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Went from ACA to AA - and need to vent

Old 07-25-2007, 10:15 PM
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Went from ACA to AA - and need to vent

Has anyone had an experience like I have?

I spent a few years going to Adult Children of Alcoholic meetings. I found acceptance, understanding, no criticism and no cross-talk. It helped me to identify with others who had the same fear of authority and perfectionism and other emotional remnants from a dysfunctional family. I moved cities, and didn't find a meeting in my area. Tried Al-anon, but didn't seem relevant (I was no longer living with the alcoholic parent).

Fast forward to 2.5 years ago -- I realized that my pattern of alcohol consumption was not healthy, that it was no longer safe for me to drink, and that I wanted to stop. Having been "raised" in 12-step (positive experience in ACA), I went to the nearest AA meeting. I stopped drinking and haven't had a drink since walking through the doors. I wanted the support -- but found a whole lot of judgment instead. Because I was a "high-bottom" I was either called a liar (it had to be worse than I described) or I was told that I would relapse because I didn't want it badly enough to do whatever it took to get sober. (Alarm bells went off in my head -- these people are in a cult -- I left that meeting and found another one.)

There are a few special people I've met who have their heads screwed on straight, but they don't tend to share (the loyal minority). I go as a reminder that I can't drink -- I'm down to one meeting a week. I toy with the idea of honestly sharing my "experience" in AA at meetings, but then I figure it's not worth the grief.

What's bugging me is the cross-talk and judgmentalism in AA. A leader "shares" his or her experience, and then people talk "at" them -- preaching to the one who led and telling them indirectly how to do it better. It is really creepy and so contrary to what I learned in ACA. And the emphasis on not talking about self -- ok, if I don't talk about my experience, then what do I talk about? Because of this, it seems to me as if people who share are just repeating what is socially acceptable -- they don't talk about their experiences -- they "preach".

I'm having trouble articulating this -- just want to know that I'm not alone. I read some of the "left AA" threads and thought it might be safe to post this here. There are so many places in AA where I can't talk about this ("no talk" rules tend to remind me of my dysfunctional family, LOL, which makes me feel more nuts after the meeting is over). It just feels rigid and closed system, when I know that the 12-steps are open-system. And they read Christian prayers -- all of the step prayers are Christian, some written by Catholic saints. This really marginalizes me. I don't speak up out of fear of being oustracized. Or criticized in that passive-aggressive way that many AA's have adopted -- if you've seen it, you know what I mean.

I want a community of sober friends and support, but I don't know where else to go for "in person" meetings. Already discovered SMART on-line, which is helpful. But they tend to discourage criticism of AA, which is really what I need to talk about right now.

Thank you for letting me rant....

CJ
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:26 PM
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I think meetings take on a particular flavor in some cities... around here, it seems that the meetings in the local 12-step/alano clubs have little long-term recovery. These are the place the newbies go... and it shows.

The meetings in churches are often better - and this is a weird reason - because of the no-smoking rule. The only ones willing to attend those meetings (before our whole state became nonsmoking) were those with a real interest in recovery and working a program. As a result, those church meeting rooms tend to have the best recovery... in my experience.

I vote to keep looking for a good meeting... and to reach out to the winners. (You got that part right.) And maybe you will be able to change the flavor yourself, one day...

I wish you the best.
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Old 07-26-2007, 01:45 AM
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Hey Big Sis!!!--hope all is well--Im crawling out of a relapse--its tough but Im starting to see the light.I understand EVERYTHING you speak of!!!!.Im a little "chatted out" at the moment(been on here for TWO DAYS!) and gotta go to work.Check out the thread I started 2 days ago called I cant do AA anymore either.
Sounds like you can probably relate.My name is ShawMac.God Bless
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Old 07-26-2007, 01:47 AM
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WHOOPS!-my reply was meant for CJ!!--sorry Sis!
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Old 07-27-2007, 07:09 AM
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Hey Cj I just posted on the EITHER thread(please read when time allows).I forgot you had a thred going(see,its all abt. me!).I am new to computerland and cyberspace.I want to reiterate a thing or two .Yours and Melanchonicas posts genuinely make my eyes "tear up" at the realization that someone thinks and feels as I do.As I said on EITHER both of you are articulating much more succinctly what I was(am) tryimg to drive at.Your posts "feel" as if I wrote them!(and Melans too).I too am not able to discuss these thoughts and feelings with anyone I know.Ive tried to and its an immediate train wreck!Please continue to post(I will check both threads)Your posts (and Melans) are such a comfort.My energies are on the wane for discoursing (im still recuperating from my horrible relapse)Please continue your thoughtful posts.You have a friend here.God Bless You.
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Old 07-27-2007, 07:13 AM
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Oh by the Way what is SMART?
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Old 07-27-2007, 08:41 AM
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Here is a link ShawMac

http://www.smartrecovery.org/
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Old 07-27-2007, 09:10 AM
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Mike Mass has a link to the orange papers which is a criticism and analysis of AA that may interest you.

