Episode 3: David B. Bohl | The World Post AA

David B. Bohl, is an independent Addiction Consultant at Beacon Confidential, and author of Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth. In this episode he joins Ben and John to share his thoughts on the world post AA.

One day while perusing David’s blog, I ran across a post he wrote, which took me by surprise. The post, entitled “The World Post AA,” describes David’s experience leaving the 12 Step program where he first found sobriety. This post was a follow up to an earlier post he wrote entitled “Leaving Las Vegas.” David describes how his personal growth in sobriety led him away from Twelve Step programs to a new and to him more satisfying journey. It was an honor to have him join us on this podcast, and I look forward to many more visits from him in the future.

Transcript

0:00:00 John: My Secular Sobriety is an addiction recovery podcast, giving voice to the secular person in recovery.

[music]

0:00:14 John: And my name is John and I’m a person in long-term recovery. Today, I’m joined by my co-host, Ben, and our special guest, David Bohl. David is a licensed addiction counselor and author of Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth. He’s with us today to share his thoughts on, “The World Post-AA.” Ben, how are you?

0:00:37 Ben: I’m doing pretty good, John. How are you?

0:00:39 John: I’m doing good. I apologize, the last time I introduced you on the first episode that you joined me on, I didn’t give you a chance to say hello back.

0:00:47 Ben: Well, I went out and drank about…

[chuckle]

0:00:49 Ben: And, I blame you.

0:00:52 John: And our special guest today is David Bohl. David, how are you?

0:00:57 David: I’m doing well, John, thank you.

0:01:00 John: It’s wonderful to see you again. The last I saw you was in 2018 in Toronto.

0:01:05 David: That’s correct. That’s correct.

0:01:06 John: That was a good time.

0:01:07 David: That was an excellent time, and hopefully, we’ll see you in DC this fall as well.

0:01:11 John: Are you going to go?

0:01:12 David: I am absolutely going to go.

0:01:13 John: I’m glad. I was wondering if you were going to go or not. Okay, good.

0:01:17 David: Yeah, well, that was part of the thought process that maybe we’ll talk about here, but yes, I will be there.

0:01:22 John: Oh, awesome, awesome, I’m glad to hear that. Yeah, I’m actually going to drive there kind of like I did… Well, no, last time, I actually… Did I fly or drive? I did, I drove to Toronto.

0:01:30 David: I think you took two weeks off last time, didn’t you?

0:01:32 John: I did [chuckle] I’m going to drive again because I’m going to bring all my podcasting gear to DC, so I just want to drive.

0:01:37 David: Wow. Excellent.

0:01:39 John: Yeah, my van is a 2015 with 100 million miles on it, but it still gets me around. [laughter] So David, for people that don’t know, David is the author of Parallel Universes, which is a memoir of his growing up as an adoptee and how that impacted his later substance abuse and recovery. And he has written a lot about issues of adoptees. He has a blog on davidbbohl.com and I ran across a couple of articles that he wrote that I found really interesting and I immediately wanted to have him on this podcast. And there were actually two blog posts that you wrote, David, that caught my attention. And the first one was, “The World Post-AA ”, but you referenced that the, “Leaving Las Vegas’ ‘ article and I’m just going to read a paragraph from that. The first paragraph was really great because it really… What we’re talking about here is… Maybe I’ll just introduce that, but here I’m going to read this paragraph.

0:02:48 John: “I found myself getting more and more alienated, biting my tongue a little too often for my own comfort. As it was in traditional 12-step groups, the agnostic groups started to fail me too, and eventually, I related to online communities where I felt even more protected from others’ influences on me, where I got irritated less with what was said. But still, the philosophies underlying all the meetings were essentially very similar. Attending meetings, declaring yourself an alcoholic, talking about your alcoholic drinking, helping others, reading literature that talked about us as a distinct group of people. All those things were still present and still not enough or maybe too much or maybe just not for me.”

0:03:32 John: Well, David, it’s your floor. You’ve got the floor. Explain to us why the heck did you leave AA?

0:03:38 David: Well, I…

0:03:39 John: And how are you staying sober?

0:03:41 David: Well, isn’t that amazing? People actually do that despite the fact that early in my sobriety, I had no idea people did that. I took the traditional route or maybe it’s not the traditional route, maybe it’s more… The more publicized route. I picked up the telephone, called the hotline and I checked into in-patient treatment, that’s how I started to get sober. And of course, I’d been watching the show, “Intervention” for years and getting stinking drunk while I was watching it, is… Which is the perfect irony. But during that show one night, I was moved to call and ask for help. And when I did, it occurred to me once I hung up that phone and made an appointment to see them the next day, that I had no idea what was going to happen from then on. What was treatment, what do they do? Literally, call me naive. Maybe I was walking around the world with blinders on, but I didn’t know that AA existed. I knew they existed, I didn’t know what it did, and I didn’t know what such a prominent part in contemporary treatment/recovery it played. So I was introduced to that AA group thinking that I was going to a hospital, I was going to strapped down or who knows, electroshock… Literally, I had no idea what was going to happen. And when I learned that the solution was AA, I was quite taken aback.

0:04:52 David: But I can tell you what I believe happened at that time is that the fundamental message, “Alcohol is poison to me,” started to be taught to me and has been reinforced over all that time and that’s what keeps me… I’m talking about it, that’s what keeps it important in my life. However, I was one of the few people who followed that prescription. The prescription was AA during treatment, AA after treatment, and I couldn’t understand why people weren’t doing what they were told to do. But I did it, I did it because I didn’t know there were any other solutions. Now that I’m in the business, now that I’m a professional addiction counselor, coach, administrator, that sort of thing, I know there are other alternatives, but none were introduced to me at that time. And I’m not complaining about it, I’m just saying that’s the way it was. That was the route that I took, that was my awareness, and those are my blinders that I had on. That I’m going to do AA or I’m going to drink and I’m going to die. That was the message I heard repeatedly.

0:05:48 David: And, maybe not coincidentally, AA worked for me, it stabilized my life at that time. It got me sober. Yes, that… I went through a physical detox in a hospital to take away that physical craving and dependence, and then I went to AA meetings and it started working. And things got better in my life. My physical health improved and my finances improved and my relationships and family relationships improved. And then I thought, as I’m looking back upon this because I didn’t know what was going on at the time, did my emotional life improve? I was hearing in those rooms, “Yes, our emotional life is going to be fine. We’re going to get rid of the chaos, we’re going to feel at peace.” But that was not my experience at any time during that time. It actually brought on more emotions once I got rid of this coping mechanism that I had to numb numb in the past. And it wasn’t always an acceptable place to go with those emotions. More like, I guess, it’s more like Groundhog Day. And it’s very appropriate today that we’re talking on Groundhog Day. And by the way…

0:06:49 John: Oh, is it Groundhog Day?

