Interview with Myself- part 2  

Some of these questions are inspired by actual comments on other blogs by actual people who asked them.  Although I try to reply to serious questions, it doesn’t stop me from getting baited by trolls and skunks determined to stink up the message board with cyber-bullying taunting, name-calling, and bashing.  In this section of interviewing myself I hope to put to rest some of the questions asked to me most frequently.

If you’re out of AA why do you care what’s happening in AA?

When people accuse me wrongly of not caring about AA members I would like to answer them with this:  A personal story that explains how my love for AA was identical to the love I had for my own mother.  It is difficult to love someone, or something, who or which won’t show you love back unless it’s on their terms.  A loving relationship is reciprocal.  You may not reach an understanding but you have empathy.  You would not treat them how you would not want to be treated yourself.  If someone only loves you if you agree with them, that is not love, that is a one-sided, selfish relationship.  I was definitely in a bad relationship with AA.

Yes, but some people like AA why can’t you leave them alone?

Because some people may be in AA, like I was, and don’t know how to leave AA.  I am not alone in numerous stories of people who are bullied or intimidated to stay in AA.  They are told not to say anything bad about AA because that might hurt someone else who needs help.  But people who are being bullied need help, too.  Who will speak for them?  I started the A.A.R.M.E.D blog because abuse, bullying, and crimes are wrong no matter where it takes place- even if it takes place in AA.

Look at this way:  The World Health Organization reports more than 125 million girls and women living in Africa and the Middle East today are victims of Female Genital Mutilation.  Do I live there? No.  Has it happened to me? No.  But I care because these women and girls suffer severe bleeding, urination problems, cysts, infections, infertility and increased complications of childbirth and stillborn births.

Saying some people like living in Africa and the Middle East does not forgive the wrongs happening over there.  Saying some people like AA doesn’t forgive the wrongs happening there.

Bad things can happen everywhere, aren’t you just picking on AA?

I’d stop picking on AA if AA were doing the best it could to prevent crime in the meetings.  As it is, AA operates on a trust system where members look out for other members.  This can and has gone wrong and the biggest example that comes to mind is the Midtown Group.

The Washington Post wrote about a young woman who felt she wasted 8 years of her life in AA.  At age 17, Kristen’s psychologist referred her to a young people’s AA group.  Upon members’ orders, Kristen and others isolated themselves from family and friends, had sex with older men, and were told to stop taking their meds.  One member of Midtown went off her meds and was hospitalized for being suicidal.  Kristen said her sponsor urged her to have sex with 63 year old Mike Q. to “solidify her sobriety and spiritual revival.”  She helped pimp out new girls to the older men, who called the group the Q Group after Mike.

Naturally, the group answered concerned parents by denying having underage sex with minors.  But lying about sex or telling people to stop taking meds does not mean other AA groups are being honest.  It’s just that the Q Group got caught.  AA’s tradition of not going on the record at the level of press, radio and film has allowed meetings to operate under the radar; Even while Americans routinely consider AA helpful without having much knowledge of AA.

Hitting on newcomers is lightheartedly called "13 Stepping" in AA- So is rape.
Hitting on newcomers is lightheartedly called “13 Stepping” in AA- So is rape.

Yet for the Q Group, Maryland law considers sex with 16 and 17 year old teens legal.  Groups like Midtown hide behind traditions, have no safety rules, and no oversight from a higher level.  “The assumption since our founding was that groups that did not follow the traditions and concepts would fall away” said a staff member at AA’s General Service Office- also reported in the Washington Post article.

In short, lack of oversight, and complete negligence on AA’s part, has allowed AA meetings to operate with who-knows-who being in leadership positions.  The ordinary person just finding AA will believe whatever they hear initially, especially impressionable younger people.  Sobriety at first seems like a dull proposition, and Midtown offered ski trips and dances.  As Kristen pointed out, when she left AA everyone in her cellphone was from AA- she had nobody.  She’d cut off her friends and family because her sponsor told her to.

So yes, bad things happen everywhere but under the context and reason for attending AA the bad things happen in a supposedly safe and trusted environment.  It’s like sending our loved ones to a hospital where the staff molests and steals from the patients and shrugging, “Well, bad things happen everywhere.”

Don’t you think you’re exaggerating how bad people are in AA?

The truth is how can we know how bad the people can be, it’s a crapshoot.  There are no background checks, members are anonymous, and the courts are ordering violent and sexual offenders.  I can think of no other organization that operates like this so openly flaunting their lack of rules but AA.

Recently a man shot and killed his sponsor, another sponsor was beat to death with a baseball bat, and another man was convicted of killing a woman he met in AA.   If just one of these crimes happened it would be cause for alarm but I just named three.  Eric Earle had a violent criminal history when he was attending AA and murdered Karla Brada.  A mentally ill felon was court ordered but used a baseball bat to commit murder.  The inmates are running the asylum and in America, we call these AA meetings rehabilitation and recovery.  Is this some kind of joke?

You were originally court ordered to AA because of a DUI or was it because you committed theft under threats of your abusive boyfriend?

Ironically, the abuser was supposed to be going to AA meetings, and his younger brother was in AA.  I actually thought if I urged him to go to AA he’d change who he was.  He date raped me.  Chad* kept calling, and for some reason, my mom invited him to go to my older brother’s college graduation without me knowing it.  He showed up and I was angry at my mom, and at myself, and not sure what to do.  After he raped me, my solution was avoiding him— to cut off all ties.  And at the time, it felt like the universe was conspiring against me.  I stayed with him because I felt there was no choice to make.  He’d keep finding me anyway.  I lived day to day, stealing for him, taking the blows, hits, and mock apologies.  Then, I escaped.

