Monday, April 18, 2011

Looking at the differences....

I'm beginning to wonder if AA has a bad reputation. I know of several people who have told me they have a drinking problem. These people also know I belong to AA and that it has worked for me where everything else has failed. I was talking with an aquaintance the other day and they remarked that they had been researching alcoholism and that they really needed to get help. So without thinking I blurted out, "I would be more than happy to take you to an AA meeting!" To which came out of their mouth, "God no, I'm not going to AA!" and just the tone of voice made me feel like they felt better than the program. They started talking of alternatives and of course my mind went where it wasn't suppose to go "easier softer way" and I wanted to say (but didn't) "when all else fails and you are ready to go to AA I'll be here". This got me to thinking that the mention of "AA" must conjure up certain images in people's minds. I remember early on when a member told me to seek out the similarities rather than the differences. I didn't have a problem with that. I was so grateful to see heads nodding in understanding when I spoke about things or experiences. I felt validation that I wasn't so different or unique. That other people from every walk of life suffer from the same affliction I do. It doesn't discriminate. So why does AA seem to be shunned by a lot of people? Is it because the media has glamorized addictions? I mean in Hollywood if you have a problem you can check into numerous rehabs, some with spa like ammenities. Or you could be on "Celebrity Rehab?" or in and out of rehab like Lindsey Lohan? Do people think we're just a bunch of bums sitting around in a church basement? Or is it the work? The twelve steps? I think for some people they just want to stop drinking. They don't want to know the reason they drink. Just stop the action and that will be enough. But is it? I was thrilled when I found some insight to why I did what I did. Now I know to stay away from certain behaviors or situations that could cause an urge to reach for alcohol. I can get to a meeting, pick up the phone, completely remove myself from an environment that may not be healthy. In Augusten Burrough's memoir of drinking "DRY" he is confronted by his coworkers who want him to get help. He thinking he's really going to stick it to them and asks to go to rehab at a place for homosexuals in Duluth Mn. He is envisioning a spa like atmosphere, perhaps meeting a new companion, etc. When he arrives he is in shock. The facility is old, most of the letters missing on the sign. The inside is worse. A steril undecorated atmosphere with cafeteria food included. However after resisting for a while he starts to learn something about himself. He starts to make a few friends, and he stops drinking. When he heads back to New York and unlocks his apartment door he is shocked by what he sees. Almost every square inch is covered in empty bottles. Gone is the glamorization of drinking. Sure a cleverly decorated martini glass filled with booze and a bunch of girlfriends living it up after work certainly looks more fun than sitting in a dimly lit room talking with people who are struggling with a disease that too often runs their lives. To me I never bothered with those differences. I was just to happy to find the similarities. I am no different than anyone else that sits in those rooms. My brand of alcoholism wasn't any more special than yours. I simply choose to stop the maddness, stop the chaos. So when I feel that snubbing, or that dismissal of a AA, the program that has given me so much, I try not to let it bother me. I know it works. I see the miracles it performs on a daily/weekly basis. But instead of saying something out loud, I simply think in my head, "well, when you are ready to really get serious, I'll be here, and AA will welcome you with open arms". Any thoughts?.....


  1. you know it is probably like any other large group you have a few that paint a very different picture of what it really have your testimony and they have a decision to make...

  2. Maybe is just not desperate enough yet, and that is OK. Our book tells us that we should recommend that this person try some more controlled drinking and see how it works out.

  3. I totally agree that addiction is glamorized and where you go to "detox" or rehabilitate defines if you are in the correct "addicted category". It's CRAZY!! Talk about not getting in touch with yourself or your addiction..Some people seem to wear their addiction like a medal especially if they can name a "hip" place to go get well..And the more often they can return to that place, the more prestige..We live in a "look at me" world now. No privacy anymore..AA helped me a lot, but it is when I coupled that with "Adult Children of Alcoholics" (ACA) that I really began to get a clue. I was changed in a lot of ways that will never be fixed. Consciously I can choose to react, but my first gut feeling never leaves me.

