From Mr. SponsorPants's emailbox, this cryptic message:
I hate aa
Oh my God! Me too!
And ... er ... that's not really a question, but I'm going to run with it (assuming that you weren't going to type 'I hate aardvarks' but then suddenly collapsed across the keyboard unable to finish your thought and inadvertently sending me your inter-species hate mail. I'm just going to figure you meant this for Mr. SponsorPants. Oh, and as someone who's been accused of being a little long winded on occasion, I applaud your brevity, Sir or Madam!)
Here's the thing: If you hate AA, then don't go.
What, you thought I was going to give you a long pitch about why you should go? Forget it, my little aardvark-hater. You know what my favorite thing about AA is? We're not selling anything. (Or, as those crusty old AA Crocodiles in my early meetings used to say, "If you want what we've got, do what we did. If you don't want what we've got, enjoy the coffee, you can have your dollar back if you need it, and there's the door." Did I mention they were crusty?) I imagine that people who go for chemo to treat their cancer hate going to chemo. I know that people who have diabetes hate having to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections. They get used to it, but they don't really like it, and probably get to hating on it pretty regularly. (I know this especially from my friend S. who has diabetes, and will regularly call me up to complain that Patti LaBelle and B.B. King are liars, since they did a TV commercial about some home blood sugar test they use not hurting and according to him the little blood sugar pricking blood test thing hurts. S. is kind of a woosy, though, so this is not surprising coming from him.)
Another old AA expression is that "AA is not for people who need it, it's for people who want it." Which is to say that there is a degree of willingness you need to do the AA deal, and if you're not willing ... well ... not much can be done for you then. You're not going to get much out of AA. It's like the gym membership that I have that I'm
throwing money away on paying for every month. I am not getting much out of that gym membership because I'm not willing to go and make use of the gym. But in case I sound a little crusty myself, let me go on to assure you that only a little willingness is needed to start, and no one I know has been completely willing at any given point in their sobriety. (That's not to say that there aren't people who have been completely willing for most of their sobriety -- it's just that I run with an obstinate and questionable crowd. Scofflaws. Reprobates. Infantile Rebels. I'm telling you, aardvark, they're practically Pirates. If you went to the Mall with us you'd probably ditch us. And you would be wise to do so.)
Honestly, if you think you have a problem with alcohol and you really have a problem with AA I would ask you to email me again with more information. Why do you hate AA? (Or aardvarks, for that matter. What did they ever do to you?) From my own experiences I can tell you that often my hate and anger is rooted in fear. Plain old fear of new people. Fear of being vulnerable or looking foolish. Fear of being tricked or told what to do or being taken advantage of. Sometimes when those of us who have been in AA for a while welcome people in meetings we come on kind of strong -- if that happened to you, I'm sorry. For me, it's because AA really saved my life, and beyond that has been a profound source of health and even joy for me. (In general, I mean -- not all the time. Certainly not when I was 8 years sober. That was a baaaad year. Ten was only so-so too. This one's been pretty good, but it's only the end of April. Could turn on me at any moment. Oh, now there's a peaceful thought to carry through the day.) So if people have come on a little strong with you, it's just that they are enthusiastic about carrying the AA Message. Or they're pompous asses. It could be that, too. Either way, let me leave you with these three things:
One of the scariest things about alcoholism is that, although it may sound fanciful or crazy to put it like this, it sort of talks to you. And one of the things it seems to love to talk about is that anything that moves you away from drinking and using is bad or stupid or uncool. So if you're an alcoholic -- and I'm not saying that you are -- but if you are, then maybe this is what's operating in you right now. And if that's the case, then maybe rather than listening to the part of your mind that is trying to kill you, try listening to the part of your mind that is desperately trying to grab the microphone and wants you to live.
For me there are really two ways to treat my alcoholism. With alcohol, which, for the record, is my preferred treatment, and with AA. Sadly (and really, it is tragic) alcohol no longer works as a treatment for my alcoholism. Thus, I am
stuck with blessed with AA to deal with my alcoholic mind. But I had to believe that I was an alcoholic first. So, if no doctor has advised you that you should not drink, then why don't you try what the Big Book suggests to determine if you are an alcoholic -- that is, try some controlled drinking. Go on. Try to have two and a half drinks. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. Because you know what? I can have two and a half glasses of milk with little or no trouble. But I have never in my life been able to have two and a half screwdrivers. And, if a doctor has told you that you should not drink... then ... Hello! A DOCTOR has told you you should not drink. Ring Ring! Clue phone! It's for you!
Finally, maybe you can just decide to give AA a chance. What the hell, right? Try 90 meetings in 90 days -- really give it a try. Consider it a research project. I don't know of anyone who's come to harm by trying that. And if you live in a place where there aren't that many meetings, you can find lots of speakers recorded online ... and feel free to check back here. I'll have something new for you every day.
Oh, and lay off the aardvarks, willya? The climate's going to hell, they probably have enough problems right now.