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.

7. Danni
They Said My Pain Was My Fault

I was sober in AA for seven years. I have been drinking on and off for the last two years. I went into AA when I reached a desperate time in my life and it really helped me -- for awhile. Then I met a man in AA who was a Big Book thumper. He felt that the answer to my every problem was a verse from the Big Book. But he was also very charming and loving, and I married him.

Almost immediately, the problems began. If I was angry the he came home late, it was because I was "expecting something." If I wanted him to spend the day with the family instead of fishing with his buddies, I was controlling. When I went to AA meetings, the others in AA echoed his response. Whatever went wrong in the marriage, was the result of my not working the program.

I never had a right to get angry. If I was angry, I wasn't "working the program." If I thought about the future, I was "projecting" rather than "letting go and letting God." One of his favorites was: Do you know what your problem is? It's self-centered fear.

In a deep depression, I went to a doctor who put me on an antidepressant. Although my husband did not criticize me for this, many in AA did. In their eyes I was substituting one drug for another. I heard one man say he'd rather put a bullet in his brain than take an antidepressant. I was in so much pain that I wanted to kill myself. However, the medication helped me tremendously.

But the problems in the marriage deepened. I thought, Well, he's going to meetings and I'm not, so I must be the problem. After all, he told me so, and so did AA. but every time I went to a meeting, I would hear a lot of self-deprecating talk.

I needed to be built up, not torn down. My feelings were never validated. If I felt bad, it was because I wasn't working the program. When I had a problem, I was told to turn it over.

During this time, I was also in psychotherapy.I am certainly not averse to looking at changes I need to make within myself. However, I was always told in AA that if I was upset about something, it was my own fault. I had to change my stinkin' thinkin' and pray for the person who injured me. Even if they abused me, lied to me, and mistreated me, I had to forgive.

In therapy I realized that, yes, I have to take responsibility for my actions, and that I can choose my response to an adverse event. However, I am not a bad person, I am not a stupid person, and I don't deserve to be treated poorly. And it's OK for me to be angry.

Over the past year, I found out that my husband had been indulging in pornography on the Internet almost daily. Since he was not interested in sexual relations with me, I thought he was having an affair. I searched his office and found evidence of almost daily use of the Internet for porn and literally dozens of XXX-rated videos and catalogs that he had received at a post office box. Of course, he was still participating in AA at the time and insisted that this was not an addiction. We separated briefly. He begged for forgiveness, got us into marriage counseling, and attended AA meetings nightly. I finally allowed him to move back in.

Three months after he moved back in, I found out that he had been indulging in porn almost since the day he moved back. When I confronted him with the evidence, he broke down and confessed . To make a long story short, he finally left me because I didn't trust him anymore. I felt he needed help and he didn't. Believe it or not, he is still attending AA meetings nightly.

During this painful time, I started drinking again. It alleviated the deep pain I felt over his betrayal of me. I also felt betrayed by AA. All of my husband's AA friends called here daily, speaking the world of him, because, after all, he's not drinking. He lies and participates in another obsessive behavior, but as long as he's not drinking, well, that's OK.

Over and over again, when I saw problems before we got married, I was told by my sponsor and others in AA that Don was a good man, that he was a really spiritual man, and that I was lucky to have him. And I was stupid enough to marry him and put myself through years of hell. I feel a lot of bitterness over my separation, and the lack of support I got in AA. I am so happy that there are others who have been in AA -- particularly women -- who feel as I do, and that I've found some of them [via the Internet].

In fact, I have to tell you this. I went to an AA meeting about a year and a half ago. I mentioned to a man that I had attended a women's group the previous evening. He started ranting and raving about how wrong it is to "exclude" men from AA meetings, that the Big Book is for both men and women, and that he has a real problem with "women only" meetings. After talking to him, I realized why I loved women's meetings so much: nobody preached to me!

AA was designed for men with big egos, not for women with low self-esteem. I hope and pray that I will find a means to sober up that doesn't deflate me further.