LifeRing Recovery: a self-help alternative for recovery from alcoholism and other chemical dependency. Group support for abstinence from alcohol and “drugs” by empowering the sober self within you. Completely secular: no prayers, Higher Powers or Steps.
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Well - I've done it - I have detangled myself from AA. It hit me recently that I was not growing in AA anymore, I felt trapped and judged and resentful. I knew all the things to say and was heavily involved with a sponsor and sponsees, a district service position, homegroup.... all the things. But I woke up feeling anxious and rushed through my evenings from one commitment to another all the while thinking that I was missing out on life. I have people close to me (or did until yesterday) but they are all sponsees or my sponsor, not really many good deep friendships. I tried to connect with women my age in AA but a lot of them were still very sick, and the conversations tended to always be about their struggles (relationships, money issues, etc.), things that I have for the most part (and in part as a result of some of the work I've done in AA) moved past. It just felt wrong. My friend who left AA last year and has been doing some Life Ring stuff shared Empowering Your Sober Self with me and I listened to the whole thing in a few days. It drove home a lot of the doubts and fears I'd been having about continuing in AA - mainly the moral judgement piece, that there was something inherently wrong with me and that I had to do all these things to be a good, positive person - that I was inherently negative and selfish and dishonest and that if I didn't do moral inventory and talk to my sponsor and go to meetings, I would become selfish again and drink. I've lived by that for 8 years and while I do think AA has done me a lot of good (I'm certainly in a much better place than when I was drinking, but I'm also not in my 20s anymore!) and I developed a spirituality that isn't going anywhere, it's just too much. I don't have time when I'm meeting with sponsees and going to meetings and district meetings every night of the week to develop friends and other interests. The thought of spending the rest of my life in church basements most nights makes me ill. And now I'm super scared and excited and feel much much lighter. I'm looking forward to exploring what sobriety looks like to me personally, not a bunch of prescribed rules and "suggestions" that you're told if you don't do you will certainly drink and then die. I am going to check out a Life Ring meeting this weekend because I think it is good to have sober support. I am going to continue to pray and meditate and do gratitude lists. I am going to continue to look for ways to grow and learn and expand in usefulness during this life, and I think I can do those things without AA. At least I hope so.
Welcome to the Forum MeliCo.
Many of us here are former AA members. I went to AA for 3 or 4 years before finding LifeRing and had a similar experience to yours. It helped very much at first, but eventually I found the dogma just too much and I wasn't learning anything useful anymore. The main idea of LifeRing is that you find your own path. You have the help of other people here, but you find your own way. You might want to look through the Journals to see the approaches different people have taken.
Going to a live LifeRing meeting is great, many of us live in places where there are no live meetings.
As for whether you can continue to grow without AA, most of us have and there is nothing special about us, if we can do it, so can you.
Good luck and keep letting us know how you are doing.
Most of us felt lighter and happier when we found LifeRing -- I went to AA mostly in the UK for the first two years I was sober and kept thinking that all the moralistic, onerous service busyness wasn't necessary. I liked many of the older regulars and have stayed friends but I was upfront about not needing meetings and over time they accepted that.
Another former AA member here! I started in AA and I think it's a good place to start-- lots of f2f meetings, for one thing. But the longer I was in it, the more disenchanted I became.
Maybe it was the people in my area, but after a while it seemed like I was getting too much attention from the men and not much support from the women. I did try going to women's meetings but still couldn't find a group of women to be friends with. It seemed very cliquey, and I wasn't part of the "in" crowd.
And when I relapsed, I got no support. I felt like a loser, an outcast. It seemed everyone else was doing great. I learned later from someone who also left that many if the people who presented themselves as having solid sobriety actually did not. Some were outright liars and cheats (one woman was collecting disability but working full time under the table. How's that for "rigorous honesty").
So then I found Women For Sobriety online and I much preferred that program. M7ch more positive, less judgemental and shaming. No meetings near me, so I did it all online. Still, after a while I noticed some preachiness seeping in and people being scolded for relapsing, which rubbed me the wrong way.
I fully understand that two strikes might possibly mean *I* am the problem; I've accepted that. However, I think some of the issue is a program that reveres
...its founder. There's a "right" way to do things and if you disagree, woe be unto you.
So now I basically follow the guidelines of WFS and I come here to learn more. I also post on the Living Sober New Zealand site, which was started by Lotta Dann, author of "Mrs. D Is Going Without."
I decided that, for myself, there is enough negativity in this world and I don't need preachy people to judge me and tell me I'm doing the program wrong.
Sorry this is so long. This, I think, is the first time I've gotten all that frustration and resentment out.
Lola, I'm also a friend of Lotta's and love her approach and friendliness. There's a breezy informality and empathy which is helpful for anyone wanting to find their own way forward. Very like LifeRing.
Welcome to LifeRing! I do think of the LifeRing approach as adulting because there is no emphasis on a specific programme or the intensive mentoring/sponsoring. People just get on with finding out what works for them.
Thank you so much for sharing. It’s interesting thinking about the number of times I’ve read the big book with Sponsee’s and had to translate so much of it in my head to what works for me (gender, ideas of god, the science pieces). I was able to get a lot out of it, but it feels good to not have to do that constant translation anymore. I can focus on living a good life and being a good person just like anyone else and on what works for me and leaving the rest behind.
I just remembered I read a book many years ago, the title was something like, "A Woman's Giude to the Twelve Steps." My take on it was, Well this is refreshing, but I'm seeing none of this in the people I'm meeting in AA.
I also went through a long stint of watching and rewatching episodes of "Mom." I felt like a little kid from a broken home, watching "The Brady Bunch" and wishing that could be MY family.
But I'm good with where I am now. I essentially follow the WFS philosophy and contribute to some forums, like here, so I feel supported.
I hope you are doing well, MeliCo. Please let us know how you're getting on.
Finally, someone sharing my thoughts exactly. How did the requirement of belief in God ever get wrapped so tightly around recovery from alcoholism? I'm not sure what life ring is, but I'll look into it. Just passed 7 months of sobriety and feeling so good about things now. I've failed miserably at the 12 step program to the point of getting dumped by my sponsor for not embracing God as my personal saviour. Anyway, I have a good non religious support network now. All the best.