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Blog: Alcoholics Anonymous

 
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Dan
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2005 6:02 am    Post subject: Blog: Alcoholics Anonymous Reply with quote

"Hi, I'm Dan and I'm a Friend of AA."

That's the way i introduced myself tonight, as i had been instructed at class today. I'm in San Diego for the week in order to attend training on how to be my command's DAPA (Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor).

I'm an abstainer, by the Navy's definition, which means I drink one time or less per year. That's definitely a choice on my part, one I made years ago. Obviously, being in the Navy, I'm around many people who are a little more...advanced...than an abstainer and I don't think I've been judgemental of people. I'm not a teetotaler nor a judge of the standard of others, but I have little tolerance for drunks. In my various roles as Command Duty Officer onboard ships and at shore stations, I've had to deal with this sordid lot more than I want to and definitely been angry at how their actions add to my already overburdened workload. Maybe that's why when my buddies have chosen to get drunk I also tend to bail on them, because I know they weren't counting on me to babysit them. That's a violation of Navy policy in spirit, though I've never abandoned anyone I've signed up to officially buddy up with in foreign ports (in that I've limited myself to buddies that weren't looking to get drunk).

But DUIs are where my passion is at. I've never lost anyone close to these criminals, but I know people who have. I'm constantly frustrated by newspaper accounts of who did what to what innocent family and I sometimes wish...no, always wish...that there was a real Punisher type who inacted retribution on the DUI criminal (or sometimes his family). The senseless loss is something I want them to feeeeeeeellll.

But, I'm FNMOC's DAPA now. I took the job partly because I needed a collateral duty that would help set me apart on next year's promotion board and I felt I needed to do something other than what I was familiar with (i.e., security and another specific TS duty). I chose as my assistant someone who had gone thru the Navy's drug and alcohol program in his youth and I felt could relate to my more likely clients: the junior enlisted. I figured I'd do the admin and my assistant could do the outreach.

Anyway, to be certified as the command's DAPA, I had to attend this 4-day course. Today's class was interesting and I stayed involved (in spite of my overactive in-class imagination). But, we also had homework assignments and one was to attend an AA meeting. I found one near my hotel room and decided to pound that out tonight, to get it out of the way.

The first attempt was closed, as it was considered too emotional for outsiders, especially non-alcoholics. The second one was at a Lutheran church. I showed up early, introduced myself as a 'friend of AA' to the chapter secretary (friend being code for non-alcoholic, without the implication that might imply, especially to alcoholic newcomers). They eagerly received me and I was introduced at the same time as the other first timers and new comers.

So, for the next hour I listened to these people discuss the subject of the night: AA fellowship. The idea being that it is this team effort that makes AA work and how. I was, frankly, surprised. I mean, I didn't go in there with the attitude that any of these people would be lushes, but, I figured there would be a counselor-type person who'd lead the true members in answering questions and having a point.

There was no point. None other than to discuss fellowship however that person wanted to talk about it. Each was a monologue, there were no questions asked or time limits set. The topic was started off by the 'leader' for the day who introduced the subject and how the fellowship had failed him, as per his earlier perceptions, but as he 'matured' he realized it had picked up his slack for him. He'd then ask someone else if they'd like to participate. He'd bounce around a bit from old to young, experienced AA'er to relative newbie. The only people whom declined were those that appeared to be younger than I and shy. Later I'd find out that they were court ordered to attend.

But...it was interesting. The term 'God' was introduced, which normally makes me nervous. In class today, they had discribed how AA is 'spiritual' but not 'religious.' I understand the difference between the two terms, but was concerned that others may have mis-applied the term 'spiritual.' As I describe it, 'religion' is a shared viewpoint by two or more people as to how worship and an understanding of the Way of Things are properly perceived, while 'spirituality' is something that is specific to a relationship of just two people, in this case a person and God. I know that there is no single person that understands my relationship with God better than me. I can learn from others, ordained and otherwise, but they don't understand how God and I interact with any degree of reliability.

And AA got that. There was no preaching as to how you must do this or read this or pay attention to this person. AA simply suggested you open your mind to that relationship you do have -in whatever form it may be- in order to share the burden with the God who is willing and ready to help. Tjose simple concepts appealed to me.

Now, I've been pre-disposed, I guess, as to what a 12-Step program is and what it can do, but I've also had preconceived ideas as to what type of people go to them. You know the old line "AA is for quitters?" Its meant to be a humorous disparagement or a justification for not doing that. it is funny, the play on words, but unfortunately it masks the journey that these people have elected to take and the strength it took to take it. Some of them have tryed many times, others are doing well on their first try. But, I also found that I understood the power in the 'fellowship' of AA. The is no political or religious obligation, no financial requirements. You can go to AA without paying a dollar for anything for decades, if you so choose. But, the strength of the group is there, even if you are new to that particular chapter.

