- Trouble With 3rd Step

Trouble With 3rd Step




12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

Postby RD1angel » Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:28 am

Super feedback !! I know I will have to read and re-read each of your responses, in order for it to soak in. Thank you.
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Postby RD1angel » Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:51 am

Already a question: I have been taught to read the black ink in the books of AA. Because I have one of those minds that will twist and turn, debate, manipulate what I read in order that it will fit to my situation. If the requirement to be a member of AA is having the desre to stop drinking, where does it say that one must be of the "real alcoholic" types. I don't have to question myself as to which catagory I fall, as when I stopped drinking, my life got worse. Until I began to live in the solution. But can't we over analyze what the black ink says? It seems to me that by breaking the definition of a real alcoholic down to "real" vs "hard" is removing what Dr. Bob stresses! Keep it simple. I guess one can look at it both ways. As I totally agree with what you were saying Paul and Tim.

The reason I say this is as soon as I read your post regarding Chris R. talks about in his lead of hard vs real alcoholics, my mind instantly went to this one particular person that I know in the rooms. And I began thinking: That describes him to a "T", and my mind immediately became closed to what this person messages are. I can't do that.

Lastly, if I start to look at who is a real vs hard, I begin to feel as though I am taking others inventory. Because all I can go with is what others in the program say they are.

I am not posting this to disagree, as I do agree, however, I know how my mind works. I need clarification so that I don't go to my noon meeting and start picking out who the "real" / "hard" / "fake" alcoholics are.
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Postby garden variety » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:48 pm

Hiya RD1angel,

It is an interesting discussion, huh?

The main "simple" point I have to realize, and I mean make it a part of my life each day, is that not everyone in the fellowship is an alcoholic. I don't want to put a label on us by using "real alcoholic" as opposed to an "unreal" or "fake alcoholic".

What I'm saying is based on the "black" ink in the book on pages 20-21, which discusses the different types of drinkers. Then it describes the "real alcoholic". When I read the paragraph the first time, I cried. It described me to a tee. It was like the book jumped out and yelled at me "Hey Paul - lookee here. Does this sound familiar?"

The book makes it a point to specifically distinguish the class of drinkers known as "alcoholics" for reason. It isn't there just to take up space. Then that category of "real alcoholics" gets further distinguished in "The Doctor's Opinion". I think the book does this so that the man or woman who is the "real mccoy" can see themselves and their malady. Again, the magic factor of "identification" is the glue that holds AA together.

A moderate drinker, a heavy drinker, or a hard drinker are not alcoholics as the book describes. The book says that no other class of drinker gets the phenomenon of craving, which is so overpowering, that alcoholics like us have no effective mental defense against it. Not only do we "give in" to the craving or the "obsession" that precedes the first drink, the "real alcoholic", like many of us, does "absurd, incredible, tragic" things when drinking. We sometimes make the "ultimate sacrifice" or we drink until ther is nothing left in our lives, and we eventually give up anything that would identify us as a decent human being.

That happens only to the class of drinkers known as alcoholics. Alcohol has an "abnormal effect" on the brain of the alcoholic which it doesn't have the same effect on the hard drinker. The "spiritual malady" becomes a 3-prong malady bringing a form of mental illness that will get us institutionalized, behind bars, or in the ground pushing up daisies. We also become physically addicted to the "fermented beverages" known as alcohol, and we experience the worst and most dangerous forms of chemical withdrawal when we stop drinking. A hard drinker doesn't have these experiences.

I've seen it happen, andhave heard the leads of "hard drinkers". They can stay sober without working the steps. They can stay sober by attending meetings. They don't need sponsors to stay sober. They just show up to meetings, socialize, make friends, drink free coffee, hit on women, hang out with "winners", and just use the fellowship to meet their needs.

