Condescension in AA

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Condescension in AA

Postby Splicer_777 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:36 am

Last night I spoke my mind at an AA meeting and everyone started crosstalking at me and repeating trite phrases like "get a sponsor and work the steps" and "blah blah blah I've been through this before, I didn't get it just like you son, I had to beaten down blah blah blah but then I turrrrned my will over to a Higherrrr power and then I FINALLY got it and now I am happy, joyous and free! like magic! so DO I SAY OR YOU ***WILL*** RELAPSE!!!"

I know I shouldn't overreact or act butthurt but it left a sour taste in my mouth and made me question everything again.

It seems like I have to yield to some kind of Groupthink in order to really "get" this and I have to choose total submission or inevitable early death.

I will avoid this meeting for a while, there is an alternate one nearby that I can attend.

But every time I get sober there's an initial pink cloud or "honeymoon" with sobriety and AA members but after I start seeing the same people every day, it quickly goes downhill perhaps because my mind is too complex to yield to the peasant-like, dumb, raw simplicity of this program.

Maybe I just need to keep sponsor-hunting but AA is really difficult to get if you're a person as fiercely independent-minded as I am because I am MOST CERTAINLY unique, as proven by how whenever I share at a meeting, it sticks out like a sore thumb but when others share at a meeting, they just repeat things that have been repeated ad infinitum.
AA is all about repetition, is that what keeps us sober? Does AA work by method of collective brainwashing which is supposed to save our lives?
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:57 am

AA is all about repetition, is that what keeps us sober?


There is that first few steps that I would say are not. Rest you can label them as repetitive. They claim the 1 step is the most important step to get. I totally agree. Because that is the foundation of the whole recovery. If we are not convinced that we are alcoholic, we are going in half-hearted. We will fail eventually. Its all have to concluded by the individual experience wise. The first 43 pages of the Big book has captured all the traits of an alcoholic behavior. If you are an alcoholic there will be a lot you can relate to. But then there are habitual drinkers. Who drink for 10 20 30 years and they went to a treatment center and got weaned off booze and they were labeled as alcoholic purely based on liquor consumption. They can't relate to the peculiar mental twist, the spiritual malady that goes with it. They deride the other alcoholics that relapse. Talk about how they got in and been sober ever since. They catch those cliches "dont drink the first drink, you wont get drunk" or "Dont drink even if you a* falls off, pick up and go to a meeting"......They hate the big book first of all they think, its not required because they got sober without those steps immediately. While the poor alcoholic, who gets acquainted with groups like this where they dont even carry big books suffer. Until they accidentally run into someone with the big book and sits with them and explain the "Peculiar mental" twist that precedes the first drink. And the power they can tap into working the reminder of the steps and get lit. Sometimes I look at it, I got to let go as past karma. Why my brother died but I got help? And I see so many in the fellowship do run into some good sponsors yet they falter. What we can do is talk about all the 3 aspects of the disease in that sequence, so if a person is ready, he/she realizes the futility and hopelessness the way the book put it, and they can launch this program of rigorous honesty.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Spirit Flower » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:24 am

Does AA work by method of collective brainwashing which is supposed to save our lives?


- AA works because the steps are supposed to produce a psychic change.

It seems like I have to yield to some kind of Groupthink in order to really "get" this and I have to choose total submission or inevitable early death.


- The Big Book puts it like this: go on to the bitter end or accept spiritual help. What was our choice to be?

- These people in your meeting sound eager to share with you what they have. They are sharing their happiness from a post-psychic-change reality; which you don't understand because you haven't done the work to get there.

AA is really difficult to get if you're a person as fiercely independent-minded as I am because I am MOST CERTAINLY unique


- Read How It Works (chapter 5). It says "completely give themselves to this simple program" , "willing to go to any lengths". So it is not repetition but letting go of our old ideas; and these people keep telling you that. Let go of your uniqueness and find a new spiritual world.

Clearly I just said the same things the AA group said. Did you hear it?
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby tomsteve » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:56 am

Maybe I just need to keep sponsor-hunting but AA is really difficult to get if you're a person as fiercely independent-minded as I am because I am MOST CERTAINLY unique, as proven by how whenever I share at a meeting

7 billion people on this rock- youre as unique as a grain of sand. terminal uniqueness is deadly.
it might be wise to listen for similarities rather than differnces- stop lookin for reasons AA wont work for ya and look for reasons AA will work for ya.
also read the BB. ya just might relate to the archiac language. :) even if it was written by peasants. :)
seems the "fiercely" independant minded stuff got ya to a meeting. prolly been helpin ya stay drink,too.

theres a high probability that what is said at meetings bothers ya because theres truth to it. cant say how many meetings i got buggered up at because people called me on the BS i said- BS i didnt see.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Layne » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:06 am

When you titled this thread "Condescension in AA", were you referring to members' attitude towards you or your attitude towards AA?

my mind is too complex to yield to the peasant-like, dumb, raw simplicity of this program
Not trying to be a wise guy, just holding up a mirror. Condescension is probably occurring in a few people involved in the situation.

