Take what you need and leave the rest?

New to AA? Got questions? Here's the place to ask. Note that no one person speaks "officially" for AA. AA meetings in your local area are always the best source of information. Note that anyone may post and reply to messages in this forum.
Westiemom
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Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Westiemom »

I have been in AA for 4 months...my first go at AA and sobriety. I’m atheist/agnostic. I have received tremendous benefit from hearing other people’s stories about their journeys. I have met some very kind people! The true stories at the end of the BB have also been a good reminder of what alcoholism can do to the alcoholic and their loved ones. I’ve tried to turn myself over to a HP and started to work the steps but it just does not resonate with me. My sponsor was very intense and frankly scared me so we no longer work together. She has been very chilly towards me since I told her how I felt. I am also getting pressure from other woman I have met in the rooms to get working on my Steps or risk relapse. How can doing something that feels forced and unsuited for me keep me sober?

I wonder if it’s really possible to “take what I need and leave the rest”. I do want to stay sober! I’m sorry to post this in newcomers but I still feel like one. Is it time for me to leave AA? Can you really be welcomed if you don’t surrender completely to a higher power and live your entire life according to the Steps? I hear these requirements stated in almost every meeting I’ve attended. I’m feeling like I have nowhere to turn for support in sobriety.

ODAAT
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by ODAAT »

Westie, if you have a problem with alcohol, you're welcome anytime and anywhere in AA. But sometimes individuals in AA get a little too enthusiastic about certain facets of the AA program. This can deter newcomers from readily seeing the openness of the program. That's what some individuals do.

But here is what AA, the PROGRAM, has to say:

...some of us found that, in our initial nondrinking days, the suggestions and comradeship offered by an A.A. sponsor helped us greatly to stay sober. Others of us waited until we had visited many groups and met many A.A.'s before we finally called on a sponsor's help.
Some of us found formal prayer a strong aid in not drinking, while others fled from anything that suggested religion. But all of us are free to change our minds on these ideas later if we choose.

Many of us found that the sooner we started work on the Twelve Steps offered as a program of recovery in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," the better. Others of us felt the need to postpone this until we had been sober a little while.

The point is, there is no prescribed A.A. "right" way or "wrong" way. Each of us uses what is best for himself or herself-without closing the door on other kinds of help we may find valuable at another time. And each of us tries to respect others' rights to do things differently.

Living Sober


Keep in mind what AA as a whole says....as well as what individuals say.

Best
Last edited by ODAAT on Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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avaneesh912
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by avaneesh912 »

Is it time for me to leave AA?
No. Hang in there. Take a deep dive into the concepts presented in the book. Read More about alcoholism and see if you can relate to what they mean by powerlessness and un-manageability. See how our mind, if not grounded, tricks us back into taking a drink. Once you realize that, you will get willing to try the reminder of the steps. Nobody has to force you into doing anything. You need to be convinced.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Brock
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Brock »

Welcome here Westiemom.

I agree with what ODAAT said. We do get a fair number of atheist alcoholics here, and some of our regulars are better at giving advise on how AA worked for them than I am, especially Paige who normally posts every day and we haven’t heard from in quite a few days, she lives in Iowa, and I hope the weather hasn't caused her to loose her internet. She has over nine years of sobriety, and is good at explaining how she does the program, while not believing in a ‘traditional’ higher power.

Also we get a fair amount of inquiries about the methods adopted by some sponsors, and sometimes just advise people to drop their sponsor as you have done. You had a valid reason since it wasn't working well for you, and since she is not taking it in stride and accepting it gracefully as a good sponsor would, it makes it more likely that you did the right thing. That’s her problem, you did nothing wrong.

But I do believe the folks at the meetings going on about doing the steps or relapsing are correct, it’s just that you need at the start to do like the book says, and pick a higher power of YOUR understanding, some just choose the group, GOD = Group of Drunks. They have a power higher than you since they recovered, and you haven’t. As we work through the steps there is a tendency to develop on your idea of a higher power, as you feel the program working your opinions may change. A good sponsor would know this and work along those lines, without undue pressure.

