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Old 10-10-2013, 12:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Walked out of an AA meeting tonight

My BS detector was well into the red tonight. I wasn’t in the best of moods to begin with, but the meeting started with the organiser doing a guilt trip thing about how the group was going to close if more people didn’t help (I have only been going to this particular one for six weeks..my period of sobriety so far - but it seemed a pretty vibrant sort of group to me..). This was followed by a ‘share’ insinuating… well actually more than insinuating. ..that without the ‘programme’, including the higher power thing, the best one could hope for is being ‘dry’ without being actually ‘sober’.

This was followed by a visitor from another area doing a share that was more like a religious revival outburst than a rational ..or even a bit emotional..sharing of herself and her recovery.

I already make huge allowances against my better judgement and existential outlook by going to AA meetings as I am an atheist through and through and I even smile when people suggest that I might be one who ‘came to believe’, as AA would have it. I go because for the most part the peer support is what it is about and that has helped me get and stay sober for a good few months now. However tonight was simply batshit bonkers in my book and I could not cope. So I left at the break half way through.

Of course one worries about other consequences – and AA tends to play on them of course. I don’t plan to drink or anything – have gained too much and there is too much to lose, but I am not sure about going back.

I will leave that decision until tomorrow at the soonest. I have a few buddies who are members – a couple of whom are agnostics and one atheist so perhaps they will have words of wisdom I lack at the moment.

Anyway excuse the rant. I feel mightily pissed off at the moment.

Any thoughts about coping with the stupidity on offer there at times much appreciated.
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I feel for you, Mentium, it was my same detector that went off for me, and I never went back. I think that by now you know the fallacy of all those dire predictions. Maybe you can keep at AA though, and another group will fit your sensibilities better?

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Old 10-10-2013, 02:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Any other groups/meetings you can check out that might be...different?

I have tried and now left AA fellowship three times (I'm done for good) for similar reasons. I got to a point where I can't cut through that stuff anymore. The effort distracts from focusing on my recovery.

I found NA less "like that". I found numerous other 12 step groups that use the steps but a different slant...some are spiritual but actually not religious, and some are secular humanist etc. I actually got sober for real during one of my "off AA" stages, but I wanted fellowship so I thought I'd give it another try, in another geographic location. Pretty quickly in I found that nope, I really am NOT AA material. No harm, no foul. It works for many people, many find life saving fellowship and support .

Maybe we can get this secular 12 step forum a bit more active.
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Old 10-10-2013, 04:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Mentium, people have their opinions beliefs and moods. What’s important is what they do when they are in conflict.

AA meetings are an exercise in tolerance IMO. The variety of opinions you can find there is nearly endless. Personally this is what I find so fascinating as well as so potentially rewarding. It gives me an opportunity to examine my own beliefs. Typically I find that my beliefs remain quite unscathed after listening to contrary views, but if not, I have to ask myself why? Then I need to be honest with the conclusions I reach.

Ya there are those who will state (to paraphrase) ‘you have to believe like I do and behave likewise or you are doomed to drink’. I find this almost humorous. I find this type of thinking is antithetical to the principles of AA. My antidote to it is typically to (very subtly) point out the lack of tolerance that this type of thinking displays, while at the same time making every effort to be tolerant myself.
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Old 10-10-2013, 04:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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AA meetings are an exercise in tolerance IMO. The variety of opinions you can find there is nearly endless. Personally this is what I find so fascinating as well as so potentially rewarding. It gives me an opportunity to examine my own beliefs. Typically I find that my beliefs remain quite unscathed after listening to contrary views, but if not, I have to ask myself why? Then I need to be honest with the conclusions I reach.
I did the same thing for awhile. It was a great "sounding" board. I find SR that way as well.

In the end I had to get honest about why I kept putting myself in a situation where there was so much inherent discord and judgement. Was I trying to prove something to myself or them? Was I hoping to "win"? Was I using it as an excuse to feel smarter and superior?