You referred to yourself as " fiercely independent-minded ". Use this trait to your advantage to open your mind. An open mind is receptive to information. A closed mind means an end to learning possibilities.
In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.
___Shunryu Suzuki


Be open minded enough to learn why you "overreact or act butthurt but it left a sour taste in my mouth". Be open minded enough to learn why you " will avoid this meeting for a while" as an answer.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Splicer_777 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:19 am

When I said CERTAINLY UNIQUE no one picked up on the subtle sarcasm?

Anyways, I get really irritated when I speak my mind at a meeting -- which is what you're supposed to do, be honest -- and people jump down my throat saying: "NO, what you said is WRONG, listen to ME because what I'M telling you is RIGHT" all that does is make me beat myself up some more which is the last thing I need to do. AA should provide support, not destroy a person's self-esteem.

I'm sure I'm being too sensitive, but there's a huge problem when people get too dogmatic with the program. Sometimes it feels like everyone in AA is in a surreal trance, and I'm the odd one out. I've been an outsider in every group situation my entire life, so its dismaying to find out that I'm also a total outsider in AA, the one place where I'm supposed to belong.

I get it, I get how the program's supposed to work and everything, but I often can't overcome the notion that people in AA act like robots parroting one another, and if you dare challenge the program at all and not act like a parrot, they tell you that YOU WILL RELAPSE the last thing an alcoholic needs to hear. There has to be more than 1 way to work the 12 steps. If rigid adherence to dogmatism is what it takes, then I suppose some people let themselves get hypnotized while others will perish.

The bottom line: AA is an imperfect solution, but apparently its the ONLY solution that's been proven to work. What a harsh a tragic truth!
How am I supposed to find that level of humility while completely sacrificing my identity to it.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Layne » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:55 am

Other people don't destroy my self esteem. When it does occur, it is strictly the result of my own thinking. In order to grow, I need to figure out what in my thinking is leading to the resultant destruction of my self esteem.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Brock » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:00 pm

Thanks for a good topic Splicer.

I agree that we are encouraged to keep it simple, both in what we think and what we say, to think inside the box, a box about the size of a big book. I got the sarcasm in your comment about being unique, problems sponsor hunting and general difficulties when we are fiercely independent. I felt the same way, couldn’t agree with what a sponsor was insisting I do, and said goodbye about half hour after we met. Never had one since and don’t regret it one bit, except that possibly, I may have got through the work faster had I found one I could see eye to eye with, (perhaps one who didn’t insist I did things only his way). I in no way say that everyone can or should go it alone, but some do, and not following a pattern set by one sponsor, (taught to him by his sponsor), presented the opportunity to look at and study many things, I suspect would not have been possible under strict guidance.

I also say things in meetings that have some eyes rolling, ‘here he goes again’ looks, but nobody can say find a sponsor and do the steps, because it’s been a fair number of years and I am a bit of a book thumper as well. Like the post above by Layne, good advise about looking inward, but in meetings in my area, if we speak about things like that, maybe a few would be nodding who appreciate such wisdom, the rest would be eye rolling or cell phone looking; and no doubt thinking, ‘why can’t we just keep it simple.’ These are the ‘keep coming back, it works if you work it, just don’t take the first drink’ crowd, they are the majority in AA, and God bless them they mean well.

How am I supposed to find that level of humility while completely sacrificing my identity to it.

Maybe in this case the ‘fake it till you make it’ idea will work, go along to get along, and do those steps in a matter of a few months at most. That requires a level of humility, after which your identity will be waiting to be reclaimed, and you can speak as you wish, without anyone saying 'get a sponsor and do the steps.'
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Splicer_777 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:30 pm

That alludes to what I shared in that particular meeting.
Basically I told them that I've been going to AA for 5 years and relapsed over and over again, staying sober for a few months at a time.
I have had many sponsors and I have 4 notebooks full of 4th step work.
Since I honestly get bored in meetings with the incessant cigarette smoking and the acidic coffee and unhealthy cookies and the dragged out intros... "Rarely have we seen...", "1. We admitted..., 2. Came to believe..., 3, 4" when I go to meetings every day it gets very tiresome to sit through that.

So I picked up the 12x12 on a seat next to me and started reading through the 5th step, got inspired, and spoke up about how in my recovery this is the one part that I haven't done yet and quoted directly:
"until we had talked with complete candor of our conflicts, and had listened to someone else do the same thing, we still didn't belong. Step Five was the answer. It was the beginning of true kinship with man and God" so I told that that I believe I'm now at Step 5.

