Why I Stayed

New from Blamethenile:


How did you find yourself in AA? Why did you stay?

  • I put this mainly in the thread of AA And the Taboo of Geographic change, but this video really summed up a lot of what I have been thinking this last week, actually. My remission was much the same, it just came after a bit of chronic relapsing while “in the rooms”. I couldn’t get out of the way of thinking that had me using while also being forced to go to meetings where this was all that was discussed. Nor could I heal from any sense of guilt over it all, meetings just made it worse. MUCH worse. So much worse that I’d do it again. I don’t know which bit was worse, being quack-DXed with a “lifelong and progressive brain disease” or having to talk about it forever….and ever….Once I finally felt that I WAS better, and completely better, and that this endless discussion of my own personality was horribly unhealthy I just walked away. As completely as I could.

    There are, of course, tons of other reasons (all people) that I refused to go back to any meetings, but as for doing this for myself, well, that’s why I left. Forever. And will never give anyone any cause to think I need to go back. So I suppose the “clean & sober” abstinent part of this is a bit forced in me, but for the opposite reason it is supposed to be.

  • Persephone, I posted a virtually-identical response to someone else on another board, but I believe it to be an equally valid one to you:
    I had a long talk with Jimmy about the spontaneous remission phenomena after we completed this video, and I am of the position it can take many forms. It can be a sudden
    enlightment, relevation or insight in the form of something supernatural, or it can be a strictly secular realization, response to a life situation, or learned behavior. Whatever form it takes, and whatever the ultimate outcome, it is valid. Some people come to abstain, while others moderate, and others still just outgrow the particular behavior.

    AA says no, no, no, this is how it was, this is what happened, and this is what it is like now. No variation, no examination, just a generic, cookie-cutter mold into which all who remain in AA must conform their stories to fit. God, this wonderful program, one day at a time, forever. If you don’t believe it, fake it till you make it and keep coming back. If the cognitive dissonance and other unresolved problems take you out, you haven’t hit bottom yet, and haven’t really tried to work the program. More meetings, more service work, more step work, more prayers, and more getting out of self are the only thing left to do.

  • The worst thing about having a loving other inveighled into al-anon is that the very worst thing that you can do, as an exit strategy, (once you have spent 5 minutes figuring out that you are in the company of a bizarre cult) from the cult of AA, is to stop drinking. This does the very worst thing… it proves that AA has cured you and that you not only need to continue to going to meetings for the rest of your life but that you have to repay your debt to AA by spending the rest of your life recruiting vulnerable people, and, ‘working a program’. Which would involve a lifetime as an accessory to murder. This is why I think that al-anon is worse than the mothership.

  • Drinking proves that you need to spend a lifetime in the cult, around podpeople who rejoice in suicides and recruiting vulnerable people. Not drinking has exactly the same result.

  • Once they are in, they are in, and they are lovebombed beyond any human enquiry for anything outside the cult, which holds all (ALL) the answers to the whole of life. The only way to go from there is to get them clear of meetings for at least 12 months and then try to ask them to read the orange papers and st. Which provokes the reaction of a crucifix to a vampire.

  • (vampire to a crucifix, that should have read)

  • disclosure

    “How did you find yourself in AA?”
    I had been sent to a hospital that used AA by an employer and stopped drinking for a year in the 80’s. In that year I experienced tremendous personal success.

    “Why did you stay?”
    I returned and stayed in the 90’s because I credited all my success to the religiosity of the AA program. I knew that AA was the only way to have this success again because it was what I was told. This is what prompted the nickname Disclosure; I believe that AA World Service is duty bound to make available to anyone a list of alternatives and disclosures to and about AA for the safety of the community and those who chose to attend. If AA is truly attraction rather than promotion it needs to abandon its monopoly and freely share alternatives.

    I now believe that AA is a valid alternative in that it offers convenient McDonalds style abstinence social support.
    Today I go to AA occasionally for social reasons, the less indoctrinated I am the better the result and the higher the level of my contribution to other members. As for abstinence and harm reduction I am using the HAMS program and rely on the cost benefit analysis as well as this blog. The occasional meeting seems to help serve as a reminder of the importance of my caution and diligence. This blog is useful as an information exchange and support group in its own rite. Put it all together and I have sustainable abstinence.

    Hope this helps.