A hard drinker won't go out at 2:00AM when he gets a call from a suicidal drunk who's crying and ready to die. A hard drinker won't take his or her protege' cover to cover in the book - probably because he hasn't read the book. A hard drinker won't go through the steps or take their protege through the steps. What happens? The protege' goes back out drinking, and when he comes back in the hard drinker will say "I can't sponsor you - you're not ready." When he gets his fill of AA, the hard drinker will move on to another organization like a "church", then he'll say "I only need the Lord to keep me sober". And all the while, the hard drinker will probably be content because he really doesn't have any problems.

There are things in that "Big Book" that teach me that I do have to make distinctiions and "draw the line in the sand" at times. Because if the fellowship welcomes and includes members who don't need the desire to stop drinking, then my recovery is at risk. Our whole fellowship becomes at risk. I heard a man share who only had 16 months "sober", but he hasn't had a drink in 13 years. He's not an alcoholic - he's a cocaine addict that gave up drinking 13 years ago. He's not powerless over alcohol - he doesn't need to do our first step. But he identifies himself as an alcoholic. His experience, strength and hope CANNOT help me.

That is reality.

I agree with "keeping it simple". But I also think we have a responsibility to keep AA "honest" so that it can do what it's supposed to do. Unfortunately, that means recognizing the distinction between an alcoholic, and a non-alcoholic who introduces himself as an alcoholic. Yes, it's a judgement call that can't be safely avoided. But this is only my opinion and interpretation of the book, and it does not necessarily represent the views of AA and should not be considered important enough for anyone to agree with.
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Postby RD1angel » Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:53 pm

I really enjoyed your response !! You stated several things that I had not looked at that perspective of. I guess I was operating under the pretense that if this or that person was known as a old timer, or a "popular" person in the local rooms, that they must know about recovery. This is why I am now currently comfortable asking questions, as this is the way I grow and learn. I don't want to be a AA parrot, been there, done that and it cost me a lot when I went back out for additional research.

So, here is my next question:

I heard a man share who only had 16 months "sober", but he hasn't had a drink in 13 years. He's not an alcoholic - he's a cocaine addict that gave up drinking 13 years ago. He's not powerless over alcohol - he doesn't need to do our first step. But he identifies himself as an alcoholic. His experience, strength and hope CANNOT help me.


What is the appropriate thing to say in a meeting regarding when someone says something like the above? Do I just ignore the statement, or do I say something along the lines that you pointed out. I have been involved in these situations before and when I "share" I am called out as being Intolerant, that I need to understand "where that person is at". And I can understand that, but what about the newcomer coming in? using your sceniaro above, isn't it possible to set up a dangerous thought process. Or am I being to analytical?
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Postby garden variety » Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:17 am

You ask very good questions. I think there are times when I get too analytical also, but I don't think you are. You are asking what I think are legitimate questions.

Now my response might sound wishy-washy, but to answer your question, for me I say "that depends." Don't you hate when folks don't give you a straight yes or no?

If the meeting is in your AA Meeting Schedule, that means it is a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, and you have every reason and right to comment if it gets sidetracked, especially when you believe it can be confusing or harmful to a newcomer who is alcoholic. Like I said earlier, you probably won't be the most popular person at that meeting. You might get remarks like you said or something like "easy does it".

People at meetings like you described are what taught me about getting a "thick skin". I'm not really being intolerant if I'm asking that what I thought was an AA meeting to continue to be an AA meeting and not a "CA" or "NA" meeting - even if someone else says so. They're taking my inventory. What they see in me is what is alive and well in themselves. What commenting the way I was taught to comment is developing in me is the courage to confront in a non-personal and factual way. I had to learn how to set my "emotions" aside and not put down the speaker, but to express that AA meetings have the 3rd Tradition as a guide. Learning how to "confront" is not a comfortable process. My sponsor and me go over it all the time - he's got 30 years and he still doesn't like to confront a situation even when it needs to be confronted. Angel, it's just a "skill" that takes time and courage to develop. But that's the good part. I learn what "having courage" really feels like.

