Note: Addiction Unlimited is a podcast designed to be listened to, not read. I urge you to listen to the audio version where you can hear the passion and emphasis that is lacking in the written format. Transcripts are generated by software and may contain errors. Please reference the audio before quoting in print.
We’re going to talk about a couple of things today. We’re definitely going to talk about some of the B.S. myths about Alcoholics Anonymous. There’s a lot of crap out in the world about AA and about meetings and what we do, what it’s about- and what I really want you to understand is when you read a lot of this stuff, this is all personal opinion.
Even everything that I’m going to talk about today is personal opinion. You can be sitting in a meeting right next to me and we can hear all the same people say the same things, right, because we’re sitting in the meeting together. But when we leave, your perspective of that meeting may be very different than mine.
The message that you get resonates differently for everybody. And it depends on a million different things. It’s where you are in your sobriety, what’s happening in your life in that moment, your personal level of confidence and emotional maturity, and about a thousand other things- this is really what changes our perspective and what message we hear when we sit in those rooms.
How I sat in the rooms of AA on my first day or in my first month is very different from how I sit in the rooms now at 13 years old.
So remember it’s personal opinion and you are perfectly allowed to have whatever opinion you want. I’m not doing this podcast to convince you to like AA. I’m doing this podcast because I get tired of hearing so much negativity about AA. I understand if you don’t want to go to AA, if AA doesn’t work for you if something happened there that made you uncomfortable. I get that. Don’t go back. I will support you a thousand percent in that.
At the same time, you don’t have to bash AA or dislike AA just because you don’t want to be a member. And that’s the stuff that I start to get irritated by because people think they have to go out and write these articles and they think they have to bash AA to make their point that they don’t want to go. Almost like they have to justify their own reasoning for not wanting to be a part of the program.
I don’t care if you want to be a part of a program. Quite frankly, if you don’t want to be a part of it, I don’t want you there because it’s a sacred space to me. It’s a safe space. It saved my life. It single handedly changed my life and changed who I am as a human being. And that’s largely because of my attitude sitting in the rooms.
It’s not because AA did anything magical, it’s because I went in with the right attitude. And that’s the other thing we’re going to talk about today is the absolute truth about sobriety and recovery and what it really takes to be successfully sober and it doesn’t matter if you go to AA or Celebrate Recovery or SMART recovery or you go to treatment or don’t go to treatment or go to church or don’t go to church. It doesn’t matter where you go or if you don’t go anywhere.
But we’re going to talk about the truth about sobriety and recovery and what it really takes to be successfully sober. So those are our topics.
Also, I want to remind you guys if you want to get more in-depth in these conversations join us in the Facebook group. We have great members and our group is growing. It’s super exciting! We’re doing a lot of fun stuff in there. I have some really big announcements coming up that will happen in the Facebook group FIRST, about my Recovery Recipe program for people that want more support in recovery, whether you want to go to a program or not go to a program.
The Recovery Recipe is your very own program that I help you create. We mold it to fit you, to fit your life, how it works for you to build a strong foundation for successful sobriety. So we’re gonna have some great announcements about the Recovery Recipe in the Facebook group- facebook.com/groups/addictionunlimited – I will see you guys over there.
Do Your AA Homework
The first thing I want to talk about with AA, or any other program, is ultimately YOU are YOUR responsibility. It is your responsibility to do your due diligence to do your research and to figure out what might work for you and what might not work for you. Don’t take other people’s word for it because, again, it’s deeply subjective, its opinion. What someone tells you about their experience is their opinion and your experience may be very different from that.
Ask around for sure, hear people’s different thoughts but be open-minded. And as you read things online, when people say negative things, even when they say positive things, remember it’s opinion. And you are going to have to create your own. Nobody can make this decision for you. Nobody can tell you what’s right or wrong for you. You have to figure that out for yourself. And doing that research isn’t just reading things online or asking around.