None of the answers were healthy ones.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am an agnostic. I have been to a AA meeting exactly once so I don't have any experience. The reason I don't go to any kind of meeting is that I had a hard time with what I saw as a fundamentalist attitude that pervaded the group to which I went. But someone up there in the thread made a very good point. Maybe it is me who is being intolerant of them. I know AA has saved many people. My mother got sober through AA and she became very God centered. I was glad she was sober but I could hardly stand it when she'd go on about The Lord. But maybe I'm allowing some old resentments concerning my mother get in my way. Thank you for providing much food for thought.
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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However tonight was simply batshit bonkers in my book and I could not cope. So I left at the break half way through.
I've walked out of AA meetings countless times. I would even walk out for a 'smoke break' every time, one of a few AA member, that would get all high and mighty with AA spirituality during their share. I left a good few meetings angry and at my wits end with AA and some AA members.

Today as a person of long time non-faith/belief, I practice letting-go of any spiritual annoyances that would trouble me. I see now that it is none of my business what spiritual/religious people do or say. I am no longer concerned about the spiritual one way or the other. There is a release of tension, conflict, discord when I let go of the whole shebang of faith/belief and embraced the unknown. Tolerance provides me peace today.

Tolerance of frustration when dealing with others is a skill anyone can develop.
SMART Recovery: Irrationalities Related to Low Frustration Tolerance or Short-Range Hedonism Great link, read it if you have time.

Keep working on yourself. There is a good payoff at the end.
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Yeah, I find it impossible to take what I need and leave the rest at the meetings. But you've been doing that for a bit now, and it seemed you were being successful at it.

I never advise anyone against at least trying AA, atheist or otherwise.

That crap that happened tonight isn't really about AA. It's schoolyard crap and personality crap, and picky crap.

Speak with your buddies and think on it. I would advise trying to go back, at least once.

I kept trying and went to different meetings for a while, it just didn't pan out for me.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks all for your interesting and helpful comments. I am not going to give up on AA, at least for a while - for the simple reason that I have been sober for longer going to AA meetings than I have under my own steam for literally decades. The best I have managed on my own are a few drying out periods which set me up to drink again. On this occasion it is now close to two months and I am loath to risk that. AA seems to be the key ingredient for me - it's fellowship if not much of its content.

There is so much I disagree with about AA. The spiritual aspect is just one part - if the major one. However I do have friends in my local group and I see them outside meetings. That is a great help.

When I am stronger and more secure with sober living I might actually have a go at starting a Lifering group in my town. But that will be a while in the future.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Mentium, the following links can be an interesting read. Atheist Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous (AAAA, 4A) member share their experiences in AA. AAAA members have cleared up a whole lot of my discomfort with being around believers. Got to let-go, and let people do their thing. People go with what they know. Knowing otherwise do not less the beauty of what they do.
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For Those more interested in group function, AA follows some basic principles of group dynastic. A small few may have a leader mentality that will result in a following of some AA members. When this happen...run from this type of meeting! Its not AA,
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:01 AM   #11 (permalink)
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the group was going to close if more people didn’t help...
It's kind of a BIG DEAL when meetings have to close due to lack of support. In my area, it happens only happens about once a year out of 400 meetings in our metro area.

So it is no surprise to me that they may have been desperate to drum up some new support using fear, guilt and shame. Don't think of it as normal or typical behavior for a group.

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Old 10-11-2013, 05:07 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Many thanks for the links. I have taken a quick look and the agnostics one in particular looks very helpful! Will read in more detail a bit later on.

Many thanks for taking the trouble.

