Monday, November 23, 2009

Attitude Adjustments.

The AA police are alive and well on the Internet.

Why do so many alcoholics seem to feel supremely justified in complaining about how other AA members are working their program? These complaints are often disguised expressed as a deep concern for any newcomers who might come in off the street, hear the "wrong" things being said, and either be hopelessly traumatised, or, finding no help, go back out and drink again.

Presenting complaints as concern for newcomers gives them plausible deniability - who could possibly be offended at the taking of someone else's inventory, when it stems from the best of all possible motives?

Perhaps a phrase you use grates heavily upon my nerves. It appears to be a small step for some people, to move from: "That phrase irritates me and I can't relate to it." to "The use of that phrase is "watering down" or "misinterpreting" AA, and therefore is wrong, and therefore you shouldn't use it, because you are putting newcomers at risk. Because you are willing to water down AA and put newcomers at risk, I am completely justified in feeling anger and resentment towards you. Because I feel anger and resentment towards you, I am 100% justified in taking your inventory, and stamping you REJECTED. Because I reject you, I feel no need to question myself when I find you irritating. "

To a non-alcoholic, this sort of reasoning is barking mad both circular, and questionable. Isn't it more helpful to search for that which one has in common with the rest of those in the meeting rooms?
Aren't we meant to take no inventory but our own?
Who decides what is watering down AA, and what is adding to it?
Who gets the final vote on what is permissable to say at a meeting?

Alcoholics are control freaks, and this nonsense seems just another way to sidestep a personal inventory for the pleasure of taking someone else's. If truly trying to work an honest program, why not pay closer attention to the myriad ways in which artifical categories of "Us" and "Them" can be created, even inside a 12-Step group, and strive to not be the one doing the sorting?

Is it "sharing our experience strength and hope" to rail against what other alcoholics are doing incorrectly according to one's personal rules?

Is God working in our lives when we look for ways to exlude and condemn?

Life is too short for this - if someone at your meeting irritates you, why not see it as God offering you a beautiful opportunity to learn patience, tolerance, and love for your fellow human beings, even the ones who don't behave according to your personal manner book. Stop and take the time to wonder just how irritating you may be to sit in a meeting with.


  1. Everybody has the right to vent. I just wish I understood the frustration. It sort of goes without saying that when a group is gathered, there will be nuts in the room - whether it's AA, Alanon or church. I think it must be like the way I feel when loved ones in a totally panicked state launch on how to behave toward an addict with no basis for their advice other than how they feel that moment which is most certainly not through any Alanon filter. That drives me bananas. I find the AA venting interesting, until we're all dismissed in one swoop as ignorant.

  2. I see all the ranting as fear based about a program that is loved. I have heard the comments that AA isn't the way it used to be and that it is being altered to fit the addict and not the alcoholic. These are probably true statements. But I don't know many things that are the way they used to be. Sometimes I have to adapt and as you elegantly wrote, take my own inventory and step up to be part of the solution and not the problem.