Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rehab Speak

I went to a meeting yesterday morning. I have thought for 24 hours now about what I heard there. I swore I wasn't going to write about it. I am sick of griping. I would rather have one of those pretty little blogs with pretty writing about how wonderful everything and everyone, especially myself, is - every single day. Alas, that is not my lot in life.

So, one young man who has been in 8 rehabs in as many years, which is as many years as he has been drinking - told us all he lied in a job interview (saying he had two years of sobriety rather than two months) and his sponsor had the nerve to tell him that was the wrong thing to do! Well! He didn't care, he got the job and he felt good about it, dammit! (His affect belied his words and I am sure he is deeply troubled by this and I hope it doesn't get him drunk - and I quietly and kindly talked with him about this - after the meeting.)

After him, a young woman with glitter crosses all over her hat shared. She told us all that we should not be relying on a group and should not be listening to a sponsor. We should take our direction from our "higher power" not from human beings. She also happened to mention that she could not stay sober... I wonder if those things could be related. After the meeting, a man who is seriously sober for a couple of years was talking with me and told me he thought she had a good point. WHAT? I asked him if God had ever spoken directly to him... he said no. I told him that we take direction from a group and a sponsor because that is how God is able to speak to us. But honestly, what are we saying?

On Saturday, at this same meeting, the chairperson had a topic - Tiger Woods. I looked meaningfully across the room at a man who I know takes AA seriously. He nodded at me. He shared first, steering it around to an AA topic. I shared second, keeping it on the new topic. And after I was done, they talked about Tiger Woods. Talking about "addiction" as if that is what we are doing in AA. As if being an alcoholic gives us an inside perspective on "sexual addiction" and gives us the right to judge someone else's sincerity. Holy crap.

This man told me after the meeting that we would all be OK as long as people like he and I were at meetings, sponsoring people, and talking about traditions. I asked him "for how long?" He looked at me like I was nuts. If people are spending tens of thousands of dollars to go to rehab for a stretch of time, and if they sound close enough to AA to be the same as AA to people who don't know anything about AA - and then these people come out to AA and aren't told any differently - then we become what rehab has made us. And, believe me folks, it is a weaker version of AA. Thinking sponsorship is not necessary, putting all "addictions" in the same category as Alcoholism, cultlike chanting, not knowing or caring anything about traditions... this is what we have got sitting in our chairs.

I am grateful to have been brought up in AA to listen, to have a sponsor, to sponsor others, to pass it on, to be rigorously honest, and through the process of the twelve steps have a spiritual awakening which changed every single thing in my life. And then I was taught about AA, its history, our traditions, why we have them, and why that was important to ME. And then I was told to get into AA service which is an education unlike any other you have ever experienced....

OK! Enough! I am going to get on the treadmill and run some miles and then go to work!


Anonymous said...

The other night I heard a man with 28 years speak and some of the things he said floored me! Like, he did not have to make very many amends because most of those people deserved what they got. Also he was very proud of the fact that he never killed anyone, but he did his 5th step with a "professional" because the statute of limitations was not up on all of the crimes he had committed, on and on.
After he spoke some guy stood up in the audience and confessed himself as a child molester! WTF!
I am so grateful for strong sponsorship in my recovery. I was taught that chanting is inappropriate, we are not a cult.
Also, ISM stands for-I Sponsor Myself.
Have a nice day!!!!

janjanmom said...

Keep the faith!! The AA and Al-anon principles WORK. That is what separates the real from the nutty. Nutty is fleeting, the real will always win out in the end.

Garnet said...

I'm never sure whether AA folk welcome Al-Anon commenters on their blogs. Or if AA bloggers find such Al-Anon intrusions just as annoying as Tiger Woods in an AA meeting. So I'm out on a limb, here...

It makes me chuckle to think of all the Tiger Woods discussions going on across the nation. Yikes! Thank goodness my life isn't the topic of any meeting. Anywhere. I'm quite sure of that.

I try and remind myself that if I only accepted people who were perfect in their recovery, I'd be at a very small meeting. In fact, I wouldn't be welcome there myself. Sounds like you have the same perspective.

Lou said...

A great topic, MC. I'm being required to take a six week "rehab education" series before I can bring AlAnon into this rehab (go figure!). The new catchphrase is supporting recovery.

Now we have to discern the difference between enabling and "supporting recovery". NO ONE is talking about working the steps. No one will stand up and say recovery=honesty. What don't we understand about that?? Even honesty is open to interpretation now.

Sigh. I don't know if I'm going to make it through the next 4 sessions. God grant me the serenity...

PS I want a pretty blog too;)

Syd said...

I'm struggling today too. Second guessing my self somewhat. I just have to stop and realize that not everyone has surrendered or is anywhere in recovery. We are all in different places.

dAAve said...

I shared yesterday that I can either be a good example of recovery -- or a terrible warning.
Some days I'm not sure which, but I just keep coming back. Doing my best.

