Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Twelve Step Programs

Twelve step programs (such as the one the LDS Church promotes for its members, or AA or OA or others) work because they work. They do so much because they do so little.

There are twelve step programs because they produce results (which is what I meant by "they work because they work"). Without results they would no longer exist. It seems circular, but the programs are a success because they produce results.

They also produce a dramatic result because that result is all they attempt. By limiting their focus so sharply, they are able to continue to achieve it. Every precursor to the modern twelve step programs attempted to reach for more and failed. Keeping free from distractions and diversions seems very important.

I find twelve step programs fascinating because they reflect how easy it is to reach God, at least for the singular miracles of:
  • regaining free agency and
  • being able to seek God
The prayer of Alma 22:18 ".. and I will give away all my sins to know thee ..." comes to mind when I think of what is really going on in a twelve step program. I also think that what they teach can be applied to every life.

Sometimes we can do so much, because we seek so little, but so specifically, and find the greatest things of all.


Barb said...

I don't think I have ever been to an actual 12 Step meeting. I know a lot of people in Narcotics Anonymous when I served my mission. Some of them had been clean for a few years and were very spiritual individuals. I think it is great that so many are able to break free by attending meetings. I know someone who went to what I think was Al Anon because her mom was an alchoholic but she said she quit because she could not get past the step of anger. Thankfully, I am past the anger of those who have abused me. Maybe some day I will be past the anger to those who I asked to help me out of an abusive situation and did not give the help that a person who has very little life skills needs and was severely mentally ill. Telling a mentally ill person to pray about it is extreme neglect to me if you do not follow through to make sure they are safe. I am getting rather anger so I better stop while I am ahead or maybe I am already behind. Don't worry, I don't plan to revist this here.

Barb said...

Well, anger got the worst of me and I am revisting. And this is not a cry for help. Things are going good right now. It is venting about where I feel I have been wronged. I have vented this with some friends and they ignore me when I give specifics of who wronged me. When I speak vaguely, I did have one person say he would pass on what I said as he had studied therapy. What I passed on was how a passive person may not be able to do more than tell a person once that you have problems and that you need someone else to ask specifically if you are safe in the future because you know that people do not want to know. Also, it is very hard to tell more than one person when you have been let down before. This is going over a span of years. And maybe there was little in the way of physical abuse. But I don't think an emotional climate of someone screaming and raging and breaking things and being emotionally abusive is what you should subject someone to. On a rare occassion of physical abuse, someone told me to hug my abuser and tell them that I loved them. Then, this person later became responsible for me in even a more important way than they were when they made the statement. They never checked up on me. Every time the abuser would break things for such reasons as I forgot to turn on the music right when we got home, I would tell myself that it was that person breaking things as the abuser was not in their right mind and supposedly the person who I asked for help was. Or maybe they were a fool if they think you just hug someone and tell them that you love them. Even I know better than that. But I tried to be obedient at the time and did what they said. Later, I summoned up the courage to try to get help again as things were turning bad. That person openly mocked me for being 29 and being in that situation and as I told them that I had questioned what to do. I said that I was afraid to move in with someone who would not be nice to me. They mocked me saying how I had lived with the abuser all those years. They also mocked my mental illness. At least, they did not call me evil or anything. I told them that I would meet with them again the next week and they never asked to meet with me again so I did not press the issue. After a couple of years of not asking for help, I ask again and this person seems to care. At one time, they ask how much I make. I ramble off a figure as I am not good with figures and don't think of money so much. When you turn over your whole check to other people, you may not be into how much you make so much either. That is not to say that they did not let me do with a portion of my money as I pleased, but for the most part they needed most of my money then to pay bills. At any rate, they said they would find a room mate for me. A long time goes by and at times this person seems to have a smirk when I bring things up. Finally, I actually tell them. It was so hard to say anything. I told them how they had a smirk when they said they would find a room mate. They deny it. They never asked to meet with me again. Coincidene? And you don't know what it is like to tell someone the level of abuse and not have people say how wrong it is. Do you know what it is like to look at glazed over eyes? I know I have been spared a lot compared to a lot of people. And you may think I am just paranoid. But the facts speak for themselves, in my opinion. I ask for help and did not receive the help to really get out of bad situation. Whether or not there were smirks may be subjective. If I were to repeat the mocking statements, I think there would be little room for doubt in one's mind that statements were indeed mocking. I may have mental illness in the realm of ocd, but that does not mean that I do not know sarcasm and rudeness and mocking. I may get a little manic sometimes, but that does not mean that I am not able to analyze things for what they are when I am down from that high. The biggest problem of all that I was so trusting that they would help me. I would also dream that some inspired person would just offer to take me in, but I was too passive to really ask. Now I realize that maybe nobody could take me in with all my problems. Would I rather that they just told me the cold facts and just say that nobody would want me because I can't take care of myself. I get scared just getting dressed and have to have my mom help me get dressed to get out of the house. So maybe they were being kind to act like they would help because that kind of help does not really exist outside of mental health professionals who do not help nearly enough. And how are you supposed to get better in an abusive situation. Oh, I sure hope I did not say anyting bad here. Please delete it if you feel it crossed the line. I would rather you did than have something up that you feel compromises anyting that you value. But these are my honest to goodness feelings. On the other hand, many who hurt me here helped me by such amazing kindness when it came to the rantings of my ocd mind and telling me it was all in my head so kindly and sweatly. I would not function to the level that I do without that help. Even today, it helps me function. I have been so blessed. I don't understand it all. I just wish someone would listen who mattered and tell me that I have a right to be mad. But there are things much more important than validation. Eternal truth is far more important than being vindicated where I feel that people errored. And I believe these were good men. I don't have all the answers. I hope I have said all that I wanted to say. I really would like to get past all of this.

