Notes on an NA Meeting

(Apologies for length. Cross-posted at my dinky little blog;) Well, mission accomplished. I went back to a meeting at my former "home group", and while I knew it would look very, very different from my perspective of not being even in a semi-chronic state of relapse (rather, from the perspective of being completely clean for an extended period), it was more of a mess than I had thought it would be. First off, I knew this was a very "sick" group to begin with, it was widely talked about in other NA groups at the time. I was actually "recruited out" of this group by other NAers for that reason. My former sponsor was a disaster, a woman who had 12 sponsees after she and her then-boyfriend rather took over the group a few years ago. At that time she had only 1 1/2 years of "clean-time", which is actually less than I have now, yet was the only eligible female sponsor for this group, which is one of the largest where I live and boasts the largest amount of court ordered members. I say this not to judge her smaller amount of clean-time, btw, but to point out that I feel in no way qualified to try and guide a vulnerable addict through to sobriety at this point in my life, as much as I'd love to help people. I had no real inclination to speak to this woman, and that feeling grew during the meeting. She finally shared last, a few people after her former boyfriend (and previous sponsor of every male in that group), who revealed gladly that he was now facing homelessness and was suicidal. Despite his newfound interest in suicide however, he kept saying how many people he had called "in the program" to talk to about his "racing thoughts", his hopelessness, etc. Every one of them has told them to "read the basic text, man". And hit some more meetings (he already goes to 1 per day). All I could thing was, "Holy crap, this is your friend, he's effing suicidal, and you're telling him to read the basic text and hit several meetings a day? WTF??!?!?" But......back to my former sponsor sharing. She stated repeatedly that the only reason she was there was to wish a goodbye to an oldtimer there who was to be moving tomorrow three states away. Then she launched into telling the room how she had had to use every bit of strength she had last night to---keep from "beating the shit out of this bitch and all she was doing was stroking my hair". After explaining about 10 times that she is just a "very, very violent person", she tried to explain that this woman wasn't really doing much, just stroking her hair. But she had a problem--she didn't fully explain this bit--with gauging motives of women and whether or not different women were "that bitch who fucked me up so bad". Therefore, "those newcomer women, those fucking newcomer women" should all just "stay the fuck away from" her. And yes, at this point I was wishing to my doorknob that I had instant replay so I could run it back and record this particularly enlightening drunkologue. Or was it an assaultalogue? What the HELL?!?!? Who speaks like this? Ever? Let alone to a group that is supposed to be gaining "fellowship" from their words? Needless to say, she was not the first person to share about their problems with previous episodes or even arrests for "violent" behaviors or offenses. While everyone else nodded their heads knowingly at each of these confessions, I sincerely wished to become invisible. I didn't feel terribly warm and gushy inside with the three men who told everyone how they only had to serve anywhere from 20-90 days in jail (for "violent" offenses, unspecified). I was wondering about the five or so 18-20 year olds sitting in there eligible for sponsorship by these people who kept claiming that they'd not only use were it not for meetings but that they'd do much worse ("I'm just a VERY violent person!"). And that doesn't even touch on the talk of suicide! Admittedly, it does make sense now, that this woman who hates other women to such a degree would've not cared one bit (or even returned a call, though I considered that a blessing, even then) about my life or her other 11 sponsees at the time. After all, she's just a "very, very violent person". I certainly am not going to harbor any animosity towards a woman who is so messed up that she can barely make it through a night without an assault & battery charge, I don't begrudge these people their different beliefs. Not if these meetings are all they have preventing them from killing themselves. That said, people who've been clean for years and years whose daily struggle is severe depression, violent tendencies, suicidal thoughts --well, let's just say that their biggest problem at the present is probably not their experience however long ago with addiction. Admittedly also, this could be grandstanding. But if the newcomer is the most important person in the room, what kind of hope does it give them in their own "recovery" (and there were EIGHT people there with under 30 days all in the 18-21 age group!) to hear every oldtimer talking about not being able to escape from the destructive thoughts in their heads, the dangerous thoughts of suicide, constant threats of homelessness? If this is "serenity", I must've missed the proper definition. So, my ex-sponsor ended her share by stating that she was grateful for this county's "finest", who had arrested her (for some previous violent behavior, I was inferring), that that was a blessing in disguise. Then made a final reference to "newcomer women". I had already passed during sharing, even declined to give my name (I didn't want to seem horribly disrespectful because I did NOT go to "crash" a meeting, merely to observe--but I still wasn't about to say that I AM an addict. Oh, no.). After hearing that though, I couldn't much speak at all. I encouraged the newer members best I could, told them not to lose hope, that if I could make it anyone could. I kept free of any other message. I won't deny that I felt much better off in having refused previously to "keep coming back", though. Thank the great doorknob in the sky, my life is far better for the path I chose.

