Last Love Letter to a Stepper by my friend Bruce McD (See also here: http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/node/6713)
LAST LOVE LETTER TO A STEPPER
Samantha, you were intent that you knew the reason for meeting me. Well, I finally realized my purpose for meeting you. Here’s a little story for you …
My neighbor likes to bring over cheap cigars and share them with me while we watch the sunset from my balcony. As he and I puff the (grape flavored, who smokes grapes? Yuck!) cigars on the balcony we glance over to watch the lady next door leaning over the rail, her face in her hands, crying to herself. She will soon die of leukemia. It reminds me of my friend who died of throat cancer, a while back, while renting the same apartment. The couple across the way are embracing, his latest diagnosis came back with negative connotations. Then there are thousands of displaced people in Lake County from the fires, and millions of refugees in Europe struggling for their lives and for the lives of their children.
Which is harder to ponder, a single broken heart, or the broken hearts of millions?
The whole time I reflect on this, I ask … does the person I write this to even have a heart? I have to wonder how vain I am because I have might have done something evil enough to lose a good friend and wonder if I should even continue trying to get her friendship back.
I watch a perfect, dense, smoke ring drift gently upwards. It rolls and dances for a moment, then gets whiffed away by with a waft of wind …
Samantha: I’m glad that you have kept our channels of communication open and that I am still having positive dreams where you appear. I wanted to say a few last things to you, get closure, but I did not know how. After many days of intensive contemplation and research I found my angle.
The angle is this — “What if these were the last words I ever spoke to you?”
And so it is …
I had a dream last night that you came to visit me in the hospital during my last few days of breathing air from this planet. I’m not sure why you came, but I was glad to see you. I wanted to say some last words to you. This is one of the hardest and most painful things I have ever done in my life, but I rest on the words you said to me, that I “needed a sponsor to kick my ass!”
In an effort to better understand you, I began researching and studying everything I could find out about Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). I’ve looked at the good and the bad of A.A. and other 12 step institutions. I came across so much information that I am totally taken back by the whole concept.
First things first. A sponsor is not really supposed to kick your ass, metaphorically or otherwise. All they are supposed to do is share life experiences.
So this is what I have to say:
Hello Samantha! It’s nice to see you. I’m glad you magically appeared at the side of my death bed. I’ve been waiting all these years to tell you that you really treated me like an asshole. Yes, you were a complete asshole to me. I’m happy that you are here so that I can tell you that to your face.
Begin with the end in mind! My ending is, and was always, a positive one, at the very least. I believed in you. I believed that you had a higher level of thinking. I admired your wisdom and philosophies. I had offered a forum of total and complete communication, some call it intimacy, some call it trust, but you shut me down, closed the doors and locked the windows on what I thought could have been a good and long-lasting friendship.
“Intimacy is the gift that bonds us one to another. … Becoming intimate with someone else unites us, enlarges our capacities to nurture the people in our lives. Our emotional growth is proportionate to our attempts at intimacy. Our unity with another is possible only if we share the person who lives within.”
I should have seen the red flags when you told me you have never been able to maintain friendships with any of your ex’s. You told me about your grief therapy and how you were going through group sessions and exercises with your shrink to get in touch with your repressed feelings. But, you said you have come a long way and I was taken in by your peaceful mentality. You were given my complete trust without any effort. I simply had a great feeling about you and figured I could serve you as a friend by helping you out, being there with you, for you, while you are learning to get in touch with your feelings and emotions. I had no idea what I was up against.
I had asked you to give me a reason that you felt it necessary to suddenly quit talking to me and shut me out. Give me any reason legitimate, irrational, or otherwise. Tell me anything. Tell me I stink, I’m ugly, my teeth are too crooked. Tell me I am not high enough on the social strata for you. Tell me why I do not qualify as a friend, as a person. Tell me why you are not safe telling me. Give me ONE reason as to why I should give up on you as a friend, as a person, a human.
My shrink asked me why it was so important to get a reason from you as to why you wanted to end our friendship so abruptly. I thought about it for a second then told her, “It’s a respect thing.”
Samantha, I so respected you. I actually looked up to you. I saw your ability to think on a higher realm than most humans are even able to aspire to. When I asked you for the reason why you shut the door on our friendship it’s because I wanted once last chance to show you how much I respected you.
“Tell me what’s not right about our relationship for you,” I asked.
Had you given me one reason, I could have thought about it then said, “Yes, if that’s how you feel, it’s important to me that I support your feelings and that I respect you for who you are. May God bless you and your feelings. I will do as you desire.”
I never had that chance. You robbed yourself, and me, of the opportunity to show you that your feelings, your thoughts, your desires, are worthy of validation and respect. I deserved that opportunity. I would have enjoyed doing it for you. Yet you did not allow it by shutting me out.
I never got closure as to why you wrote an email to me that says, “I need you to stop contacting me.” I felt it showed a lack of respect for me as a person, as a human. I was blown away that someone like you would approach people in this manner. I asked for one reason, that one reason, no matter what, that I could respect for you.
By you slamming the doors and locking your windows I was left only wondering what it could be. Is your rationale so ridiculous that you cannot tell me? What could it be? I asked you again, trying to offer safety. But you remained silent. You refused to give me an answer. So, I was left to find one my own …
During my search, for the reason I was led down a twisting-turning path of social science, biology, religion, and lunacy. The answers I found may be ridiculous to you, but, it creates a happy ending for me. Perhaps I could help her. Perhaps I could rescue her from a toxic ideology and she could finally become “recovered.” She could graduate!
Based on our interactions and how we made each other smile and laugh, that there was nothing negative between us, either we really liked each other or you were really good at faking it. I figured you were acting out of some type of fear by treating me like a feral cat when you did. Being that you were cloaked by fear, I begged and pleaded my “God,” my higher power, for an answer as to why you put up such a negative and toxic wall.
The answer I heard was this …
“There are two strong possibilities for Samantha treating you like shit the way she did:
1. Samantha was 13th stepping you
2. Samantha’s sponsor told her to break it off.”
When I heard those two options I started to dig deep in the psychic trenches trying to find the answer-to-the-answer. I took our emails to the Old-Timers and sponsors who have no relationship or psychology training whatsoever, to ex-steppers, to highly skilled licensed counselors, and to Father Murphy, my dear friend. I also trolled many A.A. and Anti-A.A. blogs. They all said the same things! Based on our story, “Samantha was either 13th stepping you and/or her sponsor told her to break it off with you.”
1. 13th Stepper: The one I chose not to believe is that you were 13th stepping me. 13th steppers are seen inside and outside of the A.A. group as a form of sexual predator. Based on what little I know about you I found you to be quite sweet, caring, lovely, and an advanced thinker (not to mention a Mother of four). I found this reason difficult to accept. However, since our interactions were only allowed to be only quite brief, there were some clues left in the wake.
I looked up the term “sexual predator” and found that many of the personality characteristics fit into the psychopathic and narcissistic schemata. Both exhibit essentially the same pathology traditionally defined as: “A personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy, and remorse. A person with a psychopathic personality manifest themselves as exhibiting amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, and failure to learn from experience. They tend to have feelings of alienation from other people. This may mean that the individual is attracted to those who appear vulnerable. They have low self-esteem and believe that their only chance of developing a relationship is with those who are vulnerable. They tend to be highly insecure in relationships, and their relationships tend to be short lived.”
Although it is important for a predator to prey on the “young” and “vulnerable” and “needy,” I felt that I did not totally fit the criteria as a target. Although I am not “young,” I am 3 years younger than you and I am not vulnerable. Yet, “vulnerable” is an ambiguous concept. I have not come across the term “vulnerable” so many times in such a short period of time until I met you and started researching A.A. and the 13th step concept. I remember your texts, e-mails, and conversations, and how you stated that it “turned you on when a man allows himself to be vulnerable.” I also remember you saying things would be different between us had I not conformed to your ideal of me rejoining A.A.
I did, however, make myself vulnerable to you. I invited you into my home, let you drive my truck with me as your passenger, and told you a few secrets about myself. I was not needy, although I did need a friend, especially a woman friend, to whom I could relate to. We all need something. Thank God I did not tell you all of my secrets!