Now why I say "that depends" is that there are certain meetings around here that go under the name of AA meetings, but they have earned a reputation where folks who have other addictions such as heroin or crack go to more often. So if I'm at an AA meeting, and it's "customers" are known to be drug addicts, or "dually addicted", then I usually pass on commenting because it's kind of an "unwritten convention", and I know certain meetings talk more openly and freely about drug addiction. For the most part I avoid those meetings because I don't "take home" a lot that is useful for my spiritual growth.

But if it happens at my home group, well look out buddy! Not only will I comment, but maybe a dozen long-timers will also comment. Our group has "earned a reputation", not always thought of as "good", but it's known that "singleness of purpose" is definitely spoken there.

I'm really glad you're asking these questions. Try to remember this - it's not always that obvious - but if you feel the way you do about meetings, a lot of others at the meetings feel the same way but are "afraid" to speak up. Sometimes it surprises me when folks will come up to me after the meeting and say "I'm glad you said that".

Good luck, and thanks again for showing me how to have the courage to change the things I can.
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Postby Dallas » Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:36 pm

A lively discussion! :lol:

RD1Angel wrote:What is the appropriate thing to say in a meeting regarding when someone says something like the above?


:lol: :lol:

I discovered, that for me, Step 10 meant that I should "continue to take my own personal inventory" :lol:

I learned that if I take someone elses inventory or judge them -- then I'm only judging myself and it reveals who I am and not who they are. And, if I go ahead and judge anyway and take their inventory... then, I'm sure I'll have to make their amends -- and I don't like doing amends! :wink:

My job is to be helpful to those about me -- inside meetings and outside meetings. If I take someone elses inventory I'm not going to be very much able to be helpful to them.

So, should I correct someone in a meeting? I used to do that but I stopped doing it because I learned that it wasn't helpful to them or to the others in the room. I felt as though I had been "playing God"... and I'm supposed to be being "not-God."

Love them. Show tolerance and patience. Try to be helpful and understanding. Try not to look down on anyone -- because if I'm looking down on anyone -- it means I've placed myself in a position above them... kind of like a Higher Power myself or something.

That's what I discovered on my journey here and I'm sure that more will be revealed. :wink:

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Postby garden variety » Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:20 am

Dallas wrote:My job is to be helpful to those about me -- inside meetings and outside meetings. If I take someone elses inventory I'm not going to be very much able to be helpful to them.

So, should I correct someone in a meeting? I used to do that but I stopped doing it because I learned that it wasn't helpful to them or to the others in the room. I felt as though I had been "playing God"... and I'm supposed to be being "not-God."


The top sentence is probably the most important thing to me if I give a comment or share. I have to ask myself "is what I'm saying going to be helpful to everyone?" If I'm commenting to "vent", or if my comment is intended to "boost" me, then my ego is probably involved, and it would be best for me to hold back.

Some of us have different expereinces with situations like this. I totally respect what Dallas says he does at meetings. And I'm pretty sure he'd respect what I say and do. There is so much that "isn't revealed" in online posting. When you're at a meeting, there is an atmostphere and dynamics that can't be duplicated here. Even here, I know I make "assumptions" and leave details out which is not good.

So what I'm saying is that if I have any kind of inclination to be a "hothead" when I comment, I'd do better to shut up. My comments are always supposed to be helpful to the speaker and to make things clearer to the new alcoholic.

Let me give you a "for instance". There was a fellow who who spoke at my home group a couple years ago, and he flew in from Georgia just to speak there as a favor for his friend that was chairman. He went real "light" on the "drunk-a-log" (which I think it is important to "qualify"), but he went heavy on the "drug-a-log" which was heroin. I couldn't identify with anything in the "what we were like" part of his message.

But he came to the "what happened" part of his message, and he described EXACTLY what it was like to not drink and not work a program. It was so clear to me how he felt running "dry" for several years that it made me tremble as though I was right there beside him! I can't over-emphasize the "magic" that happens when one alcoholic can IDENTIFY with another alcoholic. It is the glue that holds our fellowship together.