Ed G. said...

Mary - you know pretty much where I sit on this and I've given up aspirations for a "pretty" anything - including a blog. I fully support you in creating the fellowship you crave - wherever that is. If I had been there, I might have been one more voice in the meeting or, we might have convened outside and discussed where we would create a meeting that would support our singleness of purpose.

Or not.

Whatever we have in 75 years will be as a result of what we create today.

Blessings and aloha...

AnyEdge said...

Well, everyone who reads my blog knows that I went to a rehab. And I spent lots of money on it. But I was fortunate. It was run by a man in AA with lots of sobriety the AA way. Six nights a week, we were taken out of the rehab to real honest to God AA meetings. We were told to do the steps and get sponsors.

Of the people I went to rehab with, 4 of us did things the AA way. 4 of us are still sober.

It's the SAME 4.

AnyEdge said...

Whoops. Make that 6. 6 of us did things the AA way. And those 6 are still sober.

Kim A. said...

My mom works the AA program like she was taught which was like you shared. I do my very best to keep Alanon..Alanon. If outside stuff is brought into our rooms then it becomes anything but Alanon. I am vigilant...because that is what I learned. I think of rehabs as voluntary jails, and like jails--they are but a means for people to find AA and Alanon. I have to keep it simple.


Annette said...

Wow, I had no idea. I know once I went to an open AA meeting and when someone introduced msyelf I said I was actually an Alanon....she said, "Oohhh, I'm sorry." It was actually kind of offensive. I thought, what the heck...I am trying to get well just like you are. It makes the term "keep coming back" pretty darn real huh.

Findon said...

The choice is this. Either I speak up or I sit quietly by and see the message watererd down, de-based, marginalised. If I want to live I have to speak up, by example and deeds but also by words. AA is about alcoholism, nothing more. It is the very stuff of life to me and no one has the right to take that away. I'm an alcoholic. Not alcoholic addict, or food obsessive, or sex addicted. I really do not think re-hab has helped in the UK. Go to re-hab "DO" the first 5 steps, then out in to the world and go to meetings. But dont change or develop or anything else. Mary I AM WITH YOU. HOLD ON TO WHAY "YOU" HAVE BEEN "GIVEN" abd don't let anyone take it away from you. You've been around longer than me and I need you to walk the path before me and show me the way.

Joyce said...

I think it honestly depends on the rehab. I went to rehab for 28 days because it was, for me, the ONLY way to stop drinking long enough to sort out some stuff (the controlled environment). But the rehab WAS AA-based; we had AA meetings from the outside held in the facility, 3 a week. One other meeting was a weekly NA meeting. We intensively worked on the first three steps and all our study came from the Big Book, NA's blue book, and the 12x12.
I got out, found a few AA groups in my area, and I've been going ever since and have been sober ever since. Have a sponsor and am working the steps.
This rehab was run by someone in recovery, and every single counselor and worker there, down to the handyman, were all people in recovery. That place saved my life...AA is helping it stay saved, along with my Higher Power.
The point is, not all rehabs are bad, and I think you get out of it what you put into it. So perhaps it's all just a reflection on the people you've met who admit to having been in rehab, and less a reflection on rehab in general.
Oh, chanting. We never did. At all.

Hope said...

It is important to me that you write posts like this MC. I have limited exposure to AA where I live and I listen at meetings differently because of your experience, strength and hope that you share here. Before reading recovery blogs I had no idea what cross talk was, now I can recognize it when it happens and I refrain from doing it myself. That is just one example from many I could write about. So please don't feel like you are whining in posts like this. You are teaching.

garden-variety drunk said... i've missed your blog!!

Pam said...

Tiger Woods topic....hmmm yes I did feel at times that I was being chased thru the woods by a tiger but I was drunk and it was just me running through the backyard from the cat.
I sit in a lot of meetings in a re-hab facility. I love to tell them how great it is to have a little break from life, get cleaned up and then walk out the door to "real recovery".
We take an outside meeting in, and share that they just spent $40,000 to be introduced to a free program with an $8.00 text book.
I guess we just have to keep "un-learnin'" them.
We have a worthy cause Mary...but we have worthy adversaries as well.
You already know how feel.

Joyce said...

$40,000K! Wow, is that a spa? LOL My rehab was $8,900. It was kind of like a "Bible study" summer camp, only we used the Big Book and 12x12.
Everybody in there needed to go there because they had to detox in a medically supervised environment. I was okay, lots of sweating, heart racing, and blood pressure problems at first. That went away after about a week.
The people detoxing from Oxycontin and heroin by far had the worse withdrawals symptoms I've ever seen and ever hope to see someone go through.
I don't mean this disrespectfully; I'm simply curious. Why is it some of you are so anti-rehab? If it gets a person sober, what difference does it make? As long as you do the steps, get a sponsor, and get into service, does HOW you get there matter one bit?
Thank you.