About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I don't actually think people NEED AA sponsors after step 9.

Thus we grow. And so can you, though you be but one man with this book in your hand. We believe and hope it contains all you will need to begin. (your growth down the 'road of happy destiny')

-See, even the Big Book agrees with me! AFTER step 9 of course! NOT before!

I DO think people need 'Spiritual guidance', preferably of the HIGHEST quality available in order to navigate through difficult 'chapters' and life lessons. And to hold steady while the going gets a bit rough.
I have NEVER been a follower of convention. In 88, when I chose my home group, it was badmouthed and gossiped about by a LOT of unhappy AA people who were deeply offended by the possibility that misery might be optional. It still is sometimes, as far as I know! So I made this deeply unpopular meeting my home group. And I have been making defiant, unpopular choices about my recovery and my life ever since. Not for the sake of being defiant I might add, simply because I felt IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
Because I belonged to such a HUGE home group, and because they all seemed to stay sober, I always had people I could refer to, who were pretty cool. In addition to that I invested a LOT of time and energy into step 11. One year, despite holding down a full time job I spent over 90 full days in silent retreat in monasteries. That's not including the time I was spending in meditation groups in the evenings. My spiritual peers completely changed during that time to people outside AA.

I suppose in AA my primary influences were D and F. (both very comfortable, long time AA's). After AA, my main influences were 2 monks of 15 years from The Forest Sangha and have since left monastic life and are now living a normal life. They told me what places to go to and books to read, and gave me advice about my personal situation. I was very lucky because they took time to get to know me, (which is a GREAT blessing as a lay person). And a LOT of what I know now is based on the 'leads' I got from them. (Including indirectly the Taoist arch!) They were very senior and had read extensively. Very cool. I still feel a vivid connection with the one that helped me the most. As far as I am concerned they were a gift from god, placed in my path to show me how to adjust my path. Anyway that was 12 years ago or something, so the things they told me about which baffled me then, have all integrated into my previous AA 'teaching'. Meaning there is no longer any 'conflict of interests' between the two ideologies.

So my 'post step 9' orientation, is much closer to the Buddhist teaching I have encountered since step 9, than the beliefs I encounter when I go to AA meetings. AA meetings are NOT places where I look for 'spiritual guidance'. I go there MAINLY to do service, help newcomers, and also because I enjoy the social aspect.
If I could choose to live in the same building with ANYONE of my choosing, it would not be an AA person. Although our basic humanity is the same, I would FAR rather live with someone who valued what the Buddhists call enlightenment. So I'd want to be around someone with the special refined qualities of a senior monk or nun. Because they are a joy to be around, and I would learn so much more form them. It would be a FAR more challenging and difficult journey, and therefore a LOT more rewarding.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you miss out MASSIVELY if you confine your 'spiritual search' to AA. Yes there are a bunch of KOOKS out there, pedaling a pile of hogwash. But there are also some real gems. You just have to try and figure out which is which.

Some people in AA are really lovely. AA is healing, and many useful coincidences DO occur when we show up and try to be of service, but the BEST information about how life ought to be lived if you take your spiritual growth seriously, is NOT to be found in AA. IN MY OPINION.

It may interest you to know that there are VERY few AA's I really identify with in terms of the manner in which I choose to interpret a spiritual path. There are many similarities. But not when it comes to the DETAIL. That doesn't bother me. This is why I don't have a sponsor as such. I like bits of what other people do, but they are too far 'off the mark' in other respects for me to want to take on board what suggestions they might have. Perhaps I am hopelessly arrogant. Who knows? Perhaps I am wrong, and there are actually a LOT more people in AA like me than I realize. I don't know. But for now, and for quite some time, my real spiritual home has been with people with similar qualities to monastics.
So basically nobody NEEDS sponsors. Yes we all NEED feedback from time to time about basic things. But BIG things, in my mind, deserve the attention of people with much greater seniority than those in AA. Who knows though, if D was still alive I might still be asking him for feedback. I really don't know.

My advice to you if you have pretty much broken the back of Step 9, regarding AA anyway, is - make use of the limited advice that's available, and prepare to be disappointed. And try to learn form the very BEST people you know outside AA. I think most of you have just dipped your toes in to step 11. Which is fair enough. But because AA is pretty lacking in terms of 'advanced' practice, you will end up really NEEDING some good step 11 people in your lives later on. I think anyway. I may be proved wrong. Who knows

AA is a comfort zone. Sponsors are comfort zones. It doesn't mean they are 'right'. They are just FAMILIAR. Yes, doing something a bit different can feel a bit scary, but that doesn't make it wrong. I'm not saying 'ditch AA'. I haven't! Just free up your thinking beyond the fearful rhetoric you often hear bandied about. Usually endorsing some sort of fearful dependency on meetings or sponsors. Question everything, including the 'party line'.
Put it this way, if people really did NEED sponsors after step 9, then why am I not a train wreck?? SEE! The evidence is obvious. Trust what you see, not other peoples fearful ideologies. Trust what works for yourself, and the things I have done. I don't think I'm full of crap. But you never know!

PS. Books are great teachers as well. Books can also be friends. I've read LOADS. And all the cool people I know outside AA read LOADS. Buy decent ones though. None of that airy fairy, Cherie Blair, 'mind body spirit' shite. 'Proper' stuff about the true nature of reality. Like 'the power of now'. Or 'women who run with the wolves'. Ill do a separate post for decent books if I can be bothered.


furter said...

liked the part ''AA is a comfort zone, Sponsors are comfort zones, doesn't mean there right There just familiar. doing something a bit different can be scary, but that dont make it wrong.not saying ditch AA, I havent and am not gonna just free up your thinking beyond the fearful rants you often hear that usually gaurantee some sort of fearful dependency on meetings or sponsors i question everything'' my gf thinks her sponcer is like her therepist/life coach

Anonymous said...

very helpful. i agree, but would hesitate in saying so in an aa meeting. :)