What They Say…

What They Say When They Think No One’s Looking

Over on the community pages, allyb directed us to a thread on SoberRecovery, which I want to highlight here on the front page. AA members take great exception to it when we highlight instances of abuse among AA members, because, they say, all groups are autonomous, and no single member can represent or speak for AA as a whole. Of course, AA — as an organization — does not provide any oversight, and is not accountable at all for what happens in meetings, either. This is a nice, tidy little buck-passing loop they’ve arranged for themselves.

And we don’t buy it. If AA doesn’t exist as a responsible entity, then what actually happens in AA and among members is AA. If it seems that we are picking on individual members, that’s because we are. These people are AA. You can deny responsibility on the technicality that’s built into the traditions, but we place the responsibility squarely where it belongs — on AA’s members.

The thread allyb exposed begins with a post from Sugardaddy, whose ex-girlfriend is a new AA member. He is very concerned because she is being aggressively 13th-Stepped in the meetings she attends. After outlining the specific behavior she has encountered, which is reprehensible, he says, “She is SCARED,” and follows up with a couple of questions:

1) Does AA offer female only meetings? If not, is it possible to start one? Remember, we reside in a small town (less than 10,000)

2) Who can she write/email to and address these problems?

I understand that some of these attendees have to be there. Unlike my gf, they may not want to be there, but the courts order them. Therefore, she is amongst scum in my opinion (wife beaters, abusive fathers, etc). This is a very serious situation. My gf needs to get well and is trying. What steps can we take.

I offered to go to her last meeting, but I would not have been there in time after work.

The responses are shocking. The AA member’s first inclination is to protect the program, and to question Sugardaddy’s girlfriend’s integrity:

Do you have any proof that what she is saying is true?

Perhaps she just does not want to go to the meetings or stop drinking.

Proof? Because, of course, when the person you love tells you something, you should always demand proof, and assume the worst motivations.

Something does not sound right. Alcoholics are masterful liars. What was going on in your relationship before she went to AA for the third time?

She’s a liar! If she’s an alcoholic, then she is also a liar. But of course, this judgment applies only to her — not to the roomful of alcoholics in her AA meeting. Again, the first thing Sugardaddy should do is to question his girlfriend’s honesty — not the AA group. Perhaps Sugardaddy should stop wondering what’s wrong with AA and start wondering what’s wrong with his girlfriend.

Have you verified these stories???

Well, all Sugardaddy has to do is google “13th Step” and he’ll get all the verification he needs to know that this is not outside the norm.

Sugardaddy responds to some of these questions by asserting that 1. his girlfriend is attending AA of her own free will, meaning that she has chosen, and 2. she has never lied to him before about her drinking, but admits that she is a “terrible liar.” I guess they’ve put a bug in his ear. (He also says that she spoke to her preacher, who told her that Satan is holding her back).

Something smells funny here. Sounds like a bunch of good reasons not to go to meetings! hmm.

Editing to add: When I was done drinking and using, nothing could stop me from pursuing recovery, getting sober, and staying that way.

Are you in a program of your own? Sounds like you’re involving yourself a TAD much in her recovery, which is simply her own journey.

Out of curiousity.. why the emphasis on her going to these meetings on her own free will.???

If she really wanted to recover, she wouldn’t let aggressive sexual harassment stop her. She obviously doesn’t want to stop drinking. Besides, why don’t you butt out? Your girlfriend’s fear of sexual predation is none of your beezwax.

sugardaddy, I know you likely are looking for more concrete information on how to solve this problem for your girlfriend but honestly, this sounds like something SHE needs to handle herself. If she is not interested in this person, it is a simple matter for her to tell him, “I am not interested in you, please stop calling me, approaching me and talking to me.” She IS a grown woman, isn’t she? If she is a teenager, perhaps I can understand she might need some advice on how to handle this (such as she has sought from her minister) but still, she needs to handle this herself. If she feels she is in danger, she can call 911/the police.

