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How Alcoholics Anonymous Almost Killed Me

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How Alcoholics Anonymous Almost Killed Me
5 min read | Mar 2022

How Alcoholics Anonymous Almost Killed Me

I realized that the only higher power I wanted to believe in was myself.

Greyskiescollide / Millennial / Progressive / Hairstylist

“If I go to Alcoholics Anonymous, do I have to believe in God to stay sober?”

“Yes,” the straight, white doctor answered bluntly.

As I was being discharged from rehab, I felt no hope because the one thing I did know was I will never believe in a deity. I’ve witnessed and been subjected to too much pain in my life to believe in God. But I listened to the physician and went to AA regardless because I was out of options.

I found queer meetings right away. If I was going to do this, I might as well do it with people I felt safe around. Plus, maybe there would be some atheists or agnostics that could help me along the way.

The queer meetings were OK, and I met some eccentric, fun people, but most everyone in these rooms was out of their minds. And it’s not their fault. They’re following literature that states you have to believe in a straight, white God in order to stay sober day after day after day. Coupled with their past/present PTSD, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, mania, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder and whatever other mental illness they have that’s undiagnosed, which is most likely the reason they drank and used drugs in the first place.

“”

I Wanted to Believe in Myself and Not a Mythical Creature

Now, when you tell the devotees in AA that you don’t believe in God, their collective automatic response is, “Yes, but we call God your higher power, and your higher power can be anything you want.”

A doorknob.

Cher.

The chair you’re sitting in.

You can borrow my higher power until you find yours.

It can be Donald Trump.

It can be the Christian God.

It can be Buddha.

It can be any kind of god you want.

“But your higher power can never be you or someone else. If it is you or the person you cling to, you will drink and die.” This is verbatim what they are all trained to say.

They tell you this while meanwhile, you must stand up, hold hands with people you don’t know and pray a Christian prayer at the end of most meetings you go to. And on the wall of every AA room you will enter, there are these steps:

Step 1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable. 

Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of “God” as we understood “Him.”

And…I’m out. 

So you’re telling me it can be a doorknob, it can be Cher, if you want it, but when you’re doing step three, they want you to stop calling it a higher power and they also want you to refer to this god as “Him”? So god can start out a doorknob and turn into Trump but it can never be yourself or someone you love?

That’s fucking asinine to me.

My Sponsor Was Supposed to Be My Guide, but He Ended up Being My Suppressor

You're told right when you belly flop in the program that you need a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has been through all the steps and can “guide” you through them. They have no medical training in mental illness. They have no medical background in drug and alcohol abuse, unless they are, in fact, in the medical field (which rarely any of them are). And all their education is from a book that is outdated by almost a century, paired with their experience through drinking and using drugs and AA.

“Has AA ever personally victimized you?”

I can tell you that I was touched inappropriately on several occasions in meetings by men who had 20 to 30 plus years of sobriety. I was also told I was “a piece of shit” by the first man (who was a gay, white man) who sponsored me in AA. 

I dated a guy in AA who was so beautiful, tall and had a wonderful job. Jackpot! He later told me that he fantasized about killing me and eating me. I introduced him to my dad, and after that, he broke up with me for being “too clingy.”

I had another old man put his hand on my ass during the closing prayer (which is usually the Our Father) and kept it there throughout. I did have the wherewithal that day to reprimand him in front of the group, but half of them didn’t even believe me.

These are just three different experiences out of countless that I and others have had to endure if you are weak when you enter the rooms of AA.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head yes, know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved and adored by me and countless others who have survived Alcoholics Anonymous.

“”

I Do Believe in a Higher Power—Myself

I am sober now, despite the trauma that this cult has put me through. It may not have you drink the Kool-Aid at the end, but it does beat you into submission at the lowest point in your life just to attempt to build you up with its outdated ideologies.

My suggestion for anyone seeking help for alcohol and drug dependency? Find out what your underlying issues are with a trusted physician or therapist. If the first or second or third physician doesn't work, keep looking! Find people who are also attempting to get sober to trek with. Start loving yourself regardless of your character defects and you will gain the will to stay sober. Maybe not all the time, but once you start getting one day, then the next, then the next, it does get easier. At least for me, it did.

Find time to meditate every day. I know, I know, every day? Well, if you are like I was, you drink and use drugs every day, so you can find 10 fucking minutes to sit and be silent with your thoughts.

Once I started realizing that my higher power is, in fact, me and knowing what my triggers are and knowing how to deal with them in everyday life, I started living a fulfilling life. Not at first, but day after day, I did. I know myself today, and I don’t pick up because I have too much respect for the number one person in my life: ME!

Do I have shit-ass days still? Of course. But I don't pick up because my self-esteem is higher than ever by doing daily affirmations, telling people around me how I’m feeling and meditation. And you know what? If I do pick up again, I will do my best to attempt to get sober again and not to beat myself up because nothing is permanent. Including sobriety.

AA did almost kill me. And it has killed people decade after decade after decade by its refusal to evolve. How can any of these clown fuckers who got sober in the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s know how to help anyone who is getting sober these days? What worked for them will not work for us, yet they boast it will if you “keep coming back.” There are different drugs. Different disorders. A pandemic. Social media, for fuck’s sake! (And yes, social media is a drug.) These fools didn’t get sober with all these new drugs and disorders. 

And one last thing—just because someone toots that they are sober for an amount of time doesn’t mean they’re telling you the truth. Pride is a tricky thing, and if I had to guess, half of those who say they are sober in the rooms of AA are not actually sober. I’m sure most of the men who sexually harassed me or gaslit me in the rooms secretly go home to a bottle of booze, opioids and bareback porn to cry themselves to sleep. 

Fingers crossed.

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