AA and Me - Page 2

By Lily Weinstein 04/03/12

The longer I’m in AA, the more it tends to annoy me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be there. Can’t I be a member without being a zealot? 

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Let me make this very clear: this is not a screed, a tirade, or a criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous. I wouldn’t be writing this article if I weren’t passionate about recovery. But I’m frustrated at being surrounded by people who say things like, “AA is the single greatest movement of the 20th century.” (Nobody tell Martin Luther King or Betty Friedan.) I don’t want to hear anyone say that they’re “God’s favorite” ever again.  (If you don’t understand why this is irritating to hear, try looking up the definition of solipsism.) I’m tired of feeling like I’m constantly ceding the program to the zealots, the flag-wavers who wear AA medallions around their necks and have AA license plate holders and whose entire lives take place within the confines of the recovery community.

I’m not just a jaded grouch, contrary to how it may seem. I’m a well-trained AA machine. When I feel a twinge of resentment or judgment, I know that it’s my job to ask myself, What have I done wrong, what’s lacking in me, and what can I do better? And a lot of the time, I really have acted poorly, at which point I’m quick to make amends, or figure out a better way to do things the next time. But sometimes, when I feel irritated or annoyed, it’s not because there’s a God-shaped hole in my heart; it’s because a lot of people who go to meetings are just irritating and annoying. End of story.

My jaundiced, Godless worldview shouldn’t discount me from being a pillar of the program. 

I’m not suggesting the zealots shouldn’t be allowed to do AA their way. Remember my favorite part of the Big Book: the only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. I am so grateful that there isn’t one right path in the program. The problem is, the fervent AAers are, quite naturally, the ones whose voices are heard the most often, because they’re the people raising their hands to share, and waving their arms around, and clearing their throats until they get picked on to speak. They’re the ones who “testify” to the glory of the program. They’re the self-appointed poster children for Alcoholics Anonymous.  

My question is, why can’t I be a poster child? My jaundiced, Godless worldview shouldn’t discount me from being a pillar of the program. There has to be room for people like me, for people who feel icky every time some newly enlightened lush says, “Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake,” for people who regard themselves as humans first and alcoholics second (or ninth, or thirtieth). Just because I think AA is deeply flawed doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in it. I do want to be in it. I do have a desire to stay sober for the rest of my life. And that should be enough to make me a poster child.  

Lily Weinstein is the pseudonym for a West Coast-based sober writer.

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