Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MC discusses her feeling about rehab...

It's the middle of the week, in the middle of the month. Kind of in the middle of the year. I am sort of in the middle of nothin'. I have not one idea this morning. I was going to go on a tirade about rehab, but opted not to.

I guess I could answer a question some of you have asked me over the last year or so. "Mary Christine G., what have you got against rehab?"

Well, kind readers, I didn't really have anything against rehab, per se, until about a year ago. One of those fancy pants places by the sea stole my blog and posted it on their website. The whole thing was sitting there. As if I was sitting at their treatment center-by-the-sea, waiting to charge people tens of thousands of dollars to pass on what I was freely given in Alcoholics Anonymous. I wrote them and told them to remove my blog. I called them and told them to remove my blog. I started posting stuff that was very negative that I knew they would not want on their website, and at about the same time, a very smart techno-savvy reader came along and told me about RSS feeds. Well, I had no idea. I made my blog unfeedable - which also made all your little links on your sidebars not work anymore for my blog. But it got my blog off their website. I really should go back and make sure they haven't put it back.

Let me back up a second and just reiterate that I am not speaking for AA, I am just speaking for me, one little member of AA. One little blogger. I just didn't like my blog being hijacked. It wasn't the first time it had happened either (but I do hope it will be the last).

So, I sit in AA meetings. And over the years they have changed. Dramatically. In my current location, at the current time, we are doing a bunch of crazy s**t. And it comes directly out of treatment centers. And that is what I have against rehab. We pass around those damn coins, as if we are magicians, putting magic spells on objects. We chant favorite parts of the big book, whole rooms of people chanting in unison - "God could and would if he were sought!" and "Keep coming back, it works if you work it! So work it cause you're worth it!!!" Etc. It is nutty. It makes us seem like a cult.

We have a whole new generation of AA members who have either gone through rehab or are sponsored by people who have learned at the knee of rehab - and their answers are no longer AA oriented. They are all about finding the right medication. Finding the right therapy. Who needs a 4th step when you can get hypnotized? Who would like to make amends to someone you have hated when you can take sleeping medications instead?

I am so grateful for the people and places of my early sobriety. It wasn't all warm and fuzzy. They were often close to cruel. I would prefer that kind of cruelty to the "killing them with kindness" kind I see today.

I remember running to the club one day in tears - and telling some guy I wanted to drink. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar and handed it to me. I asked him what it was for, he said "for your first drink." ouch! But it taught me that I was responsible for my own sobriety, that it wasn't up to them, it was up to me. Did I want it or not?

When I whined to an old guy about "guilt," he said "if you are feeling guilty, maybe it's because you are.... guilty." ouch. But he was right. If I wanted to stop feeling guilty, I needed to stop acting like a jerk.

They taught me that I wouldn't have improved self-esteem until I improved my behavior. I couldn't feel better about myself until there was something to feel better about. The cart wasn't before the horse.... ever.

And they told me to get busy. Not to wait around for someone to spoon-feed me sobriety. I was told that if I had 24 hours of sobriety, I could help someone who didn't have 24 hours of sobriety, and that they probably could relate to me better than someone with 24 years. I was told that I had to give it away to keep it.

I am so grateful for those experiences.

And I am grateful that my daughter is sober 15 months today. Her homegroup has a lot of those same folks I got sober with. She is already sponsoring someone. She is busy, busy, busy being sober. So, I guess it is not totally generational. Maybe it is geographical?

Faith, I must have faith....


AnyEdge said...

Hey MC. I'm glad you wrote about this. So, in general:

There are a lot of people in AA who think that all rehabs are mushy touchy feely nonsense. And there are a lot of rehabs that are mushy touchy feely nonsense. Probably more than aren't. I don't know.

As I've said MANY MANY times, now, I went to rehab. There was some touchy feelyness to it, but they also brought us to real live honest to God AA meetings, outside our facility, 6 days a week. And they hosted a real live honest to God AA meeting the seventh day. In fact, I'm going to go back and speak at it sometime soon here.

The counselors at my rehab, most of them, were people in recovery and in AA. They went to their own meetings as well as the ones they took us to. They called us on our bullshit, just like that guy who said that maybe you were guilty. I remember Andy looking me in the face, in a room full of people, and saying: "I'm not sure you're getting this. You're arrogant, you're a liar, and until you deal with that you're going to be in a lot of trouble." (I'm paraphrasing, but that was pretty close.)

Some of us got it. Some of us didn't. But there are about 5 of us from my time there who are still sober and it's because we go to meetings. We did the steps. Just like our rehab taught us.

AnyEdge said...

By the way: I have those same funny shaped bricks in my garden. Aren't they cool?

Sober Move said...

Hi Mary,
I just recently started following your blog, I really like the way you write.
I always look for opportunities when things don't work out the way I like them to and I was thinking while reading this post that maybe there's an opportunity for you to start your own meetings. Adding your personality to AA meetings may make a different group of people interested in attending that they may not otherwise.

Kim A. said...

My mom got sober in rehab. The rehab gave her brain and body time to dry out and heal a bit. Then it was AA. She works a program like you do. AA saved her was just a rest area on the way.