It validated a few of my feelings and thoughts about it.

It is in a thread in alcoholism started by Tom talking about our society and instant gratification.

I tried al-anon and also went along as support with my ex to AA. Al-anon and I just didn't click and I think my understanding of what was taught and suggest made me worse in the situation.

In the Big Book, women are help-mates. Written a long time ago in a very patriachal society.
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Old 07-27-2007, 09:13 AM
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Sorry the thread name is AA and modern society and is started by signal30. It is in the alcoholism forum.
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Old 07-27-2007, 10:14 PM
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I went to the orange papers, liveweyerd, and clicked on the "cult" link and it gave voice to why I feel uncomfortable in AA. Keep in mind it's now been 2.5 years since I've had a drink and been attending AA -- so it's not like I'm expecting some sort of "instant gratification" fix from AA. When I read "Members are shamed and made to feel small, weak, stupid and sinful...." it really hit home. That is the exact trick that my childhood religion played, and which I distanced myself from many years ago. To see it alive and well in AA is a big disappointment for me. I think like a lot of people, I want AA to be the answer so that when I send my friends or loved ones there AA will take care of the problem (in a major ironic quirk, I was in a business position where I occasionally referred people to AA before I ever went myself). Now I feel guilty for having subjected them to the "cult-think" and for thinking that there was something wrong with them if they didn't "get-it" through AA.

So why do I keep going -- because there are some women there who don't buy into the cult-think, and I need the reminder that I can no longer safely drink alcohol (phrasing it this way is a much stronger reinforcer for me than saying "I'm an alcoholic").

And I need to know that there are others in the rooms who are ambivalent about the group-think and are also uncomfortable. But mostly I'm sad and disappointed in finding that the originator of the 12-step group -- AA -- has devolved into rigid fear-based cult that is afraid of entertaining any questions to its beliefs. It is that sadness and disappointment that I am processing right now.

CJ
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Old 07-28-2007, 07:03 AM
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Hey,CJ, Again,you hit all the nails on the heads.I whole-heartedly agree with your posting.Unfortunately as I was typing a well-thought adjunct to your posting,the electric went out and lost everything!Now the wind is out of my sails.Time to rest some(Im,still recuperating ,mind you,from my relapse).Peace Out.
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Old 07-29-2007, 05:56 PM
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I've been reading the Orange Papers and recognizing that the author really has clearly identified a lot of things that have been bugging me about AA.

On the flip side, in spite of the bait & switch and other dishonest things that some of the AA founders were doing, someone among them managed to slip in enough open system stuff that I can have hope. Identifying that others out there are experiencing the same thing as me, that I'm not alone has become important to me at this phase as I sort out what I need and don't need to stay sober. There may have been duplicity in what the AA founders tried to do -- but what also survived is the message that all that's required for membership is a desire to stop drinking. And that more will be revealed. And reading the story in another thread about the importance of not faking it and telling my truth, even if it stirs up the hornets, is an important part of my journey.

& ShawMac - Keep writing, I enjoy hearing from you.

CJ
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Old 07-30-2007, 03:52 PM
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Welll..... here goes a post as I ponder(weak and weary).It seems to me that most of the folks Ive seen exhibiting wahat I consider to be "bad" behaviour(intolerance,judgementalism,dogmatism,pub licly critical of others,public-and private rudeness,egotism,chest-beating etc) seem to be heavily involved with the culture and practises of the fellowship. They all possess long-term sobriety,attend meetings daily(for years),never fail to speak at each meeting,using(over-using?) the accepted lingo and catch-phrases,heavily involved with the buisness meetings,regularly attend conferences,carry special edition copies of the Big Book at all times and can readily quote the Book at the drop of a hat(sometimes citing the page!) Kind of looks and sounds like someone practising religion to me. The folks Ive met in AA who display tolerance of others,seem non-judgemental,are curtious(public and private),open-minded,non dogmatic ALSO have long term sobriety BUT... they attend meetings less frequently,speak only occasionally,use the lingo and catch phrases less frequently,dont attend conferences on a regular basis,quote the Big Book in-frequently and do service work anonymously (or nearly so).Hmmmm....... Well CJ-50,
I am compelled to recount a recent incident to you.Ive been trying to stay away from recounting incident after incident or making a litany of "bad" behaviour examples, and stick to discussing a larger picture. The incident--- A "friend' of mine who lives Three houses up from me would give me a ride to a meeting at anytime (they never missed). I cant drive (DUI).This person fits the description of the first group of people I mentioned above. After my relapse this person informed me that they would no longer give me a ride and from here-after i'd"have to walk"(of course my feelings were hurt).Sadly, I just recievedword that this person has also relapsed(after 12 years of sobriety).Looks like the AA "soldier-zealots" are just as vulnerable as myself.Peace Out to All.
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Old 07-30-2007, 03:55 PM
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Oh, CJ,Imeant to ask---what are the Orange Papers?
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:50 PM
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Hi ShawMac - someone on one of these threads mentioned it. Google "AA" and "orange papers" and you should find it -- this board won't let me post a link, LOL!