0:06:49 David: Happy Groundhog Day to you. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. So we’re going to have an early spring, which is delightful. It’s also…

0:06:58 John: Good. I believe in that stuff, too.

0:07:00 David: Yeah. Well, well, if you believe in connection…

0:07:01 John: It’s science. [chuckle]

0:07:02 David: And that there are no accidents, today is also a palindrome day, right? Today is 02/02/2020. It’s the first time this has happened in 909 years.

0:07:10 John: Oh, my God.

0:07:11 David: So it’s all great. And of course, the trifecta is that the Kansas City Chiefs are in the Super Bowl, but today is a great day. But for me, that initial experience was like Groundhog Day because I just kept going back. I kept going back and I kept on doing something, whatever that was, showing up, talking. I was schooled in… By a very hardline sponsor who said, “You will never pass. You will always talk. Even if you don’t have much to say, you will always talk at a meeting because hiding behind yourself is no longer acceptable.” And that was actually very good advice. Maybe not in the way it was said, but it was… As a theme, it was great. And I kept doing that until I started to connect with this reality that was bigger than when I was drinking. And that reality, again, was drinking is poison to me. It physically harmed me and emotionally harmed me. It’s destroyed things in my life. So I kept coming back. And I kept coming back, as I said because that was the prescription. There were no other alternatives.

0:08:07 David: But after a time, it didn’t feel so good anymore. And who knows, people describe this as a pink cloud. I don’t want to relate it to AA language necessarily. But what I learned is that many of the 12-step individuals are really founded in two theories that didn’t really feel right to me. One was ego deflation at depth, and the other one was that spiritual axiom. And ultimately, I didn’t know that at the time. It took me years to figure this out. Why did I feel shame when I was going to AA when I had done things that I was told that I would do when things were getting better? When all of those life categories were great, why was I feeling worse? Why was I feeling angry? Why was I feeling depressed? Why was this happening? Well, because as it turns out, I’m someone, after studying myself for a really long time, who didn’t have a really strong ego when he came into sobriety.

0:08:54 David: As a matter of fact, he had an underdeveloped ego that may have been… Had some developmental interruptions in the process, certainly early in life, and maybe as a result of environmental happenings, and maybe later in life, even as a result of some consequences of drinking. So what I learned was that this ego deflation wasn’t helping. And in fact, it was lowering my self-esteem. It was lowering my self-efficacy. I was really struggling to believe that this was going to work. And of course, that spiritual axiom was the kicker because this was hammered into me time, and time, and time again. And it said, that if I’m feeling something’s wrong, something’s wrong with me. That’s how I heard that spiritual axiom. Why, if that isn’t shaming… And I’m not dissing AA. I’m not dissing anyone in particular. It works for some people, people with highly-developed, strong egos. It’s a great counter to that. But for me, that was not my experience. So I needed to do something else.

0:09:48 David: And when I had contemplated, “What else was there?” I didn’t know a lot. This was the prescription. I didn’t question what else… How did other people do it? You don’t run into a neighbor who woke up one day, thought he had some negative consequences, went to a counselor, and after six weeks, he decided to stop drinking. He’s not walking around the world telling people, “Hey, I’m sober. I’ve turned my life around. All these great things are happening now. I’m a member of this fellowship.” He just moves on. So I had no idea what the alternatives were. And I started investigating those alternatives. At first, I thought maybe the religious component of the cluster of fellowships was a hindrance and it is to me, I’m not a believer. I describe myself as a secularist and some of… It wasn’t so much that there were people who had those beliefs. It was that I got exhausted translating the language. Why should I have to translate that language into my application, right?

0:10:41 John: Yeah.

0:10:43 David: It works for other people fine. I don’t want to touch that. I don’t want to take that away from them. But what do I need? So my first goal was, “I’m going to sit in AA meetings and I’m going to tell my story in secular, lay person’s language.” That’s going to be my goal every meeting, without using some of the slogans, without using some of the things that are going on in those rooms with regard to the text, and that helped. That helped a lot in the beginning. But I still needed to stop that spiral. So I took incremental steps to come out of that group. And I found it really hard to separate myself from it because the message is that people who leave those rooms, stop going to meetings, they drink, they relapse. Sometimes they make it back, sometimes pride keeps them from making it back. But that’s what happens. You stop going to meetings, then you’re going to drink. And eventually, you’re going to die or be institutionalized.

0:11:34 David: And that message, whether I could intellectualize that that didn’t sound right or not, I just had no examples of it. So I had to go and search for examples. I had to find other people who had done it differently, to convince myself that there were other ways. And I think that’s exactly what we’re doing here. We’re talking in podcasts. You’re sharing narratives. We’re talking about people’s life stories in an effort to get people engaged and help them connect, and to be validated in their thoughts. And that’s exactly what was my step. And it became much more intricate after that, but that was initially how I first took my big toe and moved across that line in the sand and said, “Okay. Maybe there’s something out there. Maybe I’m really not going to die if I go on from this or maybe it’s even emotionally healthy to do this. Let’s find some people who might have some opinions on that.” Yeah. So again, without bashing, I don’t want to…

0:12:19 John: No. I hear you.

0:12:20 David: It’s not about what wasn’t… What people are doing wrong. It’s what wasn’t working for me. And I think that’s what life is about, finding a way to get through life in a way that best fits me, that doesn’t harm me or anybody else in the process, but also that doesn’t take all my time and energy to do it. And that’s the kicker. That’s the kicker to me in developing a secular recovery philosophy. I could make a list three pages long that I do every day, if I’m superstitious or if I’m undisciplined or anything. But if it’s taking all my time and my energy, I’ve missed something because my ability not to drink is only a small part of my life. I have a much larger identity than that, all of which needs nurturing in the secular world. So that’s ultimately the way I came upon moving out of that. And I don’t want to dominate the conversation here, but as you mentioned earlier, as you might have picked up in those articles…

0:13:12 David: And I think you read in that paragraph, it went from traditional AA to “I’m going to check out some agnostic AA or some secular AA; let’s go see what that’s like.” And I hung out in those rooms for a while, while at the same time staying with my core group of people. Not that I was still getting a lot from what was going on in those groups, but what I was getting was that connection. I had people who I knew, who knew me, who knew that my tendency was to isolate; we know isolating isn’t a good thing. I didn’t want to lose the connection to those people because that’s what I believed might cause people to relapse, is losing that accountability, losing that connection to people who are like-minded and have like goals. So I took that really slowly; I moved into those secular rooms. And at the time, I was really fortunate, I was in an area of the country, Chicago where secular AA had existed for quite some time.

