About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The ‘anti-something’ brigade: AA Politics, and people who rant generally..

Sorry for the long post but I decided to use my old dictation software instead of typing.. ☺

I recently had the misfortune to bump into a very new and very ! angry member of AA. He was about three months sober, I think he had relapsed regularly before. He said he had been feeling suicidal, and generally was not having a great deal of success with the AA program. My first impression of him was that he was incredibly angry and restless simultaneously, and that these two things in combination may very well be major contributors to his reasons for relapsing previously. I did not ask as to the circumstances of his last relapse, but I have to admit that I find those stories very interesting, because they reinforce, or educate me as to why people relapse. As it happens I didn't get the opportunity to discuss this with him in more detail because he proceeded to talk ‘at’ me in machine-gun style delivery about why he thought certain meetings were ‘wrong’.

Just so you know, I gave up on the whole notion of (what I call) ‘politics’ a very long time ago. Perhaps politics is the wrong word. When I say politics, what I'm referring to is criticism, moral superiority and backbiting from certain AA members who feel it is their ? moral duty to take AA individuals or groups inventory. Perhaps as a means of ? declaring their own self-righteousness?, or identifying (what they see as) an undesirable trait, they believe they have a moral duty to be angry, indignant, contemptuous or self-righteous about? Their anger justifies trumping the AA tenets of both ‘Live and let Live’ and the principle of Unity. I assume they feel justified in breaking with these AA suggestions due to what they see as a ‘wrong’ way of practicing the AA programme. I see this as going against the tradition that each group is autonomous. But hey. They seem to be ! blissfully unaware of these things..

Even before I came to AA, I was never terribly attracted to people who were easily preoccupied with criticising others. Nor did I surround myself with friends who took pleasure in running other people down. I have never liked ridicule, even in its most watered-down forms. This is unchanged since I came to AA. I am as an interested in slagging off ‘people places and things’ as I was long before I came to AA. So if you're looking for a ? fight, or an argument, or to prove some ? theoretical point, or prove (!) how ‘wrong’ another person, or group is, I am afraid you have come to the wrong place. ☺

It is hard for me to appreciate what pleasure is derived from this activity. I have simply never wanted to do it or enjoyed doing it. I suppose when I was drinking I enjoyed being a nonconformist, and was accustomed to receiving criticism for looking nonconformist back in the day. I had always thought of myself as a bit of an ‘artist’ and so I hung around with other artists and people on the fringes of society. Perhaps now they might be seen as quite ordinary, but back then they were thought of as a bit 'out there'. They were certainly people who ! looked as though they were living on the fringes of society! In truth I had a wide range of friends from both wealthier and slum-type homes, but I was very drawn to the people who looked as though they did not fit, and who were thought of as slightly odd. Personally, I didn't find them odd at all. It was people who looked ‘normal’ that gave me the creeps or were harder to figure out.
So back in my drinking days, I thought it was incredibly shortsighted to judge people based on looks, or immediate impressions, without knowing more about their lives. I suppose what I mean is that there are two sides to every story, so I do think there is a little bit more to it than first meets the eye. So when certain people were judgemental or scathing or made assumptions about me, I just thought they were terribly unintelligent and unobservant and not nearly curious enough about these people they were putting down.

I can only guess as to why they do it, as I have not found myself doing the same, so I have ? no idea why people get so much pleasure from slagging off other people. I just don't know why people do it. I'm ? guessing there is some self-righteous satisfaction derived from declaring one's superiority at the expense of another person's. I think it's more likely that they are unaware of their superiority and self-righteousness in such moments and that's why they are carried by a wave of resentment justified by what looks like a very self-righteous motive, which blinds them to the uselessness of their anger. Gawd knows. I think most that are regularly hijacked by their anger do not ‘see’ their anger very clearly at !! all.

Don't get me wrong, I get irritated just like everybody else, but I don't ! believe my anger. Nor would I follow heedlessly the inclination to take another persons inventory or talk to them as though there was a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ position, where I held the ‘right’ position they held the ‘wrong’ position. I just don't think life is that simple, nor is life that rigid. In some cases it is possible to be very definite but usually only about the most basic elements of the programme. For instance it is generally a good idea to try and get enough sleep, to try to talk to people and eat fairly regularly in the first 90 days. Hanging around in bars isn't generally a good idea in the first 90 days. You know, stuff like that.

This guy was a sort of real-life ‘troll’. Spouting vitriol of an anti-? Something nature. I think I will have to call these people be anti-something brigade. In cyberspace we call these people trolls. But there is no ? equivalent word for a person who behaves this way in real life. So I am going to call them the anti-something brigade.

Not that it matters, but the upshot of the story is, I felt sorry for him, because there was a strong possibility that the anger he was feeling might make him drink again. So instead of ignoring him, and ending the conversation, I think I managed to succeed in showing him how this anger was ultimately unkind and inconsiderate, and that there might be an alternative interpretation rendering his perception merely relative as opposed to an absolute truth. Basically, when I left him he did not look like he was frothing at the mouth, which he did ! look like when I first started talking to him. But I have to say it was a very unpleasant conversation, and not one I particularly want to repeat regularly.
Thankfully it is very uncommon for me to be on the receiving end of bile and resentment in such large quantities. People are not usually that angry. But this guy was.
In the course of the conversation he told me that his sponsor condoned his resentment towards certain AA members and groups. I may ask his sponsor what he makes of this, and see whether there is any truth in this. As I know his sponsor, and I haven't got the impression that his sponsor thinks it's okay to hate! certain meetings or people. But who knows? I could be wrong. I'm sure if I ask I will find out…