  4. When I receive a snub or decline to my approach I start to mull it over (review all the sides myself) reason it out, consider what was good or bad about my approach. Then I start to reason with the outside world at large, I wonder why that's like that I wonder what must be wrong with the world and how they got that bad impression about what is obviously the solution to the problem.

    I suck at being detached from results. I like GOOD results. By Good I mean my idea of good, so when it doesn't go my way ... I immediately think, "why was that not successful?" And I begin to think about how it could have been better, could be better next time...

    They really have me down in this ole book of theirs... even when trying to be kind, the results must be the ones that work for me, because all the other stuff is wrong, it doesn't work.

    When I go through those considerations my sponsor always asks a couple questions when I relate this kind of stuff (which frequently happens at the big book study I attend)

    Lets take an example of someone you approached that didn't take your suggestion, hand, invitation. Ok, yeah I have a few of those.

    Did you pray before you made the approach? Two answers come to mind:
    Of course I did, when she said no I put her on the list. to that one my sponsor responds, I mean before you decided to share your expeirence with your friend?

    Which brings me to the other frequent answer. UH NO not right then... I was trying to ...

    What is the instruction for how to approach? He asks.

    I consider that frustrating sentence on the bottom of page 18. Accompanied by the feeling that my sponsor knows something I don't and I'm about to feel the pop of my ego being smashed.

    That the man has no axe to grind no holier than thou attitude....

    I don't, I just wanted to be helpful.

    We look for where We were wrong, where we were self-seeking, selfish and afraid.

    I'm not wrong, I'M RIGHT! AA WORKS!

    Page 18... that the man who makes the approach has no holier than thou attitude... SHIT!

    Where were we afraid. I'm already afraid they're really an alcoholic and that stuff won't work for them and they'll die. My sponsor points out, they already met you didn't they? Yes, I say. And you can pray for them now can't you? Yes. And you know prayer works right, especially as long as someone else will be helped? Yes.

    So it's all good and it was quite possibly very successful as a matter of fact. It got you do to do the right thing.

    We just went through that page yesterday night in a big book study I do, just last night.

    Thank God for Grace and good sponsorship, cause I'm still quite afraid if it isn't all done right, and by right I mean the way that looks right in my head, the world will fall apart. And my sponsor says, more frequently than not... the world's fine just the way it is Jessie, it's your perception that God hasn't already answered all your prayers and doesn't already have his hand on everything put in front of you ... that's wrong.

  5. I think most people believe AA is where drunks go to feel bad about not being able to drink.
    Or at least that's what I hear from normies.

  6. AA works--if I DO the work.

    Your well-written post reminds me Jessie, of the old AA joke where a spouse died of alcoholism. A friend asked the woman, "Did he go to AA?" She responded, "Oh no! He was never quite THAT bad!"

  7. Although I have yet to work the 12 steps or get a sponsor, I am going on 2yrs sober now. Its not that I dont believe in AA but for me (just speaking for myself here), I have HUGE trust issues. I cant bring myself to tell a stranger of my woes in life that got me to this point. I dont trust strangers to be honest.

    One day I was talking to a close friend of mine who is going on 6yrs sober now. He is VERY involved in AA. I asked him if I a considered a dry drunk by fellow AA people since I only go to meeting when I feel inclined to and since I have never reached our for a sponsor. It made me feel good to hear that NO... just because you dont attend AA doesnt mean you dont work as hard as others. We all have different ways of coming to terms with our past and leaning from it and moving forward.

    Sometimes I feel as if those who attend AA look down on me because I dont go regularly or have a sponsor. It sucks to be honest to feel that way. But... if I feel the need to eventually do the steps.. I will But, for now this is what gets me through life... writing out my thoughts, changing my life one piece at a time, etc, etc.

    Not sure if any of this made sense... its early :)

  8. I think people shun AA because they think if they go they will really be saying "I have a problem." Some people probably think its cultish. But honestly, don't knock it til you try it! I suppose it doesnt work for everyone, but it does work for those that want it - people like you and me!

  9. I used to be very dismissive of AA. That was before I got desperate. Now, it's one of the great joys of my life