I don’t like the idea of people giving you the impression we live our entire life according to the steps, there are guidelines for living which we find brings happiness and serenity, but it’s not like hard fast rules for living. Also the support you are looking for now is quite understandable, but keep in mind the idea of developing a higher power, is that this is where you will eventually find the support, not just from other people.

Apart from the stories in the book, many of us found speaker tapes useful, if you go to you tube and type ‘AA agnostic speakers’ you might find some helpful stuff, also I will put a link to the online sponsor service offered here at e-AA, if you wish to try this. Please feel free to ask any questions or make any comments, we really enjoy reading about others and helping where we can.

http://www.e-aa.org/form_sponsors.php
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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avaneesh912
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by avaneesh912 »

BTW, you dont have to find GOD or imagine something, all we have to see is that the process worked in others and come to a conclusion "maybe it could" work for me too! And the key is moving forward and figuring out what is blocking you from sane thinking. You will see its a mix of resentments, fear, relationship issues...As we start seeing the tragedy of self centered thought process, you start working on it.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

Westiemom
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Westiemom »

Thanks all! Some of you touched on insane thinking and selfishness. I don’t think I am insane or a horrible self centered person. I have suffered from depression and anxiety my entire 53 plus years due to many reasons. Heredity, an alcoholic father and an unloving childhood all contributed to me being who I am today. I didn’t begin abusing and self medicating with wine until my 40’s. Alcohol made it all worse for sure but did not turn me into an insane morally corrupt person! It’s a disease. A diabetic also has a disease and when they don’t manage their disease properly they too can act in angry ways and lash out out loved ones when their sugar levels go awry, but no one says they are selfish or insane. It’s understood it’s the disease “talking” not the person. AA is asking me to admit these defects are indeed mine to take ownership of and fix in order to stay sober. How does beating myself up like that help? I’m already insecure enough.

I swear its not my intent to malign AA. It helps so many people and I don’t think for a minute it hasn’t helped me too. I do have questions about it tho and simply do not feel comfortable sharing them in the meetings I attend. The meetings I attend are all very Pro AA...no one questions anything! I admit it feels “safer” to do so here. Thank you so much for allowing me to be here. That said, if my posts are too contrary I understand and will leave. I would never want to threaten anyone’s sobriety with my personal thoughts and ideas.

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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by ODAAT »

Westie, thanks for your posts and honesty. They are absolutely appropriate for what this forum is all about. Your participation here fulfills the mission of this group of forum members to help anyone who has a problem with alcohol.

Please keep sharing here and asking questions about AA or any other subject regarding recovery.

The AA Program doesn't really want you "beat yourself up" in order to achieve or maintain sobriety. The program strives to suggest self-reflection of past and current behaviors which will help us to simplify our lives by freeing ourselves from negative and self-destructive thinking.

But remember, that self-reflection is SUGGESTED by AA. It is not mandatory. All of AA's steps are SUGGESTIONS. You can try them and see if they work. Or you can save them for consideration at a later time if you so desire. We are free to start and work the steps based on our individual outlook and experience. We don't have to follow the precise approach that some other member of AA found successful for him or her.

Do NOT "beat yourself up." That doesn't really work for anyone.

But please do keep posting here. Keep sharing your thoughts and experiences. We understand and support you. We have been where you are...

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Brock
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Brock »

It is easier to express doubts about AA here, and we have no problem with members doing that. Perhaps without realizing it, by having the stones to raise these issues, and hopefully having them answered, you are helping many who come here just to read, those who want to know more about AA, and may have similar questions themselves but scared to ask. There is a counter at the bottom of each page, which shows who is online, sometimes they are very few, but at other times we can see a good number of ‘guests’ are present, these are folks who may benefit, and also those trying to provide the answers, because it reminds us of our own doubts and shortcomings, and how we overcame most of them.

When we come to steps 4 & 5 we do write down and discuss things which bother us, that we are resentful about, and then find what part we played in it however small, it helps us greatly in letting go of the resentment, our literature says resentment is the greatest danger. When you say - “AA is asking me to admit these defects are indeed mine to take ownership of and fix in order to stay sober,” yes in a way that’s what it asks, but it’s better to look at not just for sobriety but for happiness. We can’t live a happy life with these resentments and blaming others for where we are in life, and if we aren't happy we will drink, the literature doesn't just say we will be sober, it speaks of things like ‘happy joyous and free.’

