Horror Stories
True Tales of Misery, Betrayal and Abuse in NA, AA and 12-Step Treatment

Rebecca Fransway
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This book is here courtesy of See Sharp Press and Rebecca Fransway, Ed.

30. Brenton
AA vs. Cult AA

It's as if 12-steppers want to deny that there is a natural emotion called anger, a natural emotion that is a perfectly normal response to injustice. I recently heard a woman whose house had been ripped off by newcomers she let stay there say, "I had to look at my part. Aaargh! What a crock. Of course, after blaming herself, she didn't go to the police, because she saw that she trusted too much. When my wife got into recovery, she was told to forgive her stepfather for sexually abusing her. She said, Fuck that! Of course, she was labeled as not willing to recover, but I think that it was a big healing step for her to realize that she was entitled to feel angry about the harm done to her.

Many 12-steppers seem unwilling to look at any recovery method that doesn't jibe with the Big Book. I've seen people shamed and criticized for taking antidepressants, being told that if they only "worked the steps" correctly their depression would magically go away. I know of one extreme case where a woman took her own life after taking "medical" advice from an AA member. Was that her fault, or the result of AA pressure?

One of the hallmarks of cults it that the individual is expected to accept the tenets of the cult without question. When I attended AA and wondered about how certain aspects of the program worked, some crusty old-timer hollered at me that I needed to stop thinking about it and do it. I also refused to shave off my goatee just because the Clancy clones don't believe in facial hair. More criticism. When I refused to go to a men's Big Book weekend campout and leave my 36-week-pregnant wife at home alone, my sponsor told me, you'd better go, whereupon I fired him. I was later criticized for doing it.When I see people in the program blindly follow gurus like Clancy and also see that they are miserable, I have a problem with that.

By the way, AA did work for me. I have over five years of sobriety. I've just modified the way I work the program so that I'm not one of the 12-step zombies whose whole lives revolve around AA or NA