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    Run For Your Life, Black Hockey Jesus!
    « Where Were You When Hiroshima Exploded? | Main | New Year's Dissolutions »

    More Recovery Struggles With Raul I.

    My name is Raul I. and I am an alcoholic and, Good God, do I ever hate the AA. That statement is perhaps unfair and excessive. Or maybe not. How could I know for sure? I’m opaque to myself, an impenetrable riddle. When I look in the mirror, my face is obscured by a menacing question mark. But I’m being melodramatic.

    After the AA, an army of zealots swarm me with phone numbers, unsolicited (enthusiastic) advice, and requests to come over on Sunday to watch football because there will be chicken wings. They say “Are you going to call?” or “Are you coming over?” and I say “No. I don’t think I’m going to do those things.” as politely as I possibly can. I try to smile.

    This is when the AA people always say “Raul? Are you willing to go to any lengths for your sobriety?”, to which I reply with some version of “No. The willingness to go to ANY lengths on p. 58 is a piece of irresponsible hyperbole that you remove from its proper context when you use it to scare people into eating chicken wings with you. The willingness to go to any lengths refers to doing the 12 Steps. Not ANY lengths. For instance, I wouldn’t eat a piece of shit to stay sober. Or kill a nun. How about you? If Step 13 was We beat a nun to death with brooms and cinder blocks, would you do it? Are YOU willing to go to any lengths?”  

    This is when the AA people always say “Well, Raul, maybe you just haven’t hit your bottom.”, which I take to mean, yes, these crazy motherfuckers would beat a nun to death with brooms and cinder blocks, which, to my mind, is a perfectly good reason to not hang out with them.

    So I leave, pissed, worse off than when I went in the first place. Because it’s getting aggressive. They’re like a bunch of sales people pitching camaraderie. And I’ve been around the block. It’s supposed to be based on attraction, not clingy weird promotion that says you’re doing it wrong. And that you’re going to die. Drunk, insane, penniless, and alone. Because you’re too special and unique (“You think too much.”) to watch football and eat chicken wings in a sea of joyous selfless fellowship.


    So I quit. I’m moving across town next week and I’m hoping to find some meetings that are less culty. They weren’t this way in Chile. A man could sit and listen for a while. He would know his sponsor because a sponsor has the future in his eyes.

    But until then I will continue to pray, a simple practice where I get on my knees, ask for help, and wait for the yellow bugs. They come in many strange shapes; they look like little puzzle pieces with eyes. And because they have an odd number of legs (3 or 5 or even 21!), they all limp and hobble, albeit very fast. It is a mistake to call them yellow; I think it’s more proper to say they’re made of dim humming light. They emerge from their secret places, hundreds of them, racing toward me, swarming me until I am covered and they interlock into a light that explodes.

    And then, for a day, I don’t drink again. I suppose that’s how I conceive of Power.

    Reader Comments (42)

    I've gotten a lot of e-mail and comments from friends saying I won't be able to do it the way I am, or that I obviously haven't hit my bottom yet.

    I think of it as the race to the bottom. Whose bottom is worse. Whose bottom is the one by which mine must be measured. They can fuck themselves. My bottom sucked.

    January 9, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie

    Schmutzie is one of the smartest people on the innernet

    January 9, 2011 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSuebob

    As much as I dislike nuns since one tried to run me down in her crown vic I don't think I would beat her down with a broom stick or a cinderblock for that matter. Unless it was in self defense.

    And my comment here really bears no relevance. Other than to say do what works for you.

    January 9, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterA Vapid Blonde

    Your sober writing is even more infuse than your drunk writing. But keep up the good work, Raul, and keep your eyes on the prize and off the little girls!

    January 9, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterjames

    Or obtuse. Stupid auto-correct.

    January 9, 2011 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterjames

    I'm sorry. Don't give up. The fact you got yourself to meetings at all in my mind means you've known the bottom. People don't get to those meetings it seems because they're unsure. I'll just say that I'm rooting for you and that I think nun killing in general will not make things better.

    January 9, 2011 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterbitethebedbugs

    Don't give up. Do what works for you because it is what will work for you...

    January 9, 2011 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLibraryGirl62

    I think "hitting your bottom" would be eating fucking chicken wings with these overly effusive, clingy co-something people.