Barb said...

Good bye, my friend. Stephen, as you might be able to imagine, I can't open myself up to be hurt again if you don't say something in regards to my comments. Therefore, I won't be able read further on this thread. Plus, it just won't be the same on your other friends. It was a blessing to be here while it lasted. I will probably still read your blog in the future. I enjoy your insights. I wish you well. I know that I take a risk when I am open that people will ignore me. So I will walk away and as I won't be reading, you might as well not say anything. As I said, I will read your blog in the future without my comments. Take care of yourself!

annegb said...

I myself am experiencing a rebirth in Al-Anon. I'm learning to give people over to the power of the universe. I say, "I'm confident the universe has everything you need to solve this problem."

They do work, Stephen.

Stephen said...


Don't go away.

I am afraid I am very busy. I often go days or longer between visits to my blog. Silence usually means I'm really busy (for example, took my brother to the air port so he could fly back to his family, taught the High Priest group this Sunday, hauled 17 bags of mulch home and spread it in the back yard in 100 degree + heat this evening, tomorrow I'm out to the air port at 6:00 a.m. to give someone a ride before work).

Be patient with me, please, and don't fear or run away.

Barb said...

well, I was serious when I wrote my earlier comments. I get a little emotional that way. I did not mean that you had been silent to my present comments as I just posted them this evening. I was just afraid that I may have crossed the line. Just letting me know that I am still welcome means so much. I don't plan to have any more outbursts. After all, what more could I say? But I am so grateful that you were nice because between annegb's blog, Lisa M's blog, Téa's blog, and Sara's blog, it is like a neighborhood to me and a part of my social life. And sometime I might even comment to what one of them say here and it is sort of like a conversation. Well, more than sort of like a conversation as it is a conversation though there can be time delays. So thank you for letting me still be here. That was what I was most afraid of that I said way toooo much. So I will be back and hopefully a lot more balanced in my remarks. I am pretty good 89 per cent of the time or maybe give or take. Seriously, I enjoy the fellowship here. Thanks so much!!!

Barb said...