I commented about "singleness of purpose". I just explained to him that when I finally could identify with him, it made his message so much clearer to me. Now when you think about it, if a speaker shares for a half-hour and I can't identify by then, it is a lot harder to go back over his message when I finally do identify. If it was that hard for me, it would be much harder for a new "prospect" that is an alcoholic having no experience with heroin. Now don't get me wrong, I did compliment him - especially flying in from Georgia to help a friend - and I wasn't mean at all. I appreciated his message, but it took a lot of work for me to put it all together.

As I was speaking to him, he smiled and it was like the light went on in his mind as I was speaking, too. He just left out his alcoholic qualifications, which he did have a-plenty. He was GLAD I commented the way I did, and he totally understood what I meant. I knew in my gut as my comment was coming out, that it helped him. Our eyes met, and I could tell we were on the same page. He called me aside afterward and told me he understood completely and appreciated my comment, in spite of comments "supporting" a "drug-a-log" instead of a "drunk-a-log". He said, "Don't worry about what these guys said, I'm glad you let me know. I'll remember next time I lead."

I hope that gives you an example of what I'm talking about, RD1angel. I wasn't taking his inventory. And what I said was helpful to the speaker and to any new alcoholic that didn't indulge in heroin use.

By the same token, I've got comments when I spoke, that didn't sound so good to others at the meeting - they could have been interpreted as "intoerant" or as "taking my inventory". But buddy let me tell you what - I watched the lady as she spoke to me, then I recognized that she had a table-full of new girls that she was their sponsor. As soon as I realized she had a bunch of protege's there, it became my responsibility to listen to her without taking her comment personally, or getting a resentment. When she finished, she said if there was anything I wanted to know specifically, to talk to her after the meeting.

I spent an hour listening to her after the meeting, and it helped me so much. She had some 25 years sober, and she was right to comment as she did. If I speak again, I'll be able to be more clear in my message. Once again, there is a CLEAR distinction: she was being helpful to me and making things clearer to the newcomer - specifically her proteges'.

So it's been my expereince that there is a time and place to be helpful by "confronting" a situation that needs clarification. But lets say that 99% of time, I haven't saw the need to confront.

Dallas is "almost" 100% correct when he says we shouldn't be "looking down" at anyone. But there is one exception to that :wink:. If I'm "looking down" at anyone, then I'd better be sure it's because I'm reaching down with my hand to help them out of the pit of alcoholism.
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Postby Dallas » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:42 pm

Paul wrote: If I'm "looking down" at anyone, then I'd better be sure it's because I'm reaching down with my hand to help them out of the pit of alcoholism


Amen, bro! Pass the beans and fried chicken!!! :lol: :lol:

Sometimes, it's really difficult in holding back from saying something about what someone shared -- often, we'll hear some real goofy stuff in discussion meetings. That's one reason I prefer speaker meetings. If the speaker is talking out both sides of his neck and he's stuck on what it was like rather than recovery -- I can simply get up and quietly walk out of the meeting.

I'm not always successful in keeping quiet about something shared in a discussion meeting... sometimes, something probably does need to be shared. But rather than critique someone else or what they shared, I'll go to any length to share "my personal experience" with the subject.

We used to refer to it as a form of "cross talk"... when members would share about what someone else shared. Right or wrong -- if the critique is done during the meeting, the person that shared can feel like they're being attacked... and sometimes that's precisely what happens -- and then, the entire room and meeting can slip into attack mode, arguments and downright fighting (I've seen it happen more than a couple of times).

Alcoholics are super-sensitive in their feelings. Literally hundreds of times, I've been talking about myself -- and it seems like it's an always -- that someone in the room will "think" that I was talking about them. IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!!! :lol: :lol:

I've had experiences where I was the speaker at a speaker meeting... and shared my own experience, such as "My sponsor told me that I should do such and such" and invariably... some stranger that I didn't even know that was in the room will approach me after the meeting, demanding "Who are you to be taking my inventory? What you said is just plain wrong and you shouldn't be talking about me anyway!!" :lol: :lol:

And, they stomp out of the room angry at me.

