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.

24. Doris
Cult Peyton Place

First let me give you a little history. I have been "sober" for 18 years. My first nine years were in AA. My recovery from AA has been quite difficult for me even after all these years.

My first horror story happened when I was about four years into the program. I became ill and was diagnosed with lymphoma. Some so-called friends from AA came to see me in the hospital to cheer me up. The way they cheered me up was to tell me that I was responsible for my illness. One woman said: You know you have no one to blame but yourself, you brought this on.

One would think I would have wised up then and gotten out of AA. But I stayed active in the program for another five years. The incident that made me finally leave was the realization that my group was attempting to define immoral behavior as moral and acceptable.

My husband and I were friends with another couple in recovery. He was in AA, and she was in Al-Anon. The man often spoke badly of his wife at AA meetings when she wasn't there. So most of the AA group had pretty strong preconceptions about her that, from my perspective, were unfair and untrue. And I knew her better than anyone else in the group. His behavior disgusted me, but since he was my husband's friend I tried to be tolerant of him. He was an airline pilot, so they could live anywhere in the country they chose. She was unhappy in Texas and wanted to move back to her home, California. He agreed to the move, but decided he would still fly out of Texas. So, he would need a place to stay in Texas.

He rented a room from a woman in our AA group. It didn't take long before this man and woman were having an affair. My husband and I were suddenly in the middle, with all three people in this love triangle contacting us and wanting information about the others. When I brought up my distress to other members of our AA group, they all said that this couple was doing nothing wrong, that his wife was a bitch who couldn't control her temper, and who could blame him? As for the other woman, well, she had 15 years of sobriety, making her beyond reproach.

By the way, their child was deeply hurt by these events, and the wife called many times in tears, asking me how could this have happened. Our group had some of the longest "sobriety" in the city, and it was supposed to be one of the "healthiest" groups. Well, I knew I had to separate myself from these people. I no longer had any respect for them. I knew if they could justify adultery on the basis of who was part of the group and who was not, then they could justify all sorts of immoral behavior.

This is when I realized that AA is a cult. How else can you explain an entire group of decent people no longer able to distinguish right from wrong?