Due diligence means you need to go to some meetings, several meetings. Not one or two. You have to go and be present and figure out what you like and what you don’t. And before you can figure out if you like it or not you’ve got to be comfortable sitting there. So many people go to one meeting and are like, oh my God it was so uncomfortable I had to get out of there. I’m like, well you went once. It’s one hour. Dude I can’t decide anything based on one hour of experience.
It’s not realistic. You’ve got to be realistic about what it actually takes to make a decision.
Do you choose what house you’re going to buy in one hour? Like, you just look through some stuff and read some ads, and whatever realtor writes the coolest ad you buy that one? No. It doesn’t work that way. You go look at a million houses, you spend hours online researching houses, going and looking, and then you make a decision about what works for you.
You put in effort, you put energy into making the best decision for you in sobriety and whatever recovery program you choose or don’t choose is the same way. It is your responsibility to put in the energy to figure it out.
Every AA Meeting is Different
Another thing I want to talk about is the difference in meetings. Different meetings in different places.
I really want you to know, too, that every meeting you go to is going to have its own personality. My first year I meeting-hopped a lot. I went to a lot of different meetings. I had a home group that I chose as my home group because I was really comfortable there, and because they had couches.
I really loved that they had couches! I walked in the room, it was in my neighborhood which made me feel more comfortable because it was convenient, and it was convenient enough that I could commit to going every day and that was really important to me when I was new. But I walked in the room and they had couches and I was like, well, this has to be the place for me!. They actually had a recliner back then and I always sat in the recliner. But anyway, I meeting- hopped a lot. I went to a lot of different meetings and a lot of different places and one of the things I feel like people really don’t understand is every meeting spot has its own energy and its own personality.
Meetings are going to be a little bit different depending on what neighborhood they’re in, they’re going to be a little bit different depending on what time of day they are.
That’s also something a lot of people don’t know. So, at my home group we have several meetings every single day 10 a.m., noon, 530 p.m., and 7 p.m. Those are the ones we have every day. I like morning meetings. Partially because I got sober at the noon meeting so that is my comfort zone, for sure, but the 10 a.m. and noon meeting is just a more comfortable energy for me.
I have really bad anxiety. I have really bad group anxiety, it’s hard for me to be in groups or in crowds sometimes. I’ve worked on that a lot through the course of my sobriety and I’m more comfortable now, but it is a challenge for me. It’s hard for me to walk into a small room of 70 people in a meeting, that’s hard. If it’s a big room and we’re spread out, I can be more comfortable. But the 10 a.m. and the noon meetings are a little bit smaller.
The energy is a little more mellow. I mean, if you just think about it who’s available to go to a 10 a.m. or a noon meeting – there are going to be retired people, there’s a handful of us entrepreneurs because I have flexibility in my schedule, there are housewives and stay at home dads – because everybody else is at work! Those meetings are going to have their own sort of energy.
Now the 530 meeting at my group is usually more business professional people because they’re hitting a meeting before they go home. So that has its own energy. I feel like that meeting tends to be more extroverts and it’s more chatty, and it’s way bigger so you will not catch me there at all. That’s not my vibe at all. I’m a total introvert. I don’t like huge crowds, so I don’t go to that one.
The 7 p.m. tends to be younger because, once you’re old like me, I don’t want to go to a 7 p.m. meeting.
If I go to a 7 p.m. meeting it’s over at 8. If I chat for a few minutes afterward, I’m not getting home until 8:30-8:45. I get up at 430 in the morning, I want to go to bed. So I don’t go to later ones. It tends to skew younger later in the evening.
Really understand every meeting, even in the same location, every meeting has its own personality. So you have to really check it out go to several different places. Go to several different time slots see what fits for you see what’s comfortable.
Go To More Than One AA Meeting
And that doesn’t mean you can go one time. You can’t go to one AA meeting one time even two times or three times, and make an educated decision as to whether or not you like it. You really have to check it out.
It’s your responsibility check it out. This is your life. This is your sobriety. It’s important. Put some time and energy into it.
Is AA Religious?