I advise you to take a big step backwards, out of this situation. Have you gone to Al-Anon?

When you go to an AA meeting, you should have 911 on speed dial, I guess. This response is particularly disgusting — outrageous. It minimizes the abuse (well, if this were really serious, she’d call the cops, now, wouldn’t she?). It insults her capacity as an adult — because if she were competent, she’d handle it. Of course, men who don’t understand that showing up at a woman’s place of employment is unacceptable, who don’t understand that this behavior is creepy and intimidating, are not the types to simply accept a straightforward rejection. Healthy people in relationships do not “back off,” and send each other to handle intimidation and sexual harassment alone — you don’t send anyone off to handle it alone. Did Andrew Dice Clay ghostwrite Al-Anon?

Does she often feel highly attractive to men? The scenarios she is describing sound…like men are swooning over her right and left. Do you find that believable?

I’ve been going to meeting for 2 years and I sure wish someone would invite me to the Bahamas. Hasn’t happened yet. All they want me to do is make coffee.

For one thing, it is discouraged in almost all AA groups I know of that men and women associate as sponsors/sponsees and it is not encouraged that men offer women their phone number in fellowship.

Lets get down to earth here: when you described her as being amongst scum: wife beaters and what not….is that a fair assumption? I know that in the US there are a lot of court ordered AA members, but, most of them are not there for wife beating or abuse.I can’t think of anyone who got sent to AA for wife beating. They are just garden variety drunks, like me.

Hey, maybe she’s just a delusional bimbo, didja ever think of that? By the way, I wish some weirdo would scare the crap out of me! I’d appreciate it. Anyway, we don’t encourage this, so it doesn’t happen. I’ve never seen it. Never seen any wifebeaters in AA either, and I’d know if I saw one.

Speaking of delusional:

You’re not a therapist, addiction counselor, or psychiatrist, best to leave the helping to the professionals.

The responses go on for a couple more pages, and a few people chimed in to protest the advice. This is what AA members do to each other when they think no one’s looking.

  • excuse me! not to be mean, but i found a typo. i am not pointing it out to be obnoxious (though, i realize i am being so), but it's just that i think my finding it points to me being a careful reader; you never make mistakes. 🙂 seriously, i have NEVER found one.

    k, i am calming down….

    "When you go to an AA meeting, you should have 911 on speed dial, I guess." you said it, ftg!!!!

    i could barely look at that thread the other day. after seeing that it would take more than five minutes to log in to comment, i opted to let it go. those people, as ftg says, are in fact delusional. they can't hear me.

  • Rick045

    I feel for the guy in this situation, but at least he's doing something right simply by asking a lot of questions. Another disgusting thing to consider is that he would be subjected to the same, (or worse) unacceptable bullshit if he were dealing with "professionals" in a treatment center.

  • Commonsense

    @Rick045 – I found that some of the so-called treatment professionals got angry if they were asked any question, even to the point of getting agitated and yelling. I figured they were just too arrogant, immature, or insecure to say "I don't know". I also found that they automatically assume alcoholics are liars, which of course is also arrogant.

  • John Deere

    I honestly have no words. I can't believe this.

  • Doreen

    Shocking! But now that I think about it…not surprising. Just sad.

  • Rick045

    @Commonsense, yeah that's what I thought about when I read some of those answers. It might be one thing if this could be dismissed as just a few goofballs on a discussion group, but it's the same thing he would encounter if he were dealing with a treatment center.

  • tintop

    First, he would get better advice if he went to an astrologer.

    Anyone who thinks that all alcoholics are liars, is asking to be lied to.

    I suspect that he realized that no one there would say anything useful. And, what was said should come as no surprise. That site is very weak, with nothing to offer.

  • speedy0314

    tintop is the Socrates of this whole 'anti-eh-of-eh'™ enterprise.

