The Facebook Resentment

Ann G. Kroger Celebrate Pride If I want to go trolling for a resentment, I spend some time on Facebook. Acquaintances, old high school friends, people I met that time at that place and then never spoke to again, people I assumed were of sound mind when I sent/ accepted the “friend request” will eventually post something that makes me sit up a little straighter, cock my head to one side, and query to myself, “Really?” I think this is where not talking about outside matters in meetings really hinders my ability to discern the average AA crazy from the absolutely-out-of-their- f-ing-gourd crazy.

But I digress. I was mildly minding my own business, voyeuristically peeking in on other people’s worlds last week on Facebook, when I saw a friend had posted a comment about another anonymous person. The diatribe, and a diatribe it was, was about how the anonymous guy had cried while oversharing in a meeting thus making my friend uncomfortable. He posted that one is always supposed to share in generalities in meetings, not specifics. Now, there were many parts of this comment that infuriated me (besides the fact that I totally believe in specific sharing, cause I need to how someone can lose a job, lose a man, get a promotion, get a man, and still not drink).

But what most irritated me was the judgement. By and large, we are a room of thieves, liars, cheaters, brawlers, users, abusers, instigators, runners, petty crooks, and substantial crooks. We done things that would make people cringe. Then we sober up a few years and suddenly, an overshare causes us to rise from the gutter and to declare our stance regarding AA sharing etiquette. I mean really, who was this guy, a person in recovery, to judge another person in recovery? Patience and tolerance is our f-ing code or did he miss that part?! Harrumph with an arm crossed, foot stamp!

And then a new thought occurred to me, a second thought, elusive at first but coming into ever sharper focus. I sat back. I don’t like the comment of a person in recovery as he commented about the share of another person in recovery? Wait a minute… yes, no, yes, wait… I, a person in recovery, is judging the share of another person in recovery as he judges the share of another person in recovery.

And then I had one of those moments of quiet.

 

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Next week is the AA International Convention in Atlanta. I’ll be there. If you are going, give a shout out.

Will Write for Food

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Three Life Lessons I Learned from my Dogs

Self PortraitAnyone who knows me knows that I love my dogs. I got my first puppy, Dionysus, when I had about 2½ years sober. I had moved into a little efficiency apartment in the Heights area of Houston. I was struggling with loneliness and isolation after sober living. One day, a friend in the program posted on Facebook that his dog had a litter. He lived close by, and impulsively I thought, “Well, I’ll just drive by and look.” When I picked up the first puppy, she wriggled and squirmed. The second, a shockingly tiny thing with big, fluffy ears promptly fell asleep in my arms. I fell in love instantly. I took her home that day and never looked back.

So today, I bring you: Three Life Lessons I Learned from my Dogs.

1. Forgiveness: It is embarrassing to say, but I seemingly made it to adulthood with fully grasping the concept of unconditional love and forgiveness. I just didn’t get it. Instead, I judged people. I held them to impossible standards. When they inevitably let me down, I walked away. I rationalized my behavior in the spirit of self-preservation, without ever understanding the chaos and hurt I left in my wake.

I still had not learned this lesson when I got Dio. I stayed home for the first couple of days I had her, but eventually I had to return to work. I was a waiter, so my shifts were relatively short, and yet, almost every day, I would come home to some sort of puppy induced damage. She chewed through my cable wires, speaker wires, multiple pairs of shoes, my couch cushions, and my linoleum floor. One day she even ate the side of my door. I tried to protect my belongings. I bought her chew toys and bones to no avail. Every single day, as I assessed the new and totally incomprehensible form of destruction, I would become angry. “Dang it, Dio!” I’d say as I stomped my foot. Dio would sense my frustration and momentarily hang her head. And then, much to my surprise, I would instantly forgive her. She, in turn, would instantly forgive me. One day, I realized that there was nothing Dio could ever do that would cause me to stop loving her. She taught me how to love unconditionally.