OK, the next piece I want to talk about is the religious part. I’ve been going to AA for 13 years and not a single time in that 13 years have I had anybody try to take me to church. I have never gone to church and I have never opened a Bible. I do not have a problem with any of those things. It’s just not my path. You heard me talk a lot about this in that higher power episode I did because people get so wrapped up in this higher power concept.
It really is not that big of a deal.
When I went to AA I don’t think I believed in anything. I knew I didn’t believe in a very traditional sense of religion, but I don’t know if I believed anything, to be honest with you. I had been in a drunken fog for more than a decade. I don’t know what the hell I believed. All I knew is AA is where people went to not drink anymore, and I knew I wanted to be a person that didn’t drink anymore.
So I just went and I sat down and I shut up and I let it all unfold and I took it in. The higher power thing freaked me out for a little bit before I went, and I just had to have a conversation with myself, and remind myself that I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions, nobody can force me to do anything or go anywhere. They’re not going to cast a net over me and drag me to church because I go to an AA meeting. It just doesn’t work that way.
Are there people in the rooms that believe in God and go to church? Of course there are. I want you to really remember that Alcoholics Anonymous and the text of Alcoholics Anonymous and the steps and the traditions, were written in the thirties. And I want you to think about what it looked like then- what our society looked like then. It was very much organized religion and faith and that was a huge part of our culture, in people’s homes and their family life.
So keep this in perspective. Of course the steps mention God. Okay cool, it doesn’t mean you have to believe in God. It doesn’t mean you have to go to church, it doesn’t mean you have to co-sign religion- one has nothing to do with the other. You can believe whatever you want to believe. People in the room are going to mention God and church because that’s their belief system. It doesn’t mean it has to be yours.
And don’t sit there and judge people for what their belief system is! Mind your own damn business.
It is none of your business what somebody else does and how they work their program and how it makes sense to them. You do it your way, and let other people do it their way. Don’t worry about what other people believe.
I did have a lady come up to me who I adored, she’s fantastic. I was probably, I don’t know, in my first six months of sobriety and she was at the meeting every day, I saw her every day and her husband was usually there too. And I love them. She asked me one day, she just stopped me as I was leaving and she was like Angela, do you believe in God? And I just looked at her, and said, “I don’t really know what I believe. I really don’t know”.
And that was the end of the conversation. And I think that is the most conversation I’ve ever had in AA about God.
So again, keep it in perspective, my friends! Does it mention God? Of course it does! it was written in the thirties, everything mentioned God! That doesn’t mean that you have to take that path! You are free to believe whatever you want. You are free to talk about it however you want to.
I am a Zen/Universe person. I believe in energy and frequency and the Universe. So that’s my belief system and I say the Universe. I don’t say God and nobody’s mad at me because I say the Universe. Nobody gets angry with me. I’m not being shunned because I don’t say God. It just doesn’t work that way.
My higher power believes in designer handbags, hip hop music, and puppies for life. That’s how I roll so you can pick whatever you want.
It is very personal and it’s up to you. Don’t worry about what other people are doing in there. You can be a free thinker and still be a part of Alcoholics Anonymous.
What Are The AA Rules?
And that leads me to my next point. There is a structure to how the steps in the book were written- again in the 1930s. Keep this in perspective. Sometimes the book is challenging to read because it was written in the thirties.
It’s antiquated, the language is weird, but I gotta tell you they nailed it.
If you can get past all of that sort of surface stuff in the words they use and how they spoke back then, if you can get past that and really get into the message of the book, they nailed it.
They got alcoholism so perfectly down on paper and who we are and how we are. It’s really brilliant.
It kind of blows my mind they did such a great job for it being the 30s – it’s such a different time now and so many things in that book are are spot on even today.
So there is a basic structure and an outline to how everybody did the program when it started. It doesn’t mean that you have to follow that structure and those guidelines to a tee. If you don’t do it exactly that way, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not wrong and they’re right. If it doesn’t work like that.
There are a couple of big pieces of AA rules.
If you want to call them rules- we call them suggestions. We always say ‘these are merely suggestions’, because nobody can force you to do anything. Remember you are your own person. You have your own thoughts. You have your own life. Nobody can force you to do anything, just keep that in mind as you’re navigating this process.