    "Anyone who thinks that all alcoholics are liars, is asking to be lied to."

    how f**king brilliant is that? the dude is like the 'strong' nuclear force — straight to the point & completely irresistible.

    i'm not worthy,


  • violet, I would totally misspell my own name without a spellchecker.

  • tintop

    And, they will be lied to — as surely as night follows day. Such persons do not deserve the truth.

    As for going to an astrologer for advice as compared to SR: that is not a joke. that is the truth.

    The blind leading the blind. Some people, sad to say, are so lacking in self awareness and emotional intelligence that they no notion of the efects that their words and deeds have on others. This is seen in other parts of life.

    Speedy is far too kind. Compliment is accepted with false modesty.

  • Ben Franklin

    You know while I was reading the thread and the dumbass comments and advice , I got the urge to hit on Smacked- the one with the sexy alluring photo,pretty appropriate on a spirituality website. Kind of like going to church in a G-string. But i would offer to help her with her program. She can't drink with my d… in her mouth. Oh but that doesn't happen in AA.

  • AllyB

    @ tintop "Some people, sad to say, are so lacking in self awareness and emotional intelligence that they no notion of the efects that their words and deeds have on others. "

    Ah but they insist that their words only effect others if the others choose to be effected.

    From Learn2Live: I had to learn that my anger is my responsibility. I can choose to be angry about something someone said or did, and I can choose to not be angry.

    Poor old Floss on that thread (the first one to criticise the responses) started another thread where she tried to explain just why it's wrong to start into bullying (my word) someone who looks for help for the first time and the justifications for the nasty would make your head spin.

  • tintop

    ally — that complete lack of emotional intelligence is exactly why they are there.

    "When you listen to him, you know why he is here."


    Hi Everybody …:) I feel sorry for poor sugar daddy he is in an awefull spot let me paint a picture from expierence …

    If his girlfriend has a vagina and goes to AA coed meetings she's going to get hit on by predetors of the sneekiest sort .. both male and female … because thats what they do …

    If she goes to a woman only meeting shes going to be fed koolaide how  1- she needs to NOT be in a relationship and keep the focus on herself she will be indoctrinated into a stepford type program that is going to paint men as villians

    2- she will be told that she is sick and is mentally  ill and that she has a disease that makes her damaged and different

    3-She will be told that the PROGRAM comes first and formost over everything

    4- She will be coerced into fellowship her twisted cat lady sponsors with no men will tell her she doesnt need a man she needs them girls night will rule forever and ever

    5- She will be told to revirginize sex will become sinfull and selfish and bad

    6- She will gain 2 lbs a month the first miracle year from being forcefed coffiee and cookiees …

    I can go on and on with this but in the time I was in program evry person who I have ever seen come in who had a relationship lost that relationship … 100 percent over 20 plus years … most people who are still in meetings 20 years later are still single … serial daters or predetors … or serial monogamous they never go anywhere in the relationship dept 90 percent … they wind up living fantasy lives on face book taking 200 pictures of themselves

    I'm so glad i'm out of there I have a wonderful relationship now without them religious zealots … they are right up there with the Taliban

    Guess what if my relationship fails ill look again not hide for a year blaming myself and thinking that my other half will be "put there for me" I guess Bill W had a lot of putting …

  • Escapee

    Wow, that was a painful read. That John the Sailor guy is one whacko.

    Believe it or not, in 2009 I spent a ton of time on that forum looking for help and just had so much abuse heaped on me it was unreal. And it was precisely the posts made by types like John the Sailor, Cuda, who else, all the names escape me, well, let's just say I spent many a morning drinking just reading that forum. But then, AA did always send me to the wine aisle.

    No wonder that guy only made that one thread. And the poor people who came to his defense and were like…."excuse me, but are my feelings right here?"

    Sober Recovery is one scary place to be.

  • Escapee

    Oh, and Sailor John's comments to the OP about leaving it to the professionals? What, the nutcases in AA?