2. Acceptance: My little apartment had floor to ceiling windows in the front of the apartment. It was one of the original reasons I got the apartment. But at the time, I had not envisioned owning a puppy. Now, had the windows been a normal height, my tiny Dachshund would never have been able to bark at the mailman, the neighbor’s cat, my landlord, bicyclists, walkers, or the kids who lived across the street

The barking was frustrating; I won’t lie. It tended to happen the most just as I was lying down for a nap, and as much as I went “Dio! Shush!” she did not listen to me. Do you know why? Because she is a dog. And dogs bark at things. It is in their nature to do so. So, on some level I had to let Dio be Dio, an insanely protective, vicious, barking attack puppy.

Alcoholics are like that too. We have a shared bond of insecurity and fear, bad judgment and self-centeredness. These shared characteristics are what make us relate so well to each other, and yet, when I see them in you, it drives me crazy. Just sit through a whole meeting for once, dang it! No crosstalk. You can go an hour without smoking. Stop smacking your gum. No need to curse. Eventually, though, I learned that my taking your inventory is not going to do me or you any good. Regardless of how much I wish you would, you will not listen to me. Most often, the life lessons we learn are a direct result of our own personal experience, not things told to us by other insanely controlling people. I learned to let addicts be addicts too.

3. Responsibility: Every family sitcom over the span of television has had the episode where Little Johnny brings home a dog. He wants to keep it. The parents have the inevitable conversation about how owning a dog will teach Little Johnny responsibility.

Dogs require a tremendous about of time and money. Before we go any further, let me tell you that I am not coming at this one from a place of moral superiority. My love for my puppies is equally matched by my procrastination. Even as I type this, I know I am a month overdue for their vet appointment.

There is something about a dog, though, that will eventually warm the heart of even the most cold-hearted, miserly, and selfish addict. Anyone who has a problem sharing their resources should get a pet that requires much from them. Having dogs has taught me that my time and money do not always belong to me. I have cute, lovable, little furry beings that are totally reliant on me for food, health, and safety.

I remember the old Sandra Bullock movie, 28 Days, when they tell her to get a plant. If she could make it a year without the plant dying, she could get a dog. If the dog made it a year without dying, then she could get a relationship. The movie is terrible, but the sentiment is good.

Learning to be a contributing member of society requires one to give of themselves. Sometimes this is difficult. Other people’s character defects can grind on us. Our own behaviors can push people away. But a dog’s loyalty rings true. My sobriety today has been improved by the forgiveness and character of my fierce, little puppies.

Akron, Ohio. 1935.

Bill and Bob's First MeetingsIt’s 1935. A man stands in the wood paneled, dimly lit hallway of an Akron hotel. The man stands there, with his hand in his pockets. The jingling of the coins against one another reminds him of his hotel bill. He does not know how he is going to pay it. He’s busted. The business he had traveled to Ohio to conduct has fallen through. One more hope; one more disappointment.

His wife, back home in New York, has been hoping that this newest opportunity would come to something, anything. In the last years, she has been working at a department store. The hours are long, and the work is hard. He has let her down again.

But she doesn’t know yet. Alone, depressed, hopeless, full of self-pity, he hears the sound of the barroom. The man looks down the hallway. From the far end, a golden light emanates from the doorway. From it he can hear the tinkling of glassware and the slightly too boisterous laughter that stems from such places.

This man has been sober for six months, but now old thoughts turned anew begin to crowd his head. They are the thoughts that after six months, maybe he could take a couple of drinks. They are the thoughts of being a foreign city and that no one knows he is an alcoholic. And maybe just maybe, he could compose himself like a gentleman. All he needs is a few moments to forget his worries, take on a new persona, and talk to a stranger as if they were long lost war buddies. Yes, a few moments is all he needs to feel normal and carefree again.

But the man does not follow his desire. He turns away, and walks slowly in the other direction towards the telephone booth. Maybe he will call his wife. And there, next to the booth, hangs a glass case with the obligatory phone numbers that one always sees but never calls. Listed are the police department and hospitals and clergy. Calmly, the man picks up the phone and began dialing one of the clergymen at random.