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Mentium, the following links can be an interesting read. Atheist Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous (AAAA, 4A) member share their experiences in AA. AAAA members have cleared up a whole lot of my discomfort with being around believers. Got to let-go, and let people do their thing. People go with what they know. Knowing otherwise do not less the beauty of what they do.
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For Those more interested in group function, AA follows some basic principles of group dynastic. A small few may have a leader mentality that will result in a following of some AA members. When this happen...run from this type of meeting! Its not AA,
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Old 10-12-2013, 07:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Mentium,
none of this may be typical; I've only been to maybe forty or fifty meetings, so don't know what "typical" is.
but i will say that i find your post pretty "bashy" in describing your fed-upness with stuff that AA is very up front about. everyone will tell you it's a spiritual program involving a Higher Power. so why be pissed off and upset when there are lots of people referring to their HP and other spiritual aspects of their program?
these are among the reasons i didn't go for the first few years after i'd quit drinking: fearing that AA was likely to be just as advertised, why would i go if i could see no merit in what was on offer?
the fact that i really had no understanding of what actually IS on offer is a whole different story, but i'll ask you outright why you're doing this: "I already make huge allowances against my better judgement and existential outlook by going to AA meetings......" i mean: why bother?
if you're going somewhere against your better judgment and you have a BS detector and people doing what they're actually advertising they're about sends that detector into the red zone....why not do yourself and everyone else there a favour?

it just seems to be lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

to what do you attribute the fact that you've stayed away from drinking longer than before? which aspect of being there might be helping you? maybe you can get THAT aspect somewhere else and leave the good folk at that meeting to do their thing?
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Old 10-13-2013, 01:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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You make some good points however my primary feelings of antagonism were around the opening remarks of the chair, which I only touched on. He said the group was about to close and laid a very heavy emotional blackmail trip on the gathering. Amongst other things he accused the group of not reaching out to new members. As a new member myself of this (small) group I have in fact been very warmly welcomed, been given lots of phone numbers etc. The financial contributions weren't even enough to 'buy a pint'..and so on..

The guy seemed to me to be unable to share some possibly genuine concerns about the state of the group without recourse to aggression and accusation. I thought about this later and thought about his shares and what they said about his past. He was an aggressive and belligerent sort of person by his own admission and I suspect he has never developed the sort of skills one needs to deal with groups of people and to negotiate effectively. I don't judge him for that, it may just be the case.

After his outburst he then went into a long tale about his own spiritual development which was so at odds with what he had just done that it was almost breathtaking. That did for me.

To address some of your other points - probably the majority of the group do not see AA as spiritual in the traditional sense. Many see personal growth and development as 'spiritual' in some way. And having read a lot very fast in order to get up to speed it is clear that AA intends to be a big tent and really does mean it when it says the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking.

It seems I am not alone in my concerns. Following the meeting (I was told at another in town yesterday) there will be a group conscience meeting before the next of the one this was all about with the intention of voting the guy out of the chair and installing a new person. The whole meeting was pretty appalled it seems by his behaviour. The 9th tradition (which I looked up) does recommend a revolving chair.

One final point: the sense of fellowship and personal/peer support I get for the majority of my time at meetings has so far outweighed the downside by a considerable margin. I'm not sure I would be sober now without face to face meetings. And sadly they are the only game in my particular town.
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks for the clarification Mentium. It sounds like others in the group are feeling likewise. His “emotional blackmail” needs to be addressed. A statement that newcomers are not being welcomed can best be addressed by someone who is in your position (as a newcomer).

Unfortunately some AA leaders (in this case a group chairperson) do not realize that they do not govern.

He seems to be attempting to exert his will via negativity. This will likely hurt the group if it is allowed to continue. IMO this needs to be addressed quickly. It’s also important to do this in full knowledge that that the character defect that fueled this behavior likely contributed to this man’s drinking.

