I don't have many people to talk to about what I'm going through. I have a few friends that have left AA and they have been helpful, but I think that more help is always a good thing.
I've been sober and in AA for 7 years now, picked up that heavy chip just a few weeks ago. Over the past year I have cut my meetings back to just one per week, don't talk to my sponsor much and have begun to drift away. Life is good and full and full of meaning... I have a 10-year-old daughter, I work full time at a job I love and am in school full time.
I stumbled onto the orange papers a couple of weeks ago and haven't stopped reading and researching since. I knew Bill W was a whack and that he took LSD and had severe depression, but like most people in AA I bought into the idea that "It's the message, not the messenger" that is important. Now I am listening closely in the meeting I go to and really hearing the dogma full force. Bill W's crazy dogma.
A lot of the program didn't sit well with me. I have never been a comfortable sponsor (even though I'm going in to counseling!) and the girls that have asked me don't hang out for more than a couple weeks, a couple phone calls. I stopped taking my daughter to meetings with me a couple years ago, I didn't want her exposed to all the sickness "shared" in the rooms. AA is a religion, no doubt. And if it was a religion that I didn't want my daughter exposed to... Well, what sort of religion is that?
(Apparently this is going to be long... sorry about that!)
I went to sobered up and joined AA when I was 22. I abused alcohol, did a lot of binge drinking, along with all my friends at the time. We drank, we were young, it was fun. It started not being fun and I got "sick and tired of being sick and tired." When I told my mom I was an alcoholic she told me I better start going to those meetings... She grew up with alcoholic parents and in our family, if you want to get sober you go to AA. However, mom never really bought the 12 steps, she never joined alanon of ACoA.
I did the deal, full on. 90 meetings in 90 days (more like 140, I was going morning, noon and night and sometimes late night), got a sponsor, read the BB, worked the steps and things really did seem to be going well. I noticed the seasons change.. After about 18 months my bottom fell out and I had a breakdown and was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety. I got pissed at AA, felt like it was useless and if I was doing everything I was supposed to do and wan't "happy joyous and free" then what the hell was the point? I didn't go to meetings for months and didn't drink either. After another 6 months I had another breakdown. I saw this breakdown as a sign that I couldn't just go to AA to be sane and happy and I couldn't just take my meds and be sane and happy, I had to do both.
So for the past 4 years I have done both. Been an active member of AA and taken my meds as prescribed. Then doubts started to creep in. Like, maybe that second breakdown happened because we hadn't yet found a good combination of drugs to balance my brain? Who said I was sick because I was resentful of god? I reevaluated part of my story about my bottom that I tell all the time, how I broke up with an amazing boyfriend because he got in the way of my drinking. No. In actuality I broke up with him because I almost cheated on him and I do not cheat on boyfriends. I didn't trust myself not to hurt him, but I didn't break up with him so I could drink more.
And how much was self medicating in an attempt to counteract my depression and mania and the ever present anxiety? AA says that feeling "restless, irritable and discontent" means I am suffering from a spiritual malady and can only be treated with prayer and with intensively working with another alcoholic. That didn't work. The xanax my doctor prescribed me does.
I don't discuss my meds at meetings, at all. I don't want to argue the validity of my sobriety with people that do not live with my brain and do not know how I feel.
I've had crazy sponsors-- ones my best friend and I joked that could just be replaced by a sponsor-bot... pull the tab in the back and it would spout out AA slogans, "have you prayed about it?" "sounds like you need a meeting"-- and I have had amazing sponsors that encourage me to find my own solution rather than giving me a canned response.
In several meetings I attended and was a home group member of we would have business meetings and discuss what people were appropriate to call on... Only members with at least a year of sobriety that would "carry the message, not the mess." Honesty was rarely encouraged in that sense.
I'm fed up with it and am convinced that it is indeed a cult. And I'm completely torn about leaving because some of my best friends are die hard AAs and aren't likely to continue a friendship with me if I "go back out." I may drink, I probably will. I truly believe that I drank because I was in pain and was attempting to treat my mental illnesses, I do not believe I am an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. My mom and I have discussed this at length and she supports me on whatever I decide to do. As do my friends that have left AA (that are incidentally living full and happy lives, and are not plagued by jails, institutions and death).
So, sorry to dump on you guys. I enjoy reading everything I find here as well as in the orange papers and other studies and books I have come across. It's refreshing to hear the truth for once.