Daily Archives: October 20, 2012

agnostic version of the twelve steps

An Agnostic Version of the Twelve Steps (Cleveland)

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that attempts to control our drinking were futile and that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that even though we could not fix our problem by ourselves, circumstances and forces beyond our personal control could help restore us to sanity and balance.
  3. Made a decision to accept things that were outside our control, especially what already is and to do the best with it.
  4. Made a searching examination and a fearless inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to ourselves with total openness and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Became willing to let go of our behaviors and personality traits that could be construed as defects and were creating problems.
  7. With humility we acknowledged that we had these shortcomings and with openness we sought to eliminate these shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through contemplation and meditation to improve self-awareness and adopted a spiritual approach to life as our primary purpose.
  12. Having had a profound change in consciousness as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

 

 

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/friends-family-alcoholics/20723-alanon-agnostic.html


bill of rights

another document that is read at the beginning of the Al-Anon meeting is “An Adult Child’s Bill of Rights”.  I am going to highlight the parts that i think will be most difficult for me, leaving open the possibility that those deemed “most difficult” will change as i move through this process.

  1. I have a right to all those good times that I have longed for all these years and didn’t get
  2. I have a right to joy in this life, right here, right now, not just a momentary rush of euphoria, but something more substantive
  3. I have a right to relax and have fun in a non-alcoholic, nondestructive, and nonaddictive way
  4. I have a right to actively pursue people, places, and situations that will help me to achieve a good life
  5. I have a right to say “no” whenever I feel something is not safe or I am not ready
  6. I have a right not to participate in either the active or the passive crazy making behavior of my parents, siblings, and of others
  7. I have a right to take calculated risks and to experiment with new strategies
  8. I have a right to change my tune, my strategy, and my funny equations
  9. I have a right to “mess up”, to “blow it”, to disappoint myself and to fall short of the mark
  10. I have a right to leave the company of people who deliberately or inadvertently put me down, lay a guilt trip on me, manipulate me or humiliate me, including my own alcoholic parent, my non-alcoholic parent, or any other member of my family
  11. I have a right to put an end to conversations with people when I feel put down or humiliated
  12. I have a right to all of my feelings
  13. I have a right to trust my feelings, my judgment, my hunches, my intuition
  14. I have a right to develop myself as a whole person, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically
  15. I have a right to express all of my feelings in a nondestructive way and at a safe time and place
  16. I have a right to sort out the bill of goods my parents sold me, to take the acceptable and dump the unacceptable
  17. I have a right to as much time as I feel I need to experiment with this new information and these new behaviors and to initiate changes in my life
  18. I have a right to a mentally healthy, sane way of existence, though it may deviate in part, or wholly from my parent’s prescribed philosophy of life, belief system, way of life, code of ethics, or code of behavior
  19. I have the right to follow any or all of the above rights, to live my life the way I want to, and not wait until my alcoholic parent gets well, gets happy, seeks help, or admits there is a problem.
  20. I have a right to carve out my place in this world

the problem

at the beginning of the Al-Anon meeting, one of the things that happens is people are asked to read documents aloud to the group.  one of them is called The Problem.  in the interest of checking in with myself, i am going to repost it here and highlight the parts that i believe apply to me.

The Problem

Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional households.  We had come to feel isolated and uneasy with other people, especially authority figuresTo protect ourselves, we became people-pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process.  All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.  We either became alcoholics (or practiced other addictive behavior) ourselves, or married them, or both.  Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our need for abandonment.

We lived our lives from the standpoint of victims.  Having an over developed sense of responsibility; we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves.  We got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others.  Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.  We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally.  Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.