Comments

causeandeffect's picture

Jeez, I'd say he's really lost the plot, but he never had the plot to begin with.
"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves." ~Dresden James

I should have said a meetings instead of "meetings". Maybe one or two and just to observe and listen. I don't feel I need one and it wouldn't be in search of support. In the past I've gone because I was told to or felt that I should because that was how "it" was done. I was either bored and zoned off or the opposite, tried to understand and get something out of it. I'd like to hear it now from a different p.o.v., mainly the shares. To see how they go and how they comment. Etc. I'm interested. And with all respect of course, I wouldn't lecture or bring on debate. I don't want to fuck with anyone's program.

“That's a good attitude. You should hate me more, curse me more, and detest me! Then you should take the power of that hatred and use it to survive this rotten world.” ― Sorachi Hideaki

Pro Empowerment!

Ironic's picture

You just said it. The reason I don't go to meetings (aside from the obvious) is that it is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to keep my mouth shut the whole time. Whether it be in the clubhouse or out in the parking lot, eventually someone says something so insane that I either start laughing or start being condescending in some other way. So I just stay away :) I can see what you're saying about gaining insight from A diff POV though. Probably makes you grateful you're not a drone (for once) as opposed to super excited that you've "finally gotten it!"

OK, well, I have to admit. Mostly it was curiosity, curiosity about how (especially that group) it would look from my perspective of complete sobriety. Also curiosity as to how it would look not just through skeptical eyes (I already had those once I'd switched to AA and had left), because I've read quite a bit on this subject since my last meeting, same things everyone else has read here, so you all know the drill. Secondly, it was this overwhelming desire I sometimes have to be able to talk to a newcomer and NOT be spreading doom and gloom, but to tell someone what I would've like to hear when I was new. That it would all be OK, the anxiety is normal, and a (hint, hint) don't sweat it, I'm not actually even in any program. It's OK to not be. I didn't do that as much as I'd intended, but there you go. But admittedly, I had what the steppers would call a "resentment", of sorts. These disgusting bastards abandoned me when I most needed help after I was sent to them FOR help. Mainly Bitchy Sponsorpants, and I frankly wanted to see her reaction. And to see if she was as nutty as I'd thought back then when my head wasn't very clear, but even through the fog she seemed completely screwed up (telling all 12 sponsees that she'd "sucked dick for meth", gotten 13 year old girls addicted so they'd "run for her" and then insisting that we were "just like her", etc., would end up just like her unless we followed her instructions, the whole shebang...). Well, she is that messed up. And no longer together enough to even have a troop of ducklings, but only to vent her hatred of "newcomer bitches" in her share. I'll be honest, I didn't go to that meeting to feel better about myself, I honestly expected to be verbally ripped a new one. I can stand that, though. But it only happened AT MOST passive aggressively. I doubted I'd be attacked physically. What I didn't expect was to be stuffing my fist in my mouth by the ex-sponsor's share. I thought I'd be filled with righteous indignation, I thought I'd want to yell at her, tell her how awful it is to not call someone back and support them after what I ended up going through. I did, after all, DIE. However, she was so pathetic that it was all I could do to not laugh out loud. I couldn't kick the dog that was already dying in the gutter, I couldn't (and wouldn't) lower myself to the level of these people. So no, I didn't "forgive" these people, to let go of my resentment, the good ole 12 step way, I let myself outgrow it....and going to this meeting allowed me to do that.
AntiDenial's picture

Geez I am gone for days at a time and come back just to see if anything has changed. Nada. What is wrong with you people? Gluten for punishment? Wack a troll- or mole.

