THE GAPING HOLE IN ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
ABOUT 12 STEP PROGRAMS
The only hole in the 12 steps of AA is the lack of empathy by the prerequisite that we are never victims. The rule (paraphrased see below for full quote) that when there is something bothering us it is always our fault (that we are disturbed) makes way for more shame, guilt, and self punishment. There is a horrific absence of a way to process abuse, neglect, and emotional trauma. Emotional hurts and pains are often written off by members as either self-pity or unfounded and selfish character defects. Furthermore insinuating that emotions are “wrong” says that I as a person am “wrong” because my feelings are a part of me and they emerge from my heart.
pg. 417 BB
“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes”
The notion that nothing happens in God’s world by accident, well that would mean we have no free-will and humans are nothing short of robots. We do not have to go to such extremes to make the point that God works in our lives. The reason people use extremes in conversation is they have spent a life-time not being heard and feel they must exaggerate to be heard at all. Understandable.
If there were another set of steps to address the wrongs done to us resulting in deep wounds, and emotional devastation the program would be more successful I believe. These deep emotional wounds have caused the addict much pain. Pain is the very reason that many of us drank and drugged. WE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO PROCESS EMOTIONAL HURTS RATHER THAN BEING ASHAMED OF OUR VULNERABILITIES AND HIDING THEM AWAY.
Trauma is not an outside issue. But rather it is THE Issue. Trauma and emotional disorder is the WHY behind the addiction.
Please don’t hear what I am not saying. 12 step programs are good and have helped millions including myself. There are some really twisted common belief systems running rampant in AA and NA .
One common dogma I have seen often is a kind of jealousy over the program. People will get angry and down right mean if you say that therapy or church or even rehab centers have helped to keep you sober.
We shouldn’t knock supplemental healing and recovery methods till we’ve tried them. If people have found “a cure” for addiction and are sharing it who are we to say it’s not successful? Many people find answers in places other than AA. The problem is some addicts who still suffer from low self-worth often attach their own identities to the program. These insecure addicts seem to think if there is another solution offered other than AA it is a direct reflection on them and not in a good way.
There is an unwritten rule if we don’t wear the identity of ‘sick addict’ or ‘alcoholic, addict’ then our egos will take flight and we will relapse straight away. If we don’t repeatedly identify ourselves as addicts we will then believe we can drink and drug successfully. Really, AA and NA are programs designed by addicts, there are bound to be some flaws. But now advertisements on TV and online are claiming there is a cure. So the dry drunk AA-er feels put-down by the prospect of a true cure. The dogma of AA teaches us that the minute we feel cured and no longer need meetings we are sicker than ever. When really the actual danger lies in the belief that we can drink like normal people. But alcoholics have an allergy to alcohol that will not disappear except by some rare miracle.
What’s The Cure?
If we truly work the steps, open up in long term therapy, and find our Higher Power we will be cured. Not cured to drink again, rather cured to not want to drink again, we won’t see drinking as a solution. Still it’s important also to have fellowship, not necessarily in a program. Anxiety and depression can be cured as well. Why do so many people get outside help, including Bill W? We don’t have to fear the word “emotional disorder”. All it means is our healthy emotional process has been stifled. Often the reason we have stifled it is usually that we were taught at a young age our feelings and processes were wrong. Regaining a healthy emotional process and using it on our most intense past hurts is how we heal core issues and truly recover with God’s help. It doesn’t mean that AA or Bill W is bad or wrong, it just means that no one taught Bill W this aspect of healing. He was human and did not have all the answers.
Any Negativity is a Character Defect
You don’t take deep pains and hurts and tag them as character defects. That’s absurd and crying is not self pity but rather a key healthy emotional process. The grieving process starts with feeling the pain not shutting it down. If we move straight into the “my part (what I did wrong in the past)” and character defects without processing our core pains and hurts of how we were wronged then all we are doing is putting a band-aid on an infected sore.
Why do people scream “OUTSIDE ISSUE” in the rooms whenever someone starts talking about child abuse. Abuse and neglect are why people become addicts and those who scream “outside issue” the loudest are most likely trying to further repress their own abuse as a child. People love to sit in the rooms after a horrific bout of drug abuse and swear they had a wonderful childhood. Many people have no idea what neglect and abuse looks like. But I guarantee, if these people would actually take meditation seriously and do it on a regular basis, they would most likely remember some form of childhood trauma.
Resentments are never valid-false
All feelings are valid. Feelings come from our heart, a place of truth. We get angry for a valid reason. It’s hanging on to that anger rather than letting it flow out of us in a non harmful way that gets us in trouble and gets us sick with resentment.
Children don’t usually get angry toward adults for no reason at all. If we were harmed, and many of us were then we are legitimate victims. Not everything is ‘our fault’ so we mustn’t treat it as if it were. Sharing our trauma with an understanding and empathic listener who will point out the validity of our hurt and show caring understanding is where the healing begins. Statements like “I know how you feel” or “I was abused also and the man is a son of a bitch to do what he did”, shows support, relating, caring and validation. Empathy not spankings are needed for healing wounds. And the thing is, many addicts are badly wounded. Emotional issues are not an outside issue separate from addiction, they are, I believe the biggest reasons behind addiction.