Life Goes On Anyway

A year ago, on August 19th, my mom died suddenly.  And oddly enough, all I can only think of is how she would have reacted when Philip Seymour Hoffman, Shirley Temple, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall died.  She’d say, “Oh my God, no.” 

When she died, it felt unreal.  Then, the Wizard of Oz song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” popped into my head, not entirely unexpectedly, and I almost think she sent the song over to me via ghost waves. (I wouldn’t doubt it.  She had a great warped sense of humor, when she allowed herself to laugh.)  

I don’t feel I’m betraying her memory, as she was a writer too, and us writers know the price we pay for documenting our stories.  For two decades, my mom wrote, and re-wrote, her life story.  There was the play she wrote about life in our hometown, like Peyton Place,  where people who claim to be good are actually covering up scandals and secrets.  Or the memoir about her family and the perceived attacks her brother waged on her. 

My mom became a historian in town, self-publishing three books.  Unlike her fiction, these were the only books that didn’t focus on suspicion, betrayal, and paranoia.  Seems she was always being persecuted for no reason.  She had no part in it, she was never wrong.

When I first heard the AA description of an alcoholic as self-centered, egoistical, and an actor who controlled the whole show, my mom came to mind.  Her presence, her actions, her ability to instigate drama was the background of my life.  I was addicted to her.

My mother (early 1970s?)

My mother (early 1970s?)

Her narcissism became my obsession, so when she died, I wrote about it.  I started to talk to others about my experience with her, and how Alcoholics Anonymous’ meetings echoed growing up with her.  I was powerless to her drama, quick to see what I’d done wrong to hurt her, and how constantly sorry I felt.  The broken record in my head constantly played my character defects. 

She said, “Confucius says,” so often when I was a little kid I thought Confucius was one of her friends.  I also thought the entire city hated us, and her, and that my uncle might kidnap my brother and I or murder us.  Deep down, I wanted my mom happy.  I wanted life to be normal.  As Confucius says: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

There is no step on confronting evil uncles, but I did that after she died.  I am lucky to have this thing called “closure.”  And guess what?  I have over a dozen more family members who also wonder what happened twenty-three years ago, when I was eight years old, to make my family stop talking to my mom’s family. But in my mind, I wondered: Didn’t my mom always want her family back?  Or am I betraying her?  I was taught as a kid they were cruel, heartless, monsters.  They welcomed me back with open arms.

Maybe blood really is thicker than bullshit. 

I have a low tolerance for bullshit.  It’s why I can’t lighten up about the sexism or bad psychology of AA.  I can’t be told alcoholism is a serious, debilitating illness where simple triggers can create full scale epic relapses, and then be told that the sexism from the 1930s Big Book is no big deal.

But somehow it’s not AA’s fault that the book skews the truth, like hiding the fact the chapter from the wives of alcoholics, “To Wives,” was not written by wives. It was written by Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA.  His wife Lois said, “Bill wrote it, and I was mad.  I wasn’t so much mad as hurt.  I still don’t know why Bill wrote it.  I’ve never really gotten into it- why he insisted upon writing it.  I said to him, ‘Well, do you want me to write it?’ And he said no, he thought it should be in the same style as the rest of the book.” 

Lois was not an alcoholic, but like any human who feels slighted, she felt bad.  I would read the sexist Big Book and question if my therapist or rehab or if other AA members gave a damn about women.  I watched this video of students reacting to gay couples kissing, and the interviewer remarked, “You have tears in your eyes.”  The student admitted he was trying to calm down.  When the interviewer asked, “This means that much to you?” The student replied, “Yes sir, I mean, I hate seeing people that are treated differently for no good reason.”  That sums up my feelings about the unfair treatment of women in AA literature.

Sometimes, when we’d read the Big Book at a meeting, I’d remark under my breath, “Glad my wife isn’t like that!”  Haha… My mom would say women can do anything a man can do.  Why isn’t it “Men can do anything a woman can do?”