  • Having a 12-step true believer as a significant other totally eliminates the possibility of ever leaving the movement while maintaining that relationship. Although I was briefly involved with a couple members early on in my membership, it quickly became clear that I was going to have to keep my personal life and my AA involvement completely separate. My wife and I were together for the last fourteen years of my AA participation, yet she attended perhaps four meetings with me, all of them when I was the featured speaker. We did not do AA events together, nor did I bring my AA associates around her. No one from the asylum was ever going to inject themselves into my personal life. Even at that, their attempts to do so became the final straw leading to my resignation from and repudiation of all things steppish.

  • Thank you, Mike. Thank you. That is why I am here.

  • AnnaZed

    Kind of tangential to the topic but a friend of mine’s mother really liked AlAnon. She didn’t stay for long but she picked up this mantra: You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. and pretty much decided to live by that alone.

    She had four sons who were all Olympic medalists in alcohol abuse with multiple DUIs, lost jobs, divorces, miserable kids, enraged ex-wives and a tendency to come home to live for long unemployed stretches of time well into their thirties. All four men were also incredibly passive and shy to the point of marked social dysfunction; pretty much the exact opposite of Wilson’s definition of the selfish manipulative alcoholic. This is all four brothers ~ painfully shy, cautious, generous, kind, thoughtful and obviously depressed. All four cycled in and out of AA for years, probably still are.

    This was also a family with really apparent and extreme dysfunction. the parents weren’t alcohol abusers the mother was just a nasty emotional abuser who belittled and humiliated her husband and her sons constantly. I used to think … you didn’t cause it …. humm … really?

  • AZ, couldn’t agree more. What if ‘they’ (not that they all did) bloody cause it. The great ‘it’. Abuser’s paradise. (That is my take on AZ, not her interpretation).

  • I thought I left AA, but just like Micheal Corleone in the 1990 movie “The Godfather: Part III” I fell like,”Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” AA members are pesky little psychological leeches that remind me of Jack Byrnes ( played by Robert De Niro) in the 2004 movie “Meet the Fockers” where they invade every part of your life in a “circle of trust” that they will use against you at any minute.

    I have found that the only way to get away from the AA virus of over zealous Sponsors that Bill Wilson has unleashed upon the world is complete abstinence of 12 Step chanting and an immediate quarantine from its members.

  • disclosure

    Yes but …
    How did you find yourself in AA? Why did you stay? (when you were there)
    This is the question the thread asks.
    We all know AA sucks now.

  • disclosure

    AA is like junk food for me. Occasionally I’ll have some but generally feel bad the next day and have trouble sleeping.

  • AnnaZed

    @disclosure ~ and it adds a few pounds.

    [WTF is the deal with AA and the massive amounts of sugar? That I ate those cakes makes me gag. I had not put a fork-full of grocery store cake into my mouth ever until I went to AA; once in AA I ate the disgusting things about twice a week, ick!]

  • WatchSurvivingStraightInc

    Having a 12-step true believer as a significant other totally eliminates the possibility of ever leaving the movement while maintaining that relationship

    That sentence was the reason for my thanks, Mike.

  • disclosure

    I too packed the pounds on. I refuse to touch any AA prepared food now. I do not crave the spit cake or finger cookies. Those aluminum coffee pots that sit incubating fungus all week waiting for the meeting are NASTY. I worry less about the imaginary disease and guard more against the biological one now.

  • Exactly, on the al-anon (and nar-anon) point, which is why I think these idiots are so dangerous, because most DON’T do more than “look into this issue”, get the talking points from these clowns with complete faith that they’re infallibly correct.

    Anna, absolutely. al/nar anon provides the perfect refuge for the control freaks out there and arms them with perfect weapons of manipulation.

    Mike, there is never in my life something more offensive to me personally as having my motives misconstrued so blatantly. Probably my reason for despising this system to this day. And it is a system, as posts here so regularly provide evidence for. I refuse to give them credit for anything I personally have done, or in the case of remission, it’s rather sudden appearance in my life. Did Bill W. Help me “get over” my first boyfriend as well? No. I just got over it. This was no different.

