I was literally harassed into going to AA meetings by a friend of my mother's. I was 27 years old and this woman was in her 60's. She was an “alcoholic” and her name was Bea. I told Bea that I was sorry she was an alcoholic but that didn't mean everyone else was. Of course, she took offense, but she would not get off my back about going to AA. My drinking up to that time had lasted all of 8 years. Most of the time I drank to get wasted about once a month. Sometimes, depending on circumstances I'd do it twice a month. I did it on weekends, after I had carefully arranged for an all night sitter for my child and had decided where I wanted to go. That was my drinking. There was one period during the 10 months I was married to my child's father where I drank every day. I “grazed” always having a drink in my hand and filling it up maybe 3-5 times over an 18-hour day. I was beaten severely in that marriage, came down with mono, and weighed 109 lbs sopping wet at 5 foot 6 inches tall. I was not a happy camper. Soon as I left the marriage, I stopped drinking every day. Go figure: Bea was convinced I was an alcoholic, citing the “fact” that it's not about “quantity” it was about “quality”. Well, finally I struck a deal with her: said “I'll attend A meeting of AA IF you promise to never hassle me about it again.” She finally agreed and so off I went. It was a closed meeting and when that was explained to me, I said I should leave because I wasn't an alcoholic. Instead of letting me leave, they “voted” to have me stay. Then each of them said “I didn't think I was an alcoholic either, and then...” I hated them. They talked down to me and tried to make me into something I wasn't. A couple months later, after having troubles with a guy I'd met in a bar, I realized I hadn't drunk for a while. I didn't know how long, but thought I'd go tell those people at AA to prove to them I wasn't an alkie. While at the meeting, I counted up my time on a little hallmark calendar and announced I hadn't drunk in 60 days. I think it was one of the biggest mistakes I've made in my adult life. They cheered, gave me a chip and told me to keep coming back.
After 30 days of AA attendance, I became obsessed with alcohol in a way I had never experienced in my life. I could not get it off my mind. I drank again and then, having had it ground into my head that I was “powerless” after the first drink, went on to drink excessively (and dangerously) daily for the next 3 months. It was horrible. When I asked how to stop, no one at AA could tell me. By time that 4 months was over, I was thoroughly convinced that AA was right, I was wrong, and I became a big book thumping stepper.
That lasted for 15 years and 11 months. In July of 2003 I left my last AA meeting. It had been a growing awareness in me. What led to my leaving was realizing that I became someone else inside the “rewms”. I was literally leaving my thinking powers outside as I crossed the threshold. I couldn't stand it anymore.
The most interesting thing I noticed first was that the fear hit. I had been told for almost 16 years that I would most certainly drink or die if I left AA. After a passing thought about that, I simply told myself “that's bullshit” and have not had the thought OR the desire to drink even enter my head. What I have discovered SINCE I left AA horrifies me. Slowly, over the last nearly 2 years, I discovered that I only drank once a month on a weekend quite purposefully before I entered the rooms of AA. That does not constitute an alcoholic. I did not lose control of my drinking until after I had it beaten in my head for 30 days straight that I was misinformed about my own past, that I most certainly DID lose control; that I was an alcoholic and therefore was not only powerless now over booze but was also stupid. I was told how to think, how to feel. I was robbed of my ability to stand up for myself. In AA, it is flirting with death if one allows for “justified anger”. Because of that, I was brutally raped and went to find “my part in it” and ended up making a suicide attempt so serious the doctors were afraid I had brain damage. I don't. Though I am not certain how I got so lucky. AA was just as happy to call that a “slip” in my sobriety since I downed over 90 pills to kill myself, rather than face the fact that I was suicidal and needed real help.
The stories I could tell that spanned over nearly 16 years are too myriad to cover in this story. However, I will say that I wasted many years and much money going to therapy and getting nowhere because in therapy one must FEEL and AA taught me feelings were lies. Every time anyone tried to help me, I'd back him or her off with trite and holier-than-thou sayings, always utilizing the blackmail that AA taught me so well, “If you push me on this, I'll drink. Do you want me, an alcoholic, to drink??????”
It sickens me what I turned into. I now run a group online for people escaping the cult of AA. It's a nice little group and the people there help me to heal by championing my use of rational thinking, sound reasoning, and most of all doing the one thing AA was violently opposed to: trusting myself.