0:13:57 David: It had started in the ’70s, I think there are now 14 meetings in the Chicago area. It was not difficult for me to get in-person to a secular meeting. And I am really grateful for that, because if that wasn’t there, I think this task would have been a lot harder, a lot harder. And it allowed me to keep that connection with human beings who had the same goals as I do. That of course led later on to some online meetings… Online secular meetings… And ultimately what I’ve done is I’ve assembled people in my life who know what’s good for me, and instead of blowing smoke up my backside they’re going to tell me the truth. They’re going to call me on behaviors that might not be appropriate, they’re going to help me straighten out perspectives that might not be in service to myself or others. And that’s what I have to do, whether those people are in AA or they’re in secular AA, whether they’re in online meeting, whether they’re at my local mediation club, whether they’re at some type of book study for one of my favorite books. I keep those people in my life and I work really hard to keep authentic, honest relationships with those people because that to me is what my recovery looks like today.

0:15:04 John: Cool. Ben, what are your thoughts on all that?

0:15:09 Ben: Ditto. No…

[chuckle]

0:15:10 Ben: That was great, David. It describes my experience a lot, too. And excuse me if I get into bashing, but there’s different times where I share things about my experience in AA and I try and explain what went on so that others can understand that and sometimes it comes across as bashing. But I sometimes wonder, like you said, about the ego deflation and stuff like that. Maybe there is just this particular type of person, and I hate to make it just like that, just like I dislike how the book is… How Alcoholics Anonymous’ book wants to make everybody sound exactly the same, like everybody needs this ego deflation. But it’s almost like there’s this codependent low ego person that it seems like secular AA works a little bit better for, and maybe they have the problem with some of the dogma in AA as well, that it almost reinforces the things you’ve been telling yourself your whole life, like “You don’t matter”, or you’re deflating your ego even more when what you need is to feel like you do matter.

0:16:11 Ben: Whereas a lot of the common things we hear in some of those more hard-core meetings just kind of can beat you down. If you’re already the type of person who has really beat the hell out of yourself with your own thinking… Man, it can really send you into a depression spiral, I think, and then you feel like… I felt like I was out of place when I started to have these thoughts about… Concerns about certain things I would hear for myself, but when I would express those for myself, I was always… because I’ve got experience as a counselor… So I was good about expressing them, that, “Hey, this is just how I’m feeling and this is just how I relate to the topic”, or stuff like that.

0:16:53 Ben: There would be times where people would pull me over after the meeting and say, “Hey, that’s not really AA”, or “It’s not okay to share that”, and there was that subtle shunning that can go on once you start to do that. And I think once I started doing that and stood up for myself in a healthy way, and I had a healthy sense of ego to where I could defend myself… And I think this is where my involvement in secular AA helped, because just like when I quit drinking and I went to AA, it was easier for me to say no when my friends wanted me to go out. Now I knew other people in secular AA who had had the same experiences in more traditional meetings where I could say, “No, hey, that’s not okay what you just did to me. I’m just expressing how this works for me, not saying how it should work for you.”

0:17:42 Ben: And I know it’s not always good to cross-talk back at what somebody else… There’s different definitions of whatever the heck cross-talk is, but… Sometimes I would bring into play what somebody else had shared before me, but trying to do it in a nice way. And it wasn’t to combat what they were saying, but it was to say, “That works for some people but it may not work for everyone, and I’m glad it works for that person.” But even that was really frowned upon, no matter how politely I would do it. So then there’s that subtle shunning that basically says, “Hey, if you’re not going to talk like most of the people here talk, maybe you don’t belong here.” There were times I got called not a real alcoholic because I didn’t need God to recover, or I would get told that I was going to get people killed. And then my answer to some of those people after the meeting would be like, “Well, if we make this a not very friendly place where only one mindset can exist and people never come back, couldn’t I accuse you of getting people killed?” I’m not doing that but… Just like you said, somebody who may go to AA for a couple weeks and never drink again, they don’t come back to an AA meeting and say, “Ha ha ha you guys, I’m doing it without meetings, screw you.” But often the language that goes around says, “Anybody that’s not here, look out, they’re in trouble.”

0:19:06 Ben: So I really appreciate you sharing that about the ego deflation, because some people come into AA and they need to learn to speak up and talk more.

0:19:12 David: I agree.

0:19:12 Ben: And there are some people who maybe do need to… Again I hate using the lingo, too, but they do need to sit in a corner and shut up and open their ears for a while, too.

0:19:20 David: And it’s a continuum as we’ve described. For me, I needed those simple fundamental messages in the beginning. I needed that stabilization. I didn’t need complex existential thought at that point in time. I wasn’t ready for it, my brain couldn’t have processed it. We know the biology of the brain now. There’s no way I would’ve been ready for that. So what I needed to do, so I needed to stabilize my life and I needed to stabilize the chemicals in my body to move on from that. And I think AA, like so many places in our world, tries to take really complex matters and to make them easier to digest. Whether that be through the soundbites we see on news or in politics today or whatever that is. And over time, that message gets consolidated into some real simple things that may or may not apply to everybody.

0:20:12 David: And although people think they’re reinforcing the party line, a lot of these are interpretations. And that’s ultimately what I get at. And I don’t want to bash… I don’t want to dislike anybody. I don’t want to dislike those people who did those very same things that they did to you in those rooms and would question my belief and to suggest that I was doing something dangerous to other people. I don’t want to judge that. I would rather not engage at that level and support them and accept them in what they’re doing and know that they have a purpose in helping others, as do I. That’s what I need to do. So when I go through this process, I think, why do I have to do that? What do I have to do to have that discussion and to have that discussion again? I have to keep things in secular terms, in lay-people’s terms, and I have to not look to judge others.

0:20:58 David: And that’s really not easy to do. Think about it. And I know we don’t want to talk about AA or that language much. I don’t like to but… And a real good example of this is the exact derivation of that term ego deflation at depth. It does not appear in AA literature anywhere, that term. It’s not there. It’s hinted at in the 12 and 12, deflation is hinted at in the Big Book as surrender. But it never took on that meaning until the 1958 talk that Bill Wilson did before the New York Medical Association where he used the term ego deflation at depth and what he was referring to, if you read the transcript, was only that initial entry into AA. Getting him to walk in the doors, not as a way of life to beat oneself up with these concepts or the fact that you don’t have personal power and you have to turn everything over to somebody else. That’s not what it was. So that complex discussion that occurred through the Big Book, the 12 and 12, and Bill Wilson’s personal speaking and writing, became condensed to ego deflation at depth and “That’s what we must do.” Well, that’s not good for anybody. That’s a message that takes complex human beings and makes them overly simplified. And then as a result, we’re going to maybe hit the nail on the head once in a while and help somebody but we’re missing so much in the meantime. And we have a responsibility to do something more.

0:22:15 Ben: Right.