As a predator, one would need to affirm dominance over another. Acting as a friend would not supplicate the needed desire to dominate the predator’s subject. Friends are usually equals that give and take. Perhaps that’s why you focused so much on the “gifts” I gave to you, because you had no plans on ever being friends. It stirred you a bit. Actually, it would have been more fun had I known all you wanted was to get fucked. Instead of patiently and carefully navigating the nuances of intimacy and sex with a new partner and letting it get better and better, we could have just moved right into the kinky stuff. Forget the spit swapping and emotional baggage!
Females are most often seen as the victim of the 13th stepper because females take on the most risk, i.e. pregnancy. Guys just like to get laid, so, rarely are they seen as a victim of a female predator. It’s when the guy’s emotions get involved that they suddenly see themselves as a victim of female predation. Women 13th steppers do it for a badge of honor within the A.A. fold even though they know their sponsors should disapprove. They get their revenge on men who have mistreated them in the past. They get sex and a power trip at the same time. The personality profile is extensive and it’s true that female predators are out there and functioning. I highly encourage you to read the following article written by a self-proclaimed female predator. “The Adventures of a Female 13th-Stepper.”
As one writer puts it, “We’re not talking about your average A.A.-er, unwittingly acting out the usual grab bag of sexual dysfunctions with others, but those who repeatedly try to get those not yet on their feet into their beds, oftentimes leaving them in psychological and emotional turmoil. Don’t expect roses on your doorstep (or even a text message) after the predator is done with you. The dynamics of the program allow for a perpetrator to feel secure from disclosure and reprehension, while at the same time, potential victims are letting their guard down while being lead to believe that they are safe.”
Members of anonymous groups, including sponsors, are not always sympathetic toward victims. It is often called an “outside issue”. Keep your problems confined as they relate to alcohol; if it’s a sobriety threatening issue, focus on not wanting to drink, don’t blame anyone else for your problems. I’m sure you practice the phrase: “Look at your part in it.” This indicates that a victim should keep quiet and actually examine their own role as an abused member. Some advice given regularly in the rooms is: “keep your own side of the street clean” and “don’t do another person’s inventory.
Samantha, you had told me earlier that your “Course In Miracles” teacher suggested that when predator and prey meet and reconcile that forgiveness is possible, true, real, and final. I myself have attended seminars in “reconciliation” and it’s an amazing process. Both parties have to want it though, just like anything.
If you are a 13th stepper then you owe me an Amends. Otherwise, according to your dogma, you will return to drinking and you will ‘die.’ (LOL! That’s one of A.A.’s many fear tactics). You cannot escape doing an amends on the premise that “unless more harm is created” because the harm has already been done. Of course, you could always escape through the circular logic that it would cause harm to you. Also, if you are a 13th stepper, I need to know so that I should have my penis checked. I have not been with a woman for almost three years and my dick had been clean so it would be obvious who delivered a less than welcome gift. Or would that be considered an outside issue?
2. THE SPONSOR: This is one I prefer to believe, that your sponsor directed you to cut all ties. If it’s true, no Amends is necessary because I actually feel bad for you; my heart is ripped out for you, because I see that you have actually lost your soul to a pervasive and toxic ideology that has tainted you with historically proven tactics of downtrodden mind control. But of coarse, they teach that if you are brainwashed then maybe your brain needed a good washing.
Yeah, A.A. and the 12 Steps do have value, I’m not arguing that here … However, the original intent and purpose of your “fellowship” has morphed into creating a never ending dis-ease where it is more important to “keep coming back” than to ever be free of the dis-ease. Alcoholics Anonymous is a “recovery program” with no exit plan that espouses the idea that the best that one can hope to achieve is to live out their life as a “recovering alcoholic – one day at a time” for eternity! Strange, because I saw you as recovered.
I read and re-read your emails looking for clues. I found lots of A.A. cliché combined with A.A. metaphor, slogans, and vocabulary. It took me a while to decipher the language but I see now why I asked you to respond to me without using A.A. linguistics. It’s because the meanings behind the words are something that I was not familiar with until now. These are meanings Earth People do not get until full indoctrination into the system.
I took the letters and our story to professionals, Old timers, Recovered Alcoholics, Ex-steppers, and my favorite Priest. They all said the same thing, based on the fact that we had experienced nothing negative between us to this point, it had to have been that, “her sponsor told her to cut all ties.”
I said “No way! She’s 52 years old; she can make her own decisions.”
“But she has been going to meetings for twelve years and doing other stepper programs as well.”
“Yes,” I said, “At least that what she told me. “
“Ah, yes 12 years. I’ve seen and heard of these situations,” tells the Recovered Alcoholic. “There are too many stories over time about how these people allowed their sponsor to meddle in their personal lives. The ones who become full members will take the suggestions seriously. The one who is not willing to participate on that level will never be completely accepted into the group as a leader and may even loose their current status. There is a very clear separation between those who are peripheral members and those who are in the inner circle.”
“You see,” explains the Recovered Alcoholic, “according to an unwritten rule, relationships are not allowed for at least one year of sobriety. If her sponsor told her to break it off with you, then it was for one of two reasons … One, she will be seen as 13th stepping you, and two, relationships are not allowed for at least one year.”
“WTF?” I said. “The 13th step is done, too late! Even her Shrink said that this ‘relationship’ presents a new opportunity for her. Why would she take advice from an uneducated sponsor over her Shrink? Why would she tell me that she can’t be my friend ‘right now’?”
“This is a big deal!” exclaims the Ex-stepper. “There’s this unwritten ‘untouchable zone’ with new members. If someone with any amount of solid time sleeps with somebody under 60 days they would be called a 13th stepper. The sponsor would tell them to knock it off. If they don’t, they’d threaten to quit being their sponsor. It didn’t matter if they liked each other,” she explains, as she slouches, then looks down. “I’ve seen it in many groups over the years. The men never gave a shit what the sponsor said. But, the women were held extremely accountable.”
“What?” I asked. “What do a bunch of self-proclaimed professionals know about relationships? What about just being friends? What about the ‘god’ that releases them from their disease? Is that god only a singleness of purpose god or can their god do other miracles, like make you ready and able to have friends?”
“She has been indoctrinated by the A.A. program,” explains the Recovered Alcoholic. “Those who have internalized the dogma and do not do as they are told will suffer a terrible fate; they will relapse and then they will die. Their behaviors are dictated by this type of induced phobia and fear. These people are led to believe that their lives are fully dependent on the program.”
“They give up power to their sponsor, too much power.” He continues explaining, “People in A.A. often confuse their sponsor with someone who is an expert. Remember, the indoctrination says, ‘no alcoholic … can claim soundness of mind for himself.’ 12 and 12 page 33. They give power to their sponsor, make the necessary sacrifices demanded of them, then they expect the same from their sponsees. It’s a never ending vicious circle. But remember, alcoholics are not supposed to be ‘in control’ of anything and they are to remain powerless.”
“Most sponsors,” he laughs, “simply fling slogans at a member, because they do not have the education needed to dispense therapeutic/helpful advice that they can’t fix their own life with, let-alone someone else’s. Then you have the know-it-all sponsors with maybe a high school education insisting you make life altering changes, which they themselves are frightened to implement. The problem is that they are indoctrinated to rely on the sponsor. Remember, you are not able to think for yourself? Your best thinking got you here. So call your sponsor! If she believes and works the program, then she must listen to her sponsor. She was reminded that she has attained more sobriety than you.”
“What?” I asked. “But I gave up alcohol. I’ve been totally sober for like 65 days.”
“Sobriety isn’t about abstinence. In A.A. terms it means that she has reached a higher level of spirituality than you. See, A.A. members speak about the quality of someone’s sobriety as if they are evaluating levels or degrees of your spirituality. Even though the Big Book says, ‘these were the steps that we took,’ not ‘these are the steps that we take,’ until you know and love the 12 Steps and repeat them vivaciously, you will never be worthy of a relationship with her.”
“Wait, wait!” I said. “So she will always be 12 years/steps ahead of me? That’s ironic! Forget about me, my experiences, my knowledge, who I am, and where I stand today?”
“Yes,” explains the Recovered Alcoholic, “at this time she is considered farther advanced from you and she will be seen as 13th stepping you for at least a year. It’s looked down upon because when those A.A. members who have achieved long term sobriety commit such actions it brings the whole fellowship into disrepute. It may be enough to drive new members away from the group, even those who really need the support. In many instances these attempts to 13th Step the newcomer will be followed by a betrayal of trust. Newcomers have turned to the group for help yet somebody in the group is trying to ‘exploit’ them sexually. There are some individuals in A.A. who move from one newcomer to the next.