Her mom, my Nana, lied about her age so she’d be only 2 years older than my grandfather.  (1917 vs. 1914… The four could look like a seven, right?)  He was a Lutheran who agreed my Nana could raise her son and daughter as Catholics.  My grandfather the feminist!  My mom skipped a grade, so even though my parents are the same age, she graduated before my dad.  They married between their July and September birthdays so my mom would be 27 and he’d be 28.  Mom did not want to be an old maid. 

Her nervous breakdowns coincided with the paranoia about the city and her brother being “out to get her.”  Dad was emotionally unavailable, and quick tempered, which caused me to take my mom’s side in their spats.   How dare you hurt my mom, she’s the best mom and she’s already been hurt too many times.

My mom and her brother - the early years.

My mom and her brother – the early years.

When I criticize AA, I become my dad criticizing my mom.  How dare I hurt AA after all AA has done to help so many people?  Yet, I also see many in AA as people who have also been hurt, and they probably react defensively because they don’t know any other way to react. 

In the midst her fits and tantrums, my mom repeated a phrase she insisted a deceased relative gave to her during a near death experience following a car wreck, “Tell the truth.”  Messages from the afterlife might skip a generation, though.  That message may have been for me.

So today, I celebrate the mom who loved her hometown and gave back, even if in a sad way she felt she was not wanted there.  I celebrate the mom who was unable to give love because she was unable to feel the love around her from so many.  I learned to love anyway, to be kind anyway.   

That’s what someone she admired also said, Mother Theresa:  “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.”  I’ve been put down, demeaned, and demoralized in my life but it doesn’t mean I hate AA.  The contrary is, I feel immensely for the people in the rooms who may be suffering like I was.

When I was kicked out of her house, my mom kept my son there without having custody.  It is only now that he’s told me his grandma said I was evil, plotting against her, and on a mission to tear the family apart.  But he forgives me for not being able to talk with him, and he forgives his Nana because she was sick.  It took a year, but it was worth it to have my son back, and to be able to share freely with me.  “What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.”

The frustration taught me patience.  The tears made me stronger.  When I’m accused of having a vendetta against AA, I step back and realize that is what they want to believe and it has nothing to do with me.  Their love for AA is as addictive as the love I had for my mom. 

To paraphrase Mother Theresa, it was never between me and them anyway. 

The non-Mother Theresa version, believe this version came first.

The non-Mother Theresa version, believe this version came first.

 

 

The Reality of Depression and AA- What a Concept

In Loving Memory of Robin Williams

This happened.  I wanted to believe it was a hoax. 

On August 11, 2014, the world lost arguably the most talented comedic actor of our times, Grammy and Oscar winner Robin Williams.  The preliminary ruling was that he committed suicide. He was 63 years old.

Williams’ battled clinical depression, or possibly bipolar disorder.  He may have also had ADHD. If he was embracing a manic episode, or maybe ADHD, did he eschew medication in order to unleash his non-linear improvisational style for the sake of his performances?

We don’t know that.  But Williams was public about his cocaine and alcohol use.  In 1983, after the death of John Belushi and the birth of his son, he quit alcohol and drugs on his own.  He did not join a support group like AA.  There was no 12 Step rehab.

Then, after 20 years of successful self-willed abstinence, Williams was in Alaska shooting a movie when he says he returned to drinking because he felt lonely and afraid—two common human emotions not unique to addicts and alcoholics.  As an energetic personality who sought both stimulation and peace of mind, he was perhaps using alcohol to self-medicate.

Williams continued to drink for three years until, in 2006, he embarked on his first 12 Step rehab stint.  We may wonder if he was told his 3 years of binging proved he could not remain sober without the 12 Steps and AA meetings.  Or was he called a “dry drunk” for the twenty years of sobriety he navigated on his own?  He may have been told that AA and abstinence from alcohol could alleviate his depression?  If the last question was yes, did he begin to trust AA more than medicine or himself?

The Saturday before his death, Williams was sighted at an AA meeting. In July, his publicist revealed, Williams had gone to Hazelden in Minnesota for additional 12 Step treatment.

