Life and Death…not taking the ones we love for granted. Spending more time with them now that we left AA.

loving life ppic

Being in Toronto and getting to meet a blogger I met here, and just life has got me thinking. How much time did AA take away from  my time with my children?

Now hold on…there are about 10 years when they, my children were born  1990 and 1994,  were born where I really pulled back from AA and only went once a month to a couples meeting in private homes. Yet I did run to Alanon 1 time a week , for a short time, when my marriage was falling apart. Did AA hurt that first marriage. HELL YES!

I wonder if I knew what I know today how that would have played out differently. I’ll never know.

I know that when a woman like me did so much work on me…that after 4 years sober I should have left AA at age 22. But I did not. I have been thinking about doing EMDR work for my AA trauma. All the nonsense.

enjoy ifepic

How would my life be different. I would have attended a real University, maybe taken up swing dancing, krav , cooking….I am sure I would have made films sooner….written a book by now, played and sang music around the world…or just have spent more time with them on those nights I went to my woman’s meeting in those last 6 years. …:(

How did AA effect us socially. I think not drinking a drop absolutley effects how you interact  with even moderate imbibers . AS I write this…some of it makes me sad. But on the good side I did experience real normalcy when socializing with other documentary film makers in Canada.whitewinepic

I felt certainly a part of the world, a part of that community and I was really embraced by many who hate AA around the world and they are glad I am making this film.

What are some things that you missed and how do you deal with that now. I plan on taking those swing dance lessons this month. 🙂swing dance pic

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30 thoughts on “Life and Death…not taking the ones we love for granted. Spending more time with them now that we left AA.

  1. There were so many things I never dreamed possible in my life when I was going to meeting after meeting after meeting for YEARS and shunning any medical help for my continuing depression and anxiety.

    I only occasionally go to a meeting now, with my husband who has really cut back also. I don’t want to completely rock the boat, and really I am tons better because of the wonderful help I have gotten from real medical professionals. But I think of the things I thought I could never have, something so everyday as having a dog, but you can’t take proper care of a dog if you are constantly at meetings. You really can’t run agility with that (very fast, mostly border collie) dog if you have to go to meetings constantly. I love dog agility. I never dreamed in a million years I would take up this activity. Better late than never.

    I remember the horrible guilt I felt when I bought a new car for the first time sober. It felt like “alcoholics” didn’t deserve something like that, a brand new car. I felt like I was trying to be better than what I was, running that shaming tape over and over in my mind. When I traded in that sedan for a Hybrid, which I’ve always wanted (tree-hugging wannabe that I am) I felt like “hey, I work for a living, I can make the payments, it’s America for God’s sake”.

    Just working daily on reversing the old tapes from “I can’t because – “alcoholism”, “AA duties”, “what will AA people think?” is a chore, but it’s definitely worth it.

    • BCM – I have a dog too now. He is an Australian shepherd mix rescue. He is so friggen smart and a great watch dog. I got him the last year I was in AA. May of 2010. Glad you have a cool doggie too!

      • I remember you talking about your Aussie; they are great dogs! I am partial to herding dogs but love all of them.

        I recall the last time I went to a women’s meeting I had attended for YEARS. A woman there was trying to talk me into getting back into “service” and I told her I couldn’t, that we had just adopted a new puppy and she took a lot of my time. She just looked straight through me as if she had no concept of anything outside of AA. I can’t live like her, climbing the “service ladder” has been her life for years. People outside AA would have understood what I was saying immediately. That was the last time I put a whining puppy in her crate to go to that meeting. I actually enjoyed spending time training the dog, among other things.

  2. I have joined yoga – I now have the time. I have done genealogy because I now have the time. I have become more involved with family because I have the time. I have just had my first job interview and now know that if I get the job – I won’t have to worry about being tired while attending meetings, then tired again the next day at work because I was at meetings. I am free. Like the rest of the world I will be able to come home after work and relax. I will not have another job to go to after work.

    AA robbed me of 22 years of my life. I have it back now. My kid has me as a full and whole person. No more ‘I have to go to a meeting’. No more calls from people who ‘just need someone to talk to’. No more conferences, no more baring my soul as a speaker to people who are really just strangers. I am free. I feel normal again. It is wonderful. I can plan my life without having to think about spending it doing something for someone else.

    This past weekend I met with someone and they used the term ‘indentured slave’. It’s been rolling around in my head ever since. She was right. That’s what I was – but not any more. I have broken free of the chains that held me back from living.

    Thank you to everyone for being here and speaking up against AA.


