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.

26. Lynelle
My Life Got Worse

My name is Lynnelle, and I was at one time what you would call a "functioning alcoholic": professional, educated, kids, middle class, but with more than my fair share of husband problems. Many of these problems I treated with alcohol. My real problems went unrecognized because the professionals I went to, immediately upon hearing about my drinking, sent me to AA.

My story of mistreatment and subsequent withdrawal from the AA program began in late 1992 when I was attempting to finish MBA school while also holding the dam back on my looming divorce -- living in denial of my emotionally abusive husband's drug, money/taxes, and womanizing problems. In addition, I worked in a high-stress managerial position, and was commuting a total of three hours each working day. I was also trying to raise three kids. Heck, who had time to devote to recovery? Anyway, I still tried to find the time to attend AA meetings twice a week, on the way home from night school -- about 11pm -- instead of having a quick drink at the bar.

Well, the long and short of it is that at about three months into the program, with me pretty much dry -- and who can say that dry is different from sober? -- some son of a bitch followed me out of the meeting and began to lecture me all the way to the parking lot, and for about an hour kept leaning on my car door so I couldn't close it. Then he followed me home. He parked in my driveway, somehow talked his way into my home -- I kept thinking he was just trying to help, or maybe having a hard time himself. But he must have had some kind of sixth sense that my then-husband was away on a business trip and my nanny couldn't care less. Because, while pontificating about spiritual matters, he kept trying to get closer and closer physically. Finally, I'd had enough. I'd never really wanted him there in the first place. When he started touching me, I slapped him and threw him -- literally -- out of the house. Thank heaven he was a wizened old cirrhotic fart who probably weighed less than 100 lbs!

You would think recovery might go better after that bit of assertiveness, but as far as AA goes, there was just one bummer after the other. The whole AA concept seems engineered for the satisfaction of the male ego, and the manipulation of females. The best example is the 13-stepping that begins during meetings and goes on after -- and if you, a female, don't like it: go find another meeting.

To top things off, my then-husband, probably because I told him about the wannabe 13th-stepper I'd thrown out, started accusing me of having affairs whenever I was gone for meetings.

Perhaps my story will help other women, because women still routinely blame themselves for every aspect of their own behavior -- even for their own toxic defense mechanisms, that is, drinking over the pain of abusive relationships and crawling into a hole. I finally found an online abuse survivors' site that mentioned how little professionals who treat addicts understand women who are both abused and addicted. Too often, these professionals ignore the abuse and treat only the addiction. That's a recipe for failure.