All members are told to place recovery as their first priority. Newer members are told not to get involved in an intimate relationship, change jobs, get divorced, stop smoking, move to a different city, or make any major decisions for the first year of recovery. Often times they are told to leave their family, friends and others only to dedicate their lives to the inner workings of the A.A. network. Put your ‘sobriety’ above ALL things. Her sponsor reminded her of this.”
The Recovered Alcoholic laughs, “Recovery and sobriety means ‘finding god.’ They think it will take at least a year to find a ‘god’ to walk with and trust. Forget about the miracles from their higher power that they love to profess!”
“What the fuck?” I asked, “This is a bullshit program. I thought no one was better or worse than the next. I thought we are equal? I thought we had ‘fellowship.’ If they had told me on my first day that I’m not allowed to have a relationship in the first year I would have bailed immediately. The Guru 13th stepped me then goes on to believe that I am ‘too sick’ for relationships for a year? Don’t they know that love cures addictions?”
“Precisely,” explains the Recovered Alcoholic. “However, you are allowed to have relationships, but you are supposed to love those in A.A., and those relationships must be with other men in A.A. It’s another unwritten rule: men with men – women with women. They haven’t addressed the gay issue yet, but they love bomb you for a reason. Most of those people are drinking because they have no relationships. They find relationships in A.A. Yes, it helps the downtrodden, the thieves, the sick, and the lonely. The toxicity lies in the fact that you must have a relationship within the A.A. group and you are reminded that you will never ‘recover.’ This helps to create dependency and unity with the A.A. group, reinforces the sponsor-sponsee relationship, and keeps the money flowing to the six people in New York who are getting healthy salaries guarding a P.O. Box.”
“The scary part is,” he continues explaining, “most of those people are there because they truly are sick in some fashion. That’s the dichotomy. If you are looking for healthy relationships, you won’t find them with people who are in A.A.. You don’t find people like Scout Masters, for example, in this fellowship. Those leaders are out there, hiking, pitching tents, gathering wood, and being real examples of how to survive in this world. Sponsors can rule their world with a cell phone while sitting on their little, safe, and cozy back-porch.”
“The thing is too,” my Shrink explains, “most of those people will walk right out on you in a heart-beat. That’s what they have experienced in prior relationships and that’s the way they live. Remember also, they’ve been trained that they are powerless. So they will innately find power and exert it where they see appropriate. They will then defuse the negativity through their sponsor. Thus they find momentary relief.”
“WOWO!” I said. “I’m completely disillusioned by this bullshit. What about the promises, the principles, faith, love and tolerance for others, honesty, the 12 step virtues, integrity, community, and how they practice these principles in all of their affairs?
What about the saying, ‘I AM RESPONSIBLE. When anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. AND FOR THAT I AM RESPONSIBLE.’ And ‘Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.'” page 97
“What about the ‘Four Absolutes?’” I put forth.
1. When we offer love, we offer our life; are we prepared to give it?
2. When another offers us love, he offers his life; have we the grace to receive?
3. When love is offered, God is there; have we received Him.
4. The will to love is God’s will; have we taken the Third Step? Ask yourself, Is this ugly or is it beautiful? If it’s truly beautiful then it is the way of love, it is the way of A.A., and it is the will of God as we understand Him.’”
“And what about these?” as I open the Big Book .
-‘Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. Give freely of what you find …’ pg 164.
-‘Though they knew they must help other alcoholics if they would remain sober, that motive became secondary. It was transcended by the happiness they found in giving themselves for others. They shared their homes, their slender resources and gladly devoted spare hours to fellow-sufferers.’ pg. 159.
-‘Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. It may mean the loss of many nights’ sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business. It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic wives and relatives, innumerable trips to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night.’ pg 97
“I actually believed that I could trust her!” I rubbed my forehead. “She did not have to earn my trust. I gave it to her. She told me she actually believed in these ‘principles’ and held them close to her heart, and she believed in the program and others like it. Based on her philosophies, I actually figured we’d remain friends for life. I’m so confused.”
“Well,” the Recovered Alcoholic says as he taps on the book, “you can take it or leave it. They can defer to ‘singleness of purpose,’ and these principles really do not have much of anything to do with individuals. The first tradition is clearly aimed at reminding you to stay loyal to the group. ‘Deferring my personal desires for the greater good of group growth contributes toward A.A. unity that is central to all recovery.’ It helps them to remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you try to demand ‘principles before personalities’ as seen in the in Tradition Twelve, you’ll see that, really, the group takes precedence over your personal beliefs, morals, desires, or even your personal welfare. Again, you must conform to the group.”
“You can’t win man!” He says. “You are too smart for this shit and she knew it. You had too much faith in her, she simply could not carry out her charades with you involved.”
“Oh My God!” I said. “I am so confused. I felt that we had a great dynamic. Nothing negative. She was cool. We talked and listened to each other, shared ideas validated each other?”
The Old-timer takes a poke at me, “Feelings are not facts!” He laughs. “Stuff your feelings!”
“What?” I asked. “OK … I thought we had a great dynamic.”
He pokes again, “Your best thinking got you here! Stop your stinkin’ thinkin! Besides, your ‘dynamic’ had nothing to do with your personal interactions. It refers to your status within the group.”
“So I can’t think or feel?” I asked. “Now I’m really confused.”
“It’s a Simple Program,” my shrink explains. “It’s a highly complicated set of ideas that requires a massive effort of intellectual contortion to accept, which makes it complex but not complicated! All you have to do is ACCEPT IT.”
“It’s easy,” she says with a smirk. “It’s a program of rigorous honesty where they encourage you to ‘fake it till ya make it.’ First they break you down by rendering your new identity as Alcoholic and then tell you that you are powerless over alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful!”
“You are powerless,” she tells me. “But a chemical, which has no brain, actually has the ability to be cunning, baffling, and powerful! Then they break you down even further by telling you all sorts of negative things about yourself, if you don’t believe it just do a moral inventory, step 4. The inventory does not ask you to point out your positives.”
“They induce guilt,” she goes on. “They continually cycle negativity. None of their slogans say anything positive about you as an individual, they simply reinforce how you must conform to the group and then they tell you to keep coming back. Somehow, you are supposed to have a spiritual experience through all of it, then you must keep coming back to help reinforce it for the newcomers.”
The Recovered Alcoholic goes on to explain, “Ultimately, the basket gets passed, 60% to the Group’s local Central Service Office, 30% to the A.A. National Office and 10% to the District (National Committee structure), which adds up to millions. Right now A.A. gets about $7M per year from group/member donations and sells $15M of literature per year. They spend $10M in wages and salaries each year for 109 employees. The top six executives make from $150,000 to $500,000. All this data is publicly available. I’m sure they get much more but they are cleverly cloaked behind the anonymity.”
“So this ‘program’ was invented as a money machine?” I asked.
“Not in the beginning,” says the True Believer. “Originally, the 12 steps were to designed to induce a spiritual awakening, thus they find a new power or recover their lost power. Many people have done the steps and, in their experience was … ‘As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully.’”
As writer Daniel J Schwarzhoff says, “The Big Book is meant to be used by a person who has discovered God to carry its message of freedom and growth to others. It is a spiritual, literary tool inspired by God through which one anger free, God-conscious individual can simply show another still suffering alcoholic, reeling inside from a lifetime of suppressed anger and fear, the precise solution he has found, so they can find it too. He can show him how his new life expresses effortlessly into all of his affairs, positively altering life for himself as well as those around him; to whom he now extends forgiveness instead of impatience, intolerance, and bitterness. It is not (a book) to enslave others to the written words contained, no matter how true, beautiful or otherwise useful.”
Schwarzhoff goes on to say, “Keep coming back is NOT an A.A. expression found in the Big Book. The spirit behind it is a distraction from the Spirit of spiritual recovery proposed in the book. ‘Keep coming back’ and similar chants is a dilution of the Primary Purpose and re-prioritizes the newcomer’s attentions into a recovery lifestyle emphasizing fellowshipping. It keeps them trapped on the Broad Highway rather than directing them onto the narrow path and discovery of God. Reject those principles, those procedures then, (because) ‘Never Recover’ becomes their truth – and although they may experience a brief Fellowship career, hovering in some limbo-like state of the assisted-living misnomer called, ‘Recover-ING,’ peace and ease will escape them.”