There’s a lot more to it than that but I didn’t run back to him after the rape- and I want to make that clear.  I was originally going to AA to show the courts before sentencing that I was doing something good to help myself.  It was supposed to develop a positive character profile for me.  I wasn’t talking to my family much about the abuse, although they knew he beat me it was tough to talk about.  I ended up getting a DUI in between the theft cases.  I kept going to meetings during the arrests and after the final month I spent in county jail, and that’s when I started to really work the AA program ( in July 2004).

You really tried to work the AA program?

Definitely, I saw all the police cars, sirens, jail cells, beatings and the sex I didn’t want to have and I was completely convinced that all of this was because of drinking.  If I stopped drinking, at least, I’d be able to understand myself better.  And to this day, I recommend not drinking in early recovery just to have a clear understanding of yourself, and what’s happened to you.

Not all people with drinking problems are liars- they might lie to get the "next drink" but their basic personalities are not liars.
Not all people with drinking problems are liars- they might lie to get the “next drink” but their basic personalities are not liars.

In my case, AA delayed the recovery for my abuse.  Not only did I escape a recent violent abusive situation, I had grown up with mental abuse by my parents.   In AA, my focus was mainly on how much I drank and what kind of person an alcoholic was.  I was learning as much as I could about the so-called alcoholic personality and attending at least one meeting or more a day.  I felt if I slacked off even once I was doomed to go back to where I was, and why would I want to go back to stealing for someone who was raping and beating me?  Who was calling me a cunt, bitch, stupid ass whore, fucking retard for not doing anything right?  I mean, I really don’t blame myself for grabbing onto AA and giving it a real honest shot.

I’m going to end this interview here today.  In Part 3 I’m not sure what I will discuss but thank you for reading, and for your continued interest in my story.

See part ONE here.

8 thoughts on “Interview with Myself- Part 2

  1. I like your analogy of the what is happening to women being mutilated in Africa. I always thought it was a silly question when people would ask why people who left AA cared about what goes on in AA today. I am so glad that you care and continue to write effectively about the realities of 12 step programs like AA.

    1. Thanks AntiDenial, albeit that was an extreme example it serves a point. I agree it is a silly question why people who leave AA still care. Thanks for your comment and for reading my latest post. It means more to me when I realize others care too, and I’m not alone in how I feel.

  2. I like your sidenote about AA calling people liars. They call their own people liars, to the extent that they don’t tow the line, and they call anyone who doesn’t agree with AA liars. In that environment, nothing but the program can be seen as true, regardless of any contrary evidence, experience or facts.

    1. Thanks CallingAAOut— This is exactly why any criticism of AA is blamed on “liars” which is wholly untrue. But the books place that blame in the sideways accusatory way- “Those who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program are constitutionally incapable with being honest with themselves…” But there are those who do recover providing they are honest. A program of rigorous honesty. Anything else contrary to AA is a lie; Anyone speaking against AA is a liar. That’s one of the favorite memes I made.

  3. There is a lot of weirdness in A.A, no doubt about that. I’m fortunate that I found a group where the craziness is pretty subdued, but I remember when I was going to a lot of different groups, and there were some odd birds to say the least. I wonder if they still use the term “earth people” when referring to non alcoholics. I hate that so much! The attitude that we are somehow different or even special people that have such unique personalities. It’s too much.

    You do have to be careful at meetings, and a new person would never know that. I never knew that courts were sending dangerous people to AA, but yeah they do. And not every ex con is a bad person, many are really trying to get themselves together, but it’s almost impossible to tell. I mean they are good at conning people, that’s what they do! I once made a huge mistake many years ago of letting someone stay in my apartment who I met at a meeting. Turns out the guy was still smoking crack and I had a hell of a time getting him to leave. Since that time, I really am careful to draw some definite boundaries.

    It’s interesting that when I was doing volunteer work at a state prison (taking AA meetings), the prison made us attend a class before we went in there, where we learned some basic things to look out for when talking to convicts. It was valuable training and I used it too, but there’s no such training for people attending an AA meeting or even a warning. I don’t think there’s even a pamphlet on safety. I need to check that out.

    I think it’s a good thing that you are shining a light on these problem, and those AA people who are giving you a hard time, are doing it out of fear I think. They feel personally threatened when they hear criticism of AA. I understand the mentality, I was there once.

    1. Thank you, John, and I love what you wrote.

      I think what the prison you went to does is a great example of what I’d like to see at any recovery meeting- AA, SMART or otherwise.

      It’s not too demanding, or taxing, to go over some safety procedures for those expected to run the meetings. In AA it’s a rotating basis for chairs and other service positions, but I don’t see having safety policies explained getting in the way of anything AA does already. If anything, it just makes meetings safer and that makes a lot of sense.

      Not all ex-cons are dangerous. From my other blogs, and on the Fix, you’ll see I have been arrested in the distant past and a lot of people have also. Even for non-alcohol related crimes. And there are some, like myself, who simply could not fight the system like I wish I could have. Or there’s felonious DUIs- which I don’t have- but they’re felons too.

      The other danger is attracting people who are dangerous who don’t have a criminal history, they just have never been caught.

      I mention the earth people in my Normies article on the Fix:

      I find it irritating, mainly because it makes people think they can’t discuss AA or recovery issues with “normies” and that isn’t true. It also makes people think not only do they have these “special” addiction issues, but they’re abnormal. In my experience, no one is normal. And there are some seriously sick people out there who are not alcoholics or addicts. I just wrote something including the terminal uniqueness idea and hope that will be published soon so I can share the link.

      Thanks for your understanding of my pointing out the hazards in AA. I had spoken to someone who’s been affiliated with Hazelden and acknowledges there are no safety rules in AA. There are no safety pamphlets either. At the least, AA needs to make that pamphlet made. Safety rules should be read along with the preamble and steps and traditions at every AA meeting.

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