There are a couple of big pieces of AA that I went way against the grain. And I’ll talk about some of those in a minute, but I want you to remember that they are suggestions- it’s not right or wrong. Sometimes you have to do things the way it works for you and how it makes sense to you, and that’s how I was.
Women & Men in AA
One of the things in AA is, it’s fairly segregated. Women work with women and men work with men. I just wrote a whole blog about this and you can find that at addictionunlimited.com if you want to read more about this- but it’s pretty segregated because you’re talking about a room full of people with issues and trauma. We don’t get to addiction because things are going well and we cope with our problems well I think we can all agree on that. There’s also a 90 percent correlation rate trauma to addiction. 90% of us with addiction have trauma. And I would say it’s more than that.
I would say it’s 100% because I think almost everyone on the planet has some trauma. And I talk about that in that blog too because trauma is so misunderstood. There are a lot of everyday life things that are trauma that people just don’t understand or trauma. So you’re talking about a roomful of people with issues and trauma. We are all scarred and wounded and we are all in those rooms because we want to be better. We want to feel better. We want to get our shit together. We want to have better lives and be better humans.
So the safest bet always is women work with women men work with men and a lot of that is because- you hear me talk all the time about us having secondary compulsions- typically, those of us with addiction have compulsive behaviors. You take a roomful of people. That is a mixed bag. You’ve got trauma you’ve got sex trauma you’ve got sex addiction you’ve got compulsion you have all of these things. And it’s not the best idea to mix men and women talking about super personal issues. And when we say ‘work with’, typically we’re talking about sponsorship. Part of AA is you get a sponsor.
What Does an AA Sponsor Do?
Listen, a sponsor is a life coach. I want to keep that in perspective too. We’re going to get to that in a second but you need a coach, you need somebody that’s already walked this path to tell you how to walk this path. It really is that simple. This is not an authority figure. This is not someone making decisions for you. This is someone that when I was acting foolish, my sponsor was like, “Hey Angela, by the way, you’re acting foolish and this is why. Why don’t you try looking at it like this”… And I could do that.
It literally is that simple. So don’t overthink sponsorship. It’s just somebody that is farther along in this process than you are and they can give you some tidbits and guidance along the way. That’s it.
We’re not the healthiest people certainly when we’re new. We don’t make the best decisions. Taking a male or female that is co-dependent, that has relationship and emotional issues, that is compulsive and/or impulsive, and mixing boys and girls new in sobriety and going and having deeply personal conversations and spending alone time together is not going to set us up for success.
That’s the truth. The standard is women work with women. Men work with men.
Do we hang out and talk to each other at meetings? Of course we do! We’re grown ups, we can do whatever we want.
I grew up in a very male dominant family, uncles, and I have all brothers. I just have been around men my whole life. So that was a little more comfortable energy for me and still is to this day. So I had a male sponsor. That’s one of the ways I went against the grain.
I had a pretty controversial male sponsor too, by the way. And I took my fair share of shit for it and I’m OK with that too! I knew what worked for me, and I didn’t mind standing up for myself. I didn’t mind when someone approached me and wanted to urge me against working with a male. I didn’t mind saying, “Hey, you know what? I really appreciate your concern. Thank you for looking out for me. This is just what feels right for me in this moment. And this is what I’m doing. But thank you, I appreciate your concern.”
I don’t have to be mad at anybody. I don’t have to say I’m never going back to AA because they’re in my business. This is a room full of people who care about and love each other and support each other to a degree that I have never seen in any other group of people. It is our responsibility as members, as sober people, it is our responsibility to hold each other accountable and to make sure that we’re making good decisions.
It is my responsibility as a fellow AA member with you, to say to you, “Hey listen, I see that you’re doing X Y Z. I did that too. And this was my experience, it didn’t go so well. So I just really want you to think about it and remember this that and the other thing”. It is my responsibility to do that especially as a person with long term sobriety because with long term sobriety I can see the picture much more clearly than someone in their first year of sobriety.