    January 9, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPop and Ice


    January 9, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterryan

    I'll close my eyes and pray for you.

    January 9, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

    all the talk of bottom-hitting makes it sound like a spankfest.
    if i'd known AA was like *that* i might've given it a shot.
    i went solo - just me and the yellow bugs.

    if you need a far-away sponsor with kaleidoscopic futures in their eyes, just holler.

    January 9, 2011 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered Commentera work in progress

    If you want to stay in meetings, surf around for one that a lot of single parents go to, who use the church-or-whatever=provided care during the meetings. They can't afford the extra childcare required to kidnap you under the guise of sober community.

    If you're not... do you need to replace it with something as reiterating?

    Or, would you be able to go it, like Schmutzie and I and my ex - and enjoy the brunt of "you'll never be able to"s and "well, obviously, you didn't really have a problem, then" comments - and just not participate in anything much greater than within your circle of friends and lovers?

    January 9, 2011 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterZoeyjane

    Our monkeys are all different and I am wary of a belief system that says they are all tamed in a like fashion.

    January 9, 2011 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJett

    I think its great that your not drinking. But the problem with going solo is that your attitudes dont change. if your not careful youll wind up just a drunk who doesnt drink. Keep trying lots of different meetings till you find that one thats right for you.

    January 10, 2011 at 5:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterLinda

    Your "But until then I will continue . . . " paragraph = one of the most beautiful poems I have read lately. Love.

    January 10, 2011 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

    Back in the eighties, WW was like that for me---except you can replace the chicken wings with carrot sticks. Perhaps something to think about when judging overweight people :)

    On another note, it's less physically harmful to just call a nun an "assfucker". My brother did it it when he was three. Of course, he wasn't a recovering alcoholic then, but maybe that's why he isn't now.

    January 10, 2011 at 6:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterApryl's Antics

    You wouldn't beat a nun for sobriety? I'd beat a nun for half a ham sandwich, and I don't even like ham. God put nuns here to make us feel better, might as well use them. Remember when I e-mailed you my phone number? Call me, dude. We need to get together and watch a game. Nom on some wings. Hit me up.

    January 10, 2011 at 7:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterMayoPie

    and that's the reason i'm not a joiner. keep your eyes on the prize Raul. i hope there are more like minds in the new hood for you. but if not, you can do anything you set your mind to. but you know that.

    and love.

    January 10, 2011 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterleel

    ps... i can't help but think that new meeting holds a kindred soul, awaiting a Raul to agree with. that's just me though.

    January 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterleel

    I hate AA.
    I hate it like bad.
    So brainless and jesusy, and I know it works, but gah.

    January 10, 2011 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMiss Grace

    Holy J-man Abusing, those zealots. You're (they're!) not there to make friends for J-man's sake! Take what you need and run away!

    January 10, 2011 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterellie

    The way you describe it, I can almost picture someone hugging a bitch-titted guy named Bob. Good luck finding a better fitting meeting.

    January 10, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill

    it is funny how AA works for the working class, the uneducated, the coarse, the lower class. I've met many an alcoholic who has been sober for a long time, was at a very low bottom, that fits in the above group and AA worked quickly for them. indeed, many of them remark, "you smart people sure have a tough time with a simple program." i'm a smart guy in recovery and it is the intelligence that can be the obstacle. and the pride.

    January 10, 2011 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterfunny

    I love Jett's comment.

    I think it's true about intelligence - it gets in the way for the same reason as it does with therapists. You need the really good one, the one that gets it, gets you. There's no one for all.

    Addiction may manifest itself the same way, but I agree people aren't, can't be. I don't think it has to be pride. I don't think you have to accept yourself as debased and put yourself in the hands of people you don't feel any - I don't know the word. Kindred to. Something.

    I say find sober cool people to eat chicken wings with too. Not just sober addicts who make you want to peel your skin off and get a drink.

    I don't know though. Maybe we're wrong. Maybe you have to accept and so on and you're just kicking against it. It's hard to say from here. But the future in the eyes of the sponsor line sounds good to me.

    January 10, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJo

    Holy Batman, not everyone fits into each and every group. Find one that works for you. Maybe it isn't AA. Maybe a different kind of help group. But you're looking- so that's good.

