My name is Jay and I am a brand new subscriber. This whole thing (e-mail list serves, AA alternative programs, etc.) is still pretty new to me. I’m not used to getting over 100 e-mail messages come across my computer in one day. For a guy (kid) that has always loved to get mail, this has been quite fun. I think though I have found something else to be addicted to. I’ve also subscribed to the SOS list serve.
I live in the same town as Vince Fox (Hi Vince, I’ve seen your name come up on the screen more than a few times). Vince was my initial contact when searching out a group or program alternative to AA. To tell the truth, he was a little hard to find. There doesn’t seem to be much awareness or acknowledgement of AA alternatives for chemically dependent people here in Indy.
My background is as follows. My sobriety date is November 20, 1989. I initially got sober in a 28- day inpatient chemical dependency treatment program. There, I was introduced to AA. As far as I knew AA was all the help there was for me outside the walls of the treatment center. Right from the start there were things about the program I didn’t feel comfortable with but at that point in my life I was willing to go along with anything that I thought would help me stop drinking and bring some real and positive change to my life. I stayed sober in AA for close to 7 years. In the beginning, I worked hard at the program and became pretty active in service work. I was eagerly seeking acceptance and approval from the group. All in all though I think it was good for me. AA brought me through a difficult time in my life. Most of the people were there to listen and understand, nurture and support. They brought me out of my isolation, gave me something to focus on and work towards. They also were there to hold me accountable.
Gradually over time, perhaps as I got healthier (despite some aspects of the program), I became less and less satisfied with, and more and more disturbed by those aspects of the program. As I became more questioning and critical of the program I began to feel more shame and alienation.
Eventually my meeting attendance dropped to one per week and then to none. I’ve been away from meetings now for almost a year or so. I’ve been doing well. I have had no urges to drink (unlike what I was told by many in AA would happen if I stopped going to meetings) Because I halfway believed what they told me, this whole process of leaving AA has been a rather scary one.
My connectedness with the people in the program was always more important to me than the program itself and that is what I miss the most. I do stay in touch with at least one of my AA buddies. Our relationship seems a bit tense right now though. I think he may feel threatened by my leaving the program and by some of the conversations we had during the process of my leaving. I’m sure too that he is concerned that I will drink again. It will be interesting to see if we can remain friends. With AA though, it seems that you are either “IN” or you are “OUT”. At least that is how I came to feel (much to my displeasure) when I felt I was “IN”. I see myself probably going back to some AA meetings on an occasional basis in the future. I’m afraid though that if I were to go back now, I would want to go charging in there and tell them all the things I think are wrong with their program. I don’t really want that to happen.
I believe I am searching out AA alternative programs because I have a desire to be connected with people that may have similar issues and want to continue to learn and grow. Perhaps in the process I can help someone else. The little exposure I’ve had to SMART, Vince and some of the literature has been incredibly enlightening for me. It has also been a great relief in that it has helped me to let go of a lot of feelings of shame I had for “failing” AA. Many of my doubts, concerns and negative feelings about AA have been validated instead of me being shamed for having them.
Anyway, I didn’t intend to go on for so long. Just wanted to say hi and make my presence known. I look forward to being part of this group and continuing to learn and to grow.