It’s my responsibility to have those conversations. So don’t get mad at somebody because they want to call you out for something. Don’t get mad at somebody for giving you some feedback or constructive criticism, if that’s what you want to call it. Take it in stride and understand that they’re coming from a place of love and care. They’re not trying to control you or tell you what to do. They’re just telling you that there’s a suggested way and maybe you want to look at it this way. Take it in stride.
We’re all free thinkers. We’re all allowed to have our own opinions. I am perfectly allowed to tell you if I think you are making a colossal mistake and you are perfectly allowed to tell me to mind my own business, and I’m okay with that too.
Remember there is a structure. There is a suggested way of doing things. It doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. You’re perfectly welcome to do it however you want.
Now if you do something a different way and it doesn’t work, then you need to come back around and consider an alternate path. If you have a relapse, how you were doing it didn’t work. So you’ve got to switch things up. You’ve got to try it differently. Keep that in mind to take suggestions because they’re probably things that you’ll be able to utilize at some point throughout your recovery. Listen to people especially people that have been sober longer than you. They just know more than you. That’s the truth. That’s how it works.
So just listen. That’s all you have to do. Collect information and you can use it at some point if it’s helpful for you or don’t use it if it’s not that’s ok too.
Another thing I hear a lot of people mention is in step one the word powerless, and sometimes people get really uncomfortable with that word just like they get uncomfortable with the word God. They get uncomfortable with powerless and they think that it’s some sort of, I don’t know, personal attack on their character like they’re weak or something. I don’t really know what the thought process is.
Personally, I think it’s a little strange. It’s just a word and I think Allyson Kane and I talked about this on her episode of Addiction Unlimited, too.
Listen, when I drink I get out of control. When I drink, I drink too much, and I relinquish any control I have at that time. Out of control to me is powerless. So I don’t really care about that word. It doesn’t bother me. Just like I don’t care about being called an alcoholic or a drunk or a junkie or an addict. I don’t care. Call me whatever you want it doesn’t matter to me. I’m an addicted person. I’m a junkie. I’m all those things. Call me whatever you want. It doesn’t faze me. But I want you to focus on though is Alcoholics Anonymous is not telling you you’re powerless. We’re not telling you you’re powerless in your life. You have no power. The step reads we WERE powerless, meaning in our drinking we were powerless. Again, because when I drink I drink too much and I lose control. I am powerless then, I’m powerless over alcohol. There’s no question we were powerless.
Not you ARE powerless, not you will for the rest of your life be powerless. Not you are a weak POS- We WERE powerless, and that, my friend, is just the truth.
If you are an alcoholic, if you are wondering whether or not you may be an alcoholic, you probably are. Because people who aren’t alcoholic never wonder if they’re alcoholic. If your drinking is on your mind enough that you’re wondering if you’re an alcoholic, you’ve probably got an abnormal relationship with drinking and you’ve got to look at it.
Is AA a Cult?
Ok let’s address the big one about AA being a cult. It is not a cult. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve gone to meetings all over the world. I have never felt it was a cult. I don’t really know where that thinking comes from. I don’t know if maybe 20 years ago AA was more weird and it was more cultish then and it was just before my time. I have no idea.
I can only tell you my experience. It’s definitely not a cult. We are the exact same people that you see in your everyday life. We are the same people that you work next to in your office building every day. We are the same people that you’re standing in line with at the bank. We are the same people that you are picking out your groceries next to at the grocery store.
There’s nothing weird about us.There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re the same people that you used to get drunk with at the bar or at the holiday party or at the pool. We’re the same people.
Walking into an AA meeting is no different than walking into the bar. We’re the same people we’re just in a different room now. That’s the only difference. We hang out in a different room now and we’re not drunk. That’s it.
Nobody’s reeling you in. Nobody’s using secret language to brainwash you, which, by the way, I’ll be really honest with you- When I was newly sober, my brain needed washing. OK. I was open to that if they wanted to wash that damn thing it needed washing. Because how it was functioning, my brain was functioning all wrong. So I wouldn’t even mind some brainwashing if they had it.