Originally, it was a type of first-aid station recognizing that sobriety is not a way of life, it is simply the absence of intoxication. Sobriety became a spiritual experience so that they could find forgiveness and continue their abstinence. Once they got sober they were encouraged to reach out to other resources in the community, they got a job, and hugged their kids. The original intent (however good that may have been) includes the following from the Forward and the Doctor’s Opinion.
1. The main point of Alcoholics Anonymous is to show “precisely how we have recovered.
2. Dr. Silkworth contends that the discoveries outlined in this book are of extraordinary medical importance and may represent a remedy for alcoholism.
3. The medical community has recognized but cannot provide a remedy based on “moral psychology.
4. Alcoholism is a “hopeless” “illness” because there is no effective treatment.
5. Alcoholics need some “power” greater than themselves to recover.
6. Dr. Silkworth describes loss of control and craving as central symptoms of alcoholism.
7. To produce the essential psychic change needed to cure alcoholism something more than human power is needed.
The recovered alcoholics in the Group, men and woman, who had a spiritual awakening as the result of the Twelve Steps would now show the un-recovered alcoholic precisely how it happened to them and take the suffering person through the very same process. So that in about a month’s time the formerly un-recovered alcoholic, now spiritually awakened and practicing the non-religious Twelve Steps could be “recovered.” The newly recovered would in turn “come back” to the venue and receive still other “new” prospects for the same process and experience that they had just undergone.
The Primary Purpose of most A.A. Groups is no longer engaging to a full recovery, the original spiritual protocol, but serving as a “talking cure.” They are clubhouses of recovering meetings, with newcomers, sponsors, and doctrine addicted zombies.
Schwarzhoff puts it this way: “The ‘healed’ found joy in remaining with a group so that a still puking drunk could come and find him and be shown exactly the same solution which was an eye-ball-to-eyeball journey through the 12 steps toward discovering God. The meetings were just a place for this convergence of one-alcoholic-to-another to take place. It was not group therapy, or a support group. The idea was that recovered, awakened, God conscious, ex-problem drinker-members would gather frequently – as often as once a week – because they wanted to, not because they had to. It was done joyfully, not needfully.”
“Instead,” explains the Recovered Alcoholic, “now, they prefer to ignore this vital point and struggle along with an addiction to A.A. itself and many other compensatory obsessions then go around congratulating themselves for their ‘sobriety’. Unfortunately, they keep coming back, not to help others, but to ‘help’ themselves. They came here to depend on the group, not on their ‘god’ and not on themselves. Most of the Old-timers come in because they need to tend to their flock, get their dose of power and control, and socialize.”
“Yes, today’s version of A.A. is quite different from the original conception,” explains my shrink. “Take the story of a woman currently addicted to 12-Step Programs. For 20 years she has joined and rejoined twelve-step, self-help groups, always thinking of and keeping herself in a ‘broken‘ mode. For this kind of person, there is no ‘post-addiction’ victory. Life becomes a broken record because she gets caught in an endless loop of therapy and self-help programs, never realizing what lies beyond addiction. Life is consumed with the need merely to maintain, never to reach and achieve. The fear of falling off the wagon sometimes keeps the wagon from going anywhere new, exciting, and fulfilling, or moving into the future of possibility – beyond the twelfth step. How much of what A.A. members think, holding the beast at bay, is actually feeding an addiction that long ago lost any power it had over them?”
My teacher puts it this way, “The issue today is that the self-fulfilling prophecy of A.A. is that one must accept a hopeless-lifelong-addiction as an infallible postulate on which to base one’s continued existence. i.e. Only by becoming a lifelong addict (to A.A. & Stepper programs) can one attain freedom from lifelong addiction. What an insane feedback loop to be trapped in!”
The Recovered Alcoholic points out, “The Big Book specifically states that A.A. is a substitute for an alcohol addiction, as well as a substitute lifestyle:
~ You say, “…I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?” Yes, there is a substitute, and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. Big Book (page 152).
~Therefore dependence, as A.A. practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson” (page 36)
“What A.A. systematically does,” explains my Shrink, “is replace one addiction with another, i.e., it replaces alcoholism with total dependence on its program. It does not teach someone prone to addiction how to develop self-esteem and a strong sense of self and determination. Instead of treating alcoholism as a biopsychosocial disorder, they treat it like it is the fault of the individual, and the only way to correct this fault is to spend the rest of your life worshiping A.A. and other step programs. They direct your spirit right out of you, and then give you a fresh one.
The ‘sober condition’ originates from spiritual ‘defects of character’ and moral ‘shortcomings’ that haunt the addict’s world view. It’s not usually the case that this is good for people. Unachieved goals and unrealized potential are an unaddressed threat to the addictive client’s sober future. They keep him or her locked into an endless cycle of running ‘no-destination laps’ on the ‘need-to-stay-sober treadmill.’ This cycle needs to be broken in order to and steer people towards a place of realized dreams, where the focus is on the wonderful possible future, instead of the destructive past.”
My teacher explains it this way, “Today, A.A. has become about the number of meetings you make regardless of the content. It has nothing to do with the original intent of A.A.. It’s all about meetings. And you are taught that healing is a constant and ongoing process. It’s not one that you finish after the 12th step. Because this was soon made obvious, Arthur Cain, a popular writer for the New York Times, became embattled with the founders. Yes, Cain found many good things about the program but argued that the A.A. dogmatism had prevented many people from seeking a more moderate solution. He proposed that sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous should not include slavery to it.”
My Shrink laughs, sits back in her chair as she tells me, “Here’s my favorite one,” she pauses. “The A.A. dogma has created a self-made-codependency to, with, and for the program. The term ‘codependency’ was actually first coined in the 1970s by those associated with the Alcoholics Anonymous movement; A.A. had recognized that some families had become locked into a pattern of ‘pathological’ dependence upon one another.
The codependency/recovery movement is one of the newest and largest offshoots of the addiction treatment industry and the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve-Step programs. The concept, along with the 12-Step recovery process, was first applied to spouses of alcoholics who supposedly enter into an addictive relationship with the alcoholic. But! It is now currently being applied across the board to anyone who might feel compelled, for whatever reason, to put others before himself. The number of supposedly ‘afflicted’ codependents now range from tens of thousands, to 40 million, to 100 million, and upwards to 96% of the population.”
“Yeah,” I said “So I guess that would make me codependent?”
“Indeed!” My shrink tells me. “Because of the broad scope of today’s definitions and the great variety of characteristics and behaviors associated with today’s so-called codependency, some therapists contend that ‘codependency is anything and everything, and everyone is codependent.’ One psychiatrist declares: ‘Just about everyone has some of it.’ And, if everyone is codependent, and therefore sick, everyone needs some kind of treatment to get well.”
She laughs again. “The diagnosis ‘codependent’ is not even included in the DSM-V nor any prior edition of the DSM, mainly because it’s not a mental illness. The DSM does contend codependence would be more of a syndrome than an illness. If a professional looks to the DSM-V for a definition, they are simply deferred to the thousands of books currently published on the subject. Codependence is a label. The label is NOT a diagnosis. The label is dangerous!”
“The problem is this,” she explains, “that the label ‘codependent’ has become so morphed that slapping it on someone today can have powerful and detrimental effects on a person. It gets really bad when a professional not only sees the client as codependent but then labels them as codependent. The individual starts seeing himself/herself through that label. Pretty soon everything is seen in reference to codependence. It may stick for life. The person then lives the role as a perpetual recovering codependent.”
She giggles. “Forget about being nice and helping others by casting your bread upon the waters. It helps the business! Job security!”
She goes on to explain, “Even the children of alcoholics are supposed to do the Twelve Steps in organizations like ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), Al-Anon, and Alateen. Obviously, the Twelve Steps can’t really be a program for quitting drinking, because those children don’t drink alcohol, and they never have. Yet the spouses and children (and even close friends) of alcoholics are all supposed to be indoctrinated into practicing the Twelve Steps, just because they have some relationship with an alcoholic and have supposedly been infected with a spiritual disease called co-dependency.”