    To answer the question more directly, I feel that I was really rather forced by medical professionals into all of this. Honestly though, I feel like I had an almost spontaneous remission from the chronic pain issues I’d had for so long if only because I hated even more by then any implication that I had “something wrong” with me. If this many people in the world truly had these horrible mental issues it would do much more than stop the trains from running on time. It also does a HORRIBLE disservice to people who DO have horrible mental illnesses or even more severe issues in depression, trauma, etc.

  • Great video, Mike – congrats partner.

    I found myself in my first 12 Step meeting via Alanon despite being only 15. Then an AA meeting at 19 via rehab.

    From my website:

    “The treatment centres I went into adopt what is called the Minnesota model of recovery which combines the 12 steps with conventional therapy. Attendance at meetings is mandatory as is an acceptance of the 12 steps as the only form of recovery available to addicts. On top of meetings patients are required to attend workshops, all meals, one to one and group therapy sessions. I remember the head of the ATD telling us (the addicts and alcoholics) that we were not to eat with the other patients in the hospital, and any contact with them should be minimal. Patients rarely question the goings on. No one ends up in treatment on a winning streak, and we arrive there with some hope for the first time in a long while, and for many of us that hope is all we have. We go there in the belief we will be helped to sort out our problems, and most of us are desperate to do just that. We assume we are in the hands of experts in the field of the solution to our problem, the treatment of addiction. For all these reasons coupled with the fact we want to get well, we trust these experts. When we walk through the doors we are effectively saying I cannot manage, can you show me how? It did not occur to me to question anything, or anyone. Acceptance of AA came very easily to me. I am not sure acceptance is the right word. Let me explain. When I arrived in treatment, and thus the rooms of AA, everyone in my life was angry with me and I felt very alone and very isolated. I soon realised these people would give me the one thing I craved which of course was acceptance from people but at a cost. In order to be accepted by them I had to accept ‘the program.’ My addiction had forced me into the role of people pleaser. In other words I would do almost anything to be liked by anyone. I started saying things I did not even believe, and quoting passages from AA literature and preaching to the other people in treatment. I wanted approval from the only authority in my life at that time, the counsellors. It is important to note the majority of these were members of 12 step fellowships.”

    B l A m E

  • Betty

    I found myself in AA because I was at the end of the line with my drinking. Last stop on the train. I realized that I only had 2 choices: stop drinking in order to save myself (health, mind, future) or continue drinking and lose my family, my job, my self respect and probably my life. After spending a few days detoxing at a horrible little facility, the good people there sent me on my way with a “good luck” and a freshly printed list of AA meetings in my area as well the advice to do ’90 in 90.’ So began the journey. I got myself a sponser and met lots of people who apparently loved me and wanted to be my friend. It was quite overwhelming and I didn’t really believe it or trust it even then. I didn’t quite make it to 90 before I decided (my choice) to drink a little bit. Then a lot. Still going to AA meetings all the while. I don’t know exactly what happened on the night I last drank…I just knew that I was done. I had finally had enough. I couldn’t do it anymore and for the first time ever, I wanted to stop for good and for true-not to appease anyone. So I started the whole ’90 in 90′ again. I dumped my sponser (a lovely, harmless, well meaning woman) and took up with some pretty hard core stepper back2basics types. I worked the steps like crazy and didn’t drink again. At first I truly believed it was this “work” that was keeping me from drinking…now I do believe that it was just something to keep me busy and focused while I was not drinking for the first time. I found comfort in being around people who seemed to understand me and liked me no matter how much I once drank or how dishelved and messy my life had become because of it. It was like I was home with these people. Almost immediately, I despised the meetings, the shares, the speakers, the slogans, the prayer, the old timers, the hierarchy (unofficial of course), the BB and on and on and on. But boy oh boy did I love those steps and those new friends.
    After a while, I started having more and more doubts and started cringing more and more at what I heard and saw. I couldn’t listen to anymore utter nonsense, lies, and ugliness. The steps stopped making sense. It all ceased to make sense. It was if I woke up and realized I had been had. Worse than that, that if I stuck around any longer that it was inevitable that I would find myself ‘helping’ more and more newcomers work the steps and would have to live with the reality that I was doing them no service and may end up causing them harm. There was just no way to right that in my mind. I do hope to find a way to help anyone who might find their way to me…just not within the framework of AA.