What I'm trying to say is that life is too !!!! short to spend your time wasting your valuable mental and emotional energy is pitting yourself against a battle you cannot win. That battle being the imperfections of people places and things. And even if you DO identify a cruel and unpleasant trait in another person or another group, you are sure to find something very similar inhabiting your own consciousness, so there is no !!! moral victory. Besides, it looks terribly ! unattractive to be pre-occupied with ‘anti-something’ thoughts. You look like a ranting person. Frothing around the mouth. It doesn't look good.
Whatever. The bottom line is that I am powerless over AA members who choose to ‘contend against’ or hate each other and gossip and badmouth each other. There will always be people in AA who do this, and I will always find them terribly ! unattractive. They will not be my buddies in AA. They will not be the people I spent time with in AA. And I will never be able to stop it occurring. Basically AA has always been full of very resentful people, so it's hardly surprising that it attracts people who rant or like to prove themselves ‘right’ in some way or form. But there you go. Nothing I can do about it. I will help the occasional newcomer who looks like they are about to drink because of it, but other than that I won't be hanging around those people for very long.
God knows we all get annoyed with AA, and AA members, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t! But when this is ‘acted out’, manifesting outwardly as behaviour such as overt ? slagging off, attacking, criticising, publicly running down, bitching or badmouthing, well that’s another thing altogether. Well I think so anyway.
I choose NOT to contend with the ‘world’ a day at a time. Or to make a problem out of things, despite encountering those practicing the opposite very ! regularly.
Hey ho. Well it’s a gorgeous day over here so I’m going to go out run to the shops in the sun to pick up a few things.. See you all later..


Syd said...

Great post. I hear a lot of those sentiments among AA friends--why this meeting is bad, or that group isn't strong in their program, etc. And a lot of the talk is based on anger that AA isn't the way that it used to be. So I'm torn here--singleness of purpose seems to be on the wane. And I can see why that would raise anxiety in those who love the program. Perhaps it is about trying to maintain the traditions rather than becoming angry. In other words, be the change that you want to see.

Prayer Girl said...

I can't give much thought to criticism of AA coming from the mouths of people who aren't sober or who are newly sober. They just plain don't know anything yet.

I have compassion for them and will give them whatever assistance I can to help them grow in the program.

Also, I can't give much thought to criticism in general being spouted willy-nilly. If someone has a criticism, let them bring it to their home group business meeting or get involved at the area or district level.

P.S. I think I should take a speed reading course. :)


An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Thanks PG. yeah this is a tricky one because its an old chestnut thats been hanging around for ? 20 odd years that appears to have gone off the boil somewhat. Meaning it has flared up to more damaging proportions. I know most aa communities have tensions within it, but i am concerned that it seems to be becoming more heated and overt than before.
otherwise i would have faith in the various committees to contain this behavior..

syd, I see the changes i hear others complaining about too, but i do not believe that getting angry helps. I never feel comfortable about my view if i feel angry about a situation. I just cant see the wood for the trees and I feel hot headed and irrational. so i prefer to deal with situations with the coolest head possible..

molly said...

sounds like a whole lotta internal psychological craziness going on in him.. poor dude. sounds like you were certainly of help :)

i am the MOST unhappy and miserable when i feel ANY anti-anything against another human being. feels AWFUL! but i can't wait for them to change for sure.. like Byron Katie says - the worst offense of anyone is that they are believing their thoughts - that's as bad as it gets. The last time I was really upset with someone, I had it partially right and partially wrong. I was ignoring the fact the the person was VERY upset when she wrote an email to me AND that I was completely blind to her point of view. I'm helped when I TRY take another's perspective - walk in their shoes, AND also realize that the very things I 'hate' in them are also the thing IN ME TOO that I'm not so thrilled about. lots of projection!

When I first went to AA I was VERY humbled by where drinking had taken me.. a few months into it and repressed anger from like zillions of years past came bubbling to the surface. NOT PRETTY! I was very lucky to have friends and other members to help.. I handle anger MUCHO differently today but yeah anger was a huge shadow issue.. I was like 'what the hell do you mean, me angry?!! YOU are the one!' hahaha

indistinct said...

Lots of food for thought here. Thank you.

I struggle at district meetings, with feelings that seem to come up from no where. Feelings of anger, of others being wrong, wrapped around what I perceive as injustice, lack of compassion, hiding behind the traditions, AA fundamentalism. Sometimes it takes a few days after the meeting to sort out what's come up for me, to try to account for the anger comes to boil, all the while trying to keep a lid on the whole thing.

The long and the short of it, is business meetings are painful for me, but they also show me sides of myself that I would like to discount or ignore.

I have this post "anti-something" brigade mixed up with your latest post "who is unreasonable?" with in my head. I'm not sure if I am becoming judgmental or if what I am perceiving actually contains an element of truth? Either way, it doesn't matter. As you pointed out "Live and let live"

It's going to take some time to let this emotional mess (that arrives at every business meeting) to sort itself out. Best part is, I know it will, in God's way and in God's time. I just need to put in the time and keep working those steps. Make amends as I need to and keep on going.

Thanks for letting me share, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.
Much appreciated.

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

hi indistinct, thanks for popping by :)

i think business meetings wind everyone up. they are an opportunity to practice moral retraint more than anything. so i dont think disliking them makes you an emotional mess.
nor do i think anger is the problem. its what you DO with your anger thats important. recovery isnt about being numb, its about not bring about harm through word and deed.
so dont give yourself a hatd time for wanting to resolve the dispute or bring about a constructive solution to the discord. that is a harmonious desire.
i do my best but i just try not to cause more harm in so doing. thats all.

hehe molly i identify! as usual :) yeah we are all pretty much the same so yeah we get to see more 'gunge' when we start looking at ourselves.. :)