"I welcome all allies in the fight against A.A. hegemony" -Orange

www.leavingaa.com www.expaa.org

NA DAYTONA Violent Criminals Mandated to AA and NA Meetings
http://nadaytona.org/alcoholics-anonymous-votes-no-to-protect-members-from...

AntiDenial's picture

It really brings up points of peoples remaining issues, after they have become sober. You must of felt like you were in the twilight zone. What incredible talk of violence from a sponsor. In front of all those young newcomers-how sad.

"I welcome all allies in the fight against A.A. hegemony" -Orange

www.leavingaa.com www.expaa.org

NA DAYTONA Violent Criminals Mandated to AA and NA Meetings
http://nadaytona.org/alcoholics-anonymous-votes-no-to-protect-members-from...

AntiDenial's picture

They are open meetings for the most part. It is well known that people come just to observe. Nothing wrong with that. Also to see how it would be to see them with a different perspective than before.

"I welcome all allies in the fight against A.A. hegemony" -Orange

www.leavingaa.com www.expaa.org

NA DAYTONA Violent Criminals Mandated to AA and NA Meetings
http://nadaytona.org/alcoholics-anonymous-votes-no-to-protect-members-from...

I'm more quiet Ironic. Although I understand how you might lol or be direct about a ridiculous share or comment, I can easily let it go like I'm not even in the room. I have changed though, and if a comment is directed to me or if I am asked, I will speak my mind. In group therapy (aftercare), for instance, my counselor was always pestering me about going to meetings and why not, etc. We had our long private talks and I told her that I would respect and support the decision of the others, but if she dug into me in their presence then she and they would get an earful. And they did. I don’t think that she thought I had it in me, she was used to pushing us all around. The confusing part was that she knew what my answers were, so why ask again? And again? And again? Maybe thought that I’d fold under pressure. It backfired on her though, because she ended up saying “Shhh, Sally – later”. She didn’t want the other girls hearing the truth. It turned out well in the end because I continued to change. I realized later that had I stayed in group I would have been too bothered by the gals after a while and unable to focus on my program. They discussed powerlessness and surrender too much. When one said that she finally realized that all the years she was sober without AA that she was a “dry drunk”, I cringed. I can handle a meeting two or now, just to observe and be analytical perhaps. I can share my experience, strength, and hope, too I guess. There is nothing wrong with being different. Like Perse said, it is OK if you're not working the program...That’s if I can get through the readings. Maybe I’ll be late

“That's a good attitude. You should hate me more, curse me more, and detest me! Then you should take the power of that hatred and use it to survive this rotten world.” ― Sorachi Hideaki

Pro Empowerment!

Ironic's picture

The last meeting I went to was about six months ago. I wrote a blog post about it I think. Maybe since you are older and wiser, your anger is more under control than my own. The sheer magnitude of my anger and sadness when I went to the meeting and really thought about the court-orders and the "powerlessness" and saw the guy I KNOW fucked with 13 year olds when he was 20 or 21..well, it was hard for me to deal with. It made me want to get high. I readily admit not all xA groups are highly abusive..sponsorship can get hinky super fast in any group, though. Also, I think about the time I wasted believing this shit! It makes me feel sad for being a dumbass and letting myself waste even MORE time thinking I was "powerless" over my "disease." and I wasn't even in the vicious cycle all that long. It makes me really feel for those of you that left the cult after so many years. Must have been very scary and isolating.