    January 10, 2011 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLaura in Michigan

    Spiritus contra spiritum! Young man

    C.G. J

    January 10, 2011 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilly in B.R.

    different strokes for different folks. sounds to me like AA is just going to make you want to scout out the nearest bar. i think prayer means something different for everyone. though i am not a religious person by any means, i do believe in faith... in believing that you can make it through this... and that at your weakest, someone's got your back, whether it be god, a friend, this blog community, your dog... whatever. one day you'll wake up and it won't be so difficult anymore.

    January 10, 2011 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterjeanine

    "I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
    Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
    Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
    Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff
    that is fine"

    January 10, 2011 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernacular

    god yes..

    January 11, 2011 at 5:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterlizzytish

    There are alternatives to AA, ones which are less culty and infused with woo. SaveOurSelves is a secular, reason-based group. I'm not a member, so I have no idea what the meetings are like, only that they are a secular based group.

    January 11, 2011 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterjames

    I'm sure that were you to ask God what the best course of action might be, He would respond, 'Brooms are sufficient, my child; cinder blocks would be overkill.'

    For a group of supposedly enlightened people, their accusation of someone 'thinking too much' is glaring evidence of a collective lack of self-awareness. All of my past addictions arose from 'thinking too much'. You're introspective enough to save yourself, if saving is the goal.

    January 11, 2011 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterYou can call me, 'Sir'

    Those clingy people would freak me out. Just because you don't want to hang out with them does not mean a damn thing.

    What if you were a vegetarian.......would they want you to eat meat just to show that you are committed.

    What if football offended you?

    Find another meeting I think they are messing with your progress.....Damn them.

    January 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCortney

    It seems to me that the AA people want to replace the addiction of Alcohol with an addiction to them and their clingy ways.

    I want to see yellow bugs.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam

    Get grateful and find a meeting that isn't full of people who trigger all your resentments. Totally possible.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterI know everything

    I went to Alateen once (when I was a teen, duh) and it changed part because I never wanted to feel the need to go back.

    I know AA works. I know not all meetings will be the same. I'm glad you're not giving up. I'm glad you're praying. A critical tenet is knowing you don't have to be alone (although of course you *can* be alone!) and you are not alone even when you are by yourself.

    Peace and blessings,

    January 13, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterFran

    you've just described my idea of hell.

    sounds like Raul is caught between the rock of needing some kind of help and guidance in a tough thing and the hard place of being stuck in a world where people assume their little boxes of help options are REALITIES. categorical. with wings.

    i am mostly useless, commiserating - five days late - without anything constructive to offer. just wanted Raul to know his situation was received, and empathized with, for whatever that's worth.

    January 14, 2011 at 5:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterBon

    ... They're little pyramid schemers! -er, pardon: Network Marketers.

    January 14, 2011 at 7:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Little One

    Sometimes I'm sitting in an AA meeting thinking, shut the fuck UP dude. If life is that hard, just DRINK. Obviously I am in a judgy mood, but still. There's usually only one pearl, one gem ... from one meeting. All the rest is a big fat boring crock of motherfucking bullshit.

    Yet that one thing? That gem? Totally real and true. A teeny phrase, or a concept .... or somebody actually COOL sharing their shit. It gets you. And you get it. And you know there is another path for your life. No luxury of denial, anymore.

    AA does work ... annoying as fuck, right?

    Have you ever tried NA? I find when I'm in a really hardcore angry mood, I go there. They don't go running from the room like the AA's do, when you say you fuck chickens. They brew you a crap coffee and smile, ask if the chickenfucking felt good?


    January 15, 2011 at 4:51 AM | Unregistered Commenteredenland

    What Jett said.
    Good luck. I am rooting for you.

    January 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterKit

    Let me know if you have wings with MayoPie...unless he moved, he lives not far from me, and I like wings and both of y'all's company.

    January 18, 2011 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered Commentermuskrat

    If you were near me, I'd invite you over to crash words against me until you felt better. No wings. But I do make some awesome chocolate milk. Just ask my kids...

    February 1, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterForgotten

    Wings nuns and yellow bugs. Sweet baby jesus and aa all rolled into one how much more could i ask for. ha ha snort ha ha . Great

    February 15, 2011 at 6:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterinsane

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