Unhelpful AA sponsors
I try not to be critical of other people’s recovery solutions. I feel is a private matter for the individual to decide which solution is best for them. I have been critical of those who call themselves anti-AA. I feel that they often exaggerate the problems in the fellowship. However, I chose to leave the 12-step world, because I did not feel it was the best solution for my recovery, and also because I was wary of some of the members. It is certainly not perfect.
Today I was sitting in a cafe in London and I witnessed both the good side and the bad side of the fellowship from my table. I was reminded why I left AA, and felt sorry for one of the group, I could overhear, who clearly had issues with working the steps.
I was sitting on my own, when three middle-aged women sat at the table next to mine. They seemed in good spirits and it became apparent that they had come from and AA meeting. Two of the group had obviously been members for sometime and seem to have done well. They were offering encouragement to the third member, who had not completed the steps, and had some concerns about step six. They were talking about this in a low-key way, and not attracting attention. I would not have heard their conversation unless I was sitting right next to them. They were helping each other, which is what the fellowship should be about.
Their little chat, and privacy, was broken when two men sat down next is them. One was obviously the Sponsor of the other. The Sponsor type instantly butted into the ladies conversation and offered his wisdom. Despite the fact that the ladies were obviously not impressed by his intrusion, he offered to drive them to another meeting. When they declined, he carried on, and suggested they attend a different meeting in another area later in the week that he thought would be good for them. This meeting was one of the cult type meetings that I remembered from my time in the fellowship, where are people go to impress others, rather than help them. He seemed to think going to one meeting after another was the norm.
They were saved by Mr Sponsor’s phone ringing. He answered it very loudly, and it was obviously a call from another sponsee. This gave him a chance to show off. He certainly took the opportunity. Instead of being subtle, he answered as loudly as possible, and made it’s obvious he was talking about AA. The whole cafe could hear him including the waitresses who are pointing at him, making comments in Romanian and laughing. He started talking about the steps and God, as if they were the only solution to alcoholism, which is often what devout members of AA actually think. He was making no attempt to emphasise with the other person on the phone, but just talking to impress the other members of AA in the cafe.
He was precisely the type of person that annoyed me during the period I went to 12-step meetings. He was somebody that likes to perform to a group, but does not have the sensitivity to really help others. All he can do is quote the big book, and tell people to go to meetings. He is critical of anyone who does not work the AA program in a strict way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like this in London meetings. He had completely ruined the ladies conversation with his intrusion. They were the ones helping each other and it was ironic, that it was the hard-core stepper that ruined things.
I certainly don’t think recovery groups are for everyone, but many do benefit from membership of a sober community. Unfortunately it is important to be on guard for people who want to dominate and control others, in these groups. I think this type of behaviour is more common in AA due to the sponsorship part of the program. I certainly felt a relief at not having to deal with the self-righteous critical types, who are often horrific gossips, after leaving AA. I valued my privacy, but people such as the man in the cafe, do not. For them AA has become a way of life, and they love to tell others that they are members, even anonymous people sitting in a cafe. They feel blessed to be members of AA.
This brought back a memory for me, as the first time I was embarrassed by a member of AA in public, was in this very cafe over a decade ago. That person was my sponsor, and I realised he was very similar to the man in there today. He would have used the same phrases, and was equally tactless. I had chosen him as my sponsor, as he had latched onto me at meetings and told me about other meetings that he felt were good. I realise now that I was being guided to hard-core 12-step meetings, rather than the more laid back meetings that I later found helpful. It was odd to experience this again. It made me realise how far I have come. I realise now that I was never going to fully fit in to AA. I’m not religious and I’m not spiritual. It suits some people, but is not the only way and as I value my privacy, I am better off not doing recovery in a group any more.Google+