They ARE but SUGGESTIONS
In AA I find it's very difficult for people to 'just listen' without wanting to solve your problems immediately with a 'do a gratitude list QUICK', or a 4th/5th step RIGHT NOW, or RUN,do service, help a newcomer, get a sponsee and on and on. DON'T GET ME WRONG these things are WONDERFUL and especially for a newcomer (when I say 'newcomer' I'm talking 5 years and under), but SOMETIMES, OFTENTIMES, I have needed more.
I had a nervous breakdown when I was 14 (Raging, highly addicted mother, gambling, cheating father), which I now know saved my life. I was sent to a psychiatrist 2ce a week for 2 years and it helped, but drug and alcohol addiction lay waiting after that ended in my not so distant future.
The reason I bring that up, is that once I got sober, it didn't take long (2 months) for my then, double winner as we call them (AA/Alanon) sponsor to tell me I HAD to go to Alanon. Shortly after that I ran to a therapist because after having done a 4th / 5th step and multiple gratitude lists (I'm not lazy in that way and did whatever I was told in early recovery), the voices in my head told me I was a piece of shit and should kill myself.
So through an amazing NA friend, I found a great therapist who was also in recovery and for the next 5-20 years (more on than off), she somehow, through the magic of therapy and tons of meetings, got me to a place where I kinda liked myself and could function almost like a normal human being (what's that?) on a day to day basis.
The point here is, it is a simple program for complicated people and I always say in meetings now how I tried multiple different types of drugs and alcohol so why wouldn't I do try the exact same thing in reverse in recovery? I've tried multiple solutions i.e. therapy, interfaith church, a few different fellowships, retreats, Alanon still to this day and have read plenty of great spiritual books and meditation practices that are awesome and blow my mind in a very good way.
Yes sometimes a gratitude list is GREAT and I bow to the steps on a daily basis and use whichever one I need depending on where I'm at and my current situation. But what still pisses me off is how some think there is only one way and it has to be AA related applied to something in my life or else I have failed.
The beat up job is over people. That was my mother's job (RIP and we had closure thank HP) and she was quite good at it. I've taken out the 'shoulds' and put in the 'what would work for me today' and added BOUNDARIES to say to those stuck in only one way to solve everything, 'thank you that's a great idea', or 'I'll think about that' or I just stay away from those inflexible types because I have choices and if it 'ain't just a suggestion', it ain't for me. We are all pretty rebellious and from where I come from, you better be nice.
Finally, before I dismount from my 'high horse', it's imperative for me to state that I no longer say "Yes" whenever I'm asked to do anything in AA, because let's get real, AA was started by men who have no or very little problem saying "No" and more of a problem saying "Yes" whereas most women (especially me) have / had a huge problem saying NO (thus the start of Alanon) w/o a 2 paragraph explanation ending with 'do I look fat will you be my friend' or even worse 'don't leave me'.
AA has and is changing and it needs to which is why Alanon exists and many many other fellowships and types of therapies and workshops and retreats, etc. etc. etc. and I will always be grateful (top of my gratitude list ?) for Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob and Lois for making all these suggestions happen.
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