Social Anxiety and AA
How nerve wracking it is when you’re going to your first meeting or your first week of meetings- It’s uncomfortable, but again it’s no more uncomfortable than everything else you do for the first time. You know, the first day you start a new job is not comfortable. You don’t know anybody, you don’t know where anything is, you don’t know where the bathroom is, you don’t know how the culture of the place functions, you don’t know when it’s OK to talk and when it’s not, you don’t know where to park, you don’t know where the lunch room is. It’s all uncomfortable and all of your social anxieties kick in in that situation too.
It’s no different than going to a new church for the first time or meeting your significant other’s family for the first time. Everything is uncomfortable- a first date is uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean you don’t go. If you go on a first date and you’re sitting across the table from somebody that’s giving you butterflies, you’re still anxious and nervous and probably feel awkward and crappy. It doesn’t mean you don’t go a second time.
If that person asks you on a second date, you’re gonna go. So why would you not go to AA a second time? When your first day on your new job is uncomfortable you don’t not go back- you go. You continue to show up you get used to it. You work through it. Alcoholics Anonymous is no different. Show up, work through it, challenge yourself a little bit because let me tell you something- The one thing that you want to start breaking down for sure is your comfort zone.
When I was newly sober my comfort zone was drunk and deadly. I hated myself. I hated my life I was either drunk or hung over and I wanted to die every day. That was my comfort zone. As far as I was concerned, every single thing I did in my life needed to be uncomfortable because I had to get out of that comfort zone. I did not want to stay there. I would have died.
Everything should be uncomfortable, but show up. Push yourself. You will be absolutely amazed at what you are capable of dealing with and overcoming if you just challenge yourself a little bit.
I have terrible anxiety. That’s another thing to remember, everybody says, “I have anxiety, I have social anxiety”. We all have social anxiety. Every person in that room has anxiety.
There’s nothing weird about that. And we all started new at one point. We know exactly what you’re going through. So get some comfort in that. We’ve all been there. Just go.
I started breaking down my anxiety in little ways. One of the first things I did was I told myself I’m going to smile and say hello to one stranger every day. That’s all I did, it was that simple. Not have a conversation, not sit down, not hug it out, just smile and say hello.
That was my only challenge for myself. Every day, one stranger, smile and say hello. And that’s how I started to neutralize my anxiety. And that’s how I started to get more comfortable.
I also had like a full year that I would sit in the back row and I would play Solitaire on my phone because my anxiety was so out of control. All I wanted to do was leave. I was so freakin uncomfortable. All I wanted to do was leave.
And the only way I could get myself to stay sitting there was to play Solitaire on my phone so that my brain was distracted so my brain wasn’t constantly saying Leave leave leave leave. We’ve got to get out of here this sucks. This is horrible.
I had to distract my brain. So I sat quietly and I played solitaire on my phone, and a couple of times somebody would give me a hard time about being on my phone. And I would just kindly remind them that it’s none of their business what I’m doing on my phone or in the rooms.
And sometimes I would say listen this is how I get myself to stay here. That’s it. It’s just that simple.
There are different stages in my life that my anxiety has been really bad. So that’s what I had to do. Now I’m not mad at anybody for approaching me about being on my phone because there are some bad habits. There are people that will sit in AA and text and whatever. I just have an understanding that it’s none of my business. What other people do is their business. I have to take care of me. I have to make sure I’m being respectful. I have to make sure I’m making good decisions that I feel good about.
I don’t need to worry about what other people are doing.
I do try to instill some meeting etiquette, with the guys in my sober living houses, or people that I sponsor. I do let them know there’s a certain way that we want to function because we want to be respectful to other people. At the same time, I would rather sit there and play solitaire on my phone and have to explain myself a couple of times, let people know I’m not being disrespectful, this is just how I’m dealing with my anxiety so I can stay in the room. I would rather play Solitaire on my phone and sit through that whole meeting than freak out and lose my mind and leave 15 minutes into the meeting. Because then I’m getting no message. I’m getting no healing, and I’m getting no comfort. It’s important that I’m there. So that’s what I had to do. But don’t let anxiety keep you out of the room.