It seems appropriate Williams’ Grammy-winning album was titled: “Reality… What a Concept.”  Because in reality, the majority of people- famous or not- recover without intervention.  Albeit not unusual, this idea elicits groans from treatment center evangelists who parrot AA and call people who don’t go to meetings “dry drunks.”

All of this background suggests one larger issue: Which yielded better results, 20 years of recovery on his own with one relapse, or eight years of 12 Step therapy in rehab and AA that ended in his suicide? ‘

We might compare addiction treatment to the heart surgery Williams’ underwent at age 57: With heart disease, Williams’ experienced shortness of breath.   He was medically evaluated and then received an aortic valve replacement.  After the operation, he was obviously told to practice good health habits and to look after himself, with occasional visits to a doctor.

The main symptoms of alcoholism, on the other hand, is picking up a drink and ingesting it.  This is combined with a belief you cannot stop.  It seems that Williams was taught the odd 12-step admixture: that he was spiritually sick and that he had an incurable, lifelong disease.  Both of these things, he had learned, could be treated only with AA meetings. Bizarrely, treatment at even the highest-profile rehabs in America continues to be based on a program that cannot provide statistics of its success.

Contrast the normalcy of Williams’ 20 years clean to his Diane Sawyer interview in 2006, where he stated he was “extremely proud” of his sobriety.   Paraphrasing the AA folklore that the disease is getting worse, even while you are dry, Williams is quoted: “It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.  Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.'”  At AA, which I have also attended, we learn that our alcoholism does pushups in the parking lot while we are resting.  Most of all,  we learn that we are powerless over alcohol and our urge to drink. 

I have to ask if Robin Williams, on July 1 of this year, checked into Hazelden based on the wisdom he might learn in AA that depression caused him to drink, and once he drank there was no stopping.   In AA, the only solution is abstinence,  while members learn by repetition, “One drink equals one drunk.”  Instead of the occasional slip we might all experience in an area of life, AA members most often experience severe binge drinking relapses.  

There is great award, and applause, for maintaining abstinence in AA.  A celebrity accustomed to adoration, but who was after all deeply insecure, might gravitate to the adulation and respect he received in AA; Who else would celebrate with him his ability simply not to drink?  On the downside, when an AA member relapses, he often feels shame at his or her “failure to work the program.“

And, I’ve heard at meetings, “I’d rather die sober, than live drunk.”

Attending AA made me feel more depressed so that I needed additional counseling.  Even though Robin Williams humbly, honestly admitted his drug and alcohol problems, AA labels all alcoholics as dishonest and egocentric.  It is sickening that the very thoughts that trigger and exacerbate depression are taught in rehab:  You are powerless, defective, and wrong all the time.   Without AA, you will die.  But Williams’ experience proves that you can die with AA too.  Depression and the 12 Steps are a toxic mix.

Fame does not exclude people from feeling lonely and afraid, or choosing to end it all rather than risk a relapse.  America, and the world, must know that the idea people can’t recover without AA is a lie.  This belief can be deadly, both for ordinary folks and celebrities, including one like Robin Williams who built a life without drinking for 20 years without AA.  

If Williams’ heart surgeon botched the job, the surgeon would be held responsible.  If Williams’ 12 Step immersion contributed to his death, they it too should be held accountable.   I would have rather heard Robin Williams relapsed and lived then that he remained sober and killed himself.  Who in the world could feel otherwise? 

That is the reality.  What a concept.

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Never Call Yourself An “Alcoholic” or “Addict”

julietroxspin:

I’m busy with tons of recovery writing, so am dropping by some favorite blogs of mine. This one is key, and the intro says it all. There are better options than the 12 Step programs, especially no programs at all. However, there are so many obstacles to non-AA groups due to treatment center red tape and state guidelines catering to 12 Step treatment. The education for certifying drug counselors needs to match the real facts- the facts that show nearly every other recovery method works better than AA. Wake up world!