I sometimes wonder what it must have felt like to be the only person in AA.

No book. No meeting. No coffeepot.

Just one man.

In a hallway.

I question the fragility of life when so much rests on one man deciding whether to turn right or turn left.

One decision. One turn.

And I wonder of all the other people in recovery who turned the wrong way. I wonder what might have happened if they had turned the other way.

Seventh Tradition: Part Deux

Hobo CurrencyI am getting married next winter. With this marriage comes this feeling of quiet exhaling, of a tremendous weight off my shoulders as I no longer have to traverse this scary world alone. Now, finally, there is someone who can help shoulder my burdens and my dreams. He can support me.

At least, that is what I tell myself. But that is not the whole truth. The reality is what I want, what I truly want, is to lay it all on him: our wedding, my going to graduate school, my aspirations of becoming a writer. Everything. All of it. I want to say, “Make this happen for me, please. Buy me a house and pay for my school. I love you. Kisses.” And with a wave of my hand, as with a fairy Godmother, I send my love out into the world to do for me what I should be doing for myself.

If you had asked me at any previous time in my life if I thought it was the husband’s obligation to financially support his wife, I would have adamantly said, “No.” I would have continued on to say that marriage is a partnership and that both people need to contribute to its success, financial or otherwise. And then, for good measure, I would probably bring out some statistic about the benefits of Sweden’s liberal paternity leave laws.

But the truth is, the thing I did not know about myself, is that another contrary answer secretly laid dormant in my soul. It’s the societal message that I possess, a desire for my man to be the bread earner and the bacon bringer homer. I’m additionally learning that my Cold War Era ideology plays directly into my alcoholism, my need to be coddled. I am ashamed to admit it, but I did not know. With eight years of sobriety I am still learning about myself. And in fact the only way I know it at all is because when I stomp my foot and demand like Veruca Salt, it does not sound like this… “I want to earn the money to buy us a house!”

It is here, at this point, a few weeks ago that I started pondering the seventh tradition. “Self-supporting alcoholics? Who ever heard of such a thing? … Everyone knows that active alcoholics scream that they have no troubles money can’t cure. Always, we’ve had our hand out. Time out of mind we’ve been dependent upon somebody, usually money-wise,” (Twelve and Twelve 160).

When I read it, I started laughing. How true it was! My whole life I have been financially dependent on others even as I claimed independence. I’ve never been fiscally responsible a day in my life. And if I cannot afford a house or graduate school, then I have no one to blame but myself. My dreams and aspirations should not be the financial obligation of anyone else, not even my soon-to-be husband, because it is not good for me. Additionally, I don’t want the easier gift of dreams attained under character defects, without having to work for them. That’s not who I want to be.

Much of my life in sobriety has been learning to “differentiate the true from the false,” the person I  am versus the person I have told myself I am (Big Book xxviii). Then, armed with that knowledge, deciding who I wish to become.

Who I want to be is strong and assured and self-supporting.

So, one by one, I take my dreams and my burdens back from my love, and carry them myself, to build them or do with them as I please. And then, maybe, without his having to work to fulfill my dreams, maybe he can fulfill his own.

 

 

The AA Cliché: It Works if You Work It

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote of walking down the sidewalk, thinking for myself, “Just for today.” It started me down that path of thinking about the other clichés we often find on the walls of the meetings. Anyone who has studied rhetoric for more than a couple of days can tell you that the purpose of the cliché is to wheedle its way inside the brain. Successful clichés are unforgettable, if annoying. “All’s fair in love and war,” and “The early bird gets the worm.”

AA has its own clichés, irritating on even a good day. They appear to be everywhere. “Live and let live,” “One day at a time,” and the passive-aggressive, “Keep coming back.”5 Minutes After the Miracle

I have no balance in my life today. I’ve been working too hard. I think, I am not going to drink tonight, so I afford myself another opportunity to work rather than go to a meeting. Consequently, I know my spiritual condition has taken a hit. I can’t help but sit here and be reminded, “Whatever I place first before my recovery is sure to be the first thing I lose.”

