Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Take what you need...

This post is probably going to come off a little ranty, but I need to get something off my chest.

Just because a person is sober, even if they have long term sobriety, doesn't mean they are wise, kind, or even good people.  Most sober people I have met both in and out of the program are good people, some of the best people I know are in the program. But getting sober and maintaining sobriety does not automatically make someone a good role person.  Or as I like to say, 'there are assholes everywhere, even in AA'.  Sadly though, it seems that too often people act as if the word of a recovering alcoholic is scripture.  Let me clue you in though, getting sober does not make you God.  Sober people are still people.  They have opinions and they make mistakes.  They can give us great advice and act as an example of how to recover and how to live a sober life and even how to be a good person but they can also still make mistakes and occasionally give us bad advice.  And you know what, that's okay.  It's okay if your sponsor, your sober role model, sometimes messes up.  AS LONG AS YOU ADMIT THEY CAN MESS UP. 

There's an old phrase in the program that doesn't get used often enough; 'Take what you need and leave the rest'.  It means that when you are sitting around a table (or on an internet forum) and listening to all the different stories you should pluck the nuggets of gold out, the things that resonate with you, and leave the rest behind.  People express a lot of opinions and not all of them are right, yet so many people seem to think that they have to agree with everything an old timer says, that they have to do everything a sponsor tells them to.  They think there is only one way to work the program (their way!).  That is just not the case folks!  Different people need different things.  A wise sponsor will recognize what their sponsee needs and help them in that way, or, if they can't provide that, tell the sponsee kindly to find someone else to guide them.  I am blessed that I have such a sponsor, but time and again I see people say things that boil down to "it's my way or the highway".  Maybe that worked back in the 30's and 40's, but humanity and society have changed so much since then. My sponsor recently told me that the recovery rate back then for people in the program used to be 1 in 10, now it's1 in 30.  I have to wonder if it's the abrasiveness and, forgive the word, cruelty of some of the members that is part of what is driving people away.

I have seen people at meetings yelling in other people's face.  I have heard them tell others to shut up.  And I have heard the most horrifying advice being given to some of the most fragile people; advice given as if it were the word of God rather than the opinion of a flawed human being.  That is not the sobriety that I want, and I feel sorry for anyone who thinks that is what they have to put up with to get sober.  I will continue to stick up for the fragile ones, when they are getting bad theology crammed down their throats, and remind the others that we are all unique in our path of recovery.   It's sacrilegious to many, to question the program, to question someone when they claim how they learned to recover is they only way, but in my opinion it's a critical thing to learn in order to continue becoming one's true self. 

1 comment:

  1. Really well said - there is that holier than thou fixed expectation that length of sobriety equals inherent wisdom. Just like some folks think "everyone is entitled to an opinion" - they may well be entitled to an opinion, but they are not entitled to have to have me sit quietly by and listen to their nonsense.
    OK, said it, feel better now too.
    Thanks Jane,
    Bren Murphy