Alcoholics, in my experience... seem to have a nature of self-absortion, and self-obsession. I have to watch out for that or I find myself back in the trap of saying things to myself -- thinking that it's someone else that said it to me or about me! :lol:

When I comment to someone about what they shared... I try to do it privately after the meeting (as Paul was suggesting)... Then, I'm more likely to be helpful.

Thanks for sharing! And, for letting me share, too!

I guess I should have posted in a different category because I don't think what I shared has anything to do with "Trouble with Step 3"... but, I'm just trying to follow those in front of me! :lol: So, maybe... I'm in the right place after all. :lol:

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Postby garden variety » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:48 pm

Dallas wrote:I guess I should have posted in a different category because I don't think what I shared has anything to do with "Trouble with Step 3"... but, I'm just trying to follow those in front of me! :lol: So, maybe... I'm in the right place after all.


I don't know Dallas - I think that "trouble with step three" and "tolerance" are pretty closely related. I just think we been going on about "tolerance" and maybe finding that odd place of setting up "boundaries". I personally believe that "being restored to sanity" includes deciding on an individual basis where "tolerance" ends and "boundaries" begin. I agree it's a very touchy topic, but I think everyone has to face "issues" related to "tolerance" and "boundaries", and they both relate to having sanity restored, and making a decision to allow a Higher Power to do the "directing".

If you want to see what I'm talking about, go to the thread that is titled "tough week". "Tolerance" and "boundaries" and "turning things over". Pretty BIG step three issues over there, too.

Just to show you some crazy limits and "tolerance", there was a fellow in my home group long ago that would comment, then play a harmonica. Literally play a tune on a harmonica. He might also say something like "Here's a comment for you Tommy", then play a short song on his harmonica. Well as it turned out, this was so crazy nobody knew what to think or do. New people couldn't make any sense out of this. So the guy's sponsor went with the guy to talk to the "outside professional" he was seeing to talk about the harmonica issue.

The "professional" assured the sponsor that indeed when this fellow played the harmonica, it would make him feel better. And when he felt better, sobriety meant more to him. So the sponsor took that report to the group secretary, and it pretty much became a non-issue. Nobody was harmed by the harmonica-playing - that is nobody thought it was a "sobriety threat". So the group secretary and the long-timers reasoned together and figured if it helped the man get more from his sobriety, they could "tolerate" the guy's harmonica playing as a substitue for his words in the comment time after the speaker lead. And when any newcomer asked about what the heck was the deal with the harmonica player, a home group member would tell them it made him feel better and stay sober.

The BIGGER benefit was to the home group itself. It got the reputation of being "tolerant" which helped a lot of more new men and women that came through that door. Some folks when they got there knew they were going to be accepted as they were, and they weren't as afraid when they saw this guy play his harmonica. They figured if they haven't "kicked that guy out", then they had a chance of being accepted, too.

That was a beautiful story to me when I heard it told. My sponsor's wife who also has 30 years sober told it to all of us one night when she was asked to speak.
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Postby RD1angel » Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:51 am

Sorry to have not responded sooner, thank you Dallas and GV for your responses. I can see where "calling someone out" during a meeting will usually result in them feeling like they are being attacked, and I take on a superior attitude. I hate that, that is one of those character defects I see, and I really don't want to be like that.

Dallas, you have opened the door to another topic that I always enjoy learning others views, or maybe trying to convince others that I am right. :roll:

I know some are sicker than others.

Cross talk: I do like to go to cross talking meetings, I feel like there are more open comments that challenge my thinking. As long as I go into it with that in mind. I don't like going to those types of meetings that as we go around the room, each person regurgitates their "stuff", usually not pertaining to recovery, then it goes on to the next, etc..... As I look around the room, you can see that everyone's mind is wandering, and this person is just babbling on and on and on..... I feel as though cross talking can stop the babbling and redirect the meeting to focus on recovery. Plus, it keeps the what it was like while using and drinking to a minimum.

Maybe my thinking is distorted by my character defect? ( notice that I didn't make that plural?------ so self-absorbed ) hahaha :shock:

If you prefer to take this topic to a new post, I will.
Thank you,
RD
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