    • Oh yes, Anon, the constant tiredness was miserable, it was like the days didn’t end and then suddenly I was back at work starting all over again, quick meal, then off to a meeting. The constant fear of not doing the program right is also something that can drag a person down, and the self-depricating.

  3. When I was a GSR I was always exhausted. There were so many meetings that I had to go to. Many weekends all day workshop events so boring….so many hours away from my family…but honestly…it was this AA work that took me out, opened my eyes and got me to see Alcoholics Anonymous for the Bullshit it is and got me to leave. For that I am so HAPPY !!!

    • My time as an IGR was when I first began to notice that the only reasons those various committees existed were for promotion and recruitment. The only reason I took that was because no one else wanted it, and it got me away from my home group one night a month. It’s weird because even as I was developing a hatred for my home group, I still felt like I had to compensate with service work.

  4. During the day, on meeting nights, I would be so anxious all day, about going that night to the meeting. I really wanted, and needed, to have my schedule cleared and have a free night, but felt I MUST go. To keep my place, to maybe help someone, to look like I was working a good program. I KNEW my life wasn’t my own, but I really didn’t know what to do about it. I know a guy who just has to go to meetings on every major holiday. He’ll make a big meal for his family, maybe sit down for awhile, but then he’s off to the meeting. His holidays wouldn’t be complete without a meeting. But I always wondered how his wife and kids felt about that.

    • At SMART meetings, I never feel any obligation to “perform” , as it were. The meeting I go to is very accepting of everyone’s place in the world. Didn’t do what you wanted last week? Well, no biggie. Still want to do that, or do you want to do something else this week? Whatever it is, its ok as long as it is in a positive direction. No punitive looks or recommendations, just pure assistance and concrete advice. Zero recommendations of “do the steps again”, or “pray more” or :work with other drunks” in your spare time. SMART has a completely different feel than AA and I’m glad it does.

  5. Hi, thank you so much for this website. I am Free since early February 2014. It was being badly bullied and told I would jump off a motorway bridge if i did not do as they said that woke me up. I have been so misunderstood re my severe Bipolar disorder and this was the response when i told the sponsor i was suicidal. Gosh it took 14 years to wake up. Since leaving I am getting back on my feet and listening to my Psychiatrist about medication. Instead of trying to pray and service my way out of a serious illness. I’ll stop now only to say there are too many times i have allowed the bullying and unsolicited advice to govern my actions. i identify so much and really appreciate the encouraging stories you share Thanks again!!

    • Welcome Francee, It still amazes me to look back and consider just how unnecessary and downright harmful so much of AA actually is. It’s a shame that people have to fight their way out. I hope things continue to improve for you.

  6. Fourteen years in AA damaged my self-esteem and misdirected my confidence and focus. When my drinking had really made wreckage of my life and I was trying to get it sorted out I approached a woman to be my sponsor. She would point out all her sponsees and say: “See what you can be if you work with me.” She told me I needed to attend a morning meeting she went to. I did as I was told but had to leave early to get to work at a job I was at risk of losing because of screwing up with drinking. Well she lambasted me and said I wasn’t serious about recovering because I left the meeting early. I told her I had to get to my job. That didn’t seem important to her and there was more AA blah, blah, blah, manipulation, blah blah. I finally told her I couldn’t be the sponsee she needed me to be and left her behind. Well my drinking continued and got worse and so the story goes. But, my experience with her was when I started internalizing the negatives about me: “I wasn’t willing…..etc…”. Well I moved away, started a whole new life in a new state with nothing but AA and that is where the “wasted years” began for me. As soon as my confidence gained a little ground and I was starting to like me again there would be an AA member there to remind me what a “shit” I am whether directly or through some passive aggressive comment. There were of course some fun times which is when I realized I could enjoy life without drinking but the psychological damage of my years in AA outweighs the “good times” always. If I hadn’t committed so much of my psychological and emotional real estate to AA I could have been writing, filming, designing, playing drums, and developing deep and true friendships. I certainly would have spent less time anxious, depressed and afraid. I would have laughed a lot more. Now I am digging myself out of 14 years of misdirection and bad choices. I feel positive and hopeful but it is hard. I don’t want to give into ruminating anger or sadness because after all I was an actor in my own life so I try to focus the upset into the positive. This site is a big help on the hard days.

    • Fear, guilt, shame and social exclusion are their main tactics. Many of them don’t even know that is what they are doing. Unfortunately, being subjected to that type of manipulation over time is very harmful and creates mental pathways for thinking and behavior that take work to change. Truly leaving AA is a long process with many internal and external discoveries along the way.