I know other clichés too. I know that “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us” (Twelve and Twelve 90). And I know, “We need not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not for perfection.” And I know “Faith without works is dead” (Big Book 76).

Every once and a while, I have found myself lost in thought, looking at the cliché’s on the wall. In the past, I’ve discounted them as little more than what passes for decoration in AA, but as I sit here in the moment, I have grown in appreciation over the humble cliché and its pithy outlook on recovery. So, today, I’m gonna add the cliché to the “Spiritual toolbox laid at my feet.”

As for the rest, “I’m all right, all ready,” because “Any day I go to bed sober is a good day.” And tomorrow, I’ll “Clean house, trust God and help others.” Afterall, “It works if you work it.”

 

What’s your favorite Cliche? Post here anonymously, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AnnGKroger, or on Twitter @AnnKroger.

 

Will Write for Food

As always, please consider contributing to my writing fund. Even a couple of dollars will make an enormous difference. Thank you.

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I am Responsible

A little before Christmas, I wrote a post, Only God and Santa can Create AA Miracles, about a young outdoorsman who would occasion visit my homegroup. I wrote about the outdoorsman in that way that while I felt his homelessness was tragic, that is was just a matter of time before his miracle was to happen too. I can read the goodwill in my own words, that feeling of sentimentality that only comes in the night during winter.

Sometimes, though, those miracles do not come. Last week, the young outdoorsman’s body was found in a local park.

I think his death has had a serious impact on our little corner of the recovery world. I know his death has profoundly impacted me. I keep trying to think of what we could have said, what we could have done that might have averted this tragedy. I want to reach out to his family and hug them and reassure them and tell them I don’t think there was anything we could have done. And yet, in my heart I know I’m wrong. There is always more we could do.

I wrote my post in December. Now it is May, and I regret it. I regret suggesting that only God and Santa can create AA miracles because that is not good enough. It removes the responsible of the program off my shoulders and on to something/someone else. And that is not what we are taught.For That I am Responsible.

What we are taught is: I am Responsible.  When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there.  And for that:  I am responsible.

AA.org goes on to quote Bill W. “‘The first concern of AA members should be with problem drinkers the movement is still unable to reach,’ Bill said. He estimated that there are 20 million alcoholics in the world today, five million in the U.S. alone. ‘Some cannot be reached because they are not hurt enough, others because they are hurt too much,’ he declared. ‘Many sufferers have mental and emotional complications that seem to foreclose their chances. Yet it would be conservative to estimate that at any particular time there are four million alcoholics in the world who are able, ready and willing to get well if only they knew how. When we remember that in the 30 years of AA’s existence we have reached less than ten per cent of those who might have been willing to approach us, we begin to get an idea of the immensity of our task and of the responsibilities with which we will always be confronted.'”

There are only two sober high schools (Archway and Three Oaks) in all of Houston. The rate of addiction, especially in the youngest members of our society, is disastrous. Their brains are not fully developed enough to make the logical and sound choices that they might have otherwise. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Nine percent of 8th graders, 23.5 percent of 10th graders, and 37.4 percent of 12th graders reported past-month use of alcohol… 19.4 percent reported binge drinking.” Although these numbers are lower than in previous years, they still warrant serious attention considering the US department of Health and Human services in their article, “Alcohol: A Women’s Health Issue,” states “Young people who begin drinking before the age if 15 have a 40-percent higher risk for developing alcohol abuse or alcoholism some time in their lives than those who wait until age 21 to begin drinking.”

According to HISD in the 2014-2015 school year, there were 46,559 enrolled high school students (In just HISD, not counting Spring Branch, Katy, Spring, Cy Fair, et cetera). If 23.5 percent of these 46,559 (15 being the average age for a 9th-10 grader) drank in the last month, then reason would go to show that 10,941 currently enrolled HISD high schoolers are at a higher chance of developing alcohol abuse or addiction in their later years. 11,000 students. And we have 2 sober high schools.

