AA: Threat or Menace?
RELIGIOUS CULT OR PSYCHOPATH MAGNET?
I'm not an alcoholic, though I played one in the rooms. Mind you, I used to throw 'em back with the best of them, but then I just became a craven pothead. My boyfriend Bowleg Guy (BG) and I went to AA for 14 months because he's a stone cold alkie. The results are in, and they're not pretty.
BOWLEG GUY, WHO IS ALREADY SCHIZOPHRENIC, TURNED INTO A JECKYL AND HYDE BASKET CASE AND ALMOST WOUND UP HAVING A FULL-BLOWN PSYCHOTIC BREAK.
Bowleg Guy has a colorful history of substance abuse. He started with Robitussin AC as a 'tween. Came to NYC in the summer of '69 (need I say more)? Shot coke, heroin, speed, acid, in death-defying combinations. OD'd a few l times--almost lost a leg. On Methadone when I met him but later detoxed. We partied heavily with alcohol and pot, but his hangovers were unbearable.
Bowleg Guy grew up Catholic, and like many fomer altar boys, he had Issues. His mom is a VERY big religious enthusiast who once joined a "Catholic" cult which was later exposed as a disgraceful scam. Every night, she used to interrupt his evening viewing of the Twilight Zone or Invaders from Mars by calling up the stairs: "Turn that evil stuff off, get on your knees, say your prayers, and go to bed!"
I don't think the hard religious sell works too well. It's negative conditioning, no? Like shocking the monkey. Then, Prayer = No Fun. But as a fledgling AA, Bowleg Guy was still haunted by his Catholic upbringing and saw God as an old man in a white beard sending down lightning bolts. So he started getting ON HIS KNEES every morning and night and praying for those he had resentments against.
That resentment thing is a bitch. You're supposed to "overcome" them. This is humanly impossible. Bowleg Guy was unflaggingly friendly, almost slavish, in the "Fellowship." But his resentments against fellow AA's and assorted nutjobs from his past were instantly transferred to me. As soon as he got home, the yelling and tantrums would start.
As part of the 12 Steps, you're compelled to compose a searching and fearless moral inventory, listing all your character defects, and be willing to make amends to all. In fact, BG doesn't have many character defects (I shit you not) and there's a busload of weirdos out there who should be making amends to HIM.
WE MET CRACKPOTS AND CREEPS WHO WOULDN'T LEAVE US ALONE.
You want resentments? Go to an AA meeting. It was infuriating to see AAs wander in late and greet all their friends as if they were the embodiment of the Second Coming, rattle candy bar wrappers, or chat during the speaker's bloodcurdling testimony. Others came in very late, raised their hand, said "Sorry I missed your qualification," rambled on about their inane, solipsistic problems, and then got up and left.
In our other group we met Scuzzy Girl and Skanky Boy, who were deeply disturbed and repulsive. They were malodorous, unemployed, and unkempt. We couldn't shake them. They gave us disgusting details about their kinky sex life along with handy tips--even though we were old enough to be their parents. They constantly hounded us for cigarettes and spare change.
Then there were the old timers who tried to tell you how to work your program. Often, these were folks who never achieved much in life, so now, as professional AA's, they loved to tell you how to live.
A few assorted criminals and sociopaths occasionally wandered in, like the guy who said: "I think I'll use the money I saved on drinking to buy myself a gun." Bowleg Guy often noted that homicidal maniacs with weapons were certainly a Power Greater than Himself.
WE GOT PUSHED INTO SERVICE WHILE OTHERS DID NOTHING BUT SHOW UP AND EAT THE COOKIES.
In one group, we got roped into doing all sorts of service. We brought the birthday and anniversary cakes. We helped the nice old timer set up and clean up. We even contributed extra food and coffee money from our own pockets. We also purchased new 12 Steps/12 Traditions banners because the existing ones were so old and gnarly that a newcomer couldn't even read the last two steps. The more we did, the more they asked for, because the other members were "too unreliable."
So what did Bowleg Guy do next? He decided to chair a weekly meeting every Friday at another group. One day, en route to the meeting, he said "screw it," turned around, and took the subway straight to the pot spot, the bar, and the liquor store. We "went out" for about 10 weeks, but Bowleg Guy was in absolute agony from the hangovers. We've been dry for about 6 weeks. Time will tell, but I think we may be able to make it without AA after all. From what I've heard, the success rate for AAs is not too impressive--and may actually be lower than the rate for those who just go it alone after getting "sick and tired of being sick and tired."
AND BY THE WAY, BILL W. IS NO SAINT.
After we quit, I started looking up alternative sobriety webpages. I came upon a few rabidly anti-AA sites, where I learned the dirt about AA's founding co-father, Bill W. See, for example, the More Revealed Site Index.
ANY AA NAZIS WHO THINK I'M AN UNGRATEFUL HERETIC? ANYONE HAVE ANY MINDBLOWING AA HORROR STORIES? PSYCHOTIC MINDS WANT TO KNOW.
READER'S SUGGESTED LINKS: