Are you a friend of Monica?
The phrase ” are you a friend of Monica?” was coined last night, as a more appropriate way for those of us who have left AA to identify each-other. It pretty much sums the situation, up as Monica brought a lot of different types of people together at her screening in Mayfair, who are all concerned with making recovery groups better and safer. Her film the 13th step was very well received in London, by everyone . We were all quite amazed by the reaction as in many ways this was a real true test of her film, as she was not on home ground and she attracted a broad recovery based audience (as well as members of the British Media Industry). There were people who had met online over the years on Blogs such as Stinkin-Thinkin who finally met each-other for real as well, as members of AA, who were complimentary of the film.
Monica left AA a few years ago after being a member for over 36 years but still clearly cares about the people who are still there, especially the women. She obviously has a difference experience to me. I only remained in the 12 step world for a short period and was what most people would consider a middle aged fairly low bottom drunk. She joined very young and in my opinion would have been better off elsewhere. This seems to be a problem with many people being channeled into AA when it is not really the appropriate place.
Reaction to the 13th step film
I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the film. I expected those who have experienced issues in AA, to approve of it, especially as Monica has an online following, I also felt that people such as myself, who have moved on from AA but are still grateful for the support we had when times were hard, would approve. I certainly consider myself pro choice and attempt to tell others about the other methods available that I have used along with those used by friends, and not somebody that wishes to attack every aspect of AA. What really surprised me was the reaction of the AA members who applauded with the rest of us and told Monica that this was a film that needed to be made. I feel these people represented the majority of people who are in AA to help and support others. They want the film to be put on Dvd and sent to people in the fellowship who have the power to change things. That impressed me, and showed a different side to the fellowship, compared to some of the petty minded people who get involved with idiotic arguments on the comments sections of recovery websites. These people want change, and realise it is needed. They have the interests of AA members in mind and are not opposed to change.
Some AA members do take action when people behave inappropriately in or around meetings, but others turn a blind eye, and in extreme cases can cause huge damage by giving poor advice to people who have suffered abuse, which can lead to disaster. AA was designed for low bottom drunks male drunks who had drunk through prohibition, rather that young women and the vulnerable who need therapy.
AA has a huge number of members compared to any other recovery group, and is the one that everybody has heard of, and so it is not surprising that a significant minority do cause problems, especially as people who have substance abuse issues often have criminal backgrounds or mental health issues. This film contains some bad stories and illustrates the type of issues that AA needs to deal with if it is to be able to move forward. It seems stuck in the past to me, and some active members are more interested in dogma and the religious side and not helping others with basic support and fellowship, which are the parts of AA that I feel can be effective if you are open to them.
It was also good to see people from the British TV industry who were present last night, who felt that this was an important issue. There were people who were not connected directly with recovery who gave up their time to do graphics on this film and Claudia Christian’s “one little pill“. There was the British feature film director and actor Nick Moran who came up with some good suggestions for Monica on how the film could be shortened for broadcast versions, which would bring these issues to a wider audience. There was a journalist from the prestigious UK Sunday newspaper “The Observer” who are working on a piece featuring the blogger Jon Sleeper who is raising awareness of recovery issues in the UK, who again could reach a wider audience.
This was a great example of a wide range of people in the recovery community coming together to try and find solutions and was a great success. There was a chance for for people to socialise before and after, and get to know each-other. That made it unique, and showed that people share a lot of common aims in the recovery movement regardless of the support method they chose, if any. I found that inspiring and it gives me some hope that changes can be made. There will be some that oppose change, some that simply want to argue, insult and cause trouble, but there are those out there who are really making an effort and investing a huge amount of their time and own money into making changes happen. They deserve everybody’s support in my opinion. It also showed me the worth of forming a new type of group where people can chat about recovery issues in a more general way and keep in touch with each-other. Perhaps this is something I should try and start!