These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us “co-victims”, those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink.  We learned to stuff our feelings as children and kept them buried as adults.  We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults.  As a result of this conditioning, we often confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue.  Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable solutions.  This is a description, not an indictment.


the chicken or the egg

i attended my first Al-Anon meeting today.  Well, technically, it was the second meeting in my life, but for simplicity we’ll just say this is the first.  i’ll be getting into more detail about that experience later, but at some point in the meeting i had an epiphany.  i think it might have been somewhere around reading the Bill of Rights (which i will repost later also) and it occurred to me:

if i have fundamental beliefs about myself that i do not have value, worth, rights, and so on, is it possible that i am actually creating the demand characteristics in my romantic relationships that facilitate unhealthy dynamics, such as emotional manipulation and coercion?

woah.

so let me back up a bit.  a la Wikipedia:

demand characteristics refers to an experimental artifact where participants form an interpretation of the experiment’s purpose and unconsciously change their behavior to fit that interpretation”

many times, researchers refer to demand characteristics in terms of their influence on socially desirable behavior.  so, a participant in a psychology experiment suspects what the experimenter wants, and acts accordingly.

there is another example of demand characteristics that is a little more serious and macabre.  in the early 1970s, a researcher named Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment.  I found a pretty good 5 min video that sums it up here.

one major finding from this study was that situational factors can facilitate undesirable behaviors, such as learned helplessness and mental instability (such as in the prisoners in the experiment) or aggression and hostility (such as in the guards in the experiment).

so the question is, is this dynamic contributing to my repeat offenses (ha) to date coercive or emotionally manipulative people?

i’ve been mulling over some permutation of this question for a while now, because i wondered if things with XBF would have gone downhill as they did if i hadn’t been facing so much stress, trauma, depression, and emotional fragility.  i would have been able to stand up for myself more, but instead i just caved in so many times.  and eventually i started getting better, and his perceptions were so distorted already (i believe, anyway) that it honestly just felt hopeless to fix.  so finally, i didn’t cave, and it ended.

but i’m wondering if maybe… it ended before it ever began.


Oh… hello

This is why I don’t try to pursue writing with any regularity… apparently I stink at writing with any regularity.

Been dealing with all sorts of mood fun since I ceased using birth control pills. I’m not trying to have a baby, I’m just done with being on them. The first two months were interesting. I got angry a lot. It struck me how little I get angry and how little I know how to do it. I think I need anger management lessons – but,I mean, how to manage getting angry at all.

The last few weeks I have felt like the membrane between my past and my present is too thin, I feel too vulnerable to it. An incident at work sent me into some sort of day-terror state (tl;dl – I was stalked as a teen, pretty badly and this dude asked me out at work and let on he knew where my car was… and then left a note on it. I was in a serious bad way for about 2 weeks or more after…) that my husband said isn’t PTSD but I don’t know what else to call it. I am also thinking a lot about how my responses to my brain got the way they are and who was there along the way – it’s a pretty empty room.

Not sure why my head is so in times long past, I rather hope it comes back to now or gets up to its usual future-worry. Also some health insurance and a new head doc… that would be good too. ~nod


Oh… hello

This is why I don’t try to pursue writing with any regularity… apparently I stink at writing with any regularity.

Been dealing with all sorts of mood fun since I ceased using birth control pills. I’m not trying to have a baby, I’m just done with being on them. The first two months were interesting. I got angry a lot. It struck me how little I get angry and how little I know how to do it. I think I need anger management lessons – but,I mean, how to manage getting angry at all.

The last few weeks I have felt like the membrane between my past and my present is too thin, I feel too vulnerable to it. An incident at work sent me into some sort of day-terror state (tl;dl – I was stalked as a teen, pretty badly and this dude asked me out at work and let on he knew where my car was… and then left a note on it. I was in a serious bad way for about 2 weeks or more after…) that my husband said isn’t PTSD but I don’t know what else to call it. I am also thinking a lot about how my responses to my brain got the way they are and who was there along the way – it’s a pretty empty room.

Not sure why my head is so in times long past, I rather hope it comes back to now or gets up to its usual future-worry. Also some health insurance and a new head doc… that would be good too. ~nod