I was thinking today about a great-aunt that I had who lived for years in a mental institution. My mom and her sister were in a car with her and another great-aunt(sister to this great-aunt) and her husband who were taking her on an outing. She asked them if she could leave the mental institution to live with them. She jumped out of the car. I hate to think of what her life was like. My first many years were so ideal. And the worst of times were not as bad as many. I have heard of people being taken out of one level of abuse and put into the Foster Home System into a home with a higher level of abuse. I am grateful for all that I have been spared. Exactly where the line is in such situations is not always clear. I have to also wonder if there was a purpose in staying. I can see purpose in it. I have been able to resolve a lot of feelings by seeing the good things that I have seen. There have been a lot of healing experiences too. I am better ocd wise than I used to be and for that I am very grateful. At one time, I was considering going to a shelter but I did not want the stigma though I felt a great deal of peace when I prayed about it. It is so different if you have to save your life or something. When your life is not in danger, the decisions are different especially if you do not drive and are dependent. Plus, the shelter was in a different town. With ocd, it is hard for me to function in a job environment and you worry that you may not be able to hold another job. You worry that it could be the spiral down rather than holding on. There is a lot of good in my life. I have two beautiful nieces that are two years old and six months. My family feels so blessed to have them here. Seeing my mom's face light up with love for those babies is so beautiful. I get nervous actually seeing them in person due to ocd. However, I try to be involved in their lives in other ways though I do not see them often. I really feel bad how I seem to have a pattern of saying I am leaving and then coming back. I get myself worked up. I really mean it at the time. I am very embarssed naturally. I don't expect a response to every statement. The fact that you have made me feel welcome to vent is all that matters. You did say that my comments are always welcome. Then, I go and possibly push the envelope. Well, I hope it was not as bad as all of that. I still don't have all the answers. There are more important thans than having all the answers or closure. I dont' want to be one of those bitter people who demand to have people understand their plight. By the same token, I wonder if it would be good to tell my concerns to the right channels. But you got to hope that they know anything that I could tell them. And maybe I don't know what I think I know. Thanks for listening.

Barb said...

Ummn, that could use a transition or two. I hate it when I run on and on like that. I think as I write. Maybe I should think before I write.

Barb said...

Hoping that I have not burned any bridges here by my recent posts. I just have to hope all is well because I did want to give voice to something that may be hard for people to understand.

I don't remember how bad things were at one point, but I was contemplating whether to move out. I was close to finishing school. I only had a semesters worth of classes left. However, I dropped a couple of classes and I think I took an extra year to finish. I never went to Summer School. I know one would think if things are bad that you would try to get out as soon as possible. But when you have phobias going to computer rooms and also using books and libraries that might cause you to drop a class. Also, you may derive a large amount of self-esteem from good grades. I actually dropped a couple classes that I had an A in at the time because I thought the coursework would be too much for me with ocd. Also, I dropped classes before for such reasons as not wanting to deal with the in classroom computer for another semester as they made me nervous or not wanting to deal with the thermostat near a door for another semester.

That was not what I really wanted to talk about though. I wanted to talk about the irony of not wanting to move in with someone who may be not be nice at all times. I mean the thought of someone being even a little impatient with me was so horrible. Yet, I was subjected to a lot of terrible things at times in my situation including verbal abuse and also other terrible environmental issues. But this was fleeting. And you may not be able to stand it at the time but the person has a personality where they can joke or be funny. And you are comfortable around them when they are in a good mood. And the other person is someone that you feel more comfortable around than anybody. You lived with a few people in the past for a month or up to four who could be a little mean at times. Actually, there was nothing major and nothing to compare to the mental abuse and trauma that you experienced in your own home. But you are just so exhausted and the thought of someone being mean or not having patience or not feeling comfortable around them is a scary thought. And before I had ocd and before my mission, I had someone offer to let me move in with her and save for my mission. But she said she wanted a hundred dollars a month and I thought that would be a lot though I gave all money to my household less what they would give me back(no savings in bank at the time). But someone said they would pay for my mission in my household. Plus, the person who I was going to move in with seemed rather high strung and I did not think I could stand living with her though nothing could compare to the abuse that was very bad at times in my home at the time. And she said I would have to take a bus to work. I already took a bus, but this would probably involve a transfer and she lived way far away from my job where my home was within walking distance to the bus stop that would take me across the street from my work on one of the buses. I may have worried about getting lost as I have no sense of direction. I think it was being worried about how early it was. There was another friend who maybe I could have moved in with, but I never asked her. And I was concerned about things that would seem minor.

But things as bad as they were seemed temporary. I would be living on a mission.

And when I came home, I tried so hard to be a good example to my nonmember family before my breakdown and spiral into ocd. I actually had an offer to move in with a couple people and I think the first one was right before I went into ocd just barely. Or maybe at the beginning. Maybe it would have nipped it in the bud as ocd gets worse the more room you give it. But that boat has sailed and there was surely chemical imbalance as well and being in an abusive home probably made that worse. I was still trying to be a good example when the next offer came and declined.

Before I decided on going on a mission, my home life seemed temporary because I expected to marry. And after my mission, I expected to marry soon so that helped. I was even of the mind that I would marry at times when my ocd was quite debilitating. Then, you realize that you are trapped and not likely to marry as you never go anywhere social and why would someone marry someone like you with all your problems. And then you decide it was good that you did not marry even before ocd because of repressed problmes and also that you are spacey and probably would not have made a good parent although you are very entertaining with children. This is rambling but my point was that I became most bitter when I felt like I was trapped and I blamed others.