My Shrink puts forth an analogy: “When you’re beach combing and have collected more than a few crabs you no longer need a lid on your bucket, because, whenever one tries to climb out the others all pull it back in. This is the toxic role that ongoing anxiety within the group plays in sustaining A.A. and other 12 step programs.”
“In fact,” she points her finger at me, “too strongly identifying with, belonging to anything, is a classic a sign of ongoing people dependency and spiritual illness, not recovery or wellness. Anytime something is abused beyond its intended purpose in order to numb the pain of inner guilt for having resented, judged and played god, it automatically becomes obsessive – and must be continually refreshed or else the pain being anesthetized catches up.”
The Recovered Alcoholic laughs, “Because of the estimated numbers of people who can become ‘afflicted’ with codependency, some see it designed as another way of getting more people into the program so that the office in New York can watch the baskets full of money continue to roll in.”
“HOLY SHIT!” as I choked. “I’m freeeeking out! This just gets deeper and deeper! What about just hanging out with people who can recognize each other’s frailties but can also see the power in each other? What about just doing what we can do for each other, share what we can share, and enjoy the moment?”
My Priest laughs out loud!
“So,” I ask. “If the original idea of A.A. was to go to meetings to find and help other people, why would she want to go to a meeting in a dimly lit room in the middle of the day, 350 miles from where she lives, instead of going out and enjoying a beautiful time in the mountains? There’s no way she can be of any real help to some lady here in Middletown?”
My Priest laughs again, “She needed a meeting!”
My sponsor tries to console me, “It’s sad that she shut you out in such a childish way but remember, don’t get angry, it’s a program of serenity. In the book it says, ‘When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” page 449
“What?” I asked. “You are joking! So if it’s God’s will that when a bunch of bad things happen, then I should just accept it? What about assholes killing my friends, raping my daughter, and kicking my dog? Because it is the Will of God? What? Huh?”
The Old-timer shrugs me off this way, “Your thinking is ‘alcoholic’ and cannot be trusted, your feelings are also alcoholic and cannot be trusted either. You cannot trust your gut instincts, you must be alienated from yourself. Anger is especially prohibited, and should only be felt while criticizing enemies of A.A.”
My shrink tells me feelings, emotions, and resentments are are part of normal life. “They are ways of learning and coping with situations and they also help us avoid dangers as well as to seek good things in the future. We have human traits which, at the very least, should not be ignored but should be recognized, developed, and celebrated.
“Yes,” my Shrink tells me, “there is such a thing as justified anger as much as there is justified joy. Resentments are adaptive functions. Without resentment we would allow people to violate us repeatedly, and get away with it. Without resentment we should abolish all criminal laws, police, courts and prisons.”
“God made us human,” explains my Priest as he puts his hand over his heart. “God gave us the ability to think logically and irrationally. He gave us imaginations, he gave us tears when we have a broken heart, and tears when we laugh ourselves into delirium.”
My shrink leans forward with a expression of seriousness, “Once these people are well into recovery, they continue to believe that they are ‘powerless over everything.’ To say that they are ‘powerless over everything beyond my fingertips,’ is sheer unadulterated nonsense. This rationale can often be used to exempt the addict from moral obligations. For example, you are walking by the subway stairs and see a guy raping a woman, or you see a fire and a child teetering on a window-ledge. Do you say, ‘Well, I’m powerless over everything, so, I guess I should just keep on walking?’ This exaggerated vision of powerlessness is a cop out from the obligation to be in the world, and to fulfill our social, moral and ethical duties.”
The Recovered Alcoholic asks, “If they did not have the power to influence other people, what would be the point of ‘sharing our experience, strength and hope?’ What would be left of the power of love, the power of art, or the power of example?”
“Human beings do have power! Indeed,” my Dad tells me, “many powers: the power to think, to reason, to feel, to perceive, to desire, to choose, to imagine, to invent, to create, to improve conditions, to communicate, to persuade others, to stir and move others, to educate others, to comfort others, and to transform the external world of nature to our own ends.
Doctors and surgeons have the power to save lives, fire-fighters to rescue adults and children, teachers to expand young minds, agriculturalists to feed millions, artists have the power to create art and move people. Parents have the power to nurture and educate the young, lovers the power to bring us tenderness and joy.”
My father asks me, “If you do not have power, how did you make it to a meeting?”
“And yes, you do have power,” my Shrink assures me. “You are NOT powerless. You have power to move mountains if you want to! In fact, contrary to popular belief, most people recover from their addictions without any treatment at all. They heal themselves. Read the book by Louise Hay, You Can Heal Life and see, Take Your Power back! http://www.louisehay.com/addiction.”
Samantha, if you have read this far I congratulate you. Once you start attacking a person’s religion they just shut you down right now. If only you had just told me that your “fellowship” and your “sobriety” was more important than being friends with me, I could have accepted that, respected that, and moved on. Instead, you told me nothing. I was left to dig, to find answers on my own. I had no choice. I had to get this resolved. So, I started looking for an answer. My research lead me into the trenches of twisted logic, faith, spiritualism, mind control, economics, and the power of self. That’s why I write this note to you. I became motivated to send a message-in-a-bottle that could ultimately, if you take heed, free you from the bondage that I sense you are currently in.
Even if you haven’t read up to here, no matter, this note will not go to waste. I now plan on posting it and publishing it everywhere possible. I am surprised that I have written this far and it would be too easy to write even more as the A.A. philosophy and its affects continue to reveal themselves. I hope this note can be of service to the newcomers as well as the Old-timer-un-recovered alcoholics as well.
If all of this seems to be purely presumptuous from the two original “answers” that were offered, i.e.:
1. You are a 13th stepper or,
2. You were acting as an A.A. sheeple and you let your sponsor tell you how to lead your life;
then fine, I apologize for being presumptuous. But, may I suggest that you use this note as a wealth of information that you can use to better the program which you have come to so believe in.
If you have not read this far there is no loss to me. In fact, the experience was good for me. I had to resolve my issues. I became obsessed with the wealth of knowledge, the wealth of spiritual influence, and the wealth of contradiction and irrational circular logic. I have found so much material that it truly has been a spiritual journey.
I have come to know and appreciate the 12 steps as there is some validity to it in my opinion and my Christian background supports some of the concepts fully. I am currently working with a Minister who wrote a fresh book on the 12 steps. I would add though, we should also continually seek that which is also good about ourselves, and not just dig up the stinky shit. I suggest balance. It is human to need verification and validation of the good things that we see in ourselves and others.
Samantha, I realized, based on your terms, why our paths have crossed! Your message was for me to be free from alcohol. My message for you is that you need to be free from your addiction to A.A. and other stepper groups.
I remember how you were so baffled that my father could be sober for 30 years and yet has not attended a meeting in 29. “How could he be OK?” you asked.
The fact is, he’s fine. Part of my research here was with him. I knew the reasons he does not endlessly attend meetings, but you-are-you and he-is-he and it was not important to me to start a debate between you and him. Bottom line is, he’s not dead, he’s never been put in jail, and he’s never been institutionalized. He does not desire to drink alcohol, he’s done. He is not a “dry drunk.” He is simply addicted to being sober and that makes him happy and quite content.
I also remember, when you came to visit, how you tried to coach me in my “shares,” and how I should conform more to the dogma.
“Don’t try to be uplifting and motivating, that is not your place,” you told me.
I think it’s because I hit a nerve during my share. I remember saying that I did not need a meeting, that I was here to help, to show others that it’s possible to quit drinking. You were also dismayed that I was not going for the chips or keeping track of the number of days of my abstinence.
I remember the ‘trick’ question that you threw at me, instead of an answer, when I asked if we would see each other again. You said, “I don’t know. I wonder what you will do when you finish the steps.”
I retorted back with a ‘trick’ question. “You mean after I graduate?”
You knew full well that people DO NOT graduate from A.A. I knew as well. Yet you said nothing. I did not want to believe that you are a A.A. sheeple. I just wanted to see the beauty in you. Then you come at me with some kind of bullshit that I should have never tried to treat you so good. The gifts were a major problem. The last gift I had to offer was me, my friendship, no matter what. Yet you can’t even accept that. Pretty sad, for you!
“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
~ Edith Schaeffer
I know that it was hard for you to see “the love of your life” sitting in the rooms with his new love. I suspect that you wish to find your new love in the same rooms to make up for it. The fact remains, people in those rooms are “sick.” Right?