Also - just came back from a very bad AA meeting where the people in the first group you mentioned were running rampant (and making overbroad statements about how successful AA is). So I'm a bit down, but feeling better since logging on. And I'm sorry to hear about how the "friend" treated you. But it just shows that everyone is vulnerable -- all I know is I have to keep using all the tools at my disposal that work for me, which includes reaching out to people.

Starting to feel "peace out" again. Thanks for talking with me about all this ShawMac! My spirits are starting to feel like

as I let go of all that negative energy.


CJ
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:23 AM
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Yea CJ, I could sense some of your negative energy dissapating in the post before last---same here---It sure helps to talk about it. It just turns me off so much that AA is considered so sacrosanct,flawless,and infallible that this discussion we've been having cant take place(except here thank goodness!).AA sure has become the perfect place for the "soldier-zealots" to flock to and thrive in.Well, Im going to have 2-3 hellacious work days (that Id be better prepared for if I wasnt still kind o sick) so I probably wont be jumping on the computer.Keep your thoughts coming if you need to(I,ll still try to read!) and let me know how the meetings go!(I still havent had the mojo-physical or otherwise--to get to a meeting after my relapse).God Bless Ya!
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Old 08-01-2007, 08:27 PM
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ShawMac - It has been nice getting to know you and I wish you all the best with your recovery. Hang in there -- you can make it!

I'm going to take some time away from this board. I was looking for a safe place to talk about my experience in AA, naming what the experience has been and seeing if anyone else identified with it -- there is value in knowing I'm not alone. And then talking about the solution. When I first saw the number of threads in this forum discussing bad experiences with AA, I thought this might be a safe place to honestly discuss these issues with other recovering people. Unfortunately, I've gotten the message that isn't welcomed here -- so I'm going to take a break from this Board.

I wish you and all the others who've been kind enough to communicate with me everything good that life can bring.

CJ
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Old 08-02-2007, 11:59 AM
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CJ,

You are welcome to share your personal experience and work it through. When it goes beyond that and talks about an organization as a whole that other members of the forum are using for their recovery it goes beyond your personal experience and turns into an agenda against a recovery program. That opens up the forum for heated debate and eventually gets out of control.

When I moderate this forum my thoughts are always to keep the forum up and running. There have been forums here similar to this one that have been closed down in the past when it got out of control and couldn't be fixed.

I am not secular, but my faith based beliefs are so rare that there is no forum here that I can post on. I understand more than anyone what it's like to feel isolated and struggle to fit in. I am in the minorities of minorities. There has never been another person who has ever posted on the boards that share my beliefs and the recovery method I use, but I've been able to grab a lot from other's posts that have helped me through my struggles. I could sit here and talk all day about what bothers me about the churches and complain about what is being taught in church and complain about how hurt I've been by the churches, but that would be an agenda that doesn't fit in on the recovery forums here. I discuss those issues on another forum.

The problem has been that any secular or alternative recovery forum has turned into an AA bashing forum and I'm trying to avoid that here. If everyone can keep it to personal experience and actual problems they are having it helps avoid the problems we've had before.
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Old 08-03-2007, 03:26 AM
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Hey Morning Glory, I understand where your coming from.After readdin your posts and self-reflecting(and re-reading my postts) I think a line was starting to be crossed---many apologies-sorry things started going down the "wrong train track"--gotta stay in the solution,not the problem!Gotta say,however, that it has been extremely helpful to converse with a few others who mirror my feelings/notions/concerns.I no longer feel so alone.I think it has helped me move forward in my recovery!Peace Out!!
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Old 08-04-2007, 05:01 AM
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CJ 50,

If you quit drinking 2.5 years ago, it may be that AA is no longer useful to you. It is not a life long thing; unless, you want it to be.
Orange papers are a root and branch critique of AA. But, the links page has a large number of links. It may be useful for that reason alone.

I really do not know of a place to replace AA for you, if you want face to face meetings.
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