AAwomen
Alright, we have more more fun from the Crazies over at the Sober Recovery site. Today’s thread is started by Miss Communicat, and her initial post is crazy enough to award her a nomination to be this week’s 12-Step  AAll-Star. The thread is titled “non-AA literature in meetings”. One reason that AAs have such insular thought processes is because any understanding of alcohol addiction outside of the the ‘Big Book’ or the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is shunned. Regardless of the advances in understanding addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous is content with 1930’s science. One reason AA will never be effective, is because they have no interest in improving it, and they have no interest in improving it because it because that is tantamount to religious heresy. Bringing a book based on our scientific understanding of addiction into AA is like bringing the Origin of the Speces into a Southern Baptist Sunday school class. Miss Communicat’s first post:

How do I handle this situation:

My former home group is a women’s AA group that has a rotating format. 1 week is BB, 1 week is a step study, 1 week a speaker and 1 week a topic discussion.

I call it my former “home group” because it is 4 towns away from my home, and in the intervening year, I’ve helped start up 5 early bird AA meetings right here in my town and they are growing well and I now call these my home group.

Until last week, I had not attended the women’s AA group but for the occasional meeting here and there…very sporadically. I noticed that it was heading into a direction that did nothing for my recovery from alcoholism: it was more like an al-anon or group therapy circle with lots of whining.

Anyway, last week, I brought a newcomer woman there in hopes that it might introduce her to more women in the program.

It was a step meeting, and the chairperson had decided to use a non AA book to study the step we were on, and she passed the book around so we could all read our requisite paragraphs out of the book before we shared.

I was fit to be tied. I wanted to walk out but i had this person with me and chose not to. I passed when it came my turn to read, and left the room twice to shift my energy because I was clearly irritated.

The chairperson is a therapist. She is a chronic relapser. She has “problems” with Step 3. Her therapist suggested she use this stupid workbook instead of the Big Book. I feel she has no place chairing a step AA meeting if she uses non AA literature.

To me, it is apparent that she is diluting the message and the principles of AA. Actually, she cannot carry the message of AA as long as she remains self reliant, which was the tenor of her book. I lost count of the number of times the words “my choice” and “self reliance”, and that references to cocaine and sex addictions were used.

Anyway, I raised my hand and asked the group if this is still an AA meeting. They said yes. I then asked if a group conscience had determined that it was acceptable to replace AA literature with secular psychotherapeutic writings, and that, if it had, then it is a women’s support group of some sort but is no longer an AA meeting and it should be stricken from the schedule book.

I was told that it was not a big deal and that nobody minded.
(!!?)

I realize I can personally simply not return to that meeting, which serves me and my recovery personally, but is that all? 3 of the oldtimers who were not as vocal as me called me the next day to thank me for being courageous and to tell me they support my speaking up.

I am not into drama and would prefer to let this go.

What would you do in a similar situation?

Obviously, this woman is a dogmatic, AA Nazi. These are the scariest and most dangerous types in AA. Let’s examine this post in a little more detail. Miss Communicat writes:

I was fit to be tied. I wanted to walk out but i had this person with me and chose not to. I passed when it came my turn to read, and left the room twice to shift my energy because I was clearly irritated.

I don’t have much to say about this paragraph. I just wanted to re-post it because it is funny as hell. It reminds me of the reaction my counselor had when she caught me sneaking in a Playboy to church camp. Miss Communicat reminds me of the Maude Flanders of AA town. She goes on:

The chairperson is a therapist. She is a chronic relapser. She has “problems” with Step 3. Her therapist suggested she use this stupid workbook instead of the Big Book. I feel she has no place chairing a step AA meeting if she uses non AA literature.

Notice she puts the word “problems” in quotes. She couldn’t write “she has problems with Step 3”. She put it in quotes for a reason, as though this womans problems with accepting an invisible Higher Power™ were invalid. She didn’t like the fact that her therapist gave her a workbook. What if this woman made her therapist her Higher Power™? That seems more reasonable than a doorknob or rock. She also labels her a “chronic relapser”. I’m not sure of the history of this woman, but if she relapsed before, the chances are she relapsed trying to work the steps, as most people do. The real point in saying this is to judge this woman as incapable of running a meeting, and to make her look bad.

To me, it is apparent that she is diluting the message and the principles of AA. Actually, she cannot carry the message of AA as long as she remains self reliant, which was the tenor of her book. I lost count of the number of times the words “my choice” and “self reliance”, and that references to cocaine and sex addictions were used.

In AA, you have to give in to a Higher Power™, even if it is a tree or hamster. The individual isn’t in charge. So, if this woman running the meeting finds the idea of giving her life over to a hamster or a tree to be absurd, and instead wants to be accountable for her own sobriety, then she is criticized. This becomes a bigger joke when a person happens to slip. In this case, the responsibility is reversed, and it is all on the individual. It is their own fault, and not the the fault of the hamster (or the brainiacs who thought it was a smart idea for her to give her life over to a hamster). So, only the individual can fail, but they are told to give up their self reliance. This is a psychological circle jerk that only becomes more maddening if you ask a stepper to explain the logic behind it all.