      • @SPJ-
        That is what I am finding out; how deep and distorted my life view became. I like me and my life now even though there are challenges. At least I don’t have the negative AA tapes running through my head.

  7. Hi Thank you for the welcome. Things are changing for me and my attitude to myself. Orange papers and this website helped loads. I no longer get “resentments”. Its bit like before AA when I did not even know what that meant. If i have an ugly thought or feeling towards anyone, myself included, i deal with it without needing to analyse myself up my own blah, without needing to pray, belittle and judge myself or tell my sponsor or anybody else. A family member suggested leaving the cult was about maturing and taking responsibility. I am sorry to say whilst brain washed i was insufferable and sadly passed it on. I am socially isolated esp not working either. Not least because all those people who loved me so much no longer want to have anything to do with me. As my partner says they ostracize you from non AA people.Its going to take a while to get my confidence back and meet new faces. I find myself no longer ‘grateful’ all the time instead i actually enjoy things in a more present grounded way.And i no longer feel guilty all the time for not getting the program right blah! I’m sorry for the long entry.

  8. Although a lot of time has been wasted in AA and 12 step groups and that is obviously a shame, it is so great to see you all doing well now without it. I think it is so important that we do really push the positives of leaving AA and that it is certainly possible to have a great life without it. It is good to see people using a variety of methods to help themselves and are passing that on to others.
    We can’t do much about the mistakes of the past in recovery other than learn from them and tell others of our success with other methods. If we can get imformation out there one way or another people will be able to make an informed choice about all this.

  9. On my 21st b-day I was in a AA meeting.

    I don’t feel like I missed out on a lot I just feel that the abuse I went through in AA has affected me. I’m gonna get a book on healing trauma ny Peter Levine PHD. I’m just gonna be my own therapist. This last therapist just didn’t get it and for me, imo cognitive behavior therapy doesn’t work on trauma. Jmo.

    I’m just tired of being so upset over this AA thing. I’ve given AA enough power in my life.

  10. I have interviewed some women and after I left they told me they felt like a weight had been lifted. The stories are now in a film, documented forever and will change things and out AA for the predatory behavior. Also , their stories will help others who have left. help others leave.

    I know its an up and down cycle with leaving a cult. But it has gotten better now that I am gone 3 years. Still I can get sad or mad about it all. I was in AA at age 21. My DAD took me to a beautiful steak house. and offered to buy me a drink. I didn’t even want one. I was such a sweet geek !!! I don’t mind that I didn’t drink back then..Im sad for the time and years I wasted doing AA service. But even that I have reclaimed through a series of spiritual practices.
    I am sorry I was in AA that long and I m sorry you were so hurt. I think having support NOW in your life, someone who really hears you is what really makes the difference.
    Love & light to you runtime. ….one more thing ….doing my radio shows really help me.

    • Maybe one day massive. I’m not ready at this point.

      I’m really discouraged with this new drug policy guy. It’s all so discouraging….

      Maybe in 60 yrs America will open their eyes, but I don’t see it happening today. I’m in a bad mood, sorry.

  11. My whole life took on a different meaning once I accepted tha fact that I did not need AA anymore. I didn’t leave pissed or with any hate in my heart, I just left with purpose. My purpose was to disassociate myself from all the attachments and stigmas I allowed to be heaped on me t/o my life up until this time. I am not RC the alcoholic or addict or anything. I am just RC.
    Since I have joined several anti sites I have learned more about the reprehensible behavior by AA members, thank you Massive and AntiD. I have learned more about court mandates. So I can understand better the anger and sorrow some feel towards AA.
    I realize today we have everyone here and I have learned to listen to all. Just because I haven’t experienced what others have doesn’t mean I can’t learn from them…..:)

  12. I wasted quite a few good years inside that mad cult. Reclaiming my mind and my life is hard but I know it will be worth it. Fighting the fear that AA/NA instilled in me is almost constant but the more I speak out the better it is for me. Also reclaiming my ego as well so fuck them!!!

  13. bitter- I hear you! Have you read The Sober Truth the new book by Lance Dodes? It will surely make you feel that you are on the right path. It’s such a great book, so validating , easy to read. Its so critical of AA.

  14. Thanks Mary and thanks Massive for recommending that book, I will definately read it. The Real AA by Ken Ragge helped me greatly back in 2007. Trying to get back into the “real world” after being in that bizzare world for too many years is hard to say the least but worth it. I do feel anger & frustration coming up over being duped by Wilsons moneymaking mindfuck but that is good as well. If only I had come across more sites like this earlier. Thanks to everyone on here.

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