May I suggest taking a class at the community college, find a group where actual service is being done, find a church where they preach positiveness and hope, find a seminar on the latest interior design concepts, go to the library, read some feng shui books, or go to the beach. More importantly, spend more quality time with your family. You are lucky they are close. Take advantage.
More has been revealed to both of us. Now I see.
Read the excerpt below. Does any of this sound like you Samantha “The Sober Alcoholic”?
THE CHURCH WILL be closed tomorrow, and the drunks are freaking out. An elderly lady in a prim white blouse has just delivered the bad news, with deep apologies: A major blizzard is scheduled to wallop Manhattan tonight, and up to a foot of snow will cover the ground by dawn. The church, located on the Upper West Side, can’t ask its staff to risk a dangerous commute. Unfortunately, that means it must cancel the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting held daily in the basement.
A worried murmur ripples through the room. “Wha… what are we supposed to do?” asks a woman in her mid-twenties with smudged black eyeliner. She’s in rough shape, having emerged from a multiday alcohol-and-cocaine bender that morning. “The snow, it’s going to close everything,” she says, her cigarette-addled voice tinged with panic. “Everything!” She’s on the verge of tears.
A mustachioed man in skintight jeans stands and reads off the number for a hotline that provides up-to-the-minute meeting schedules. He assures his fellow alcoholics that some groups will still convene tomorrow despite the weather. Anyone who needs an A.A. fix will be able to get one, though it may require an icy trek across the city.
That won’t be a problem for a thickset man in a baggy beige sweat suit. “Doesn’t matter how much snow we get—a foot, 10 feet piled up in front of the door,” he says. “I will leave my apartment tomorrow and go find a meeting.”
He clasps his hands together and draws them to his heart: “You understand me? I need this!” Daily meetings, the man says, are all that prevent him from winding up dead in the gutter, shoes gone because he sold them for booze or crack. And he hasn’t had a drink in more than a decade.
Samantha, I’ve been so disillusioned and dismayed by this whole A.A. bullshit thing that I will never go back into any of those rooms. You were like the worst representative of the fellowship’s core values that I have ever met. Mostly because you lead me to believe what a great thing it was supposed to be. I trusted you, then you shit on me, turned your back, laughed at me, and walked away hinting that “although I was good enough,” I also was, “codependent and filled with the things that destroy relationships!”
So funny! I’ve done everything I could do to save this as a positive, productive, friendship, i.e. relationship. I tried even to the point of losing my dignity!
No, wait. Actually, you were the perfect representative of your fellowship. You did exactly what ex-A.A.’ers expected you to do, turn your back on fair-weather friends. But you are OK with it based on some mind-jerking circular logic, and it’s OK because you are “Alcoholic” not Human, not an Earth Person, not a Normie. How’s that for an “ASS KICKING?”
During all of this I tried to lean on my last-ever sponsor. I could tell I was disrupting his serenity by doing so. I even called the big A.A. guy and he was too busy. I took a slow, low-key approach to all of them. The last few meetings I went to with this fresh perspective showed me that really, since I was in a state of shock (because of you shutting me out), I was too much of a risk to anybody and they’d want to start drinking again if they reached out to me. When I told them I really needed someone, they backed off, looked at their watches and checked their cell phones.
Oh, wait, that would be exhibiting codependency issues, in that, I needed validation and I was leaning on a group that stated they were supposed to be there for me? I was just looking for help when I needed it. I thought someone had promised to be there? WOW!
What’s my part in it? My part is that I should have done all of this research that I am presenting for you, before I trusted! ROTFLMAO!!!!
Yes, I’m finishing the steps but I will never-ever sit in one of those gloomy, dark, devastating, rooms again. The history, the hypocrisy, the dogmatism, the contradictions, the circular logic, the sheeples, all scare the shit out of me.
Yes, I can and want to serve. I have done my share of serving already and will I serve again. But I will serve a more constructive organization, one with a real mission, one where I can step back, look, and be proud of what I’ve done.
Samantha, I have come to see that what all of this is about is for ME to deliver MY message to YOU. I have had a spiritual awakening! I see that for some reason you are addicted to this toxic fellowship and its concepts. It is obvious! You should get away too!
Why? Number one it will help relieve your anxiety. I have read stories and had people tell me about how much better they felt after leaving the group and all of its dysfunctions of oppression and shame. There are many documented cases about people who had experienced high levels of anxiety and how they were relieved of it after leaving the fellowship. They left the death threats and making death threats to others. They left so that they could live.
Other religions may threaten Hell as punishment, but A.A. literally threatens DEATH. How do they know? Better yet, how is that remotely “spiritual” and what kind of god would want you to threaten death upon your fellow brothers and sisters?
In my extensive research I have found that your A.A. religion, being less than 100 years old and modeled after the Oxford Group, refuses to accept and disseminate any alternative information based on modern research pertaining actual recovery. Nothing A.A. teaches can be vetted by proof that the simplistic ‘belief’ in the A.A. dogma does actually work. All of the stress, all of the oppression, insults, dogma, and mind control all add up to less than 5% of subjects who actually quit using alcohol (the same rate for people who seek no outside help at all). You have already quit alcohol. Call yourself recovered. Set yourself free!
A.A. was not originally designed to create a slave out of you. It was designed to connect you with a God, then you walk with God toward freedom. In your freedom you can make positive contributions to mankind in general, not just 12 step meetings. Since you are such a “believer” in your Big Book read the following:
-“Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.“ (p.62)
-“But this man still lives, and is a free man. He does not need a bodyguard nor is he confined. He can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go.” (p. 26
-“Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself when he had the extraordinary experience, which as we have already told you, made him a free man.” (p. 28
-“That afternoon he put on his clothes and walked from the hospital a free man. He entered a political campaign, making speeches, frequenting men’s gathering places of all sorts, often staying up all night. He lost the race by only a narrow margin. But he had found God – and in finding God had found himself. That was in June, 1935. He never drank again. He too, has become a respected and useful member of his community.” (p.158)
Below are testimonies from people who have left A.A. and felt free and empowered!
~As far as I am concerned the only thing AA is good at is producing problems as diverse as depression, anger, broken or strained relationships, grief, anxiety, low self-esteem, panic, abnormal fears, resentment, jealousy, guilt, despair, fatigue, tension, boredom, loneliness, withdrawal, obsessive and negative thinking, worry, compulsive behavior and a variety of other emotional issues. As you state Nonconformist, AA is also good at keeping people sick by reminding them on an almost daily basis that they are “alcoholics,” and telling them the only salvation is the hokey religion of AA and constant meetings to keep them sick and stuck.
~Very glad to have left NA after 13 years, seems my first feeling walking into my first meeting years ago was correct, I believed it was a religion and people had been brainwashed. Around 7 years I started to become incredibly anxious and it lasted the next 5 years, I changed everything possible worked the program like I was a dieing man and this was the only thing that would save me. Eventually it was a therapist I sought help from having tried my best to solve what I believed to be my disease problem, she asked me to step away from the program to work with her. Me being the good 12 stepper refused and told her I would die without it and I owe them everything. It took me another 2 years before I finally worked out that not only was the program not helping me, it was more than likely the cause of this dreadful anxiety, eventually got to the point where I did not care if the self-fulfilling scripts came true “jails” “institutions” “death” I left NA 1 year ago and without changing anything else my anxiety has gone with no need for medication or therapy. My self-esteem has without a doubt got much better and I am glad to be alive again.
~ After 9 years of AA and not drinking or taking meds I felt like I was going insane. I was still was suffering from panic disorder and chronic anxiety. I had been acting “as if ” in AA for so long I had lost touch with my true feelings and emotions. If I spoke my truth about my anxiety and phobias AA members would say “go to another meeting” “Your level of anxiety is the distance between you and God” “do another 4 & 5 step” “do more service” “If you don’t have it you can’t give it away” ” you don’t have emotional sobriety.” I realized how depressed I was, how desperate I felt, and I realized how unsupported I was by my fare-weathered friends in AA. I knew i had to get out. I’m now over 10 years sober, and I’ve cut all ties with AA, and no anxiety medication.