0:22:16 John: You know Dave, what I see in your writing and what you’re talking about is what I would think would be healthy. And I’m not a psychologist or an expert in human behavior, but I would think that it would be healthy for a person to grow and change over time. And what would be good for me 10 years ago, I might have different needs now. And I can see with me, kind of a natural progression where my relationship to different recovery means and fellowships and so forth have evolved over time. I was in a traditional AA group for 25 years and I left that group to start a secular group. And that was a huge change, a huge shift in my recovery. And it’s just taken off since then to where now, I’m just feeling like I don’t want to be in recovery for the rest of my life is how I feel. I say sometimes, I would like to retire from AA and go on and travel and enjoy life.

[laughter]

0:23:24 Ben: Sure, sure.

0:23:26 John: And I think to a certain extent, I think that there’s part of what I was… What I learned early on was like what you were saying is, “Oh, if you leave you could drink again. The guy in the Big Book, he retired, got on his slippers and drank again.” So I don’t know, but I just kind of feel myself kind of growing apart from ideas that I used to hold dear that I’m now questioning a little bit. And I’m learning about other things. We had Steve Bergier last week about smart recovery and how interesting that he has a group that’s similar in some respects to a 12 step meeting and that you have that dynamic of people coming together, but you also have an approach that will change and adapt over time as new information becomes available. And there is behind every meeting a… First of all, the person who runs the meeting is trained to do it. And then behind every meeting is a licensed psychologist, just in case they’re needed. And I thought, “Wow, that’s really cool that you have that option.” So I don’t know. I think that we’re lucky in a certain respect that you have more options available to people today so that at different points in your recovery you can try different things.

0:24:50 David: Agreed. I think also there comes a time, or at least there came a time in my process, similar to the way you were describing it, where I felt somewhat confident that I had the message. And the message that I needed with regard to my consumption of alcohol is that I can’t. I can’t safely do it. It’s a poison to me. I mentioned this earlier, physically and emotionally it’s a poison and seeing ads during the super bowl for Budweiser is not going to sway me from that. It’s going to reinforce that knowledge to me, because I’m going to have to go through a process and think to myself, “Well, those are good people. They don’t have the same problem that I do. I don’t want to judge them. I’m the one with the problem. Let them drink their beer and that’s it.” So it’s not as though leaving AA, I’m not hearing this message every day. It’s not because I’m not reading the daily reflections or some other daily reader about alcohol that I have forgotten the message. And yes, we hear in recovery circles that people forget that elementary concern that they’re not able to drink even safely their first drink.

0:25:52 David: Well, I have enough going on in my life that I think about it every day whether I want to or not. I don’t need a discipline program to remind me anymore, and I hope that will stay with me because I consciously bring that into my daily thought process, and I reflect on it. It’s very important to me. And in this day and age, it may be tougher. It may be tougher. If someone is an obscure drug user but as an alcoholic, I can tell you this, I can’t turn, especially on Super Bowl Sunday as I said, around without seeing this influence in my life. The other thing is, as I look at this and I say, “Well, what can I do?” And knowing that, do I really need to go to a meeting once or more times a week, to remind myself of that? When there’s so much we know now that I didn’t know at the time.

0:26:37 David: So if you’re in the profession, conventional professional belief today is that alcoholism has two major components. One is a genetic component and the other is an environmental component. So there’s a belief that it could be passed down through your genes over time. There’s the belief that your environment, whatever that looks like, whether it be trauma, whether it be an unsafe living environment, whatever that may be, whether undue stress, all of those things can cause this. So can I do anything about the genetic component? No, but I can work on the environmental component. I could take care of myself as part of a daily plan of recovery, I can make sure that my stresses are reduced, or that I’m conscious of what’s going on in my life. That I’m reflecting upon what my goals are, my values are and what’s important to me and that I’m actually taking action to carry those things out. So I can affect those things as well. Can I work on my emotions as they relate to non-alcohol things? Yes. But that’s not part of a program of alcoholism recovery anymore, that’s just a daily philosophy for living.

0:27:34 David: And ultimately, that’s where I find myself in it. It wasn’t with a ton of work. Right? It takes work, it takes conscious effort to get there, it takes conscious effort thinking about it, it takes conscious effort to do it, but ultimately the freedom that it provided me and provides me today simply because I’m not spending my every waking hour thinking of not drinking or not doing something is phenomenal. I get to understand how better to interact with people, I get to better understand how to position myself for a healthy, peaceful, connected future. I get to do all the things that were a little fundamental.

0:28:08 John: It seems to me Dave that you were feeling kind of like I feel in a way, a little bit boxed in. You wrote about the whole idea of having to label yourself as an alcoholic and being part of a distinct group and now you’re talking about what you just talked about there, is you still want to work on emotional growth, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your sobriety.

0:28:30 David: Agreed. Agreed. So, I’m an ex-smoker John and Ben. I used to smoke cigarettes. I haven’t for about 12 years, thank goodness. I did not go to a 12-Step fellowship or check myself into in-patient treatment to combat that. I went to my doctor, I got some Champix and two weeks later, I stopped smoking and thankfully haven’t had a cigarette since then. So how was that different than my alcoholism? How was that different? So if I just stop drinking, or stop using the nicotine I still want to have a life philosophy, I still want to learn and I still want to grow, I still want to better myself and better my relationships, I still want to contribute to mankind. I still want to be an example, if I can be of what it’s like to find people who are trying their best. I can do all of those things after having quit nicotine without devoting myself to a weekly 12-Step or other type of program that focuses on my nicotine to allow me to address my emotions.

0:29:24 David: I don’t need to do that. So of course, do I think, “Well, could I have done that when I stopped drinking?” Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not the route that I went. I went through that stabilization route that took me to AA. But now, as you suggested John, I’m much bigger than AA. My identity words had had to be limited at that time, I had to focus on that part of my identity that made negative consequences in my life as a result of drinking, now I don’t have to do that anymore and I can concentrate on the rest of myself. There’s so much more to me and all of us than just that struggle that we had with alcohol at one time.

