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.

34. Darlene
Rebel Incognito

I've been sober for six-and-one-half years and, like many others, I went to AA for my drinking problem. Four years ago, I married Fred, a man whom I had met in AA. At the time we married, we bought a house, and I became an instant mother to Fred's child who, much as I love him, was a spoiled brat.

Then I was laid off from my job. After a lot of thought, we decided that, rather than my going out and finding another job, we would try to run Fred's mom-and-pop shop ourselves.

I became too tired to go to four or five AA meetings a week. And my doubts about AA had already begun. I got tired of being greeted with, Haven't seen you at meetings in a while, instead of genuine interest in me. I got tired of being made to feel that I'd better offer a damn good explanation. And I became more discerning about what I heard people say in AA meetings, compared with how I saw them act.

So, with all my new and quite different responsibilities, my meeting attendance dropped and dropped. Call it resentment or whatever, but when I go to a meeting and people are chilly to me because I've got a life and can't get to meetings, I feel angry at them. I'm frustrated because my husband can't let go of them, and I feel paranoid that he goes to meetings and thinks that our private life together should be sorted out in front of people who will take sides with him because he's at the meeting and I'm not. I used to spill my guts at the meetings and swallowed the crap that all my problems should, no matter who it concerned, be their business. I don't want to live like that anymore. I'd like some things between my husband and me or my stepson and me to stay private, between us and us only.

If I go to meetings now, it's only to be with Fred. We don't have much time left over for "dates." Well, I went with him today. The topic was the Serenity Prayer and acceptance. My turn came.

I couldn't talk AA-speak. I said I was having a tough time with acceptance. Two friends died this weekend -- one was Fred's boyhood friend, who blew his head off with a shotgun. Money's slow in coming from those who owe us. Income taxes are right around the bend and we owe and don't know where it'll come from. We are behind in bills. I haven't had a chance to visit my dad since last summer, and he's crying out to see me. He's 79, won't be around forever, and he needs some help. Then my father-in-law got ugly with me Wednesday and backed his truck into our fence. When I went to help him, he started cussing at me -- fuckin' this, fuckin' that -- then he started raving about what a piece of shit property we had. The caring AAers then took turns sharing their drunkalogs, and one suggested I not take stuff so seriously.

No one (including me, I'm ashamed to say) gave the person who brought up the acceptance topic any suggestions on how to be more accepting. Every sentence uttered started with "I." I used to have trouble with acceptance, but now . . . with the help of this program and you wonderful people. . . . It gets so saccharine I could gag. I refuse to discuss AA with Fred anymore -- I'm afraid of people in the group will suggest he divorce me. It's not a joke.

Anyhow, consider me a spy! Here's a quote from a recent meeting: You can't get sober without AA. Since I've reduced meetings, gotten a life, and met more people in different organizations, I've talked with many who made a decision on their own to stop drinking. And despite the claim that one cannot get sober at church, I've met quite a few who did. Oops, I forgot, they weren't real alcoholics.

It seems that whenever a person or organization constantly talks about how wonderful, good, faultless, and near perfection he, she or it is, then that over-used word denial is truly in existence in that person or organization. I want to gag whenever I witness the never-ending pats on the back of AA members to the organization and each other. To hear it is to realize these people truly believe that, as members of this group, they are extra special and superior to the rest of the world, which they believe hasn't a clue.

My main focus in life now is to do my part for me, my family, and the community I live in so we don't all become one more whiny burden on society. That doesn't give me much time anymore to sit hour after hour and talk about myself. Thank God!