Thursday, July 17, 2008

Carry the message - not the mess

My homegroup is going through a strange little phase.  It makes me very uncomfortable.  The group is usually pretty stable.  There are a couple of folks with long term sobriety, and lots with good lengths of sobriety (between 5 and 10 years).  There are a number of people who are in their first few years.   We historically have always had newcomers, who usually turn into the people with long term sobriety.  

Lately it seems we have a higher than normal number of people who just can't seem to get sober.  I understand that this happens.  However, I am concerned about the message I am hearing in meetings.  
  • Keep Coming Back
  • So Glad You Came Back
  • It takes REAL courage to raise your hand and be honest
  • You don't really lose your sobriety, you just have a new sobriety date
  • You don't have to be afraid to come back, we will love you until you can love yourself.
You know what I say?  Bullshit.

They told me:
  • Go to meetings and don't drink in between them
  • Don't drink even if your ass falls off
  • Take the action necessary to stay sober
  • Sit down and shut up and listen
  • You have two ears and one mouth for a reason
I could go on and on with this.  But I am sure you get the idea.  I understand that some alcoholics will die alcoholic deaths.  I understand that some folks come to AA and don't "get it."  But I am concerned that we are watering down our own message to try to make it more comfortable for them.  

Screw that!  Our message is one of Absolute Abstinence.  And a means to achieve that.  Wow.  Why would you want to water that down?

So, let me tell you what they told me at my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous on July 24, 1984:  "You never have to drink again if you don't want to."  And so far, one day at a time, that has been true.

Thank you God!


Scott W said...

I understand what you are saying. There seems to be a fine line in saying Keep Coming Back. There have been many people that aren't able to come back. People have died before they were able to come back. If one has relapsed it is due to an unfit spiritual condition. That means if you slip then you start over--from scratch. That previous sobriety is gone. It must be hard to go out and come back in and forget what you "knew" before. Because whatever it was--it didn't work.

dAAve said...

I've only been around AA for 5 years, so I've heard the watered down version most often.
However, I have heard your take on things and I agree with it.
I believe that all the people who are ordered to attend meetings are a chief cause of this watered down message. Few of them really want the program.

J-Online said...

Ditto....I call that the wishy washy talk. For me, one drink means disaster. It's not ok for me to start over. These are the things that help me during the really hard times. If I thought I had an out in the beginning, I would have taken it. I need absolutes. Thanks for sharing MC. Jenn

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to check in and tell you that going to the meeting felt like winning the lottery. It immediately felt like the right place to be....there was so much wisdom and helpful guidance.

I plan to follow the suggestion to attend a meeting a day (and two if I need to). I don't know how I could have coped without stumbling across your blog. My brain is mush... I would never have thought to go to AA without reading about it here. Thank you!

One Drunk to Another said...

Amen amen! I find it disheartening sometimes when I state the "hard party line" and get admonished. "You're such a hard-a**" Of course I am! This is my life!

Lou said...

I agree with you MC. My son is an addict,he can do NOTHING even once.
This had been demonstrated to him time & time again. He still thinks he can "get around" the rules, and that is why he is jail, instead of at his AA group.

♥Shann♥ said...

OH man that is so weird that you say that! That has been happening a lot in my homegroup too... and I am with you... When I got sober I was told never to take a drink even if my ass falls off... I DONT hear that much any more. I THKNK I will do that...
have a super good Thursday

AlkySeltzer said...

If I had known on my first day, that I could go back out, in, out, in, etc., you would not be reading this comment today. My last drink was the night BEFORE my first AA meeting, as I was told to do--AND I was told that WAS my "last drink!"

And...OH! How nice--you all will love me until I love myself. Maybe I'll just put off loving myself, and enjoy your "free" stuff.

And, I love this one: "Your first Amend should be to yourself!" Ha! I don't remember reading that. However, as I make Amends (which by the way does NOT mean a series of "I'm Sorry's", but a series of CHANGES in BEHAVIOR) I AM making them to myself, by the very fact OF those changes! Guess I've used more than my "two minutes" again. Sorry--I'll try to change -grin-
Steve E.

AlkySeltzer said...

Mary C. please X-cuse me for using your blog as a message machine--but can you think of a better one? Our Email server has been down since last night, so I've been, like, off the air until soon, soon...soon.
Steve E.

Pam said...

AMEN sista Mary!
And you know I mean that girl!
My home group is in a re-hab facility. It seems that every single person who shares says "This is my 5th time through re-hab". Then people say, "at least you keep trying".
Well YEAH...they keep trying to get rested up for the next drink!
How about PLOP YOUR ASS DOWN AND STICK....(I'd like to see that slogan on the wall)

Mark said...

OOOOoooohhhhhh!!!!! You know I agree!!!

"Awwww - glad to see ya' took a lot of courage to come back..."


Sit down and SHUT UP! We'll get you a cup of coffee! You've got two ears and one mouth for a reason!

MC, it is my passionate belief that while folks like you and I are still here on this rock that we have been entrusted with a legacy. That legacy is to pass this on the way it was given to us. If they don't like it its their problem! The message of AA has to remain disassociated from political correctness and rehab psychobabble. When Searcy spoke here he told us to never give up - NEVER! Though he was speaking of not giving up on individuals, we can apply that to never giving up on the truth and the reality of the fact that what we were given freely - WORKS and works damn well! It isn't broken either so it doesn't need to be fixed by the "profundity pushers."

G Da** the pusher man!!!

Trudging along with ya'

Trailboss said...

Well said MC, well said.

Zane-nawwaa said...

Oh the old turnstile people. I love the ones that say this time I'm serious about my recovery, but the same empty look is there. Usually when they are serious there is a spark of hope about them. I was so ready when I got here, and I only have one sobriety date and I'm going to keep it that way. It is very important to me to die sober.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear. Keep fighting hard and I couldn't agree with you more about not touching anymore drinks.

We also run a sober living blog. Best of luck,


Dharma Kelleher said...

Even with 12+ years of continuous sobriety, I cannot afford the luxury of thinking that I am better than a person who seems to be in perpetual relapse.

I had a friend who continuously went back to an abusive relationship. At first, I was frustrated when she ignored my advice and kept going back and kept getting beaten up.

Then I remembered that I did the same thing with my ex. I understood that for whatever reason, it just takes some of us longer to get it. And that the most loving thing I could do is to be available to provide honest feedback without coddling.

I say, "Keep coming back, even if you relapsed." But I also say, "If you don't stop, this disease will kill you and those you love in a very ugly way."

Open arms without fixing the addict or sugar-coating the disease is the best I can offer.

Syd said...

A friend describes this watered down message as baby sitting. He says that the ones who can't stay sober come back, cry, whine and are told that it's okay. He doesn't like it either. And it thinks that it is due to so many dual addicted people in the program.

wendy said...

I'm so appreciative for the straight-shooters who tell it like it is at the meetings I attend regularly. If it weren't for people spreading the message you shared in this post, I wouldn't be commenting here right now. Thanks.

Kathy Lynne said...

I have to agree with you. But I must say that I do appreciate those that do make it back because it just keeps me hanging on to my seat.

I learned that I cannot trust what my thinking tells me. I depend on the oldtimers and do what they suggest.

Shay said...

Very well said and I agree. I have seen a higher than usual number of people using the 'revolving door' lately and I find it so disturbing. I don't even know where they got the idea that there even IS a revolving door. For me, I've always seen it as a big strong door, and if I go back through it, there is no guarantee that I'll be able to open it again. I don't know who needs a bigger reality check, the babysitters or the babysat, but I'm glad you posted about this - very good stuff and thanks for sharing.