Originally posted on 12 Steps - How It Works. By Cougarblogger:

“Why do you hate 12 step programs so much?”  When I get asked this question, in my head I think, “Why don’t you?!?!”  Then I realize they are either ignorant, have a relative/friend in the cult, (who gives all credit for their very lives to the cult), or are a stepper (or ex-stepper), themselves.  What is most astounding is when ex-steppers defend the cult, but then I quickly realize the power of the brainwashing.  Even those who have left (gotten free really), feel the need to defend the cult.

Why?  They were told for years that their own mind was not their friend.  They were told for years that they were wrong about every choice they have ever made.  They were told for years that they are wrong and the program is right.  They are, even after years of freedom, unaware of how their mind is still hijacked by their…

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A Slap in the Face

*This is from a blog I wrote in 2012, i am reprinting it here today.  I wrote this a month after leaving 12 step rehab— feeling a bit shaken, but not stirred. *

http://almighty-blogstars.blogspot.com/2012/02/slap-in-face.html

A Slap In The Face

Evidently, it doesn’t seem to matter to drug and alcohol counselors that Alcoholics Anonymous virtually ignores the facts about women and alcoholism.  Women don’t drink like men do. For one thing, women have a lower percentage of water in their bodies, which means a woman who drinks the same amount as a man will have a higher blood alcohol content.  THIS is fact. Alcohol related problems for women, however, are dealt with the guidelines developed for men. Why? Because of Alcoholics Anonymous.  A program developed for men.  A program that uses a book written in 1935, no less.  That book, The Big Book, is even used in treatment centers for women.  Even though, the book was obviously written for men.  There’s even a chapter titled, “To Wives.”  Not to mention, since most female alcoholics also have past histories of childhood or sexual traumas, it makes even LESS sense to subject them to such an inconsiderate, sexist program such as AA.

On another note, Alcoholics Anonymous is also a “spiritual” program.  Even though alcoholism is a known and recognized medical disease**, the best known cure doctors and therapists still recommend is AA? Even if you’re not put off by spirituality, you might be put off by the fact that AA doesn’t use vague terms.  AA uses “God,” and a male God at that.  For many women who have a history of rape, perhaps the idea of an all-powerful male deity coming to the rescue might not be very helpful.  In fact, it could have the opposite effect.  Consider the 12 Steps themselves:  Step 3 is, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Psychologically, Alcoholics Anonymous re-traumatizes women.  It creates an atmosphere of women being treated as secondary.  This lowers a women’s self-esteem.  Alcoholics are supposed to rebuild their self-esteem.  Instead, AA tells a woman she has a problem, and then goes and slaps her in the face for having one.  What I have to wonder is, how many women tried AA, found it insulting and nauseating, and started to drink again only to die from alcoholism?  So, Alcoholics Anonymous, what’s YOUR problem?  Are you there to save lives or to stubbornly refuse to CHANGE your ineffective program because you’re scared to help more people?

Juliet Abram

Author’s Note: **I was told repeatedly in rehab (again) that alcoholism was a medical disease, and took the angle that, if it WAS a disease, that would rule out AA as medically sound.  I do not personally hold the view that addiction is a disease.**

ALSO: Filming for The 13th Step documentary is COMPLETE!! So excited!  Very happy news, and a fantastic job by Monica Richardson.

Filming of The 13th Step is almost complete!

julietroxspin:

Very excited to share this news! The 13th Step film —http://the13thstepfilm.com/—- is nearly complete! Way to go Monica, and everyone on her team, her advisors, the brave & incredible people who’ve participated and agreed to be filmed!! I am super excited and will share this film wherever, to whoever I can.

Originally posted on Stop13stepinaa's Blog:

Group AA reenactment _0110Over the next week or two we will begin to post new short clips of the some of the footage from the upcoming film,  The 13th STEP.

Thanks to all those who helped in the making of this film!  Edwin, Val, Barry, and all those who helped in other ways.

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Problems and like, Whatever… The AA Attitude Problem

Four years ago I found some blogs online reporting criticism about AA.  Inspired by the years of comments I’ve read from these blogs, plus comments I myself have gotten at The Fix, I decided to do a satire about a fictional AA member.