0:29:57 Ben: Well, I think Dave you… Oh, sorry, John. Dave like how you said, in the early going, that rigidity or the lingo in 12-step meetings it’s good because I think a lot of us are highly emotional when we first get sober, and all that stuff we’ve been numbing out, I mean for lack of using scientific terms, it all kind of comes flooding back. So it is a good way to kind of avoid dealing with that emotion stuff right away because it’s probably too much to dig in, which is… Sometimes people will have you go so deep on your first attempt at a four-step or something that it can almost re-traumatize some people. But after a while, like you’re saying and John is saying too, it’s almost like our subconscious brings more things up that we need to deal with, and it’s almost like it does it when we’re prepared to deal with them, rather than forcing it upon us. So that’s why that ongoing growth is important and on some level it’s like taking English 101, over and over and over again, after a while you’re kind of like, “Well, okay, I’ve got what I need from this. It’s time to move on to 102 or 201 or whatever.” And so…

0:31:05 David: You just beautifully described that consolidation, that stabilization process that is actually very complex although I’ve come at it from some different angles. Let’s look at lay people’s terms. And you’re describing the same thing, if I’ve done something that has become harmful to me and others around me and I didn’t realize how harmful it was and needed to take a step back and get some help to deal with that, my self-confidence takes a hit. I didn’t realize I was doing something that was harming people. Well, I’m not very confident that I’m good at what I thought I was doing anymore. So what do I need to do? I need to build some self-confidence, and to build some self-confidence, sometimes it might be as simple as some of the simple, silly things you hear in early recovery. “Get up and make your bed, go to a meeting,” right? What builds self-esteem better than doing esteemable acts? And esteemable acts can be, “I’m going to tell my wife I love her today.” They could be so simple, but done over time… You’re right, done over time, then they build the efficacy, they build the resilience that we need to delve into those other matters. Absolutely true. Well said.

0:32:05 Ben: Yeah. And then when you look at the underlying issues later, and you’re more prepared to deal with them, there’s that new level of growth up that hierarchy of needs and you can really, really dig in when you’re more stable and more prepared to actually face that kind of stuff. And then I think I found maybe the longer I stayed in AA… Again, I’m not trying to bash AA but hearing that same remedial stuff over and over, I think I used that as a way to avoid dealing with some of that deeper stuff for quite a while too, and I was able to just say like, “Well, I’m just doing what I need to do and blah, blah, blah.” But there was something inside me calling for more to be dealt with and more to be looked at, and that was where it was important for me at least, that time to reach outside of whatever you would call typical 12-step stuff, so…

0:32:48 David: Sure, sure.

0:32:49 Ben: But then when it comes down to it too, I felt like I was so cornered in that I had to filter everything through this 12-step filter and describe it in that way, that it almost became my truth. But then I look back at it, there were attempts on my own to stop drinking or become a better person long before I actually quit drinking, and I experienced a lot of the same things that AA likes to tell us that we experience before I even came to AA, so it’s… There’s something universal about it, right? I know AA says it’s borrowed from everywhere as well. But on some level, I felt like I had to make sure I said, “All that past stuff was a bunch of bullshit, and now that I’m here, this is the answer and this is the thing that’s got me here.”

0:33:29 Ben: But I was experiencing a lot of that stuff in my other times where I had tried to not drink on my own that were just naturally occurring. Maybe it was reading Walt Whitman, or a walk in the woods, or things like that, those things I was grasping and learning about myself. But the thing, again, with AA, going there regularly early on, it just kept reinforcing those things, because in the past, if I read a good book that really moved me, well, I didn’t incorporate any community aspect with that of being around other people. And I just, we forget after a while. So those reminders are good. And now like you were saying, I have tons of other aspects of my life where I get those reminders, because I’m nurturing my own well-being, I have people around me that will tell me when I’m getting off kilter, like you said, which includes good friends that aren’t even in AA who seem to have done this kind of stuff their whole life without needing to develop a drinking problem in order to do so.

0:34:24 David: Sure.

0:34:25 Ben: You know, a relationship with a spouse, or deepening friendships of the friendships I had before, where we maybe we’re at an impasse before, when we were both still drinking and now we’re reconnecting on a different level. That’s really encouraging, and it’s yeah, it’s a great thing.

0:34:40 David: It is. It is. I don’t think there’s enough emphasis given to the true meaning of the word reflection, and what you’re describing is a process of reflecting, right? Reflecting is about asking yourself questions to teach us something about ourselves, whatever that means, your relationship to nature, your relationship to others, your relationship to physical health, and it’s a process that AA does really well for some people. It’s a process that religion does really well for some people. It’s a process that philosophy does really well for some people, right? But we don’t talk about reflection, because sometimes we think the term has been hijacked by the helping professions, or people don’t understand what it is. They give short shrift to the word reflection, “Oh, let’s reflect upon that for a moment.” And on the surface, reflecting means, let’s think deeply upon it, but it’s really not, it’s going through a set of questions. “What do I know? What did I learn about that experience? What can I take away from my reaction to that situation, and changing behavior as a result?” And that’s what the important part of this is.

0:35:39 David: If someone asked me what my program of recovery is, I would debate the recovery part of it, because I would tell you that it’s my life’s philosophy today. I’m not just recovering, but I would say it’s about reflecting. It’s taking the time to do that, number one. And number two, it’s hanging around with people who help me to do that and help me check my perspective on things. It’s that simple. So ultimately, what I would say is that I was no longer benefiting from that process of reflection, because the problem as I described it in AA, that being of alcoholism, was too limiting to my more global view and my more global desires. And I mean that in all sincerity, I mean that politely and sincerely to the folks in AA. That’s what happened, whether I outgrew it, and I’m not sure I outgrew meant it or if my needs just changed. Or if the problem, as we defined it, I defined it, was no longer enough of a problem anymore, I had to do some other things.

0:36:33 David: All of those things are correct and it’s all about reflecting, and we have to talk… I believe we have to talk about that in our communities because that’s the skill. The skill isn’t, “Don’t drink, don’t think, and go to meetings.” That’s not a skill that we can teach people over a lifetime. That’s something that we can do to help stabilize them, but we need to give them that reflection tool that allows someone to, through a regular process of saying, “Who am I, what do I know, and what do I need to do with that knowledge?”

0:37:01 Ben: Right, like it’s a regular ongoing action. You can’t just attribute it to one thing. It’s more of a universal thing.

0:37:07 David: Agreed. Agreed.

0:37:10 John: Dave? I was wondering, what surprised you the most when you stopped going to AA? And what advice would you give to somebody who thinks that 12-step programs are not for them?

0:37:22 David: Big questions. Let me answer them on a few levels. Number one, what really surprised me, at first when I left AA, is that nobody seemed to care. My thought was, “I need to stay connected to these people because they’re keeping me alive.” And we tell each other in the rooms that if someone doesn’t show up to a meeting or if they check out, we’re going to check up on ’em, we’re going to call ’em, we’re going to follow up. Crickets. Crickets. No one followed up, and I was deeply engaged. I had done service work, I had run big book studies early in my recovery, I was involved. It wasn’t me sitting at the back of the room, walking in, saying nothing and leaving. I was involved in these friendships, so I was really surprised by the fact that no one seemed to care. Now…

0:38:04 John: Were you hurt by it, too?