~ I’d been “sober” for 14 years but I realized I was “following a bunch of stuck people in circles or cycle (step 1 -step12) And then what? People stayed sick, created more drama etc….just to “work” the steps. It’s like a virus that can’t have the host die off. The program and people are set up to drive people crazy and fill them up with anxiety and distortions so that we create drama only to “work” the steps. Ugh!!!! So glad to be free.
~They forget you quickly, in a day, some in an hour. They don’t like it if an x member is ok and happy getting on with their lives. And be careful getting too close to any of them..even if they seemed ok. I just did that ..and its cost me a fair bit financially.. and caused me a fair bit of stress anxiety and confusion. It turned out the AA’r I got bit too close to was not a real friend but someone who was out to use me if i had let her. I will be extra careful from now on .. and don’t trust any of them.
~ Sadly, AA is not about being around people you can relate to in comfortable environment. It’s an emotionally unhealthy, mind controlling cult. Many of us could never “honestly” relate to the the so called Program, not matter how hard we tried. I had so much anxiety when I was attending meetings that I would talk to myself on the way home into the next day. Fortunately, we have forums like this for those of us who have figured that out.
~ Ive been doing things that I enjoy again. I’m good at them and am always getting better at them which feels a lot better than being told you’re defective and insane. My hobbies and interests are totally healthy ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.
~Life has been great since I left, thanks for asking. My therapist even thinks “the program” can really do damage to people with low self-worth, anxiety and depression. She believes the “this too shall pass” mentality is the wrong way to deal with those problems and won’t promote AA/NA to people.
~ Just an update on how things have been since I’ve decided to leave NA for those people still questioning whether or not they want to leave as well. I’m over the guilt and all the mental crap I was fed and actually believed in for a while. It’s weird how all that crap gets stamped on your subconscious. I was so caught up in “recovery” that I forgot what it was like to just kick back and relax. It’s no wonder my anxiety level was off the charts. My therapist has even noticed that my anxiety and irritability has gone down and that my demeanor has become much more positive and hopeful and less pessimistic and hopeless. Leaving has really changed me for the better, and if anyone else is questioning or fearful about leaving, it’s difficult at first but it gets easier and it’s totally worth it.
~ AA just wasn’t a good place for me to be-and mostly induced feelings of depression anxiety self hate self blame anger shame guilt grudges -in me.
~ I think that AA creates pathologies in many people who attend too long after they quit drinking that leaves them so mean and miserable that they can ONLY socialize in an AA environment. No wonder there is so much depression and anxiety in old timers…
~ AA and NA shame anger, along with a long list of other emotions that they misrepresent as character defects, because of their undigested Christianity, and thereby tend to increase the likelihood that these emotions will be repressed to the point of increased anxiety and ultimately pathological explosion.
~ Constant Self-defeating & Self-hating dogma will cause depression & anxiety in anyone.
~ Anxiety, depression and great sorrow underlies the happy, serenity-dripping exteriors of many a grinning “old-timer,” in places like AA, NA, CA, DAA and others of the Anonymous class.
~ When they take a person and drive them to intensified anxiety, stress, depression and chaos and then just go on self-righteously about their own crazy AA-busyness as if they are some benevolent “miracles” and you are the loser for not drinking their Kool-Aid down…that is the tragedy and it should be a crime.
~ You can not moderate the truth. Just don’t lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and try to minimize the people hurt by AA without it being pointed out to you. It’s really very simple.
~ If we don’t call it a disease, we’re going to revert to the bad old days where we call it a moral deficit: People are basically weak-willed, selfish and irresponsible. That produces a lot of shame, and shame is a pretty horrible emotion and it doesn’t really help people.
~ Anger is a normal emotion that everyone has. To deny our right to have that emotion is simply abusive. I used to feel that the denial of the right to healthy emotions was one of the ways AA members controlled each other – you were always wrong, and always falling short of understanding The Big Book if you had emotions.
~ Anger is an extremely valuable tool in healing. It fortifies your sense of what is right by condemning the wrong that was done to you. It gives you the energy and will to get through the ordeal of getting your life back together. Suppression of anger while in the cult contributed my depression and my sense of helplessness.
~ Some people may find it easier to blame themselves than to use their anger to make necessary life changes. Ex-members who have been brought up to hide or deny negative feelings may not have the tools or experience to know how to express this potentially healing emotion.
~ It’s a sad and unlivable environment in those rooms because there is so much emotional and mental illness. AA literature does not provide a healthy model for dealing with complex emotions other than to pray it away and those feelings can’t just be prayed away. They need to be felt and expressed and grieved and processed. AA denies and discredits all negative emotion.
~ Contrary to popular belief, most people recover from their addictions without any treatment—professional or self-help—regardless of whether the drug involved is alcohol, crack, methamphetamine, heroin, or cigarettes. One of the largest studies of recovery ever conducted found that, of those who had qualified for a diagnosis of alcoholism in the past year, only 25 percent still met the criteria for the disorder a year later. Despite this 75 percent recovery rate, only a quarter had gotten any type of help, including AA, and as many were now drinking in a low-risk manner as were abstinent.
~You said you needed AA because you were an alcoholic “Riddled with fear, insecurity, hostility, resentment, more fear…” I have no doubt you believe that about yourself – I did too after 23 years sober in AA for thousands of meetings. AA tends to drum that into your head – that you are defective. And the cure for those defects – or at least the only way to stave them off temporarily – is more AA. I’ve been out of AA now for about 3 years and I have found that this very negative – in fact, virtually crippling – self image is just not true. It’s possible that you are actually not the incredibly defective basket case you describe yourself as. It’s possible that those attributes describe Bill Wilson (or self-describe him in his own words), and AA has influenced you to think that since you had a problem with booze you must, ergo, have the same persona he did. I was relieved to discover, once I left AA, that I am actually not riddled with cooties.
~ Fellowship in AA allows many alcoholics to get back on their feet, but the program can also engender underlying neuroses and it manufactures a state of learned helplessness. This doesn’t necessarily lead to robust long term mental health.
~ If you need a meeting and if you want to sit in a meeting then get up and say to one another, ‘I’m a happy alcoholic,’ you go right ahead, go in there and do that. But I want you to do more than that, get out there on the battlefield if you are so led, and tell America you got well!
Samantha, through all of this, I have found my “God” my “Higher Power.” It’s the one I grew up with, the one I have come to know and appreciate. Yes, I still have questions about God. But, I will never forget my spiritual leaders telling me, “That’s OK! It’s not important that you know. It’s important that you want to know.”
HERE’S WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT GOD, MY “HIGHER POWER”
God’s Holy Spirit is empowering us and energizing our spiritual lives and is making growth possible that we achieve and sustain through God.
First, we are empowered with spiritual wisdom or understanding about God’s character, identity, and ways. Romans 8:15 (NIV) says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.”
Second, we are empowered with spiritual guidance. In Matthew 4:1 (NIV) Jesus was, “led by the Spirit.”
Third, the Holy Spirit also empowers the spiritual transformation of our total personality. Personality is the distinctive or very noticeable characteristics that make somebody socially appealing. I defy you to name one thing of this world that consistently transforms people’s personalities to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no drug, no magic pill, no government program, and no psychological technique that can inspire such transformation.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Fourth, the Holy Spirit empowers us with spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (NIV) says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
There are certain things we can do on our own of our own accord, any day of the week. These things are considered natural abilities or talents. But the Holy Spirit empowers each of us with specific gifts with which to serve others.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:13
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. ~ Luke 10:19
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. ~ Colossians 1:11
That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:5
He gives power to the weak.
And to those who have no might He increases strength
But those who wait on the Lord shall
renew their strength They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not grow faint.
~ Isaiah 40:29-31
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!
Aim for restoration comfort one another,
agree with one another
live in peace and the God of love and peace
will be with you. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11
Samantha, It seems like only days ago when we first connected. At the time, my only goal was to find a lady that I could hunt seashells with, share a few laughs, maybe hold hands and shelter each other from the cold ocean mist. Still, we never went hunting for sea shells and for that I am very heart broken. I shed a tear because hunting sea shells with you would have been extraordinary for me.
Now I sit here typing away on some crazy mission to communicate something to you that I had never imagined I would ever have gotten involved with. Yet, I feel all of this is relevant and important. I had almost allowed myself to be swept away with this crazy lunacy. Fortunately, you showed your true colors in time for me to step back and take a look at the whole situation from the outside. Believe me, it’s deranged and demented!
