From The FIX-
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?
This is what no one tells you in the beginning: the longer you stay sober, the harder it gets to stay in AA.
I don’t mean that it gets harder to stay clean. That, in fact, gets exponentially easier. What gets tough is actually being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The true genius of AA is, in my opinion, twofold. First of all, there are the steps. I think it’s safe to agree that they are pretty much a surefire path to a calmer mind, a happier life, and a reduced desire to drink Popov out of Big Gulp cup until you fall asleep on someone’s couch and wake up with a stranger unbuttoning your shirt.
The second miracle of AA is the following line in the Big Book: “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” It doesn’t matter if I think AA is creepy (which I do), corny (duh), and culty (only sometimes, but don’t get me started on the Pacific Group). The only criterion for joining is that I have to want to stop getting trashed. And, as the girl who used to drink Popov out of Big Gulp cups, I most emphatically want to never get trashed again.
The 12 steps are miraculous when it comes to relieving alcoholism, but they’re about as effective as the magnetic bracelets in the SkyMall catalogue when it comes to treating other diseases.
When I first got sober 10 years ago, as a teenager, I believed everything I heard in meetings. I was desperate for anything that might make me feel better. I listened carefully when people told me that my only options were to work the steps or to end up dead, in jail, or institutionalized. Ever the obedient student, within my first year, I got a sponsor, worked all the steps, and picked up two sponsees. I went to meetings every night, moving in a herd of similarly desperate newcomer teenagers. I positioned myself in the dead center of the program. I didn’t even know that it was an option to disagree with things I heard in meetings. I was so scared of relapsing that everything I heard got filed into two categories: cautionary tales of falling off the wagon, and inspirational stories of success and sobriety, against all odds. It wasn’t until I grew up a little bit and settled into sobriety that I started to hear what people were actually saying. As it turned out, a lot of what I heard was pretty absurd.
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