Julianne said...

MC, I can appreciate your opinion based on the experience you had. I, like AnyEdge, went to "rehab" (they sound very much alike, actually). It was no walk in the park. I had to learn how to live with people. Leave my ego on the side of the road and adhere to rules. Shed my prejudices. Help people I would never have even glanced at twice "out there". There were rules, and consequences. It sucked a lot of the time. But it saved my life.

Not all rehabs are the same. This one is actually a not-for-profit Women's Home. It was the first Women's Recovery Home in the US. And Bea Gray Jorgensen worked tirelessly to give women drunks a chance. It doesn't turn a profit. It charges a paltry fee compared to those fancy-schmancy places, and it doesn't turn away anyone based on their ability to pay. (I was one who couldn't pay.) It doesn't commercialize. The facilitators of the groups are sober members of AA who volunteer their time.

The experience you had is a cruddy one for sure. They made a profit from your ESH. I find that abominable. You have every right to your feelings and your opinion. I just don't happen to share them, because I know there are good places out there. I'm proof.

Syd said...

I don't know anything about rehab. I know people that did detox and that went to rehab. Some have stayed sober and some haven't. I do know that my wife white knuckled her way right into AA. And her sponsor is old time AA. But if someone can get sober and stay that way by going to rehab, then I think that is okay by me. Whatever it takes to motivate and move someone to be willing. God works in many ways.

A Friend of Bill said...

I can so identify with what you are saying. Some of the most meaningful lessons I learned in my early sobriety were hard ones- and they were given to me in a hard way. At the time I was angry or hurt at the person who spoke to me in such a brutally honest and unsympathetic fashion, because I was still in victim mode. Now I can see the wisdom behind why he said the things he did and the manner he said them in. Sometimes the best thing to do is not sugar coat it and be brutal.

marie said...

Sounds like you resent rehabs! I think there are many paths to God. I don't think it is any of my business to judge which path people choose. (As soon as I start judging I become closed-minded.) However, if they choose the path I am on, I am responsible for sharing my experience with them if they ask me to. If they choose a path I am not on, I don't hesitate to tell them that I cannot help them.
Many blessings,

garden-variety drunk said...

Thanks for your post on this. My sponsor said the exact same thing when I told her I was feeling guilty- I thought it was so harsh because it was so true.

One of my favorite speakers talks about the way to self-esteem is through doing esteemable acts. I had never even thought that my feelings about myself might be connected to my behavior and if I changed my behavior, I would change my feelings.

Mary LA said...

Congratulations to your daughter on 15 months.

I can't say much about rehab because I never went there, but 'recovery' is a highly profitable industry all around the world now.

Pam said...

I know you are going to be all crazy this morning because a lot of readers misunderstood your post....:-)
ReHab is an excellent place to detox, get three meals and clean sheets. If they want to give their clients a ride to AA, then groovy. If they want to pick you up from the meeting and take you back to a clean place with a shower and a pillow then that's even better. should not try to be AA School, passing out Step Assignments as if you are enrolled in AA Academy.

Mark W. said...

Hello! Thanks MC :) I'm gonna try to get back to "this." Can't make a promise I'm not sure I'll keep yet there are some things that are changing, out of my control, so it feels like the Big Boy is in it somewhere :)
Great topic and I count myself fortunate I didn't (have to) attend a rehab. I count myself fortunate that I had sponsors and oldtimers that taught me FROM THE DAMM BOOK and from their experience, not this mumbo jumbo we hear today. And now... since I could ramble on about this topic... :)

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I get your point and I get Pammie's too, Amen, nuff said!


(((((HUGE BEAR HUGS)))) for being a working example of the program I am working to follow better too!

Ed G. said...

My opinion is that treatment ruins AA when AA expects treatment centers to do AA's 12 step work for us. My sense is that unless and until AA takes responsibility for its own 12th step, our program and our organization will deteriorate.

That's my opinion.

Blessings and aloha...

Anonymous said...

"Faith, I must have faith..."

Doesn't that include having faith that you got sober the way that you were supposed to, and so do others...even if that way is not the same way you did?

Isn't it a tad egotistical to think there is only one TRUE way?

Isn't sobriety an achievement that should be celebrated and encouraged? Is your sobriety SUPERIOR to those that get sober in rehab, or any other way?

AnyEdge writes that she's stated more than once(!!) that she went to rehab, and they went to REAL AA meetings outside of the rehab, and that she and 5 others from her time are still sober. Is she to hang her head in shame for having the foundation of rehab?

Did you read the comment by Julianne where she said rehab sucked a lot of the time but it saved her life! Not all rehabs are the same and if they help save the life of even one person, isn't that ok with you?

Easy Does It, MC!
Live and Let Live
Let Go and Let God
Judge not lest thou be judged

Mary Christine said...

Houston Anonymous,
1. I don't believe sobriety is an "achievement" I believe it is a gift from God. I don't think there is ANY ego in that.
2. I don't care how a person gets to AA, as long as it IS AA when they get there.- and that is what I was trying to write about.
3. AnyEdge is a He not a She.
4. Be really careful about condemning another for "judging".
--- And this should just about be my bottom for blogging.