Tuesday, February 10, 2015

To Have Gone To Recovery Or To Not Have Gone To Recovery.....

This post is going to date me, perhaps even make me look prehistoric.  But what I am about to post is true nonetheless. 

I came to the Roomz of AA due to a drinking problem in 1988.  Society was a bit different then - one difference as it relates to this blog is that back in the late 1980's, health care and insurance costs were not the nightmare they are today and it was not at all unusual for someone with a drinking problem - or in many cases, someone who was passing through a phase of heavy drinking with no real problem - to be sent to inpatient treatment, with an insurance company picking up most of the tab for a 28 day residential treatment program.  (I understand today that treatment is mostly done on an outpatient basis.  No more 28 day stays in treatment these days!  At least not paid for by insurance). 

Treatment.  Uggggggh.  I have heard so many stories of treatment during my time in the roomz.  Basically a spin cycle to dry you out and get you to AA meetings seems to be the overall take I've heard during my time in the Roomz.  Well, I had a bit of a rough upbringing and when I was young back in the late 1980's, I didn't have health insurance.  Treatment was not an option for me realistically.  So I went to the Roomz without the "benefit" of having been to treatment first.

Many of the people I was to meet in the rooms in Flagstaff, Arizona, AA, went to treatment at swanky treatment centers in Sedona - a very upscale town about forty five minutes to the South.  People would actually introduce themselves to other members at meetings and then share where they had gone to treatment as if they were discussing where they spent their last vacation.  I actually felt less than for not having gone to treatment, and my first sponsor was no help here, as he said that I was going to have a harder time in sobriety not having been giving expert guidance before landing in the Roomz.  Say what?  Uh Huh.

Uh Huh and Say what?  Something that amazed me was how quickly folks who were sent to meetings after treatment either took up drinking again and/or stopped going to meetings.  With the abysmal success rate of AA, and the fact that treatment centers are to this day mostly AA/NA and 12 Step based - meaning they take what money they can get from you and funnel you to meetings that have an abysmal success rate - what a racket that was while it lasted!  I don't blame insurance companies for getting smart and ending the days of 28 days before you too can start your new life in the Roomz. 

I'm glad I didn't go to treatment as I have heard so many stories of rude and abusive behavior towards patients in these facilities by treatment center counselors and employees.  I had endured enough in the Roomz, I sure didn't need to endure 12 Step madness before even starting in the Roomz. 

Anyone out there care to vent about insane treatment center experiences?  The floor is yours.....

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Very First Meeting.....Did Someone Really Say That?

I am sitting here thinking of my first experience with AA, my first meeting, back in the late 1980's.  Alcohol had become a problem in my life and knowing of no other way to deal with this problem, I went to my first AA meeting. 

I remember being glad that this meeting was held in a large room with easily over a hundred people.  It was easy to sit in the back of the room and blend in.  I had no idea of what to expect and I remember reading the steps up on the wall and noticing the fifth step, where "we admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."  This should have been a major red flag to me right there and I do remember feeling as if there was just no way this could ever work if I was expected to admit to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.  Especially with me trusting other people as well as I did at that point, uh huh.  Not to mention the inclusion of the concept of God - something that didn't completely turn me off but did make me wonder WTF is this really all about? 

I'd like to say I remember what the topic of my first meeting was about, but I don't.  What I do remember, however, is the repeated mention of something called The Big Book, which I assumed meant the Bible.  Once again I remember thinking, no way is this ever going to work for me.  But I did not get up and leave - and how I wish I had, looking back all these years later.  They say that hindsight is 20/20 but I do wish I could go back in time and rewrite this experience to have me leave the roomz of AA right then and there, never to come back.  But this was not how this script played out. 

I remember the room being full of smoke, and most of the people in the room were smoking.  There was a speaker in the front of the room talking about their drinking history and I saw people around the room nodding and then laughing at intervals at things that did not seem the slightest bit funny to me.  The speaker finished and then people started what they call sharing, and I found myself chosen to share a few shares in.  I had no idea what to do or say and I sat there like a deer in caught in headlights until someone muttered, just say your name and pass.  So I said my name is Rob and I pass, which earned me a smug remark from someone about whether or not I was an alcoholic as this was a closed meeting.  And I'm sitting there feeling stupid wishing that I could beam myself away from this situation.  Someone else jumped in and spoke and I was able to recover somewhat from not having any idea of what to say or how to handle that situation. 

I also had no idea of how the meeting ended but just watched everyone else and fell in with the Lord's Prayer, which I did not (and still don't to this day) understand had to do with anyone's problem drinking.  After the Lord's Prayer, a middle aged man approached me and asked if this was my first meeting.  He seemed kind and I said, yes, it was my first meeting.  Then this man said the following:  Sit down, take the cotton out of your ears, and shut the (expletive) up. I was a little stunned by this and slowly walked away and found myself walking out the door passed people in small groups, talking and laughing and smoking. 

My first meeting was very uncomfortable and I remember wishing I had never gone.  My first instinct was to not go back.  But drinking had become a problem by then and at this time in the late 80's there was no real awareness of alternatives and no real widespread awareness of the dangers lurking in the rooms from convicted felons and predators of all stripes. 