Yes, there’s more than we can do. We can stop stigmatizing alcohol and drug addiction as a character flaw and instead embrace the years of scientific research that show addiction as a chemical imbalance. We can stop suggesting the the asking of help is somehow a weakness, or that social services is beneath us. We can slow the funding of the criminalization of this disease and instead move funding into rehabilitation, social services, and schools. Yes, there is always more that we can do

That young outdoorsman, we failed him. Now, what are we going to do about it?

Its my responsibility. It’s your responsibility too.

 

Please contact your local school board about funding for local sober high schools.

Cy Fair ISD: (281) 897-4000

HISD: (713) 556-6121

Katy ISD: 281-396-6000

Spring Branch ISD:713-464-1511

 

I would like people to know that there is a vigil on Sunday for the outdoorsman as well as a GOFUNDME to help defray the cost of his funeral. I struggle with the concept of anonymity in this case. Ultimately, with the help of my support group, I am going to err on nondisclosure. If you would like more information, please email me. Until then.

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single, Sober Step

AA Ironman I saw something incredible today. I saw a man, 53 years of age, studious and pensive in nature, run an Ironman Triathlon. A 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 55 mile bike ride, and culminating in a 13.1 mile run.

I was in a meeting last week. The topic was along the lines of, “AA is not a cure-all, but without AA very little else is possible.” For the past few days, I have been thinking about that topic. It seems an idea so simple, I find it hard to believe I haven’t heard it before.

I think we all grow up with dreams, with ideas of who we are and who we want to be. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, it all falls apart. Genetic determination mixed with anxiety and hurt leaving many of us in a comatose state unable to function. Then we find substances outside of ourselves and immediately, things start to look up. We can talk to people again and dance and sing and laugh. These substances worked so well in fact, that most of us then turned to stronger, more potent, quicker, cheaper, more readily available versions. Along the way, the things we originally desired start to disappear. Friends, jobs, cars, freedom, sanity, but they don’t go immediately, no. At first they go slowly, so slowly we don’t always see the signs, confusing dysfunction with bad luck. In the end, life gets catastrophic enough that even we can finally see the devastation. It is here that one of two things happen: we either sober up or else we don’t.

AA allowed me to put down the drink long enough to connect to a higher power. It showed me how to take an inventory of my behavior, assess my character defects, and choose an alternate existence. AA gave me friends to talk to and a place to go. But it didn’t cure everything. AA hasn’t made me rich or beautiful. AA hasn’t bought me a house or gotten me into graduate school. AA hasn’t won me the Pulitzer Prize or made my life into a Lifetime movie. And it definitely hasn’t made me able to compete in an Ironman.

But I could.

And that’s the thing. Without sobriety, nothing is possible. Without sobriety, I would be stuck in that continuing vortex of self pitying, self-delusioned obsession.

With AA, there is a chance. It has taken me eight years to begin to understand what the full potential of my life with AA can be. “There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship and so will you,” (152). So true.

The journey of a thousand miles or of 70.3 begins with a single, sober step.

Will Write for Food
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Just for Today

Fat Hobo** So I have decided to limit my posting to Sunday night/ Monday morning, instead of twice a week. Writing has followed the path of sobriety; so much awesomenesses have come out of this post that it hard to set aside time to post anymore. For those of you who like Lydia, I have been working on her storyline. I will start posting parts of her story or simply adding new chunks under her and Henry’s pages around the beginning of June. I’ll keep you updated.**

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I do not know what it is about me that is never once satisfied with the suggested serving size of anything. Two Advil. One glass of red wine. One piece of dark chocolate. Driving home last night, I was thinking about 4oz of protein. The size of a deck of cards. What is that? If I ordered a steak at a restaurant and they brought me a steak the size of a deck of cards, I wouldn’t know what to make of it.

Hence, my problem.