Don’t let anxiety keep you in the parking lot. We have a running joke, did somebody sweep the parking lot- because so many people make it to the parking lot, sit in their car, and then leave.
I did the same thing. So please do not feel like you are unique when you go through this stuff. We have all been there. Come in. Smile and say hello to one person.
Creepy People in AA
A lot of people are probably going to approach you because you’re new. They’re going to know that you’re new to the group because they’ve never seen you before. Maybe you’ve been a few times so people might recognize you whatever the case is. Don’t be freaked out by people approaching you. We love you. We want to support you. We want you to be OK. We want you to have our phone numbers so you can reach out and make friends and start to get comfortable and start to neutralize that anxiety.
That’s all we’re doing. We just want to love and support you. We’re not being weird or creepy. Now, every once in a while, women especially, you will have a dude and he will be creepy. I would say 98% of the time nobody is trying to be creepy. Just be mindful of that.
When people say hello it’s your responsibility to have your own healthy boundaries. It’s your responsibility to stick up for yourself and say, ‘hey, I really appreciate you offering your number, but I’ve got plenty of numbers from some women and I think that’s good for me right now. But thank you very much.’
You are your responsibility OK. Don’t sit back and be weirded out or angry about what everybody else in the room is doing. You have to worry about you, and that’s it.
Let me tell you something, I have just as many creepy dudes approach me at the grocery store, more probably, than I’ve ever had in an AA meeting. It happens. You get people that don’t have healthy boundaries and they need to be put back in their lane.
But it’s your responsibility to put somebody in their lane- don’t stay quiet and not stick up for yourself and then be mad at the other person for overstepping your boundaries. You have to make your boundaries clear. That’s your responsibility. There are creepy people everywhere.
Everywhere I go through my whole day, I had a super creepy dude at the post office the other day- waiting for me by my car when I came out- super weird!
I didn’t know if I should be flattered or get a restraining order. It was weird but I kindly and respectfully drew my boundary. OK. It’s your responsibility to draw your boundaries.
Don’t be mad at other people for overstepping boundaries that you haven’t had the courage to state. Keep that in mind.
I think I have gone through a lot of things about AA and how we function and what we do.
I hope that was helpful because it’s a lot of information- now briefly, because this episode is getting long, I apologize for that- I want to go into the absolute truth about what it takes to be successfully sober because it’s not about a program or not a program. It’s not about treatment or not treatment or sober living or not sober living. All of those things help- all of those things will help. But what I really want you to understand is the single most important thing that will determine your success in sobriety is your attitude.
If you want to approach sobriety fearful or iffy, like you’re not really sure, then your sobriety is going to be really unsure.
The Single Most Important Thing for Successful Sobriety
If you come in with an attitude of this is awesome I’m doing this, this is my new life. I don’t drink anymore. I want to soak up as much information as humanly possible. The more information I can hear the more pieces I can find that work for me. I want to make some friends. I want to be valuable to other people. I want to be of service. I want to give back and I want to create a new life.
If you go in with that attitude, your success in sobriety is going to be far greater than other people. If you want to go into it with all of this non-committal kind of weirdness then that’s exactly what kind of recovery you’re going to create. And that’s not what any of us are going for.
For me I want my recovery to be fun. I want it to be vibrant. I want to enjoy it.
I don’t want to be uncomfortable and miserable and obsessing about drinking. You know how to not obsess about drinking? Go have fun! You know how you go have fun? You get some sober friends! Make friends, have people to spend your time with. Get some people to go have coffee with, go to movies with, because you know what? In my early sobriety, I was so busy having fun I didn’t think about my old life.
I didn’t care about my old life. I wanted so far away from my old life. And as long as I kept my focus moving forward in creating a new life that I wanted, as long as my focus was that forward thinking, I had a blast.