I never figured I’d be reaching out to some lady in California, throwing her a buoy to pull her from the dogma and narcissistic, mind jerking, muck of the A.A. cult. You are never to dumb for this program but you can be to smart! I’m glad I was way to smart about it before it got a total grip on me like it has you.
I see now why you are having so many anxiety issues. You have been trying to get in touch with your repressed feelings while at the same time dedicating your life to a program that tells you to “STUFF YOUR FEELINGS!” It’s a program of rigorous honesty where you are encouraged to fake it ‘till you make it. Many recover if they have the capacity to be honest but all alcoholics are liars. You do not have to believe in anything, just believe what A.A. believes. And remember, you are a maker of your own misery, god did not do it and nothing happens in god’s world by mistake. So, carry this message to the suffering but stick with the winners.
If I had taken this shit seriously, which I almost did, I’d be having a nervous breakdown myself. They don’t project a whole lot of integrity and I really don’t need a “program” like that, especially, telling me I’m a piece of shit and I’m incurable for the rest of my life. You are right, I am co-dependent! I need validation that, despite all of my character defects, I’m actually a pretty good and lovable person and I have a lot to offer to the right people!
Obviously, it’s easy for you to walk out on people. Walk out of those rooms today. Break up with the word alcoholic. Never go back. Never destroy the totality of who you are by reducing yourself down to one word. Never!
Don’t worry, there is help out there for deprogramming from the stepper ideology. It wont be easy, but you’ve overcome many major hurdles in your life, this is your next!
Samantha, this is where I must say goodbye instead of “see ya later!” It’s hard to believe and have faith anymore that we could have a long lasting friendship, even though I do hold on to one last iota of trust that your non responsiveness will crush within seconds.
Yet, I am willing to accept your difficulties and forgive you because, at this moment, you may know not what you have done. God bless your sweet heart. I will be around if you ever want to find me. And please remember that, yes, I do love you. It’s too late, once my God gives us love he does not take it away.
Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. (I’m pretty sure you are not at this one anyway). A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. Meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.
Samantha, you are a beautiful and wonderful woman. You are a highly intelligent person with awesome talents. Your religion tells you, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens.” This IS your miracle. I’m telling you. You have beat the bottle. You can leave now! Walk with God, find your freedom. Take your mind and personality back. God gave you that! Take your power back! God gave you power to do that too! It is possible through your own determination and a loyalty to yourself. Believe in YOU again.
Thanks for being such a huge part of my life and my soul. I hope to see you sooner than later, but I will look for you in Heaven. Hugs!
God bless you Angel!
I leave you with this prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage and wisdom to change the the things
I can not accept!
Pray only in a room with windows. Don’t shut yourself off from the rest of the world.
May you find, use, and disseminate lot’s of higher power!
Below is a list of Resources. You are highly encouraged to take a thorough and honest inventory of the program that you hold so close to your heart.
Remember a few of these thoughts as you begin your journey:
~ LOOK FOR THE SIMILARITIES NOT THE DIFFERENCES!
~But the seeds that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. No one, when she has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lamp-stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” ~Luke 8.
~ There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer Burrows
~ Bill W. said it himself! We need no iron-clad dogma to bind us together. “In A.A. we have only two disciplinarians – great suffering and great love; we need no others.”
~ “The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.” William Hazlitt
~The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. Alice Malsenior Walker
~ “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” Abraham Maslow
~ “Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.” Bernard Beckett
~ “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo Galilei
~ “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned, that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.” Goebbels
~ “If I weep for the body from which the soul is departed, should I not weep for the soul from which God is departed?” St. Augustine:
~ “You have to be light-hearted to be a Creature of the Light. Maybe that works the other way, too: You have to be a creature of the light to be light-hearted.” Unknown
~ “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis
RESOURCES & RECOMMENDED READING:
Recovering-From-Recovery Although I acknowledge A.A. as something that has helped me, I also feel that it is very old-fashioned and held back by dogma.
THE 13TH STEP FILM: The Award Winning New Documentary by Monica Richardson
SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE BLOG:
~A Recovered Alcoholic Can Live Free
~The Dark Side of Alcoholics Anonymous, and virtually all recovery organizations
~Alcoholics Anonymous: No Promises
~”Keep Coming Back”
Out With Your Old “Addict” Identity, and In With Something Better Identifying as an “addict” hurts you and limits your life, evidence shows. But through identity work and mindfulness, you can enrich your possibilities in astonishing ways.
No New relationships and the Sponsor
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Criticism as Deviance and Social Control in Alcoholics Anonymous
Leaving A.A., staying sober: new perspectives on recovery
Welcome to “Leaving A.A.” Alcoholics Anonymous: Whatever may be your story, we understand. Many of us were in “the rooms” months, years and decades. We know. Welcome to a site and a community that tolerates no A.A. bullshit! You are free now. You are amongst hopefully mostly sane individuals that have walked the walk and have “fled the insanity and dogma” of 12 step culture and its meetings.
Escape from Alcoholics Anonymous: When they tell you to ‘Keep Coming Back’, run for your life!!!
Why I Hate Alcoholics Anonymous – Great article and posts at the end
Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Cult? An Old Question Revisited 1
Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Cult? An Old Question Revisited 2
THE ORANGE PAPERS – Complete analysis of the organization – Look into: The Cult Test.
NA DAYTONA: ARE YOU SAFE IN AA or NA?
Daniel J Schwarzhoff
Note to “Recovering” Alcoholics:
“We have recovered” is a wonderful expression. There are many of us who can say it and know in our hearts that it is so – just as the co-authors of the Big Book did.
There are lots of us who are no longer obsessed; no longer shut off from God’s help – who have learned how to quickly reestablished contact with God and been restore to mental, physical and spiritual health – and you might be able to become one of us “recovered alcoholics”.
If you are a real, true, actual alcoholic and have not yet recovered, perhaps clinging to the hope that you are “still recovering” — then you are still in darkness. No matter how many years you are sober, no matter how many meetings you have attended, no matter how many 4th steps you have written, your life will never, ever go right.
You will remain miserable, unhappy, depressed, anxious and plagued with troubles until you find and latch onto what we who have recovered have.
Without ever entertaining so much as a single drop of alcohol, you will continue to suffer as you do now; difficulties with food, sex, relationships, overall health. No matter how important and helpful you think you are being to others, ultimately you will lead a useless life. Hard news.
If you will recover, you will avert all of this. It does not take long. Just days for most of us. No one is looking down on you. No one is preaching from spiritual mountaintops. That is all in your ‘self’ stuck imagination, a thought stream attached to a dark nature that lives inside you – and it is holding you prisoner, lying to you about your recovery progress.
Give what we found a shot and break free from your ‘self’. Stop scouring Internet threads for stimulation, getting into silly posting wars and stupid arguments all over Facebook recovery groups – judging everyone, getting sucked into fits of irritation.
Stop losing patience with your loved ones and ability to think clearly – and start losing mental obsessions with which you have been plagued; vile behaviors that negatively affect your health and well-being, slowly destroying your quality of life and relationships.
Smoking, antidepressants, caffeine, pain relievers will have no place in your life any longer. Unnatural relationships with food and people through abusing sex, sugar, masturbation, pornography, will subside and fall away.
Set aside the 12 and 12’s for a while. Deep six the Emmet Fox, the New Age magic and phony mystics. Give up the stupid, useless self-serving, open discussion A.A. meetings. Stop wasting time in endless, wasteful consultations with clueless, confused, un-recovered, un-awakened ‘sponsors’.
Stop harming newcomer’s whom you have no business ‘sponsoring’ or proffering spiritual guidance-trying to give to others what you haven’t got yourself.
Dump the sideshow distractions; the convoluted spiritual readings, the empty promises of self-help philosophies—the prosperity and ‘abundance’ preaching gurus who only take you halfway, then pull the rug out from under your spiritual security—and give what we do a shot! It is simple. It is fast.
It’s called a having a spiritual awakening and while there are many ways to have one, you can get it “as the result of these steps”
The method is spelled out in one magnificent story, text and How-To book, “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism”. In this book, written by alcoholics for alcoholic and you will find an effective plan for spiritual awakening presented in brilliant simplicity.
You can be free of anger, alcohol and parasitic people dependency – all three- by next weekend. Because not drinking, going to meetings is not enough.
Try it. You will not be sorry.
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