When I was at the engagement party last week, I was speaking with Rose, my nephew’s wife, about Charlie Sheen and how I understood when he said he didn’t believe in A.A. Everyone thought that was part of his psychosis, but I felt it was part of the reason he cannot get and stay sober.
I too struggled with trying to live life as a recovering addict. It requires a lot of work! You feel you must have something deep and valid to share with your group, because all the ‘old-timers’ always do; and you must attend group at least a few times a week. In the beginning, when you really, really need to talk, they tell you to go to group everyday, but not say anything. Just listen to what other recovering addicts have to say, and follow their suggestions. Follow their suggestions, which really means do and say what the other recovering addicts do and say. Do not try to think as an individual, because it will only lead to relapse. You are not to be trusted. You, my friend, are and always will be an addict. If you don’t attend the meetings and do as you are told, you will never stay sober. I believed them. I believed I would always be an addict. That was both depressing and a relief at the same time. I was not responsible for all this mess! I didn’t do this to my family, my friends, my children. My disease did! I wasn’t to blame!
I kept relapsing, but it was okay with A.A. I could just keep going out and keep coming back. That’s the policy. It’s an open door, more like a rotating door policy. It wasn’t okay with my family and friends and children, but they just had to get used to it. I was a recovering addict, and recovery meant relapses. A lot of them!
As I said a few blogs back, the deal breaker for me was really over semantics. When the words I used to describe myself and my situation became an issue of concern to the group at large, and they were all chomping at the bit to advise me how to speak, I could bear it no more. I did think of Rational Recovery that very night, and felt it might be a good time to look into it. I did not know then that I would one day walk among you as a whole person; an addict no more.
I took the meat of the Rational Recovery message, which is that you are responsible for you. You are the one who allowed the addiction to take everything away, and in the end, you are the one who will have to get it all back. I do believe that the first step in that process is to realize that you will need help to get started, usually in the form of a rehab or therapist. Some people are able to recover with sheer willpower (yes, it does happen), but I would say they are an anomaly. If you are as gone as I was, you will need to seek to help. This is the first step in taking responsibility. Asking for help is tough sometimes, but once you do it, you can get started on a wonderful path. That is the path to sobriety, and living as you, not an addict, an alcoholic, or a recovering anything. Just as you, as you were meant to be.
Rose said that my viewpoint on Charlie’s statement is controversial (I should say so. A.A. is the Catholic Church of Recovery Programs), and would make a good article. I decided to do some research this morning, and found the Rational Recovery website, and read an article by it’s founder, Jack Trimpey, about Charlie Sheen and his A.A. statement. I was struck by how similar our viewpoints were, but still felt I could write the article, because Mr. Trimpey’s article seemed written expressly to promote his website, book and program. I did feel compelled to write to him though, as his is a polemical stance also.
Below is the communication between Mr. Trimpey and I, and a link to his article:
Dear Mr. Trimpey;
I was a homeless crackhead who entered several rehabs and was in and out of Twelve Step Programs for many years. I just couldn’t get it. Why did it seem to work for the others? It did make me feel like a victim, like a suffering soul who needed to be molly-coddled, and I always wanted to comfort me, with drugs. I entered one of the rehabs, and they actually spoke about Rational Recovery and gave us some literature. I liked what I saw, but didn’t pursue it. Then, I finally went to a rehab for a month, and a homeless shelter for two months. I was attending meetings, but always railed against the ‘Stepford Wives‘ mentality of telling me how to think, act and feel. Finally, I had had enough, and stop going to the meetings and trying to follow ‘the suggestions’. I believe it was at the point that I said, “I am no longer addicted” that my life really began to change. I may not believe in everything you say, but that’s okay. I am not an addict, and you did open my eyes to the approach of taking responsibility for my own actions (what a concept! ha-ha), which has made a life changing (and about time after all these years) difference.
Thank you, and keep up the good work!
Bravo to you for finally taking control! Your good feelings come as a natural reward. Here is your question: ³What is your plan for the future use of alcohol and other drugs?² Are you going to use again in this lifetime, or are you not?
Stay away from recovery groups of all kinds, set your confidence for lifetime abstinence arbitrarily at 100%, recognize all self-doubt as your Addictive Voice, and you¹ll do fine.
Be sure to let others know about AVRT® so they can avoid the difficulties you had to face.
Well thank you, Jack. I don’t really need your advice at this stage in the game, but I am grateful that you want to help. As I said in my note to you, I don’t believe in everything you do, and therefore cannot share your message with others. I do tell them that there are alternatives to A.A. and N.A. though, and that Rational Recovery is one of those alternatives.
I feel whatever it takes to get sober is okay. Then, it’s time for the addict to STOP being the addict and become the person, and the only way to work on being a whole person is to accept responsibility for the past, and believe in the future. I love who I am (albeit somewhat screwed up, but I am a writer and it goes with the territory!), and would not trade this wonderful life for one minute of the past. I can wish all that I want that I was a good Mom, but wishing doesn’t make it so. All that I can do with that wish is to share these stories with others, and hope that it continues to help others find their own paths back to life. Hopefully I can help some kids to get some Moms that show them love and take care of them.
I do believe in regrets, contrary to the twelve steps. I don’t even know how they can say not to regret. To me, that is such a callous attitude. To regret does not mean that you cannot move forward. You must wish you did things differently. If you do not, how much of the lesson have you learned?
These are my lessons. These are the things I have learned, I am learning on a daily basis. I publicize them and my life and say this is the way I did it. I would never say this is how you have to do it. The only thing I try to stress is what their life is like right now and how much it (pardon the expression) sucks, and they certainly can turn that around. I believe that every life is salvageable until you’re dead, but time is running out.
Have a happy Sunday,
I am so happy to be here tonight, up way too late, sharing this with you. It means that you can come back from Hell and be redeemed, and you don’t have to be a follower to do it!
copyright 2011, meg marlowe