But I am not as bitter as I was. I don't know if I will marry or anything. Things are usually pretty good at home. And so far, I can take the rare times that it is bad. And although my ocd keeps me from seeing my nieces much, I feel that because of them that I can really be happy even if I do not marry and have children.

And I feel that I have purpose in life though it is not anything on a big scale. Being online is part of the purpose that I have in life. I also have other purpose in my personal studies and also other relationships.

I should not rehearse that which is a mountain of inferences regarding times that I sought help. I know that there are things that I need to be mindful of even in the circumstances of seeking help where I felt hurt. For instance, I just remembered how the person who I felt mocked me for saying that I needed to move in with nice in light of the fact that I was in an abusive home for many years. I did not get a chance to articulate or explain to him so that is what I have done here as I will probably never get that chance with him. It probably would not be appropriate. Things were not always bad at home. I thought about running away when things got bad as a teen, but I don't know if that was to get away from home or just to get away from life as I was afraid of failure. However, I saw someting about runaways becoming prostitutes and did not want to do that. I used to contemplate killing myself in high school a lot so everything was short term so there was no need to get away and that was my state of mind until about 19 when I became LDS. Then, the frame of mind was that I would marry until I decided to go on a mission as I felt strongly that is what I was supposed to do. I can't believe I had that much faith being as shy as I was with my parents initially opposing me strongly although not being violent in screaming when the news was told.

I remember being a new member and hearing a Bishop speak about doing things that you were supposed to do like reading scriptures and having Family Home Evening when somebody approached him about a family problem. I did not want to burden anybody with my family problems so I did not tell anybody at the time and I figured that I was just supposed to be a good girl and do what I was supposed to do. I did not confide in friends generally although it slipped a couple of times, but they did not ask again. Etc. etc. etc.

I don't know if this makes sense to anybody else. I understand it all myself and maybe it will help somebody understand someone in a abusive situation. Or maybe it is just indicative of me. Well, this is long so I shall see if it will post. Having a thread titled 12 Steps may be too much for me to resist unless I get the boot.

Barb said...

I think I forgot to say what I intended to say about the person who I felt mocked me. He did offer financial assistance if I needed it when moving out. I was prideful though and did not want to take money at that point. I said to him, "I don't want your money." I don't think my tone was rude, but he could probably tell that I was serious. I have often felt bad that maybe my pride kept me from moving out then by not taking the money or not following up with him. However, I was very vulnerable and hardly able to function with ocd. Maybe my dysfunctional family is the only structure that would have helped me through. After all, I can't really go to grocery stores without getting insanely nervous and seldom go to restaurants. I am so limited and low functioning and maybe trying to make it on my own would have put me over the edge. All I know is that I have survived and that things seem good now.

Barb said...

There were other factors involved in staying. I won't go into every reason for staying. And the dream of moving out was probably just that once ocd manifest in a way to make going places difficult and doing the daily tasks that I did before difficult to the point where I limit both. Maybe it is very simple for some people to become independent. Such has not been the case for me. And ironically for someone as dependent as me, but some of my reasoning at staying has involved others being dependent on me. Now if I were completely independent, I would have got my own place and tried to get them to live with me even when they were a minor. But my mind did not work like that. And there was someone who lived nearby that needed me too and I felt if I moved away that I would not be able to help them that much due to transportation problems possibly of getting there. I was limited in how much I could help them with my ocd, but my assistance was very important when they were alive. This person was a very close relative and is who my brother moved in with when he moved out.

Barb said...

I don't know if this is a reality check kind of thing but sometimes I think that things must not have been to bad as I did not "settle" to marry men who I was not interested in. There were a couple of men very interested in me that was not mutual and I think it may have led to marriage. There was another man who I liked a lot at one time and would have possibly of married if he felt the same as me early in our knowing each other. But things happened and my mom did not really like him. He seemed to be talk about my marrying him and such and I said we were not compatible. He repeated that a few times, saying "Are you sure you are not compatible." Marriage is something that I do not take lightly and I would not marry just to escape. But who knows what I would do if things were really, really, really, bad with no let up in sight. Hopefully I would have sense enough to find another way than to marry someone that is not a good match.

Barb said...

I have no real desire to vent right now. I hope that is a good sign. Things are going very good.