The diabetic who acts badly because sugar levels are low, can take a pill or injection and be fine in short time, our pills come in steps, and we must not think too far ahead. Pill one do I accept I have a problem, pill two can I fix it by myself, if no because I have tried and failed many times, then I better try pill three and look for something more powerful to help me. It’s a process which looks both a little strange and hard to do, but really it’s not that hard and works wonderfully.

I think people shouldn’t be telling you that you are selfish at this point, I never thought I was, but certain things come to light with these steps and I changed my mind. They say it’s a simple program for complicated people, but by looking too far ahead we can make the program itself look complicated. One step at a time without worrying what comes next, that’s the faith you need, and then one day you will look back and laugh at the doubts you have now, we all did.

Please feel free to make any comments or ask any questions, that’s what keeps our forum active and useful to others.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

Westiemom
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Westiemom »

Thank you all for being so welcoming! I’m so glad I found this group!

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PaigeB
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

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Hi Westie. Paige here... Alcoholic and Atheist. Still. It's been almost 10 years since my last drink. I have dabbled in some various religious practices, but none seem to stick. That has been true for me both drinking and sober. But AA stuck! WHY?

Because I worked the Steps to the best of my ability NO MATTER HOW I FELT. Come now - feelings are tricky things and not very scientific. Why pay them so much mind? I went to work and made a paycheck and paid my bills all my life and that wasn't "fun" and I didn't always feel "it". I am NOT being flip.

This thing works if you work it.
You PAID for your seat in AA... Pitiful And Incomprehensible Demoralization. (page 30 BB)
Feelings are NOT FACTS.

This is a practical program of Action... When it says pray - pray. It is just like meditation with words. Who cares of a god is reached? Do the work and reap the results. I was more of a practicer of meditation right off the bat - get ANY information on it you can and DO it. Do it for 2 minutes - Do it for 5 minutes. No one is a Guru, though you can look for help in any Buddhist organization. Just do a web search for a guided meditation and find a voice that appeals to you. It can't hurt - and it helped me... Maybe it will help you.

But DO WORK the Steps. Find a woman who is willing to take you through the Steps without expectations other than that you will do the work. How will you KNOW they won't have expectations? You won't. But you can ask them. Maybe, just maybe the Universe will put a person in your path. Maybe a good catholic woman? Go to a woman's meeting or any meeting I guess and ask out loud during the sharing portion for someone who will take you through the work of doing the Steps... Remember, it is not until Step 12 where it says "..as THE result of these steps..." and steps implies action with one's feet ~ SO GET BUSY!

HOW?
Appendix II, “Spiritual Experience”, Big Book, page 567-568). As this quote from the big book lays out ..."Willingness, Honesty and Open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable."
Honesty
Open Mindedness
Willingness

Oh and the only "conscious contact" I had with my "HP" was the people at AA. It is ok to make AA your Higher Power for now, until you piece together your own understanding. I KNOW that AA had more power than I DID! And The Fellowship of AA was my substitute just like it says in the BB, A Vision For You, p.152
"Have you a sufficient substitute? Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that."
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

Theo50
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Theo50 »

Westiemom wrote:Thanks all! Some of you touched on insane thinking and selfishness. I don’t think I am insane or a horrible self centered person. I have suffered from depression and anxiety my entire 53 plus years due to many reasons. Heredity, an alcoholic father and an unloving childhood all contributed to me being who I am today. I didn’t begin abusing and self medicating with wine until my 40’s. Alcohol made it all worse for sure but did not turn me into an insane morally corrupt person! It’s a disease. A diabetic also has a disease and when they don’t manage their disease properly they too can act in angry ways and lash out out loved ones when their sugar levels go awry, but no one says they are selfish or insane. It’s understood it’s the disease “talking” not the person. AA is asking me to admit these defects are indeed mine to take ownership of and fix in order to stay sober. How does beating myself up like that help? I’m already insecure enough.