    Wow…I think I went on a bit. Sorry.
    I went because of fear and because I didn’t know there was any other way. I stayed for the same reasons. I left when I found out that there are options, that I am capable of not drinking without AA and when I realized that remaining there was really, really bad for me in so many ways.

  • Betty

    Mikeblamedenial and BiAme-
    Thank you for the video(s)….I have fantasies about somehow rigging it so they could play on a huge screen at a few of my least favorite overcrowded speaker meetings. That would be worth going to a meeting for.

  • etp

    Great video Mike thanks. I found myself at AA after an outpatient treatment program suggested I go. The counselor I had gave me the phone number of a woman to call who had 3 years sobriety to be my sponsor. I was 25 years old and living in Florida far away from my home in Mass. I just did what she told me and ended up in AA. I always hated it but it was the first time since I was a kid that I met friends who did not drink. I was able to stay sober and did things like play softball, go to AA dances and even went on a trip to an AA agape weekend retreat. All while hating AA but liking living life without drinking and the problems that my drinking caused me. I didn’t stay in AA. As soon as I found a way out of Florida via a decent job and into a relationship I left AA but I still did not have the resources within me to handle life’s challenges and I drank. I put myself into an inpatient treatment at age 27 and again was told to go to AA and this time I thought about getting a sponsor and doing the steps. That turned into a nightmare and this turned me off to the whole sponsor thing. I continued to go to meetings and have AA friends but still hated AA. I could go on and on but the truth is I stayed because I was told that that’s where I belonged and that’s what was keeping me sober. What got me to the point of leaving AA was the falseness of the whole thing. How it just felt like a giant game of “I love AA and it saved my life”. What I always thought I would find in AA was people who had their shit together, who I could turn to in a time of need and supply me with solid advice. I never found that. Instead I found very wounded people looking for someone to control or someone to fix them.
    I also overate in AA from the cakes and the cookies plus the AA parties were loaded with sweets. I also turned into a major people pleaser and a fake as a defense mechanism to the hoards of horrid advice I would get whenever I had a problem. I stopped having problems when I either went to AA or spent time with AA friends. Bottom line is after a while I could see the damage AA was doing to me and how I was changing to fit in to that crazy world. I agree that I lost my identity when I drank but I also feel that I lost my identity when I was involved with AA.

  • Sally

    I stayed because they brainwashed me.

    I was scared, had low self-esteem, and I was already lacking in confidence before I got there.

    When I started going they scared me even more, lowered my self esteem to an all-time low, and pushed my self confidence to 0….. Members told me I’d use/relapse withought the program. Some told me personally, other times it was talked about as “WE” and “US” in meetings. They told me that I only thought of myself. They told me MY thinking was wrong/bad…

    The literature backed them up. And the professinals that I was in contact with backed both up.

    It was all the opposite that I needed.

  • Thanks to all who liked the video and to those who added their own versions of spontaneous remission experiences to the blog.

  • Not at all, Mike; it is nice to see such a heartfelt and genuine response to one of your videos. I know how much effort you put into them, and in particular this one. It is you we should be thanking.


  • causeandeffect

    B l A m E said “No one ends up in treatment on a winning streak, and we arrive there with some hope for the first time in a long while, and for many of us that hope is all we have. We go there in the belief we will be helped to sort out our problems, and most of us are desperate to do just that. We assume we are in the hands of experts in the field of the solution to our problem, the treatment of addiction.”

    I was in really, really bad shape when I decided to go to detox. I really hadn’t given much thought about quitting, but that morning was really awful. Once I’d set the ball in motion, I had this huge wave of relief that I was finally doing something about it. Until I encountered the bitch nurse that was doing the intake paperwork. I tried to explain to her about a health condition that had preceded my drinking by over 10 years. She didn’t buy it stating that it was caused by my drinking, nothing else. Then that bitch nurse, sneered at me with complete, utter contempt and said “You just want us to get you healthy enough so you can go back out and drink some more.” It was like a balloon busted. I literally had a spontaneous relapse, right then and there. I would do anything to just get out, get back home and drink some more. I shouldn’t have stayed, it was a total waste of money. I don’t normally blame my behavior on someone else, but I was so weak in every imaginable way at that point. I sincerely believe I could have made it had I not encountered her. A week later, when I got out, I was shaking very hard with anticipation of drinking what I had left in the house.

