Today I went to two meetings at the gay center. The first meeting wouldn’t let me in because I blogged about it last week (“Addiction Fiction”). Well now you tell me — I didn’t know you weren’t allowed to do that (I didn’t mention any specifics, including even first names). So instead I handed out my flyers, which were met mostly with anger and contempt. But some curiosity, which is greatly appreciated. One guy spoke to me and asked why I was doing this. I said because of the War on Drugs. He said I should do something more useful with my life. They don’t understand why I could be so cruel to people who are just looking for help. But look at the big picture: these people are fighting a fictional disease. I’m all for group therapy, but people are spending years of their life in an unnecessary struggle. Plus, they get to blame their faults and relapse on their ‘disease’. In terms of relapse rate, AA is not significantly better than no treatment at all. Why? Because there is nothing to treat.
The second meeting I went to is one of my favorites. It’s a friendly, varied, intelligent group. First, we read from the chapter “To Wives”. This is the chapter where they tell the wife that her husband has a disease and she should love and support him no matter what, even though he neglects the kids and spends all the money on booze, goes out carousing, etc etc.
Then we go around the room, each person shares 2 minutes. When it’s my turn, I announce that I am not alcoholic and ask permission to share, which is of course granted. Some people had mentioned weddings, so I said I regretted drinking too much at weddings, which is totally true. I regret it. I did it to feel more comfortable, though I don’t think it made the situation any better for me. I didn’t know what to say next so I thanked everyone for being inclusive to me, and ended my share.
One man shared about alcoholism in his family. Recently at a family gathering, his nephew asked dad not to drink. Dad said something like, “I’ll do what I want,” and then pops the beer bottle open in front of the boy. I think this is one of the dangers of the Big Book. Are you supposed to love and stand by this man as he suffers in his disease, or are you supposed to pop him in the face? That would be a hard one for me. Fortunately I’ve never been in that situation — no alcoholism or addiction in my family. I wish I had brought up this little conundrum in my share, but I didn’t think of it.
It is clear to me that I am no different from anyone else in the room. We all have the same problems. However they take solace in calling themselves alcoholics. And yet, they have spent years, in some cases, fighting a fictional disease. It’s good they are now moving on with their lives, and growing up, but so much time wasted. Plus, sad to say, not all have complete sobriety in their future. Some will relapse, and of course overdo it in prime alcoholic fashion. I like to think that by sharing my story they can see a different point of view, and that perhaps they are not so different from ‘normies’. If they are going to drink, at least moderation is possible — not to mention feeling a little shame and regret.
I recognize that I have been at various times addicted to work and dating. Certainly, more benign than drugs, but not really that different in principle. It’s all about filling the void.