And everyone got super insulted to assume that I could do 5th step right away, they were crosstalking saying that "You're at Step zero SON, you don't know anything, don't rush through it, stop trying to figure it out, you're not SUPPOSED to understand it, you must be obedient, every single thought that you have is wrong, etc etc"

Now I am on major tilt and rapidly going back to old suicidal ways of thinking because the warmth and kinship I sought in AA vaporized instantly. I am very sensitive to condescension.

So thanks for your post... its fascinating to just open the Book or the 12x12 on my own and study what it says instead of looking for a sponsor to hold my hand and painstakingly "guide" me through it because I've been through the process so many times, only to relapse, I guess because it's always MY fault.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby PaigeB » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:44 pm

Sounds like you need to get to some different meetings. Travel out of the general area. If they are saying the same things - travel farther. If they are saying the same things - you might be wrong. I mean there is a chance that you might be wrong. You sound like a very intelligent person, so I think you can grasp the idea that you might be wrong... maybe, just a suggestion.

Keep an open mind and a tank full of gas. Hell, even 30 years ago folks were saying, "Get in the car!" and "Roadtrip!"

You can travel even farther, like our co-founders did. Before AA was everywhere and treatment centers took over parts of our message, AA was 100 or so people who got sober by meeting with each other whenever and wherever they could. They went to the ghettos and the hospitals. They drove across state lines to meet with other sober alcoholics. They did not HAVE the big book - they wrote it later. Drive to the coast (either one) and go to a meeting on the beach. You have now traveled as far as you can (sorta) what do you know now? What messages cross all the lines? What message can YOU work with to stay sober - assuming you want to stay sober that is.

That is not my experience, but I thought about it! I was CERTAIN one day the group would push me to my knees and hit me with the Bible, but it never happened. I am an atheist in the Bible belt. Luckily, if I had traveled, I would have found that Iowa has one of the strongest AA, Big Book, service oriented, and "choose your own HP" places in the surrounding states - I have even been to AA in South Carolina and my AA meetings at home still have it beat! My rally cry to all those meetings outside my city area, "They're doing it wrong!" But I stayed sober.

I stood rock solid on my atheism through the Steps and had many spiritual experiences of the educational variety and it was a great foundation for the way I run my program today. I have AA Tools that pop into my mind if I am "thirsty"(repetitions & Steps)... and I have experienced the solutions that work if I work them (that of my own and those others have shared)... and I have stayed sober for years - long enough to change sponsors and work the Steps again. I just picked up my 9 year medallion and I am working Step 9 a different way than I did the first time.

The thing I am finally working on ~ finally as of this month ~ is forgiving myself for not being a perfect human.

I hope you can find what I have found. A serenity I did not know I would even care to have!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:27 pm

Splicer_777 wrote:Last night I spoke my mind at an AA meeting

Your entire post seemed to make no mention of what you said that incurred such a response.

AA is really difficult to get if you're a person as fiercely independent-minded as I am

How's the dependency on alcohol working out?

Nobody in AA should be forcing you to stay. But if anyone is in AA and still drinking, then their way of doing AA clearly isn't working.

AA tends not to work too well for people who can't or won't ask for help.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Splicer_777 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:14 pm

^^^Example of a parrot

By the way I went into detail with exactly what I said if you scroll down.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby D'oh » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:37 pm

But every time I get sober there's an initial pink cloud or "honeymoon" with sobriety and AA members but after I start seeing the same people every day, it quickly goes downhill perhaps because my mind is too complex to yield to the peasant-like, dumb, raw simplicity of this program.


A "Simple Program" for Very Complex Thinkers.

Keep coming back! It works if you work it.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Layne » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:04 am

Tunnel vision is keeping you looking at all the way that the program won't work for you. I recognize this because I have exhibited the same behavior trait in the past. This "I've been going to AA for 5 years and relapsed over and over again, staying sober for a few months at a time" is part of my story and journey as well. Finding ways that it wouldn't work for me was easy and the results were not surprising. When I expanded my field of vision, I started seeing ways that the program would work for me. In the process of doing that, I learned about why my focus had previously been on ways that it wouldn't work.

You spoke your mind at a meeting and the reactions yielded the results that "the warmth and kinship I sought in AA vaporized instantly". Bottom line, your expectations were not met. What can you learn from this? Get beneath the surface of the issue and dig deep. Don't let a sensitivity to condescension hamper progress and certainly don't turn around and then do the same to others by posting "^^^Example of a parrot". Your fiercely independent mind is being hobbled by old behavior. Set it free in order to experience different results than you have had for the past five years.
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Re: Condescension in AA

Postby Frihed89 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:54 am

At first, the tone of AA meetings made me feel like I was being indoctrinated in a re-education camp. In fact, AA is a sort of re-education camp. But the fact is that we all have to find our own way to inject the spirit of AA into our own lives. There are many, many ways to live a happy alcohol-free way of life and it is the flexibility of AA that permits this, so long as we have a sincere desire, not to just quit drinking, but to be able to feel happy again.

That's the choice: misery or happiness.

I had to swallow my own pride to accept this.
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