0:38:06 David: I was confused by it. I think my first reaction would have been anger, but ultimately what that means to me, is that we’re… I’m not the newcomer anymore, and we supposedly, in all phases of life, including AA, exist and we share our stories to help the newcomer. How was this in service to the newcomer? We tell them one thing and we do another. Confusion causes harm. We’re confusing people by doing this, so… And my thought process kind of has to stop there. Okay. I’ve just judged a bunch of people. They didn’t do what they said they were going to do. Maybe now is the time for me to put some distance on that. Maybe it’s time for me also to check to see, “Is that what I’ve done?” So I went back, and I looked, and I thought, “Did I do that when I knew that was going on?” And I did. In fact, I did. When there was someone that was in a group that I was hanging out with and stopped showing up, I did make those calls. I did try to check on them, and do that sort of thing. So that was a gut check. That was the reflection that I did at that time. So that was a surprise.

0:39:00 David: The other surprise was that I felt like I was living without a net for a while. Even though I had connected to new people and was still going through a discipline process, this was new, this was change, and all of those messages were still a part of me despite the fact that I intellectually needed to disavow them now. So that message of, “You’re going to leave. You’re going to relapse,” all of that stayed with me longer than I would have ever expected. And you could find them everywhere. It’s not just going into those rooms that you could find them. You could find them in contemporary literature, you could find them in film. Those messages are still all out there. And if you talk to the general public or if you go to a free family group that’s educating, all of those messages are still there. So I had to work really hard to check those messages going forward. And lastly, I… The most positive thing, I was amazed at how freeing it felt. Not rebellious-type freeing like, “I’m a rebel. I’m doing it my own way,” but boy, all of that shame and those negative emotions of… That surrounding that spiritual axiom, “Is there’s something wrong with me?” went away when, not only I was able to stay sober, but I was still able to grow and be the human being that I wanted to do and interact with people on a great level. Those were the three major surprises that came. What was the second part of your question John, do you recall?

0:40:20 John: What advice would you give somebody who thinks that 12-step programs aren’t for them?

0:40:26 David: I would suggest that they take an incremental path in exploring alternatives. And ultimately, here’s what we’re getting down to. When we talk about being with groups of people to help us with recovery, we need to find people whom we trust, right? Whom we trust. After some time, I didn’t necessarily trust the people delivering that AA message. It was the message that I really didn’t trust, but I didn’t trust them because they… That message worked for them, and they didn’t care or realize that it didn’t work for me, not that they’re in charge of me or whatever. But incrementally to find people that they can relate to, that they’re validated by and that they can have this conversation with, whether it’s a real conversation like we’re having now, or if it’s a conversation through literature and some other avenues of learning. Because those messages, for anyone who spent any time in AA are likely going to linger. The flip side of this is that we don’t want to talk about AA. We don’t want to do all this comparison to AA, but the fact of the matter is if someone is trying to stop and build a life at the same time, there’s no real model for that outside of the 12-Step fellowships or religion.

0:41:29 David: So we need to go about it very deliberately, and we need to educate ourselves on who’s been able to do it deliberately, and what might have worked for them. Not to adopt what they’ve done item by item, but to understand the process that needs to be gone through. And again, keep those structures in place. My evidence was I kept my contact with traditional AA when I went into secular AA. Then I kept my contact with secular AA when I went to online AA. And before I weaned myself or diminished my attendance at online AA, secular AA a great deal, I made sure that I had reached out to people in my life and let them know that that’s what I was going to do. “Hey. Here’s what I’m finding. Can I call upon you? Can we regularly talk about these things?” And I made sure that those supports are in place. So that would be the advice. Do it incrementally, do it with those who have the knowledge and the wisdom, who have done it the same way. And there’s lots of resources out there, that they don’t have to be just people who have gone through recovery. There are doctors, lawyers, and writers, and podcasters and all kinds of people who can offer incremental steps to get that done.

0:42:37 John: It sounds like you were kind of naturally being tugged to one direction. But at some point, you recognized it, and you made a deliberate… You made deliberate… You took deliberate steps to move on.

0:42:49 David: I think that’s true. And of course, those were internal steps, right? I didn’t call my AA friends and say, “Goodbye. I’m done with this.” I said, “You know what? What I need to do for me is this.” I reflected upon this. And what I’ve reflected upon tells me that I’m leaving AA with… Or leaving those meetings with some negative emotions that are causing this emotional hangover. I don’t want to do that anymore. What do I need to do to do that? So I said, “I’m going to try this. I’m going to try these while I still maintain one foot over here. And I’m going to see what I learned. And then I’m going to go through a reflection process before I make any additional incremental changes beyond that.”

0:43:25 David: But yes, it’s deliberately saying to oneself, “I am going to try these changes in my life. And while I’m trying these changes, I’m going to educate myself. I’m going to spend time listening to John S’s podcast. I’m going to go to some of the secular AA web pages. I’m going to find some literature that I could read with people who might tell elements of my story. And I’m not just going to work on the recovery part. I’m going to read memoirs about adoptees. I’m going to read other things that if that stabilization phase were suggested to me, were probably too much for me to handle. So I’m going to integrate this complex identity of mine in my daily living as best and as frequently as I can.” Again, without it taking up my whole day, right? I’m not going to go sit on a mountain and contemplate my future, but I’m going to make sure that these elements are in my life on a day-to-day basis. And to do that, it’s really simple. I include some stoic philosophy in my daily stuff. Here’s my daily reader, The Daily Stoic, right? That’s one way I stay connected to that process, right? And it’s not about drinking, it’s about life. And I read existentialist philosophy. It’s another part that helps me to answer that question every day, “Who am I? Who am I? Why am I here?” I go through a grief recovery process.

0:44:42 David: Grief Recovery is really interesting. It’s not talked about a lot in AA or 12-Step fellowships, or in any type of recovery necessarily because it’s very misunderstood. But grief is really a simple process. Human beings are designed to avoid those painful, emotional situations or whatever they need to do. Sometimes it’s disconnecting, sometimes it’s dissociating, sometimes it’s using unhealthy coping mechanisms, there are all kinds of things we do not to deal with those emotions. And unfortunately, what the real answer to dealing with grief is, is connecting with those emotions. Not necessarily the event of what transpired to create those emotions but to connect with those emotions. Once I connect with those emotions and feel those emotions, then I can let them go, then I can move beyond them, and I can have a new relationship with them going forward. And every time I have that new relationship, it’s better than the last one, it’s stronger than the last one. I built up more resilience. So I use that grief philosophy to connect to that past reality and bring it into the present hopefully, have leveraged it for the future.

0:45:42 David: And ultimately, I go through a checklist of reflection on a regular basis. There are places where you can find, how do I reflect about this event in my life? And occasionally, and I say occasionally, a couple of times a week, I’ll go through that hit list and say, “Did I do these seven things?” And I will take the time, not necessary always to journal, but to contemplate in my head, “Am I where I need to be right now?” And if I’m not, I better be talking to somebody about it. That’s the one thing that I will tell you is left over for my experience in those fellowships. I don’t want to do this in a vacuum, I want to include somebody who can check me and my perceptions along the way. And that’s ultimately what my daily routine has become.