I swear its not my intent to malign AA. It helps so many people and I don’t think for a minute it hasn’t helped me too. I do have questions about it tho and simply do not feel comfortable sharing them in the meetings I attend. The meetings I attend are all very Pro AA...no one questions anything! I admit it feels “safer” to do so here. Thank you so much for allowing me to be here. That said, if my posts are too contrary I understand and will leave. I would never want to threaten anyone’s sobriety with my personal thoughts and ideas.
Hello Westiemom and welcome to the group. Please feel free to ask question here as sometimes I feel like I am one of the few members that actively posts a lot of questions. As stated previously, the steps are only suggestions and no one in AA should be pressuring anyone to believe that you must follow their way or else...
I practice the "Feel free to take what you need and leave the rest" but I also try to be open to suggestions as well.
I can very much relate to your comments about your childhood and my problems with alcohol didn't start until late in my forties either.
Keep posting online and try to find some F2F meetings that you feel comfortable at.

Theo

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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by Mike O »

Hi Westiemom,
Welcome to the group.
Well...I guess the 12 steps can be considered as just “suggestions”...
I feel that this comes from the actual text of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, where on P59 the steps are “suggested as a program of recovery”.
This was written in 1939, when the programme was new.
I serve on a group which provides online response to alcoholics who are still suffering. My experience has been that the majority of those who relapse do so because they have not worked the 12 steps thoroughly. My belief, based on this experience, is that working the steps is an essential...the essential aspect of the programme.
They are not as difficult as you might be making out. Why not give them a go...one by one, without looking too far ahead.
Of course, the AA way is not for everyone. Many have stopped drinking and remained sober without any interaction at all with AA.

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avaneesh912
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

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AA is asking me to admit these defects are indeed mine to take ownership of and fix in order to stay sober. How does beating myself up like that help? I’m already insecure enough.
I can share my experience around this. So, when I came to the AA, thats the first time I started looking inward by others suggestion. Saw everyone around me had their own freaking mind, if I have to live a serene life, I have to change my way of thinking/acting. Guess who the first person on the resentment list was? My Spouse! but then, the inventory showed that I was not contributing from a emotional nor day to day functioning of the household like laundry, dishes.....I was just a contributor. This is not about beating ourselves, its about recognizing the areas where we lack and start working towards changing it. It took some time to change. 2015 i think at the world convention one of the wardens talked about how AA changes lot of inmates lifes and I had mentioned it to my wife about his talk, my wife of all people said this "I know what changed the course of our family, its indeed AA". Now 2006-2010, this wouldn't have come from my wife, she was so anti-AA but thanks to my counselor and my HP I stuck to program. Today I take meetings into a correction facility. I can't even imagine a life without an association with AA. It is a integral part of my daily life. Thats the way of life that will keep me sane.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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PaigeB
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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

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AA is asking me to admit these defects are indeed mine to take ownership of and fix in order to stay sober. How does beating myself up like that help? I’m already insecure enough.
Here is a small exercise... Look around the room you are in. Looks around as a "whole picture". It is what it is right? Now Do an Inventory of the room... lamp, chair, couch, windows... (I need to wash those windows) carpet, dog, door... etc.

Doing a personal inventory is no different. It is what it is, but let's get into the details and identify what we have - what we want to keep and what needs to be tossed or recycled - what we need to have more of (another lamp in that corner).
I don't remember where it is in the Big Book, but somewhere in there it tells us to be calm and just lay out the facts. Nothing more, nothing less. Count the nuts & bolts - get in on paper. Discuss it with someone to make sure you are thinking straight about these things (2 heads are better than 1 and this is important). Then you will have a really Truthful idea about what you are working with as you get going on your Journey to Freedom.

You are not alone. We have ALL done this Step. Set your reservations aside and put pen to paper. Listen to others when they say, "It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be!"
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Take what you need and leave the rest?

Post by beginningagain7 »

Now I am not a atheist or agnostic, but when a person that is, I always suggest that God stands for Good Orderly Direction. Reason being since we have been drinking we have been going in a direction that is not healthy. So when someone wants to quit drinking because where is leading them. They can take the approach of heading in a good orderly direction [God].

So if a urge comes to drink for whatever reason, all you have to do is determine which direction you want to go. As for prayer the Serenity Prayer is a good one to use.

Have a good day,
Beginningagain4
John T.

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