    In two months, I was back in detox although I wasn’t in as bad shape. Due to having family members who loved the program, I was anticipating a really positive experience in AA– as one of your other videos says “Admiration prior to investigation.” I found AA really strange at first but thought that it was something I would eventually understand. But after a month, I kept hearing people sharing about relapse, relapse, relapse. I was having cravings and urges and they were just getting all the stronger for going to meetings. The word relapse was echoing through my head, and I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I had a 3 day relapse, but didn’t drink nearly as much as I had been. Funny thing was, those relapses were really the first thing to clue me in that what was being said at meetings wasn’t true. According to them I was supposed to have gotten out a jack hammer and dug a lower rock bottom, but each time I resumed drinking, my bottom got higher.

    I really tried to love the program as my family members did. But I kept wondering how all this negativity could possibly be keeping anyone from drinking. Seemed to me it would cause more drinking. I tried hard to find myself in the negative stereotype and in doing so I undid all of the hard work I had ever done to heal from my abusive childhood and to establish self esteem. Then I found the Orange Papers, and I finally had to warm up to the idea that my family was wrong. So there you have it., a spontaneous remission followed by a spontaneous relapse, followed by an AA induced struggle to stay sober.

  • WatchSurvivingStraightInc

    Al-anon Meeting Programme
    2nd: Giving
    9th: Blame
    16th: Priorities
    23rd: Slips in Al-Anon (wtf)
    30th: Motives

    (rest of the 6 months meetings by title for each meeting by title alone)

    Fear, 1st Step/newcomers/ Analysing/ Gossip/ Communication/ Martydom/ Sobriety/ Sponsorship (Sue)/ Belonging/ Doubt/ The traditions/ Advice/ Judgement/ Relaxing/ Criticism/ Attitude/ Comparing/ Guilt/ Serenity Prayer/ Relationships (and or Hope/Joy) / Reflection

    @hs: you missed all of this, what with your self will and whatnot.

  • Elisa

    yes, Cause, it’s medical malpractice to ignore your health conditions. Even worse, to accuse someone of making one up for the sole purpose of getting medication. Maybe that’s what THEY do. Disgusting. Evil. Somebody needs to sue these people for practicing medicine without a license. What kind of crack are these people on, anyway?

  • Sally

    Good point c&e,

    I “went back out once”, well more than once, but I remember it mostly wasn’t so baaaaaaaad. Like omd 😉 -gonna die! Make room in that gutter! Nah. Not even close. 3 days once, minimal – moderate using. Then picked myself up (stress – myself), and was clean for a while again. Another time, friend passed away from an od (rip Berta). I used the day I found out, clean the next, and one more time day of the funeral. Very moderate To me it was my “normalcy”, obviously a way to cope an no one knew. That I am sure of. My point? Oh yeah 🙂 my point was that no, it doesn’t mean your doomed. Is it a concern? Yeah, sure. But overplaying it into a likely disasterous event is —- dishonest..

  • Oh, don’t get me started on the “bitch nurse” category. About a month ago, I actually called each place I’d encountered that phenomenon and asked (then wrote to ask formally) for apologies. A few places actually did apologize, but expressed that those “employees were not representative of their organization(s)” as a whole. Oh please. I was cold turkeyed off of suboxone in hospital after one of these nurses talked my family into this BS. 11 days. When I was released I had no idea that a hurricane had just destroyed New Orleans. Worst week of my life, to say the least. (I’d just moved cities and couldn’t find a doc in time to prescribe suboxone here)

    Malpractice, Elise? I agree. Find me a firm who’ll take that case and I’ll hire them in two seconds flat. No one in the medical industry should be able to do that crap to someone.

    BlAmE– absolutely. No one ends up in treatment on a winning streak at all, in many cases it’s a force someone into withdrawals streak in which they won’t even allow cigarettes or television to people who cannot drag themselves to the endless stepping sessions. If that doesn’t break people down, I don’t know what does. (Sorry I sounded a bit pissed off there, but I do feel strongly that none of these people should be able to retain their licenses and my fight of many years now to get them stripped sometimes gets me a bit down!)

  • Z

    I got assigned to Alanon for no really good reason, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
    That was a bad idea.

    I think that for many people, what they give up to go to Things Steppish is healthier than what they meet in the rooms. Or even totally healthy.