This “blogger” embodies all that is wrong with AA:  Lack of knowledge about current information, research or other recovery methods about addiction and alcoholism.  A strong loyalty to the AA fellowship that results in bullying (angry retorts, name calling, and threats) if someone disagrees or criticizes AA.  And, resistance to any talk of changing, improving, or otherwise making AA better if AA wanted to be.

Links’ sources are mainly from the blogs I’ve followed throughout the years:  NA Daytona, Leaving AA, The Orange Papers, and more.  Without further ado, let me introduce you to my fictional friend:
—–

Hi, my name is Tearesa Alcoholic.

The first three letters of my name are “T-e-a,” because I thought that sounded cute when I was 19 and high on ecstasy, so I got it legally changed.  This is my first blog, so I’ll try to keep it short, just like my leads.

I love, love, love the program and like, it’s perfect the way it is.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I’m an atheist, but I love the idea of God.  Especially a God that’s like my Dad or my Grandpa, and He watches over my sobriety and keeps me spiritually fit.  But if I drink, it’s totally my fault because I didn’t pray the right way.

I don't have daddy issues, I don't even believe in God.

I don’t have daddy issues, I don’t even believe in God.

I have God-consciousness now, I didn’t have that out there when I drank 12 packs of Bud Light and smoked pot.  I know what God thinks, but I’m not God.  But God will do anything for me, if I ask, even though I’m an atheist, because I “fake it til I make it.”

But I can make direct contact with God and sometimes God speaks to me through other AA members.  It’s like He hi-jacks your brains and takes over what you’re saying just to send me a message.  The other day, God told me to buy a scratch off lottery ticket and I won five dollars!  I knew I should do that because Becka T. at Monday nights said she goes to AA meetings in casinos in Vegas, and sometimes she gambles just to feel a buzz or a high.  (It’s ok, she’s not a gambling addict.)

I always recommend AA to others with drinking problems, if they’re open minded enough to want help from AA.  I don’t think AA is for everyone, if it’s some other meeting I wish them luck.  I don’t really know much about SMART or SOS or anything like that, I mean, they’re not AA so… I don’t want to listen to anti-AA talk about Bill Wilson doing LSD or lies in the Big Book about the wives didn’t write “To Wives,” I mean, I don’t want other people planting doubt in my head about if AA works.  ‘Cause it works for me.

I have a friend, Lulu, she’s stopped going to meetings, to do her homework and finish up school.  I wish she’d just bring her homework to a meeting.  I mean, she used to be able to drink and do homework, but that didn’t work because she was drinking even though she passed her classes.  She dropped out one semester to go to meetings and I told her she shouldn’t go back to school for at least a year, because no big changes in your first year.

Anyway, Lulu’s totally white-knuckling it, and I refuse to go to her graduation because who knows, she might serve alcohol at the celebration at this point, she’s not good AA.

I mean, I know a lot of people who are clean and sober, and don’t go to meetings, and they look happy.  They probably weren’t really alcoholics though.  I heard people say maybe people who stop meetings get real crazy frustrated when they quit meetings because they’re withdrawing from their addiction to meetings.  They should de-program.  Whatever, those people think they know everything.  They hate AA.

Ok, the program isn’t perfect. There’s this meeting where NA members are breaking the rules by smoking in a non-smoking park.  Just don’t smoke there, ok?  There’s no excuse to justify your smoking.

NBC’s Law & Order SVU did an episode on 13th stepping and I was all like, whatever, this is an anti-AA scare tactic.  All I hear about these days are child molesters and rapists and murderers in AA and NA, and I’m like, what’s your proof?  If you get 13th Stepped, it’s because you’re not going to women’s meetings, and you’re not reading the Big Book.

Rape happens anywhere, like at parties, nightclubs and dark alleys.  Not just when people are drinking, but at libraries, movie theaters, and grocery stories.  I mean, you have to protect yourself, stop waiting for others to do that for you, because AA has only one primary purpose, and it’s not protecting everyone from rapes and violence.

Go to a real meeting, and see some real sobriety, people just like me who’ve had a tough time in life, but we don’t go crying and acting like babies with this stupid paranoia that someone in AA might rape us.  Get a life!   If you want to live a happy life of peace and serenity, come to AA, because without it you’ll die the way you lived- selfish and self-centered.

