My Ambivalence Towards AaYou know, I go back and forth about AA. I remember a quote from Ghandi: "I love your Christ, I don't like your Christians." Ditto, AA. I love the program, but I'm not really crazy about some of the old timers.
I think the program is practically unassailable in so many ways. There is much wisdom in those rooms. Just utilizing some of their Slogans, or concepts have been quite instrumental in getting me sober. AA has been around forever, and the strategies they propagate are successful. Like the 24 hour plan. I thought it was bullshit the first time I heard it because I thought it was just some silly trick we were playing on ourselves--trying to pretend we won't drink just for 24 hours when we were all abundantly aware that we were not going to be able to drink, ever, again. I'd get so upset thinking about not being able to drink forever, 'cause I was sure I'd never make it. Then I'd think, "Well you know you're gonna eventually relapse, might as well do it now and get it over with!" But this last relapse was so profoundly bad, I decided to really try and listen up without putting my own spin on things. And, I discovered the 24 hour plan does work! If all I focused on is Today, not tomorrow, I discovered that yes, even me, can stay sober for 24 hours. Pretty soon I had 24 hours of no drinking 365 times!
On the other hand, the people that are chronic AAers can really **** up this wonderful program when they put their spin on it. Like when they give us "suggestions" they have to remember that that is all they are:--suggestions--not thinly veiled orders. Also, when they say their primary goal is to help the newcomer by sharing "their experience strength and hope" that doesn't mean giving the oldtimer a platform to turn the newcomer into a captive audience over coffee by talking non-stop about themselves. Probably the first thing a newcomer needs to do beyond anything else is share his story. You know, lend an empathetic ear to the poor chap, so he can share how he got in such a terrific mess in the first place! And last but not least: this arrogance that many oldtimers exhibit has got to stop. I was so disenfranchised by the last beginners meeting I attended. The oldtimers were really enjoying the poor, clueless sharing of some newcomers as if it were their entertainment for the evening! I kept catching them exchanging smug smirky looks at each other everytime a newcomer shared some seemingly preposterous view, or they'd stare down the newcomer with comtemptuous disdain when she said something that offended their esoteric sensibilities. Which isn't very nice, because the newcomer doesn't know a damn thing about sobriety, and by already asserting an air of superiority, they have effectively turned the newcomer off, probably never to return. I know, it's happened to me before. I made myself go to this women's meeting that I didn't like, but trying to be open and willing and accepting, I forced myself to go. But it seemed like anytime I shared something a little off-kilter from AA's dogma, I'd get these looks of hostile horror from way too many women to ignore. One woman said she had something really terrible to share, that she lied about her sobriety date, that is wasn't twenty years but 19 months and two weeks 'cause she had smoked marijuana. There was a collective gasp of horror, and I shared, "Is that all? I don't think that is such a big deal, I thought it was gonna be something much worse!" Now, a really big collective gasp of horror was aimed at me. I felt so humiliated. Or the time I shared, "I've learned how to listen." Women were shaking their heads no no and giving me alarming looks. "What??" I asked mystified. Then it dawned on me, "Oh, I'm learning how to listen." Then I got nods of approval for changing the tense of my speech. I felt like I was in a remedial grammar class, and it made me feel stupid. Pleaaase. So oldtimers? Hope one of you are reading. Please, stop with the arrogance. Please?