This week, I came to a bottom. A food bottom. I was gonna say, “a new bottom,” but I have reached this particular bottom before. So, it is not so much new as, “Ahoy, I didn’t see you lurking there,” kinda food bottom. Argh!

The thing that should not be surprising, and yet surprised me none-the-less, has been how this recent admission of surrender has brought forth all the same emotions as when I first got sober. Not to the same degree, I admit. I am not trying to stop a cycle of addiction while battling homelessness and unemployment. The physical destruction of my addiction is fairly minimal. But what I am feeling, the emotional part of the decision to address my food issues, feels very familiar.

Yesterday, I was walking down the sidewalk of my apartment complex. My stomach was growling, and just like that, a torrent of thoughts and justifications flooded my brain in a milli-second’s time. Maybe I could have just a little. I could start again tomorrow. It is awkward to think about how easily these thoughts came. And a little scary. It was a reminder of the alcoholic obsession I come from and how quickly I could return.

But as quickly as these thoughts came, other thoughts followed. “One day at a time, one minute at a time.” “All right already.” And the ever irritating, “Keep coming back.”

Y’know, then I walked into the rooms of AA, I never thought it would work. I thought the steps and spirituality and all of it was just too esoteric and not concrete enough to offer anything like a real solution. But it did work. Working the steps worked. And being around other addicts worked. Talking worked and service worked. And I know, when I live my life in the spiritual realm instead of the physical realm, that works too. It doesn’t matter if it is food or drugs or alcohol. I know when I apply the steps in my life, things are bound to get better. I just have to hang on long enough for the recovery to set in.

Today, I have the gift of second thought. AA has taught me that. I do not have to act on my first impulse. I can pause long enough to remember there is a solution. And just because I want to eat or drink, does not mean I have to. Just for today.

 

Will Write for Food

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Another Day, Another Dollar

Will Write for FoodEver since high school, from the moment I understood I had no one with whom I could confide in except the written page, I wanted to be a writer. Over time, I grew confident in my ability. I knew I had it within me. My problem was I also had burgeoning alcoholism in me too.

The disease of alcoholism is rich in complexity. It pulls us from under while supplying us with visions of glory. It destroys dreams while simultaneously building up the nothingness of accomplishment. It was in this fog that I practice my craft. I spent many years writing my nights away. All those pages, though, were nothing more than laments on my dissatisfaction with life, a young girl’s struggle for place. It never amounted to anything more than a binder full of drunken, self-pitying ramblings not worthy of reading.

Ironically, when I finally got sober, I found I could not write. The mere thought of writing made my mouth water. If I sat down at the keyboard, I found my hand involuntarily reaching for the tumbler of vodka that was not there. The sensation was so upsetting, I eventually turned off the computer for good and walked away. I thought that if a sacrifice of sobriety was that I could not write, then that was a price I was willing to pay. After all, neither the writing nor the drinking had ever amounted to anything of value.

It would be years before I wrote again.

Last year, I found I was still claustrophobic with fear. I had a dream, but I lacked the courage to follow that dream. I feared my writing was nothing more than alcohol induced delusions. I feared that even if I did write, no one would read it. I feared that if they did read it, people would not like it. I thought I would suffer backlash from my job, from my students, and yes, from AAs for breaking my anonymity.

What I learned was that my fears were largely unfounded. I learned that most people, maybe out of sheer respect for the human condition, are really quite kind to those who try. Negative criticism has been rare, while positive support has been vocal. Additionally, my AA community has really embraced my blog. One alcoholic friend recently told me that while her and my beliefs are on opposite side of the faith spectrum, my interpretation of the Big Book was worthy of being read. And then there was the day when one of my high school students came up to me after class and told me he found my blog. As my eyes filled with tears, he whispered, “You are helping people.”

And now, my yearlong experiment in myself is drawing to a close. For some time, I have been contemplating what my next steps should be. But in my heart, I know. I am ready to suffer the criticism of professionals. It is time to take a deep breath and send my stories out into the world.