Sorry, but AA doesn’t tell the courts what to do, so if you don’t like court ordered AA meetings tell it to the courts.  I’m too busy doing AA service work, like going to the courts to testify for my sponsees.

th (4)One of my sponsees relapsed, but that’s because she wasn’t working a good program.  It only works if you work it.  And I saw this guy in the courthouse who just failed a drug test, because he was going to SMART or SOS or whatever.  So my sponsor and I just laughed at him, because he didn’t have what we had.

I am so, so happy I was able to talk about AA and sobriety with all of you today, because in here, I’m safe, but out there, I know my disease is doing pushups in the parking lot.

Ciao!

—–
Well, enough of that.  I hope you heard something familiar in the, like, way Tearesa presented the comebacks and subtle/snide comments *some* AA members make.  It is almost as though learning the steps and attending meetings creates this kind of thinking.  I’d love to hear more in your comments below, and please click the links.  See you next time.

Juliet *Roxspin* Abram
(find me on facebook.)

Quick Reference:

Having God-conciousness.   164 & More

God will do anything for me. The Orange Papers

AA Meetings on the Vegas Strip.  (Meeting Makers Make It.) S.I. Meetings

Bill Wilson wrote “To Wives.” aabacktobasics.org

Season 15, Episode 9, Law & Order SVU “Rapists Anonymous.”  Leaving AA

AA man rapes and impregnates 14 year old.  NA Daytona

NA man brutally rapes and kidnaps woman.  NA Daytona

A personal letter from the mother of a daughter murdered by a man in AA. Stop13StepinAA blog

The 13th Step Film. the13thstepfilm.com

AA man admits he rapes woman but ‘didn’t do anything wrong.’ NA Daytona

Raped, beaten, and assaulted by man she met in AA.  NA Daytona

AA member strangles wife after being mandated to AA for domestic violence.  NA Daytona

Woman gets hate mail from AA members that she pressed charges against an AA man’s 9th step where he made amends for raping her.  NA Daytona

“AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die.”- Big Book Appendix 1, The A.A. Tradition p. 563  164 & More

 

I Don’t Need A Meeting

“What’s a pretty thing like you doing working at a hardware store?” Asks a man with a half-smile, half-snarl, his hands stained with motor oil as he hands me a crinkled twenty dollar bill.

I work at a hardware store.  The majority of customers are men.  This week, another creepy, old man with a disheveled beard, brought in a sander to exchange.  He placed it on the counter behind me, at the opposite register.  I had a line at my counter, and felt uncomfortable not being able to see him behind me.

“Can I help you?” I turned around to ask.

He said, “I’m just here to return this… Wow, you look even more beautiful than you did yesterday.”  I told him he can bring the sander over to my register.  “Oh, I’m ok right here.  I like looking at your hair, it’s so pretty.”

The ick factor landed in the pit of my stomach.  I perceived a threat, which for me triggers anxiety and panic.

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Ever hear someone say, “I need meeting.”  Usually, this follows some kind of catastrophe, like a romantic break up.  Saying “I need a meeting,” is the same as saying, “I need a drink.”  Trouble is, I never found 12 Step meetings the proper place to talk openly about perverted men staring at me.  Hell, perverted men frequent 12 Step meetings.

Consider these two realities:  A history of rape is linked to substance abuse.  Now, consider that sex and violent offenders are court ordered to A.A. meetings, and A.A. has refused to create safety rules protecting members from sexual harassment and other crimes.  That is just plain sick, if not illegal.  Plus,  that means I don’t trust A.A.

Some people never learn manners, and this old man might have early dementia for all I know.  I only took it personally because it was directed at me.  It’s not like he said, “Bend over baby,” or something more derogatory.  Calling for backup might make me feel more embarrassed.  I’m sure the guys at work would defend me, but I don’t want a bodyguard.

I want to defend myself. I want to be intimidating and powerful.  I don’t want to be a non-threatening, one hundred and twenty pound, “little thing”.

