nin137

Nick's Journal
2015-09-21 15:18:38 (UTC)

AA

well i already failed at writing every day. so there's that. on the plus side, i am still clean and sober and on my 34th day of recovery!

i thought i'd write a journal entry about AA. even if you're not an alcoholic, you probably know about alcoholics anonymous. i had strong reservations about AA just because of the pre-conceived notions (mainly that it was comprised of a bunch of hapless saps...see i told you i was judgmental and cynical).

more over. being more introverted than extroverted and never one to rely on the help of others, it took me years to truly appreciate how much AA could actually help me.

i started going to AA in 2013 when i was in the intensive outpatient program (something i'll write about in another entry). i was put-off from the outset. one problem was that i had some really bad first experiences.

you see, we live in an "up and coming" neighborhood. what that means is that if you travel maybe 10 blocks south of us (where the AA meeting was) you quickly hit the ghetto.

my first couple of AA meetings were a composition of people who screamed at each other, dealt drugs in the parking lot (because honestly, where are you going to find a better customer source) and had a creep guy try to get into my car.

so i was off and on with AA. i would mainly go as a sort of "penance" when i had lied to J or when i had relapsed or when i just felt like a total piece of shit. in short, i didn't utilize AA correctly in the tool that it was. it is more like Advil than Oxycodone. with Advil you have to "manage" the pain and "get ahead" of it. it is not something that will make the pain go away. you go to AA to remain sober, not to use it as a healing salve when you fuck up.

so me being cynical and generally having an aversion to group settings, it took me until rehab to figure out just how helpful AA was. you see i always had it in my head that it only mattered about what I had to say and what I had experienced. i never really listened to the others who spoke.

in rehab (where we had AA meetings in the usual fashion as well) i really started listening to others. and i know this sounds cliche likely but just hearing other people's stories and knowing that you are not alone in your struggle/ordeal opens up a whole new pathway to you. you realize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. and that, at least for someone like me who is incredibly introverted, is a very strong foundation to work with.

the other major barrier to AA that i had other than not listening was my refusal to ask for help. as i mentioned above, i am all about self-reliance. in fact my favorite poem is Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. in AA you ask for help simply by talking to people. you don't need to ask a direct question. just putting your story out there and having people listen to you is help enough.

if you find yourself in a shitty meeting then get out. you are not obligated to stay. but i implore you to go to another one. take it from an alcoholic who it took 2 years to realize the importance of AA.

in general there are two people who go to AA meetings. those that want to and those that have to. those that have to are the ones who put their slips in the basket and zone out or are disruptive/combative ("i don't have a fucking drinking problem like you sacks of shit, i just got unlucky on this DUI"). these are the average american who gets popped for a DUI and empties his piggy bank for their DUI attorney who immediately puts them into "outpatient & AA" for a deferred prosecution. or the gangbangers who use their drug money to hire the best sleazy attorney to get them out of whatever narcotics bust they go themselves into. now i don't mean to imply that EVERYONE who HAS to be at AA is like this, but by and large they are like that.

and honestly, probably 50% of those people are right. they are not alcoholics and this was a one-time moment of stupidity. but that doesn't mean that you can't still learn from the process.

as to those who want to be there. you will not find more kind, caring and helpful people in your life. you see, it comes down to the difference between sympathy and empathy. those who are not in the throngs of addiction as we are can only really offer sympathy; for true empathy you need to turn to those who have actually gone through what you have.

so i hope you don't poo-poo AA like i did in the beginning. if you are an alcoholic and really need help but don't have the money to do outpatient or rehab, please go to at least 2 AA meetings in one day.

to end this entry with one of the many cliches of AA: "It works if you work it."