he was the one who carried a message to Ebby T., the man that Bill W. often referred to as "his sponsor"... because Ebby carried part of the AA founding message to Bill W.)

Let us tell you the rest of the
conversation our friend had with his doctor.
The doctor said: “You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic.
I have never seen one single case recover, where that
state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.â€

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