I’ve been thinking long and hard the past few weeks wether AA is the right place for me. I think it’s a valuable and important support network for many, but for me it felt a little too outdated and often preachy and oppressive. Let me clarify that this is not me rebelling or being ‘bored of AA’ as I’ve been so kindly accused of already as if I’m a brainless child.
As with many religions there are your hard-core ‘members as well as your more forward thinking types, but I could not look past the ‘do-or-die’ mentality.
Unlike society, AA hasn’t moved on much since it was first founded in the 1930’s (in my opinion). Just some like medication works for one person but not the next, this should then also apply to the topic around alcohol abuse.
I as an individual was not a dependant drinker, nor was I a daily drinker. Did I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol? Most definitely. Did it affect me physically and mentally in a negative way with a host of consequences? Yep. Does that make my brain and inner workings the same as all other ‘alcoholics’ and persons who also have an unhealthy relationship to alcohol? I don’t believe so.
Society as a whole has a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol. It is an early learned behaviour to rely on it to overcome feelings of low self esteem, anxiety, boredom, heartbreak, tough days at work as well as the flip side of celebrations.
For me my belief system is pretty fluid so I am not ever one to make up my mind on a matter and let that be final. I just know that at least for now, AA is not something which I want to take part in.
I shared this publicly on the SoberSwede instagram stories, and knew it would trigger some mixed responses. For the most part (99%) I had very positive and supportive messages, many from people in double their digits of sobriety who also did not take the path of AA. But then there were also some which deemed it a ‘car crash waiting to happen’. These people genuinely believe that you either choose to strictly follow the rules of AA or you will die.
Yesterday I went for lunch with a friend who I was talking to about my choice to leave AA when a middle aged man came over to our table, leant in and proceeded to ‘preach’ the readings of AA. There were no signs of him stopping and it was incredibly condescending, rude and uncomfortable – especially in such a public manner in a quiet cafe. I had to interject and ask him to please stop as it was not the time nor the place to be having such a conversation. Not that you can call a one way barrage of words a conversation. it was reminiscent of behaviour witnessed in a Louis Theroux documentary on Scientology.
It’s the work of such individuals which give AA the reputation of being ‘cultish’. I used to defend the programme up until yesterday. I have since decided to simply not have any further public opinion on the matter. If it works for you – great. Live and let live. I may even dip into a meeting here and there if I fancy. Who knows.
This is my sobriety and I’m going to explore it how ever I choose. There are a ton of groups and communities, as well as therapy and supporting services from your GP/ NHS. I’m not scared of being wrong, or finding out that in fact AA is the only real ‘solution’. But what does scare me is the thought of not even exploring the possibilities, and what potentially works best for me. AA may not think you should ever be ‘self-reliant’ or believe that you yourself are capable of anything (they believe it’s all done by a higher power’. I like to think it’s a healthy mix of both.
I will celebrate my personal successes, and not feel bad for giving myself credit. It’s not ‘ego’, it’s positive affirmation damn it.
I’d love to hear your experiences with it too if you feel like sharing!
Im off to do some ceramics.