As one explained it to me, when I inquired as to the appropriateness of going to several chapters in the Monterey area (in order to classify chapters and help decide which ones would be best for my individual sailors), he still has his 'normie' friends, but when it comes to the little things in life, the trials and tribulations, he turns to his AA fellowship to share. The issue may have nothing to do with alcohol, but these people know...they understand the significance of the small details, since the details have that much more meaning.

I understood what he was saying. I have to say, to the American friends of mine on this board, how angry I have gotten with some many of my stateside fellow citizens. I see flags and bumper magnets, i see signs hanging from buildings declaring 'Support Our Troops,' and I wonder: what are you doing to support our troops? Do you have an immediate loved one serving Over There? Have you sent books or supplies to organizations that will forward them on to the front lines? Have you donated money to scholarships for the children of our newest (or any) veterans?

I get angry because I see slogans, but not actions. I was overseas in the warzone, before most of you acknowledged we were in a war, and i knew if I didn't survive a night, my name and loss would go pretty much unacknowledged. But, if Corey slept with Paula, that was cutting edge news.

Before I get too tangential, I understood why I prefer discussing politics or strategy (or whatever of import) with my collegeues (both in khaki and in blue), because their input, their thoughts counted, where others did not. I had a fellowship that could understand why the small things were important, because we all had the potential or the experience of being Over There, in some form or way.

In that, I got AA.

Will I cease being angry when Joe Professional kills a three-year old and his 6-month old sister as their mother walks with them through an intersection? Hell no. I'm a coward for not tracking that criminal down and wasting him in front of his own family.

But, I can appreciate those that made the decision not to be that murderer, especially after they were well-enough on the path that changing course was especially difficult. And I salute the fellowship of AA that is there to help their brothers and sisters stay on the chosen path.

/rant
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Medron Pryde
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never been to AA myself, but I fully support what it does for people who need it. I actively dislike the taste of alchohal so it is easy for me to drink.

And for the record, I've had friends and family in the service and in war. When my uncle returned from Desert Storm his wife at the time (now ex-wife thank God) told him she wished he would have died over there. I don't know as much as a true veteran about what things are like over there, but I think I know more than the Soccer Moms down the street.

Crying or Very sad
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Dan
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terrible thing she said. Here's to hoping she said it out of anger and in an attempt to get a rise out of him. Otherwise....well, best unsaid.

Medron, I didn't mean to slam everyone (and I don't think you took it to heart). I just get burned up over meaningless cliches that make the speaker feel better. We all make our choices, but when I see some of the same levels of apathy within some of my own extended family, it boils me up. My wife, bless her, is not American, but as a spouse does more for this country (meaning mine) than many people who 'talk the talk.' I can't help but wonder how a foreign woman is more understanding of the sacrifices she is possibly being asked to make than people on both sides of the aisle that care more about their political parties than they do the country itself.

Anyhow...howsabout being the new Blog editor (on the new board)? You, Longwalker and I can discuss some of the rules and stipulations of such.
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Medron Pryde
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sure.

As for your wondering how she can understand things better than natives can...that is common I have found. Natural-born Americans often do not understand how rare their freedoms are, or how they should support them. People who come here though understand and are much more willing in general to support and help because they know what things are like elsewhere.

As with all generalizations, there are exceptions. Many of them.
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Dan
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Medron Pryde wrote:

As with all generalizations, there are exceptions. Many of them.


Absolutely right. We also see what we expect to see.
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Longwalker
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan wrote:
I can't help but wonder how a foreign woman is more understanding of the sacrifices she is possibly being asked to make than people on both sides of the aisle that care more about their political parties than they do the country itself.


Dan, I think the easiest way to explain this is to look at kids. Your own kids will do nothing but complaina nd whine and cry and get mad and everything else if you ask them at home to clean their room, cut the grass, take the garbage out etc...

Get them over at their favorite aunts or uncles, what do they do? bust their butts helping them with any little thing they can.
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Dan
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing

You are probably so right! What an apt description.
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Highlander
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good one LW:)

Sorry I missed the begining of this. I agree with you Dan. I'm not an abstainer by no means, but you mentioned DUI and how it effects careers. I agree. I admit to drink more than I should, but only when at home and not out. Believe it or not, when I'm around the troops, I end up being the DD:)

Now when I get home...Smile
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