Well, first of all you made an excellent point. If it makes you feel like using, don't go, even just to observe!! And I didn't think, about half of the time it made me feel likely using too. I don't know how it would affect me now, because I don't believe or want to try and believe in powerlessness and crap. The fact that I’m older doesn't mean I’m wiser :=) Anger has been a problem for me since I left. In the past I was in good practice of shutting down my emotions. It was a protection type of deal. A meeting, when I’m ready, might be good exposure therapy. It’s not drastic like re-living a rape, so I think it would be healthy at the right time. Remembering the craziness is good for us right? Keeps us motivated. Maybe seeing it would be more helpful. I totally get the resentment about wasted time. And the wasted energy/being confused, and unnecessary emotional roller coaster. That is something which is very hard to get someone like my Mom to understand. She says she understands all of this, but her answer is “just don’t go anymore”. Yes, that’s for sure. But she doesn’t “get” what it’s like to be brainwashed and repeatedly lied to. It actually could have cost many of us our lives. Fucking with someone’s head when they are already sick is cruel. It was definitely not a time to throw in confusion about spirituality (God). Somehow this needs to be worked through. The anger, resentment, sadness over lost time. It’s not an easy process. Btw. Does the Subutex give you urges? The Suboxone it has the naloxone that helps block them. But if that’s just like an opiate I’d guess that you would constantly be getting a craving...My doc increased my dose again! It’s unreal, I think it’s going in the wrong direction. He thinks the added naloxone will help but I don’t think so. I just stash/stock pile what I don’t use. One (of many) things that really scares me is being left without. Withdraw scares me big time and I honestly don’t know if I can go through it again. How do you feel about it?

“That's a good attitude. You should hate me more, curse me more, and detest me! Then you should take the power of that hatred and use it to survive this rotten world.” ― Sorachi Hideaki

Pro Empowerment!

Clara's picture

I have friends in AA that choose it because it differs from NA, even though their addiction problems were not alcohol. I drove to Nebraska one time from SC to go to my uncle's funeral. The sole meeting in that little town had been an AA meeting but was now an NA meeting. They opened it up to me, but explained that I could not share since my identified problem was alcohol. I was happy to get out of there and even more grateful that drugs had never been my issue. My husband has spent time in both fellowships and prefers AA. I just don't see the two as the same program with "drugs substituted where it says acohol." The entire feel was different. But I am finding that issue here in El Paso where most of the meetings are open and people just talk about what they want. That would NEVER have happened in Myrtle Beach. Meth is a huge problem here. So... my current solution is just not going to meetings. But I can agree with telling someone to spend more time in meetings. Perhaps they will hear something of comfort but, more importantly, it keeps them in a roomful of people and not alone where they could harm themself.
Remember Christopher Stevens when you vote.
JR Harris's picture

Only AA discriminates against NA, not visa versa. The MAIN LITERATURE even states it doesn't care what drug you do and ALCOHOL IS A DRUG. You are totally full of it, you can share about Alcohol or any Drug at an NA meeting.

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

jonnijoy's picture

Avagadno my outpatient rehab is full (and im not kidding) of people taking suboxone for opiate withdrawals and each and every one of them prefer methadone. some make the switch. I personally dont know about opiates (never did anything for me). The ones on suboxone in group have that far-away look in their eyes and ramble on when they are asked to share. They used to sell them when they got their script but they are saying now that they come time released and cant even sell them unless you freeze them first, whatever that means. Hope this helps a little.
Trisha K.'s picture

The discrimination comes in about meds. NA (fellowship) is very strict about what meds you can take, the intent and the time they will be taken. Whereas in AA it is not as important.
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” Shirley MacLaine
Gunthar2000's picture

I've been to many NA meetings and they say that alcohol is a drug. They prefer people to introduce themselves as addicts, rather than alcoholics, but no one is prevented from sharing because they are alcoholics.
AA is a religious cult dressed up to look like a treatment for alcoholism. Gunthar2000 http://tipsforhomelesspeople.webs.com/
Clara's picture

