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 Alternate Steps, No Higher Power 
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:22 pm
Posts: 17
My goal is to speak to those who believe as I do and obtain input from them on my ideas, not to incite controversy or debate. If you disagree with the ideas below, feel free to ignore them: my goal is not to convince you of their merits.

Twelve step programs universally have aspects that I see as flaws. They encourage people to relinquish their will to something. I don't think relinquishing one's will is healthy, so I wrote a program about empowering one's self. I tried to understand the purpose of each step and rewrite accordingly. I may have made mistakes, but getting input is a great way to learn. Here they are:

1. I discovered that my compulsion had sapped my power and left me in pain.
2. I came to believe that by empowering myself I could relieve my pain.
3. I took complete responsibility for myself and my actions.
4. I courageously assessed the ways that I contributed to my own pain.
5. I accepted the ways that I contributed to my own pain.
6. I desired to no longer contribute to my own pain.
7. I sought the strength to overcome my pain.
8. I realized the ways in which I shamed myself.
9. I absolved myself of shame and took action to overcome my pain.
10. I continued to assess and accept the ways I caused myself pain, seek the strength to overcome my pain, and refused to shame myself.
11. I sought by various means to better understand myself so that I could better satisfy my needs.
12. Having found solace in strength, I continued to empower myself.

I would like to find somebody to work these steps with me. Not a sponsor, but a recovery buddy.

Edited to avoid undesired debate


Last edited by The Duck on Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:28 pm
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Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:21 pm
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State/Province/Country: NC, USA
Have you spoken to any devout atheists who are also working 12 step recovery and reconciled how they navigate/interpret "higher power" in their recovery? I know at least one such person who doesn't have any concept of God or a "physical" higher power. Instead, if I have understood them correctly, powerful concepts like "love" and the principles of the program are their higher power.

In any event, one thing I noticed in your post that is going to hold you back is replacing "we" with "I". This is and ever has been a "we" program- I didn't get sober without the other people in the room and my sponsor, whatever my concept or relationship with a higher power. We all need each other if we want to stay sober. Hell, we can't even begin to work the 12th step (carrying the message) and seal the deal on our sobriety if we don't have another person to carry the message to- both inside and outside the rooms.

As to shame, my experience has been that there is no shame here except that which I brought with me (and still choose to hold on to). Specifically, no one is shaming me. Rather, I am in pain and embarrassed (if not in denial) for how in an utter mess my emotional and social life is, and I feel shame for it. If ever I have felt shame being pressed upon me from outside, it has been all the social messaging I received before entering the rooms, telling me that I have to be a certain way or do a certain thing to be a good worthy human being; that I have to "measure up" or I am "dame" ("no good" in Japanese) and, in some circles, banned from "Heaven." If your impression of 12 step programs is that we come here to shame each other, then I hope you keep coming back until you find what I have found: that I came to and keep coming back to 12 step recovery programs to un-learn how to shame myself and re-learn how to love myself and my fellow human beings.

This process does mean I have to get rigorously honest with myself about what my character defects are- if I don't get honest about those, then I will continue to live in denial of the myriad behaviors that are ultimately ripping my life apart. The Big Book is pretty clear on this point: (paraphrasing Pg. 64) "Our gaming addiction is but a symptom; to get true sobriety, we have to get down to causes and consequences." As I heard someone share in an Al-anon meeting one time, it was their character defects that were killing them and destroying all of their relationships. Steps 4 and 5 are not about "shame;" they are about acknowledging the sheer devastation that our personal flaws can cause us even when we are not actively using.

Likewise with steps 8 and 9. The amends process is about cleaning up our side of the street, or clearing our own conscious. Here, again, we are particular to push shame out of the picture as we do not apologize or say we are "sorry" when making an amends. How sorry a human being we do or don't think we are isn't relevant to our recovery (in fact, some would say its a self-centered pursuit and, therefore, antithetical to recovery). What matters, and what the amends process is all about, is that we are committed to being better human beings by not repeating some of the mistakes that we can now recognize we've made in the past. Personally, I've noticed that there was a tremendous amount of relief that came each time I made an amends- as though a burden were being lifted. For me, that burden, more often than not, was the toxic combination of shame and fear I walked into the rooms with. With each amends, then, my disease had less to bring me back down with.