In this light, tolerance and tact seem all the more necessary. Hopefully he will grow a little as a result of the experience.
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Old 10-13-2013, 07:24 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Mentium,
thanks for the clarifications of your concerns.
hm...not sure why i'd even guess at this guy's "stuff", but just reading about his aggression suddenly made me wonder if he is afraid he will be blamed by others for the group possibly being disbanded; fear of being held accountable/responsible. by others or himself.
hm again....no doubt that comes from this being my own stuff were i to be chair of a group which i thought wasn't doing well
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:28 PM   #17 (permalink)
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My BS detector was well into the red tonight. I wasn’t in the best of moods to begin with, but the meeting started with the organiser doing a guilt trip thing about how the group was going to close if more people didn’t help (I have only been going to this particular one for six weeks..my period of sobriety so far - but it seemed a pretty vibrant sort of group to me..). This was followed by a ‘share’ insinuating… well actually more than insinuating. ..that without the ‘programme’, including the higher power thing, the best one could hope for is being ‘dry’ without being actually ‘sober’.

This was followed by a visitor from another area doing a share that was more like a religious revival outburst than a rational ..or even a bit emotional..sharing of herself and her recovery.

I already make huge allowances against my better judgement and existential outlook by going to AA meetings as I am an atheist through and through and I even smile when people suggest that I might be one who ‘came to believe’, as AA would have it. I go because for the most part the peer support is what it is about and that has helped me get and stay sober for a good few months now. However tonight was simply batshit bonkers in my book and I could not cope. So I left at the break half way through.

Of course one worries about other consequences – and AA tends to play on them of course. I don’t plan to drink or anything – have gained too much and there is too much to lose, but I am not sure about going back.

I will leave that decision until tomorrow at the soonest. I have a few buddies who are members – a couple of whom are agnostics and one atheist so perhaps they will have words of wisdom I lack at the moment.

Anyway excuse the rant. I feel mightily pissed off at the moment.

Any thoughts about coping with the stupidity on offer there at times much appreciated.
I really believe in the part about "take what you want and leave the rest". We are all only humans and can never all be on the same page as such. I hope for you that you will continue to attend grab as much as you identify with and leave the rest at the doorstep. I equate it as to walking along the vegetable line and taking and picking what you choose. The purpose is to find something to eat. We assume all is good for us but may not taste the way we prefer. So we move on to what we desire. In AA, I believe the same is true except we all talking about our primary purpose in being a member is to achieve sobriety and continue to search for our serenity on a daily basis. Just thought I would share with you how I approach meetings, this SR site, and practically anything. You have many choices when sober and it's a beautiful thing! God Bless.
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Any other groups/meetings you can check out that might be...different?

I have tried and now left AA fellowship three times (I'm done for good) for similar reasons. I got to a point where I can't cut through that stuff anymore. The effort distracts from focusing on my recovery.

I found NA less "like that". I found numerous other 12 step groups that use the steps but a different slant...some are spiritual but actually not religious, and some are secular humanist etc. I actually got sober for real during one of my "off AA" stages, but I wanted fellowship so I thought I'd give it another try, in another geographic location. Pretty quickly in I found that nope, I really am NOT AA material. No harm, no foul. It works for many people, many find life saving fellowship and support .

Maybe we can get this secular 12 step forum a bit more active.
I agree.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Hi Weaver,

I am, most importantly, so glad that you have some sober days accumulated. Congratulations and best wishes on your recovery going forward. No matter what method that works for you, you are truly a Miracle.

Just speaking for myself, AA worked for me and, as the saying goes, if it works don't fix it!! If AA is not the method that you choose, I would still want to hear back from you on the SR site. Since I am not familiar with other methods to become and stay sober, I would not attempt to try to sway you to the way I know works.

So, please let us know here how things are going and so happy for your sober days put together back to back. God Bless, Ipanema
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:29 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hi Weaver,

I am, most importantly, so glad that you have some sober days accumulated. Congratulations and best wishes on your recovery going forward. No matter what method that works for you, you are truly a Miracle.

Just speaking for myself, AA worked for me and, as the saying goes, if it works don't fix it!! If AA is not the method that you choose, I would still want to hear back from you on the SR site. Since I am not familiar with other methods to become and stay sober, I would not attempt to try to sway you to the way I know works.

So, please let us know here how things are going and so happy for your sober days put together back to back. God Bless, Ipanema

Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate it.
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