Gunthar, let me get this straight... You are going back to February 24, 2012 to find something to address me? It is September 16. What is this about? Okay, you were in that Nebraska meeting where I was told something contrary to what you've apparently experienced.
Remember Christopher Stevens when you vote.
Gunthar2000's picture

You are a liar! Alcoholics are welcome to speak at NA meetings. It's right there in the literature.
Thinking of alcohol as different from other drugs has caused a great many addicts to relapse. Before we came to NA, many of us viewed alcohol separately, but we cannot afford to be confused about this. Alcohol is a drug. We are people with the disease of addiction who must abstain from all drugs in order to recover.
http://www.na.org/admin/include/spaw2/uploads/pdf/litfiles/us_english/Bo...
AA is a religious cult dressed up to look like a treatment for alcoholism. Gunthar2000 http://tipsforhomelesspeople.webs.com/
Clara's picture

Well, there isn't anything like being obsessed with someone, eh, Gunthar? I was never in NA. I don't know the first thing about it other than they were opening a closed meeting to an admitted alcoholic. Perhaps that is just how they do it THERE, Gunthar. You have nothing to prove to me.
Remember Christopher Stevens when you vote.
Clara's picture

Gunthar, I contacted a person that was at the meeting for clarification. While you live in a metropolis with tons of meetings for every A out there that are easily accessible, that isn't true in rural middle Nebraska where people often drive many miles to go to any A meeting at all. If you were required to go to 5 A meetings a week, you might be going to an AA meeting on Monday, and NA meeting on Tuesday in a township 30 miles away, an SA meeting on Wednesday 50 miles south of you, another AA meeting on Thursday that is in the next county, and perhaps a CA meeting that meets in someone's home on Saturday just to make your numbers for your PO. What I told you about how they choose to handle their meetings is true and within the 4th tradition even for NA. You can be there. You came even get a signature if you need one. But they ask that you not share unless it is on topic and it has to do with the fellowship of NA. I am probably not explaining it as eloquently as he did, but they want do not want fellowship overlap and this is how they choose to handle it. I did not misstate my experience.
Remember Christopher Stevens when you vote.
Gunthar2000's picture

They are all cults anyway.
AA is a religious cult dressed up to look like a treatment for alcoholism. Gunthar2000 http://tipsforhomelesspeople.webs.com/
Clara's picture

Gunthar, you cared enough to go back 7 months to respond to a post so that you could call me a liar when I knew what had happened. I simply verified the facts because I truly don't know aything about NA. I just knew that it has this area handled it, and I was grateful to be invited in after hours upon hours of driving.
Remember Christopher Stevens when you vote.
Gunthar2000's picture

Or you are just outright lying.
AA is a religious cult dressed up to look like a treatment for alcoholism. Gunthar2000 http://tipsforhomelesspeople.webs.com/
Gunthar2000's picture

I'd really like to put this all behind us. Is there anything I can do that will stop you from posting your lies?
AA is a religious cult dressed up to look like a treatment for alcoholism. Gunthar2000 http://tipsforhomelesspeople.webs.com/
becket's picture

Whether lies are encountered or not, the way you put it behind you is to rise above it. You don't ask someone else to behave differently. You have no control over that.
“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.” ― Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian
Morgan's picture

"You are going back to February 24, 2012 to find something to address me?" Pretty absurd, huh? What is it about? That's anyone's guess. But when people exclaim, "It's all about you, Clara!" I guess they're right. In some people's minds, it really is. lol. I'll admit you post a lot--and I mean A LOT here. But I guess some see your posts as car wrecks that needs to be gawked at and revisited endlessly. Like something out of a Cronenberg film.
Gunthar2000's picture

Pretty ridiculous for you to comment on something you know absolutely nothing about.
AA is a religious cult dressed up to look like a treatment for alcoholism. Gunthar2000 http://tipsforhomelesspeople.webs.com/
Morgan's picture

Go ahead, try to "ban" me, tough guy. LOL.

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