Now listen, I had to be super open-minded. I had to do a lot of things that made me uncomfortable. When I was like one week sober, I had a lady approach me and she’s like, ‘Hi Angela, a bunch of us women are going out to dinner tonight, we’d love for you to come!’
Now in my head I was like, oh hell no. That sounds like the worst thing ever.
But you know what I said? I said, ‘absolutely, I’d love to.’ Because I knew everything I did needed to be uncomfortable. I had to destroy my comfort zone, I had to get out of it. I had to build a new comfort zone so I had to do all kinds of things that I didn’t like that I didn’t want to do, that triggered my anxiety like crazy.
But you know what? The only way I could kick anxiety’s ass is by doing the things that made me uncomfortable. I had to go do those things and get through it and build those coping skills so that my anxiety doesn’t control me, I control it.
I realize that’s much easier said than done. If you have the right attitude, I promise you, you can rock this recovery. You can.
It’s a beautiful amazing life to be on this journey of self-discovery. For me to get to grow into a person I never even knew I was capable of. I was such a shitty human being when I was drunk, I was awful. I was a disappointment to everybody. I broke my mom’s heart on a daily basis, and she’s one of the best people that has ever lived. And I hated myself for that. I absolutely hated myself.
Now I get to be a person that’s like my mom, who I’ve idolized my whole life. That’s the person I wanted to be. And now, because of my recovery, because of going to Alcoholics Anonymous and working those steps and having a sponsor, a coach to teach me the way and to help me heal, and heal those wounds and those scars, and to get okay with myself and build my self-confidence and my self-esteem, to have all of that and get to be this person today- every piece of that discomfort was worth it.
All of it was worth it. And I will continue to fight my anxiety for the rest of my life. That will be a battle I will always have. It just gets easier with practice.
You have to strengthen those muscles, work out those muscles of beating your anxiety. Work out those muscles of breaking down that unhealthy comfort zone and creating a new comfort zone. Break that stuff down. That’s how you will be successfully sober.
It is all about your attitude and that’s why in my Recovery Recipe that’s what we talk about is building those foundational skills.
I don’t look at things as what I have to achieve or what I have to get done, I have to get sober.
I look at what kind of person do I have to be to achieve that. And the person I have to be is a person with a great attitude.
I have to be a person that is willing to do the things I don’t want to do because I know they’re the best things for me. I have to be willing to go to a meeting when I don’t want to go to a meeting and listen a meeting is one hour dude. If you can’t be uncomfortable for one hour we’ve got some bigger things to talk about. It’s one hour if you need to leave a little bit early do it but don’t do it all the time. Challenge yourself to stay longer every single time.
But I would rather you go and sit down and soak in some good information than not go at all because you’re freaked out about it. Just go sit down soak it in, nourish yourself. I have to be willing to do those things – that’s in my attitude, in my decision making- and that’s why we work on those foundational skills. Rebuilding that self-confidence, keeping things in perspective. That’s what the Recovery Recipe is all about.
I think I’ve covered a lot.
I think this ended up being my longest solo episode ever, but I think this information was so necessary. We needed to talk about this stuff. I want you to know what’s really going on so that you don’t have this contempt prior to investigation. You hate meetings before you ever go or you’ve only been to one or two and you’ve decided it doesn’t work for you and that’s just not possible to make that decision with that limited experience or exposure.
Push yourself, do your due diligence, figure things out, go to different meetings in different places at different times of day, find a sober buddy. There’s a million of them you can find them in the Addiction Unlimited Facebook group. Find people in your city. I’ll go to your home group with you in your city when I get there. Message me we’ll figure it out. I’ll come there and record podcasts and go to a meeting. But this is what it takes.
Challenge yourself and trust that you are capable of dealing with so much more than you think you are. I promise you that, I absolutely promise you that.
So that’s the thing I want you to focus on today challenging yourself. How can you challenge yourself today to move one step closer to the person you want to be with the life that you want to have? How can you challenge yourself today. Thank you so much for spending this time with me. You guys. I hope you loved this episode.
I hope you’re having a fantastic day and I’ll see you guys next week
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