I was mid-way through writing a lovely post capturing musings gathered over the last week, when it was time to head off to my local AA meeting. That other post will wait….what follows is an outpouring without reflection, without reviewing and without re-editing!
Tonight for the first time ever I left an AA meeting before the end.
And I’m the kind of person who never leaves a book not finished, never stops watching a film because it’s rubbish, a person who never, usually, gives up anything, part way through.
But tonight AA wasn’t working for me. The Chair was great and I have the utmost respect for the guy who gave it and I can’t say much more because “what you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here” is a cornerstone of the meetings. So I can’t say more about the meeting itself but for me AA stopped working, it wasn’t for me; not tonight.
- All I heard was ‘noise’
- All I saw were ‘actors’
- All I felt was ‘out of place’
So I left.
I’m not saying I am not going back but a new precedent has been set that I can’t ignore.
I guess anyone who has ever been in recovery for drink or drugs or whatever, has knocked on the doors of AA. And they do help millions of people live healthy happy lives. I have seen it with my own eyes. People coming into meetings for the first time, engaging and growing, meeting new friends, finding support, finding a Sponsor. Staying abstinent, being happy.
Maybe that is why I left today. I don’t have a Sponsor and have never asked anyone to sponsor me. I only go to one or two meetings a week at most as I travel a lot and there simply aren’t any meetings available for me to attend when I am travelling. And if I’m 100% honest, if there was a SMART meeting at the same time on a Saturday next door…I would go there instead.
But recovery is hard, even after 11 months. And recovery on your own is even harder. And recovery on your own, with no peer support…quite frankly the odds don’t look good. So what are the options available? This blog post isn’t a list of resources available…a simple search will give you those, but here is a short list of ones I have personally attended.
All backed up with a healthier lifestyle, exercise and other support therapies to address some of the reasons for drinking in the first place.
I just wish recovery methods could work together. But talk about recovery, and one method dominates.
Each time it is the same. Someone ends up in rehab, often is encouraged; or more correctly ‘attracted’ into a 12 step meeting, gets out of rehab and continues to go to meetings. Real life begins and then decisions have to be made. I was lucky; when I was in rehab 12 Step Programmes were not a part of it. They were talked about and information given and some kind people came to the recovery group and said ‘come along’. And I did go. But also I was exposed to other cognitive behavioural therapy approaches such as GOAL and SMART. I was lucky.
But I continue(d) to go to AA because they were available when I needed them which initially was evenings and weekends. These are times when other support groups were traditionally not open. How else could I find somewhere to talk about issues that others wouldn’t understand….or so I was led to believe.
I find a lot of people have become evangelical, forgive the pun, about their recovery method and often think their way is the best way for everyone else. People are obviously grateful to find a solution to their addiction problems and it is natural to want to help others. But the help offered may not be suitable for all. Sometimes I feel that people lose sight of what recovery is and are not really sure what they want to achieve.
It’s like being part of a recovery group is the most important thing about recovery, and have a mistaken idea of what it means to be abstinent.
I also think the disease model and ideas about being an alcoholic from birth sometimes propagated in the more hardcore AA groups makes people decide that they are different from everyone else, and that they have to spend the rest of their life following the rituals of their recovery program or succumb back into the world of addiction. I fundamentally dislike the whole “in the rooms” and “outside” segregation. If we are open and honest about our recovery we need to break down this “them” and “us” mentality.
Some people who are not in AA can offer a lot of help. Yes, we may be wired slightly differently and maybe they wont get everything we talk about; but both inside and outside opinions and support and sharing can help.
They really do not like it if you talk about a different approach. They become locked into the AA, 12 step way of life.
To be fair; there are also anti-AA groups to which I strongly disagree with too. They are equally closed-minded and refuse to believe anyone can be helped by going to a meeting. This is obviously not the case.
All of us have to find our own path to recovery. No one method works for all, no one philosophy matches. We should support all roads that lead to recovery, but choose our own.