0:46:19 John: There is so much going on now under the radar. The 21st century mode of recovery that I’m learning about is people making small little connections with a few like-minded people, sometimes it’s online, and then they sometimes will meet up in person, but they have that core little group of people that they trust, plus just this online community that we have, you don’t have to necessarily belong to anything but look at all the YouTube channels, all the people that are in recovery on YouTube, oh gosh, all kinds of different types of addictions, and different ways of recovering, all the different support groups that are out there now, even pharmacological ways of recovering, it’s just an abundance of options I think for people, much more than… I got sober in 1988. I don’t know if there was anything other than AA, at least there wasn’t in Kansas City.

0:47:20 David: Sure.

0:47:22 John: I don’t think.

0:47:22 Ben: Yeah.

0:47:23 David: Understood.

0:47:25 Ben: I had a question, and you talk about your philosophy now, and how you interact on a day-to-day basis now and what you try to do. Would you mind talking about what that was like before you got sober? How you felt it and how it’s the opposite of what you do now? Just a few examples.

0:47:41 David: Before I got sober, I’m not sure that I consciously deliberated on anything. One of the things that I was doing, as I was using alcohol unhealthily, was I was numbing feelings and emotions intentionally. I had found alcohol as a magic cure to some emotions that I couldn’t deal with, and as a result I didn’t deliberate, I didn’t consciously reflect on where I was. I tried to live my values. I was a family person, I valued integrity, I did those things, but I never asked myself, “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? And who am I helping to do things for themselves?” It didn’t exist, it didn’t exist in that process. And of course, I wasn’t religious during my life, but I didn’t have a… The word I keep using is deliberate, a deliberate process to do that. And I’ve learned, that when I was out of that, when I didn’t have that process, things tend to go their own way. When we talk about the disease of addiction being in part genetic and in part environmental, for me part of that environment was the fact that it was a learned behavior. I learned over time that it had a payoff, and that payoff was to lower some of those heightened emotions that I had that I couldn’t deal with. One of them being anger, betrayal, shame, that sort of thing.

0:49:01 David: Before I stopped drinking, I didn’t have the capacity to do that. I was trapped in this learned cycle where when things that I couldn’t necessarily identify made me feel really uncomfortable, I’m going to turn to this magic elixir, I’m going to take my prescription of alcohol and those things will go away. Of course, after time, they started having some larger consequences than the ones that I was dealing with, which is when finally I got some help with them, but that was the process before. Throughout recovery what I’ve learned, whether it be through that initial stabilization period in treatment and into the 12-Step fellowships or throughout this process, I’ve learned that I have to deliberately do this to stay conscious of what’s right. Because otherwise, I have had a history of deviating from those important things. And I’m not going to let that happen again. It’s not going to happen for me again. I don’t know if that answered your question Ben appropriately but that’s how I would answer it.

0:49:56 Ben: Yeah. And allow me to project just a little bit maybe, I always wondered too especially, for the way men are socialized too, I think for myself, I tended to always be more of a sensitive person than the stereotypical male, and I think I had… Okay, so prefrontal cortex, that’s where all your beliefs, and all these things lie in your head. I had so much stuff that was put in there that was total BS about, men shouldn’t talk about this or shouldn’t do that and do this. So I think on some level, I drank in order to be able to access my feelings. Yes, I probably did it to numb them too, but to have access to that and to get that prefrontal cortex out of the way so that I could be more of myself was part of why I think I drank. So now part of my goal as a person that’s sober is to try and be more who I was trying to be by drinking, as crazy as that sounds.

0:50:43 Ben: Obviously, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times I was not anybody who I wanted to be at all when I drank, but I think some of the motive for drinking, and I even see this with my friends. If I still go out to the bar with my buddies, and they all start to get drunk so that they can talk about their relationships with a spouse or with a loved one or their kids, or this or that. They have to go through this whole regimen of sitting here watching a game, teasing each other for a while, until everybody gets drunk enough that everybody can actually just talk and have a conversation about things that matter. I want to be that without needing to do that.

0:51:16 David: I think it’s an excellent point, and as further answer to your question, part of what I did is I found out more about myself, and there are some artificial means to do that. It wasn’t just looking at myself in relation to others. I literally went and took the Myers Briggs tests. I took the strengthsfinder tests. And I consciously went to other people in my life, who I had some perceptions of our interactions about and I asked them, “Was this your perception? Is just how you saw me?” And I’ll tell you, one thing that really opened my eyes in this process of leaving that fellowship behind was, I had come to the belief that through the spiritual axiom that I was to blame and I… Early in my life, I was a trader in the trading pits in Chicago. I was very successful, but I was very brash and I attributed some of my success to being brash. So, as the years have gone by, my perception became… And through the spiritual axiom, “Oh, boy, I was a real a-hole, I must have really mistreated people, if I were that successful.” So I went back to some of them, in the name of making amends to them, and they said unequivocally to a tee, and I only saw four or five of them, they said, “What are you talking about? You were one of the kindest, most integrous people we’d ever met. Your perception is you mistreated me? Just the opposite, you were nicer and kinder to me than anybody in that pit.”

0:52:30 David: So, going back and going through this process in a deliberate way, but also in that artificial, that synthetic way, I would describe taking these personality tests and whatnot, saying, “What am I like today?” Because with an underdeveloped ego, there’s no chance to develop that ego rise. But you have to know where you’re starting from and where you’re going to, to do it, right? So, well said.

0:52:50 Ben: Right. Can that stuff, reflected back to you… Stuff you can’t see in your blind spot, it’s like, yeah, it can really be shocking like, “Oh I thought I was… ” It’s just in AA going back and making amends, you think some people are bothered by it. Well, the only person that was thinking about maybe was yourself, a lot of the time.

0:53:05 David: Exactly, exactly.

0:53:06 Ben: Or when I was sober, I was really good about playing the part and being nice, but I had the knowledge underneath of what I was thinking about that person. I just didn’t tend to say it, but then that’s where if I got drunk that might come out and then I would confirm the fact that I had some ill-thoughts about somebody.

0:53:24 David: Exactly, exactly and that’s part of that identity formation, right? So when I do that, what I’ve learned is that… And people would argue with me about this, but I will argue this, I have learned that I am a true introvert. I get exhausted in relating to people and I’ve… And the way to me, introversion and extraversion are described as, extroverts derive energy from people, introverts get their energy sucked from people. I may be outgoing at times, I may be very conversant, I may be able to be dynamic sometimes when I speak, sometimes not. But that doesn’t mean that I’m extroverted, I’m introverted, I get exhausted, I have to take a break, when I’m with people for a while. I think that was part of my early experience. In my first year-and-a-quarter sober, I went to 450 12-step meetings. I had no idea that, that introvert’s component of me was dragging me down and sucking my energy, right? That might have had something to do with my perspective. I’ve also come to learn that I’m a highly sensitive person, I’m highly attuned to my senses. And in a man’s world, Ben as you described, that was something that was hammered in me, “That’s not what you do, you don’t show your emotions, if you have problems you fix them and you never admit you had ’em in the first place.” But all of that stuff, I had to acknowledge and accept and actually nurture the fact that I’m a highly sensitive person.

0:54:39 David: So, I’m the guy, you’ll go to a party with and I’m in a corner talking to one person about deep lifelong stuff, where others may be having those superficial conversations. So I know how to nurture that, but I wouldn’t have known that unless I identified it and tried to consciously manifest those things in my life. So going and doing that stuff is really helpful. If anyone does that as part of their process, I would say be very careful and to do it several times. And it’s possible to take a Myers-Briggs test 30 days into sobriety and it’s not accurate, because the brain hasn’t cleared and perceptions are different than they might be a year or more, or whatever the case may be.

0:55:13 Ben: Absolutely.

0:55:13 David: So be very careful about that synthetic testing and by all means study it, don’t take it at face value, because this is… We are complex human beings and just saying, “I’m an alcoholic,” or just saying, “I’m introverted,” or just saying, “I’m an adoptee,” or just saying, “I’m highly sensitive,” is not enough, what do all those things mean in combination, right?

0:55:31 Ben: Right. Well and I think too, it is interesting to get that feedback from other people, because what we tell ourselves isn’t always necessarily how others see us. And then also the different roles, I found that I played in different friendship groups, or whatnot, like everybody thought I was such an extrovert, but I definitely have very introverted tendencies. But now I’ve kind of recaptured that extrovert part of me after being sober long enough that really is me as well, that I thought, I could just attribute to the alcohol because I felt like a fraud. Because I tended to be the connector and the person who seems so social, because I was half-drunk all the time. 

0:56:06 David: I get that. Yes, sir.

0:56:07 Ben: But it’s an interesting dichotomy there and it really… To kind of have a little bit more grip on who you are and why you are? I mean, that stuff matters to me, I know that stuff that doesn’t always like to get talked about in 12-step meetings. Maybe it is appropriate or not appropriate but the why’s have mattered to me, the longer I’ve been sober because it gives me perspective. Not as an excuse, but just as a perspective and a way to continue to grow and move forward.

0:56:32 David: Sure, sure.

0:56:33 Ben: But it is amazing how different people look at you versus how you felt like…

0:56:37 David: Absolutely.

0:56:37 Ben: That’s one of those things in AA that always does make sense. It’s like, I felt like I was being a fraud because I felt really anxious and the alcohol helped that. But then I was like this connector for all these different groups of my friends, who through me, this is maybe my ego talking, I don’t know, maybe that’s AA telling me that it’s my ego talking.

[laughter]

0:56:55 Ben: A lot of those friendship groups have pulled away because I was kind of the common thread that kept those different groups tied together. And then after I quit drinking, it seemed like everybody kind of went their separate ways, so I don’t know that people pleasing tendency on my part too, is part of that too.

0:57:12 David: Well, I applaud how highly developed your narrative is, right? Because ultimately that’s what we’re talking about. We’ve been talking a lot about the process here, the process of reflecting, the process of developing a daily philosophy, the process of staying connected to people you feel safe with and you trust to feedback and reflect information to you. But ultimately, what I’m talking about the goal is, is to develop a cohesive narrative, to be able to tell our life stories, complete with the emotions surrounding them and how we resolve difficult times, that’s ultimately what we’re trying to get at. There’s lots of science on this, as a matter of fact and it’s so seldom talked about.

0:57:48 David: I’ll mention it briefly, there’s a professor by the name of Dr. Mary Main at UC Berkeley, who has talked about this and ultimately, and I’m paraphrasing several studies here, but ultimately, what she’s determined is that an individual who has the ability to tell a cohesive narrative is 75% more likely to be emotionally stable than someone who might not be. Emotionally stable, is a subjective term, of course, we have to be careful with that, but it’s a big deal. And she’s defined that many different ways. That is even more important because those of us who go on and have families, like I have, what we’ve learned from Mary Main is that, if a father or mother can do that, their children are much more likely to do that too. It battles those genetic components of mental illness or mental health issues or addiction that might happen. So working to develop an emotionally cohesive narrative is so important for us as human beings, whether we have a platform to share it or not. Ultimately when I wrote that memoir you referred to early in the call John, I didn’t do it to sell as a book, I did it because I needed to do that. I knew that I needed to provide that legacy to my children, so they’d better understand what happened.

0:58:55 John: It’s a really good book too, in fact when you were talking about being a trader in the pits, it reminded me of the book, I should read that again.

[laughter]

0:59:01 David: Well, thank you.

0:59:02 John: It’s really a well-done book. We’ve come up on an hour now guys, so we should probably start winding it down. I totally enjoyed this conversation Dave, and I hope you come back. There’s so much more we can talk about.

0:59:12 David: I’d enjoy that John, thank you.

0:59:13 John: Come back often.

0:59:15 David: Thank you, thank you.

0:59:16 John: It’s so good to see you.

0:59:17 Ben: My pleasure Dave, it was great. Great talking with you.

0:59:18 David: Thanks Ben, I enjoyed getting to know you as well.

0:59:20 Ben: Yeah, I look forward to being in contact.

0:59:20 John: Okay, I guess there’s going tobe a little football game today?

0:59:24 David: I’ve heard that, yes.

0:59:26 John: This is a good day. My wife had back surgery, and she was living with her mom from December 3rd, until just yesterday I brought her back home.

0:59:34 David: Oh, wonderful.

0:59:35 John: So we’re going to be here together, and watch the Super Bowl together.

0:59:38 David: Oh, that sounds nice.

0:59:39 John: Yeah. And she’s had a nice recovery from her back surgery but she’s still… She still has to watch it. So, anyway.

0:59:46 David: Understood.

0:59:46 John: So I’m gonna…

0:59:47 David: Don’t let her jump up and cheer today, you keep an eye on her.

0:59:50 John: Yeah. [laughter] I will play us out with our fancy music, there we go. So there you go, that’s another episode of My Secular Sobriety, and thank you everybody for listening, I hope you enjoyed it and thank you David for participating. Please do come back often, you will have a standing invitation here and thank you Ben.

1:00:08 David: My pleasure, thank you.

1:00:09 Ben: Absolutely.

1:00:09 John: Always good to see you my friend.

1:00:11 Ben: Good to see you guys.

1:00:11 John: So y’all take care. Go chiefs.


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