Anyway, I raised my hand and asked the group if this is still an AA meeting. They said yes. I then asked if a group conscience had determined that it was acceptable to replace AA literature with secular psychotherapeutic writings, and that, if it had, then it is a women’s support group of some sort but is no longer an AA meeting and it should be stricken from the schedule book.

Spiritual, Not Religious™? Notice the highlighted words where she writes “replace AA literature with secular psychotherapeutic writings”. They tell you AA is not religious, but at the same time admit that their literature is not secular. I wonder how often Miss Communicat spews the “AA is not religious” lie to newcomers.

I realize I can personally simply not return to that meeting, which serves me and my recovery personally, but is that all? 3 of the oldtimers who were not as vocal as me called me the next day to thank me for being courageous and to tell me they support my speaking up.

She may not have spoken out in that meeting, but she got the wheels turning with other old-timers to use the gossip mill and manipulation tactics of AA to shut down this deviation of the dogma. This will be brought up, and it will be changed. This is what happens to individuals who don’t tow the party line. Shame, passive aggression, rumors, slander, status will all be used.

Next, we have a few AAs posting in agreement, but I want to post our friend Jim’s response, because he was kind enough to visit our blog today, and he apparently likes the limelight. Jim writes:

Miss C,
I solve problems like that by no longer attending the meeting. Carol was right, you did your part by speaking your piece. Now it is time vote with your feet and let the dead bury the dead.

I have been accused on these forums of ranting against contemporary AA. Probably true, but your example epitomizes to me everything that is wrong with contemporary AA. Doing everything in AA but AA and wondering why the group stays sick. But that is their right to do so.

You know, one of the great things about AA is that an individual or a group can do whatever the hell they want to do. One of the tragic things about AA is that an individual or a group can do whatever they want.

cubile brought up the 4th Tradition. The group is free to use whatever literature it sees fit. However, as you’ve seen it won’t remain an AA group for long if it continues to stray from tradition. cubile also asked a good question. Does it affect AA as a whole? I think groups that use non-AA literature such as the workbook you mentioned do affect AA as a whole. What if your newcomer friend had came alone and this was her first impression? To her that would be AA as a whole.

Maybe there should be a 13th Tradition: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jim

I highlighted what I think are more revealing (and amusing) comments. This post is chock full of judgment and passive aggressive statements. Both Jim and Miss C are the stereotypical old-timers who run the show at AA, and are the reason rational people enter AA and then run for their lives. They make AA what is, and what it is is religious faith healing run by untrained counselors interested in promoting their religion. If you want to know why AA does not work, Jim and Miss C are two very good examples.

UPDATE!!!! UPDATE!!!! UPDATE!!!!

Miss Communicat responded to her feedback:

None of the above messages would have offended me in general, for a topic discussion in AA, since AA is a spiritual solution-based recovery program. (and especially since I personally am very eastern and lean into mysticism)

As I understand it, The message of AA IS about how God/Spirit-centeredness is being experienced in our lives and how that is central to remaining sober.

What was difficult for me to bear was the use of another book to do a so-called AA Step Study. The AA Steps ARE the way to have conscious contact with one’s higher power, to know one’s true self and to live these principles in all one’s affairs.

The workbook I was exposed to was psychobabble. It was opposed to spiritual solutions.

Now, however, i am moving along. But Thanks Steve, for sharing what you did.

Here we have some more irrational, illogical crazy:

As I understand it, The message of AA IS about how God/Spirit-centeredness is being experienced in our lives and how that is central to remaining sober.”

Really? I thought these were simply suggestions. I thought that AA has atheists who are active in the fellowship. That is what I was told, and prospective members will be told this, as well.

What was difficult for me to bear was the use of another book to do a so-called AA Step Study. The AA Steps ARE the way to have conscious contact with one’s higher power, to know one’s true self and to live these principles in all one’s affairs.”

What does Miss C say to a Christian whose Higher Power™ is Christ? A Christian or Jew who understands their God to be their Higher Power™, also understands the first commandment – “no gods before Me”. The Bible is another book that teaches moral principles. Would Miss C have a problem had a group used the Bible to help apply the steps? If yes, she is advocating AAs commit heresy – if no, she is imposing her own criteria as to what is and is not allowed, and is imposing her own morals on the group.

The workbook I was exposed to was psychobabble. It was opposed to spiritual solutions.”

I haven’t read the workbook, but assuming it is as Miss C describes, and leaves onus on the individual, this does not mean it is opposed to spiritual solutions. It simply means it is different than Miss C’s concept of a spiritual solution. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the Summa Theologicae that “man has free will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain”. Spirituality and self-reliance are not mutually exclusive. Miss C, the ‘Big Book’, Jim, and the old-timers who called Miss C and thanked her for speaking up in their meeting – want to change the fundamental spiritual beliefs of someone whose higher power advocates free-will. AAs aren’t free to select a Higher Power™ of their choice. Their Higher Power™ is a very specific, AA God; who has us all on a string.

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