Finally, there are steps 6 and 7, which I skipped previously. Step 6 is probably my favorite step. Doing an inventory is difficult and I often still want to maintain, to some degree, my denial about my defects of character even after admitting them to another human being- usually on account of a heady mix of shame and pride. But with Step 6 I get some peace and serenity with myself as Step 6 is where I work on bringing myself into acceptance of myself as I am, flaws and all. This, for me, means learning love and grace for myself and a true beginning to the end of all the shame I like to pile on myself for being imperfect. This is where my recovery really starts to kick in and my disease really starts to lose its hold over me. Without shame- without a reason for me to go and hide and numb-out- my disease is powerless over me. That's what the 12 steps are to me. I'm 4 years in on Al-anon and over 18 months sober from games, working on getting soberer.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:05 pm
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:04 pm
Posts: 323
Location: Detroit, MI
I'm sorry to hear that your experience of the program is that it's all about shaming you into things, as my experience has been rather more like Morgan's in that regard. Shame was an important part of what was holding me back, and if shaming myself for my bad behavior could have cured me, I would never have needed the program in the first place. There is an enormous difference between shaming myself into changing and admitting that certain painful facts of reality are, in fact, actually true. The first route is a dead-end road that will give me little to no progress before I wind up in an even worse place than I was when I started, the second offers a chance to experience some really profound transformation.

One of my favorite quotes that I've run into in recovery is "It is only in the presence of compassion that people will allow themselves to see the truth." I've not only found this to be true (I can't see something if the person pointing it out has no compassion on me, nor can I see it myself if I don't have compassion for myself), but I've found nothing in the program to be antithetical to it. If you talk with your sponsor about it and he thinks that the program is about shaming yourself into a certain set of behaviors, then I suggest you find a new sponsor. If you don't have a sponsor, and this is the way you've been internalizing the actions pointed to by the 12 Steps, I suggest you find a sponsor. I've yet to find someone doing well with a 12 Step program who is using shame as a motivator for their working the program. FWIW. It's good to see you though.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:30 pm
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:06 pm
Posts: 968
Location: Charlottesville
State/Province/Country: Virginia
Hi Duck, commenting here on your revised post...

There are many different versions of twelve steps to recovery, many of them written because of big problems with the wording of the twelve steps written in AA's basic text. CGAA's version was written to try to eliminate wording problems while preserving the actions and spirit of working the twelve steps.

If you google for atheist or agnostic twelve steps, you'll probably find twenty or more versions. Others were written to address wording problems with words like "wrongs", "morals", and "powerlessness", words that work well for some people and poorly for others.

I have one comment on your desire to work these steps with another person, and I'm saying this 100% in the spirit of being helpful. I really hope you do your best to work through your list and I hope you make progress and I hope you learn from it and I hope you find someone to work on it with you.

In AA's basic text, there is a list of steps, which are almost all concrete actions to take, and there is a list of "promises", which are good results one can expect if he or she works the steps. Your list reads very much like the list of promises. In fact, your list consists entirely of good results that I experienced since taking the concrete actions suggested to me by people who had also achieved good results by taking those concrete actions.

I think it is powerfully helpful for you to so clearly state your intentions and the good results that you're aiming for. I really believe that such action attracts to us the very things we need to achieve those results. My hope for you is that when those things appear, when the opportunities to take concrete actions that will help you recover begin to pop up, that you will take those actions and learn and grow. I feel certain that if you do so, your growth and experience will lead you to a very different understanding of recovery and the steps (i.e. actions) that carry you in that direction.


Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:11 pm
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:22 pm
Posts: 17
Scott, you're right. There are a lot of alternate steps out there. I did a lot of digging, but each version had something that I didn't quite like. I adapted a few and infused thoughts of my own to wind up with what I have above.

The promises were actually part of what I used to understand the purpose of each step, along with a whole slew of other things.

I appreciate your supportive sentiment quite a bit.


Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:01 am
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 11:37 pm
Posts: 168
Location: Rockland NY
State/Province/Country: Rockland NY
Welcome to CGAA The Duck.

If you suffer from gaming addiction I support any road to recovery that works for you. The only reason I support the version of the steps which are currently posted by CGAA is because it reflects the steps that I took which removed my need to game nearly 6 years ago. Which leads us to my next question: have the steps you propose worked for you in removing your need to game?

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leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized)


Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:27 pm
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:22 pm
Posts: 17
I'm not really new here. I've spoken to you before, in fact. To answer your question, pretty well so far, but I wouldn't say I actively worked those steps. They are in line more or less with the ways I have been helping myself, though. As far as needing to game, I definitely don't feel that way.


Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:32 pm
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 11:37 pm
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Location: Rockland NY
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Welcome back duck. Perhaps you could elaborate on your experience working your owe version of the steps. You say this version is a description of your life now? How it removed the gaming problem?

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leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized)


Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:09 am
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