Reflection on Leaving AA and the Steps behind.
Reflection on leaving AA and the 12 steps behind.
I was thinking about leaving AA and the 12 steps again today, and other related issues. Since I have started blogging again in the last few weeks, I have spent a fair amount of time looking at different web sites and really thinking about the things I went through in my early days of recovery. I seem to have a different viewpoint to many on the web, possibly because I walked away from meetings and distanced myself from the Anti AA brigade. There are those who hate AA, and bash it at every opportunity and those who swear by it, and cannot understand why anyone would want to criticise Bill Wilson, the Steps or anything to do with the fellowship. They remind me of the meetings when hardcore old timers used to shuffle their feet whenever anything was said, that slightly contradicted the perceived AA view. If I did a chair now, they would probably explode!
I’m somewhere in the middle of all this. I thought the people were a bit weird, the Steps were simply religious indoctrination dressed up as recovery and I had a lack of trust. I can see the cult aspect and went to many of the meetings, that have been labelled in that way. I saw through them after a while and lost faith in the whole process. Even though, I did not like it, and saw people damaged, I am still a little uneasy calling it a cult.
The reason for this, is that there is some truth and good things in the program. It is unfortunate, that in many areas the dogma, takes precedent in meetings, but the human fellowship, amongst those who are fighting a common problem, as well as the benefit of being able to help others is a major plus for me. I feel AA would have been much better, if the old-fashioned steps and the Big Book had been allowed to fade, and people just concentrated on sharing experiences and were empathic towards each other. I did get help from certain people and when I look back at it objectively, it was those people who were not going on about Higher Powers or step four who had the best things to say.
There is always something, that makes you think in a meeting. Sometimes, it is just hearing that somebody, is struggling more than you, that helps You are told to listen to the similarities rather than the differences. I was never a fan of this as it is easy to start to identify, with every type of dysfunctional problem, when you are in a group like AA. I think it is worth looking at the differences. I don’t believe substance abuse is caused by any disease and so anybody who banged on about that got ignored by me. They can believe what they want, but that was not a similarity for me. I listened for people who were taking responsibility for their lives. They were the ones to emulate and they were the members with strong recovery.
I could not sit in a meeting, listening to all the old higher power crap any more, and I would not make many friends by telling the faithful, what I thought of it. I do get something out of helping other people and that does happen. People know I have changed over time and have managed the addiction thing. It is in the past for me. If I get in a situation now, where somebody asks for help I tell them about the different options, and about books, I have read, or sites that have helped. I tell them what I feel about AA. I tell them it was not for me, but point out it is somewhere to go and meet other people who are in a similar position. I make sure they know about the sleazy side of AA, with the 13 steppers or people who are there, to try to control others.
Sometimes I feel it is a shame, I can’t be more constructive and give them another option. Smart seems to have good ideas, and I used many of the techniques they recommend myself. They do not have nearly enough meetings, to offer a full alternative at the moment. They are almost a victim of their own success as people are given the tools, to move on, and live life and this results in them leaving the program. AA seems to get some lifers, probably because it is religious, but also because many get locked in by sponsoring and become obsessed by spreading the word to anybody who will listen.
Anyway, the most important thing about recovery is commitment. Do whatever works. Maybe praying to a doorknob, is the answer for some, while spitting venom on a sleazy internet site is the answer for others. I think the answer is somewhere between the two. I feel it is best to learn from those who are relaxed about life, who have sorted their problems out and who have moved on. The sad thing is, that a lot of those people leave the recovery movement completely, due to the craziness of those self righteous bigots, who wave the Big Book around and point their fingers at anyone that offers an alternative or those who simply want to shout about being in a cult and who sound insane, to the vast majority.
Here are some links to other related posts on leaving AA
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