So… it is with a trepidation that I have decided to pass the metaphorical hobo hat; I’ve decided to add a place to make donations to my blog via PayPal. I realize the potential non-existence that could easily occur as a result of asking alcoholics to part with their money, but I figured it is worth a shot. If I have learned nothing else, I have learned what can happen when I simply have the humility to ask. My hope is that with enough small donations, I will be support myself long enough to begin piecing Lydia into an actual collection of short stories or maybe even a novel.

If you have read my blog over the past year and liked it (or even if you didn’t like it, but you read it anyways) maybe you could consider tipping the author a dollar or two or ten. I would really appreciate it.

Thank you,

AGK

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P.S. Even if you don’t contribute, I hope you still will continue to read and comment. It makes me happy.

P.P.S. If you make a donation or twenty dollars or more and let me know through email (agkroger@gmail.com) or on Facebook, I’ll draw you in hobo form and mail it to you. (Or if you live in Houston and are one of the ones who clamor for it, I will make you a jar of my green salsa.)

AA’s Success Rate

AA Success RateI was having a conversation with a co-worker. He graduated last year with a degree in psychology and is currently making steps to return to school to get his doctoral degree. I went to him because I had a question regarding an article I was reading. The article labeled AA as a failure because it is undirected group therapy.

Here is what he replied: “AA just doesn’t work. It has like a 98 percent failure rate.”

So I asked… “Which AAs are included in the studies of failure? I mean, who’s counted? Court appointed, once a week meeting goers, does that qualify someone as AA? Or is it based on a people who already have a foothold in the program? Over what period of time was the study? Cause over the course of a lifetime, people who come and go, sometimes come back and stay.”

Now, I have to cut my co-worker some slack. He really is an intelligent and charming individual. He just doesn’t know what he is talking about. And here’s the thing; I don’t think most doctors or psychologists or normies do. The people who tend to know the most about our disease of alcoholism and addiction seem to be us, the ones who have it (or at least the ones who know they have it). Doctors and psychologists seem to have no more insight into alcoholism than they had eighty years ago.

So, here is my totally unprofessional opinion regarding recidivism. I started out in AA totally wasted with a zero chance of not drinking for the rest of the day. I mean every day I wanted not to drink, but every night I ended up drunk. By myself, I had zero chance. Then one day, a miracle happened, and I had just a smidgen more willpower or disgust or stubbornness or something than I had just a few moments before. I don’t know how long this miracle lasts. For some people, I suspect it only lasts a few minutes. So, in those few moments, I needed to do something.

I think if I started at 0% and went to a meeting, I go up to about 5%. I start praying or else tapping into some kind of faith that maybe, just maybe, I can be sober for the rest of the day. I help someone. I am at 20%. I read the Big Book. 25%. Changing people, places, and things adds a few more percentage points. Sober living gives me lot more percentage points. Now, I’m up to 50%. I get a boyfriend, and I fall back down to 40%. I get sober friends who themselves are dedicated to being sober, and then I tell them everything that makes me cry at night. Back up to 50%. I get a sponsor. And I work the steps. And then I work them again. And then I work them again. And now I am 8 years sober.

I told my sweetie about what my co-worker said about AA not working. My love said, “I don’t care what he says. AA has a 100% success rate for me. And that’s all I really care about.” And he’s right.

I went that night to chair my usual meeting. It’s a small group, intimate. I’ve been sitting in a that room with some of these people a couple days a week for years now. I know them. I know their weaknesses and failures, their successes and growth.

About halfway through the hour, I looked out upon the group and started counting up years. B has 30-some years. S has another 20. B and A have 5. C has 4. J is closing in on a year. And R has come back and now has 5 months. And over there, in the corner, my sweetie has eight years.

Psychologists all over the world can tell me AA doesn’t work. What I know, is in that moment, in that meeting at 10:30 on a Wednesday night, ten people who normally would have been drunk weren’t. And to me, that’s 100% success rate.