So I went back and eventually learned to "fit in" better.  I so wish I had listened to my gut and avoided years of drama and low self esteem trying to fit the square peg of AA into the round hole of my life.  No matter how much I "faked it 'till I maked it"  the square peg of AA never really was a good fit into the round hole of my life.  Too bad I can't time travel right now and rewrite the script as to how I allowed AA to enter my life! 

Should anyone reading this be new to AA and not feeling like they belong, my advice is to not make  my mistake and listen to your gut instincts.  And find other blogs telling the truths of the dangers in the rooms. Google to learn of the movement of people OUT of the rooms as opposed to in.  More importantly, find blogs and posts as to the reasons WHY people are leaving AA (and NA too) in droves.  There are valid and very legitimate reasons for this, and as I continue posting to this blog I will highlight many of the reasons.  I will share my experience, strength, and hope and I hope this helps just one person walk out the door marked exit and not make the same mistake I did in returning to the rooms time and time again. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

First Of Many Creepy Experiences In The Roomz Of AA

G'day!  And no I'm not Australian but I want to give you, my reader, a friendly welcome as you peruse  this blog regarding creepy experiences I endured in the roomz (intentionally misspelled) of AA.  I have much material to cover given my over ten years as a member of AA.

So where do I start?  I'm casting about in my mind for something truly sickening and yet dramatic - there are so many instances to chose from I'm a bit lost as to which one to blog about on this first post.

OK.  I did a mental coin toss and this is the experience that won. Picture if you will a rough AA meeting in a run down room above the train station in Flagstaff, Arizona AA.  Outside the meeting room windows there is a nice view of the San Francisco Peaks - picturesque mountains outside of Flagstaff with the state's highest peak. Inside the meeting room, however, the view is not so picturesque.  I described this as a "rough" meeting, meaning many hard scrabble rough speaking and appearing AA members, mostly but not all male, attend this meeting. 

I found myself one July day in 1989 attending this meeting as I thought I needed a meeting and this meeting was close to where I worked. 

So - all that said, the meeting starts.  The usual readings from laminated pages are read, and then the meeting chair asks if there are any out of town visitors.  One man near me raises his hand and we learn that his name is Frank and he's from Chicago.  Frank from Chicago is well dressed (unlike most members at this meeting) and seems to speak as if well educated.  (I don't want to knock the others in the meeting on this one as not everyone gets access to higher education and although this blog is Anti-AA, I want to be fair here).

Frank from Chicago is one of the first people to share.  I remember his share so vividly as I felt such an urge to bolt from the room but I was also afraid to get up from my chair as I felt so unsafe being in the same room with this man.  SO - GETTING TO THE POINT -  What Frank said was that the prior afternoon he had stopped somewhere in New Mexico at a gas station and three men of the Hispanic race had started "being uppity" to him,  hassling him he said about being Caucasian.  Frank then reached into his car and pulled out his gun and had every intention of shooting all three of these men.  We further learned that he had placed ammo into the gun before leaving Illinois and for some unknown reason, there was no ammo in the gun.  (Lucky for the three men and lucky for Frank - Frank didn't strike me as the type who would fit in in prison).  Frank winded up by saying how wonderful his higher power was as his higher power must have taken the bullets out of the gun and the will of his higher power was that he should just drive away and let these men live.

OK.  So I'm sitting there very repulsed by this share and feeling unsafe in the room, wanting to bolt but afraid to do so.  Others speak afterward as if nothing Frank from Chicago had shared was scary or out of the ordinary.  Two shares after Frank a woman went on and on about how wonderful and forgiving her higher power was and how the envelope of love and light would embrace us all if we just surrendered ourselves to it.  Uh huh.  Whatever.  Let's just say that at the end of the meeting I made sure I was some distance away from Frank from Chicago so I wouldn't be holding his hand during the Lord's Prayer. 

So something else.  After the meeting when the true believers were getting ready to head for Denny's for coffee after the meeting, Frank from Chicago was invited.  After his creepy share.  For all we know Frank could have had a rap sheet a mile long.  Perhaps there had been another similar situation the day before he was in New Mexico and maybe there had been bullets in the gun that time? For all we know that could be, as we know nothing of the people who sit next to us in AA. There is no screening of members of any kind and there are no safeguards in place at AA meetings to prevent violent and/or unstable people from committing predatory and/or illegal acts on other members.

OK.  Anyone reading this who has not been brainwashed by the cult that is AA is (sanely) going to wonder - given this experience, why didn't I just stop going?  Fair question.  I am embarrassed to admit I was brainwashed by the group belief that if I left AA, only jails, institutions, or death awaited me.  But I was sure creeped out by Frank from Chicago and even further creeped out by the fact that he was invited to coffee as if such a share at a meeting was a normal, respectable thing.

I am not proud to admit I remained in AA for several more years.  LOL.  At least having stayed in longer provides me with lots and lots of material for this blog.  Enjoy, and please comment on any creepy experiences you have encountered in the roomz of AA (or NA).