Making direct eye contact conveys too much interest.  So I didn’t look at him, which shows fear instead.  Later, I tell one of my male managers that this creep put me in a bad mood by staring at me for over ten minutes.  He shrugs, and I shrug.  Unfortunately, this does happen all the time.  People are rude and insensitive, they feel like powerful men by treating women like objects.

Trouble is, as an abuse survivor, I’m triggered by feelings of being overpowered physically, sexually, or emotionally.  This stranger triggered major feelings of powerlessness, and I wanted to react by crying, punching something, or drinking.

Today, I decided to write about it.  I didn’t run to the bottle or to a meeting. I can’t build a wall between me and society, figuratively or literally.  I don’t believe that former alcoholics are more sensitive to minor frustrations than the average person.  The idea that someone in A.A. could have several years sober and needs to escape to a meeting disturbs me.

I don’t walk past a six pack of IPA and foam at the mouth.  The smell of chlorine and freshly mowed grass don’t send me running to a keg.  I get super annoyed when someone else’s spoon repeatedly scrapes the edge of a bowl, but it doesn’t drive me to drink.  I can always stock the kitchen with plastic spoons.

I used to hear people say they “needed a meeting” because the dog next door wouldn’t stop barking.  Why not just knock on the door and politely state your complaint?  If your neighbor is a real jerk, make a police report.  Meetings, or booze, do not solve anything directly.

I’m a strong willed person, a female and a feminist.  I survived sexual trauma in the past, and now general misogyny triggers me.  Author Gabrielle Glaser wrote in “Her Best Kept Secret,” that A.A. may not be the best approach for women and their particular struggles with drinking.  And I agree, I’d be a fool, or a masochist, to go back the patriarchal recovery system of 12 Step meetings.

Not finding help in A.A. was a circumstance I needed to avoid because it triggered me.

I found it helpful reading, “Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict,”  by Stanton Peele Ph.D.  with Ilse Thompson. I learned there are circumstances I can avoid, or improve, that lead up to a relapse. As Peele writes, “Did your decision to indulge make you feel as if you were doing something?”

In general, I’ve found both men and women in A.A. could not relate to my triggers, or I was too uncomfortable to speak about them.

For example, I do feel more frustration in the summer.  It gets warm and muggy outside in Ohio, and I can’t just “throw on” shorts or a swimsuit without removing every speck of hair that “shouldn’t” be there.  Men don’t have to worry about a “nip” slip in the swimming pool.  I just want to have a carefree summer, but it’s “illegal” and “inappropriate” for me to remove my shirt.  This might sound idiotic to you, but to me they are real triggers.

So are creepy old men who stare at me.  Must be that oversized work t-shirt and jeans I wear, covered in grease and saw dust, are too sexy to resist?

Today, I can choose how I react. If you’re offended by the hair stubble on my legs, than that is your problem, not mine.   I don’t control other people or their behaviors, including perverts’ behaviors.  I know when behavior crosses the line and how to react sanely.

My non-recovery friends, who aren’t specialists or experts in all topics, will listen to whatever problem I have without judgment.  It calms me down.  When my kids get my jokes, that makes me happy.  When my kids don’t get my jokes, and they still laugh, it also makes me happy.  In fact, I get the most out of life from people who have never been to an A.A. meeting.  Go figure.

I am learning to focus on what I can do to make life better for myself, and my family.   For instance, I’m getting better at making homemade pasta salad with fresh vegetables.  I am obsessed with the flavor of red onions now.  I make my own vinaigrettes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh minced garlic.

I’m not worried if I have garlic breath.  And I don’t need to go to a meeting.

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“The optimist sees a light at the end of the tunnel,
the realist sees a train entering the tunnel,
the pessimist sees a train speeding at him, hell for leather,and the machinist sees three idiots sitting on the tracks.”- German joke

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The 13th Step Documentary—Visit this link & show some support for people speaking up against sexual predators in A.A.

I just started blogging at The Fix— very excited to be a part of that!

For information on harm reduction, abstinence, and moderation support please CLICK HERE for HAMS.