Just How 12 Step Free Are You?
This article is written by Sam (real name known) and published with kind permissions by her.
Here is a highly inaccurate, and therefore practically useless rating scale of „Just How AA Are You?“ How about I make up a percentage rate? Sure, what the heck, why not. Any scale whatsoever would be subjective, so why not? Don't anybody whig out over this, if you can help it. It is a lark. An impossible thing to gauge because there are too many variables and everyone is so unique in their person and in their experiences. Also impossible for someone other than the individual to gauge without walking in their shoes. I submit this not in seriousness and yet still somewhat seriously, and a bit humorously, in sadness coupled with the foolishness of the whole issue of debating and arguing over whether someone is „TRULY“ out of AA or not.
So here we go–from 100% sold out on XA to O% of XA left in you. You know, „all or nothing.“ Right?
You attend at least a meeting a day, have a sponsor, are a sponsor, can quote the big book including the page number, speak only in slogans, chair meetings, share in every meeting, go to conventions speak in conventions, and buy lots and lots of speaker tapes, believe that everyone who ever had a drink is an alcoholic, believe that anyone who ends up in a meeting is supposed to be there and automatically an alcoholic, believes that anyone who doesn't think they are an alcoholic are an alcoholic in denial, believes that without XA you are doomed, doomed, doomed. Are superior with any amount of time over 1 year Or even one month. Has a thousand war stories that are MUCH worse than anyone else's. Believes they spilled more alcohol than most people drank. Restless, irritable and discontent yet brags about their serenity and spirituality. Know the program sucks, yet sell it to the newcomers. Know the program sucks, yet still sold on it. Tells the newcomer to take the cotton out of their ears and put the cotton in their mouth. No social life outside of XA. No home life because of so much XA. Considers non-XA people to be „earth people“ not „chosen“ ones. 13th stepped at least 5 people. Several divorces, lost houses, and family–and darn proud of it. Count the years, mention them a lot, if you have passed the 10 year mark and wear your medallions. Wear a XA gold pendent on a chain around your neck. Drinks a lot of coffee and smokes a lot of cigarettes. Grateful to „be an alcoholic.“
attend at least 5 meetings a week, have a sponsor, have a sponsee, can quote some big book, but mostly speak the „language of the heart“: slogan-speak. Chair some meetings. Believe wholeheartedly in the program. The Big Book is sacred and Bill Wilson is a saint. Naively believe that everyone in those rooms are „loving you till you can love yourself“ and not really trying to get into your britches. Do a 4th step to find out „your part“ in why you think people in XA are being such self-righteous asses. Pity those that leave and do whatever it takes to drag them back, including Baker Acts. Share in every meeting (the same stories, over and over again till those who know you want to club you over the head when you enter the room) Follow the orders of your sponsors. Try to fake it till you make it. Use XA bumper stickers. Keep chips in your pockets. Or hanging from the rear view mirror. Or on the keychain. Only socialize with fellow XA's. Fear for those who leave the program because they are doomed, doomed, doomed. Terrify newcomers with promised of jails, institutions and death. Live for the gossip. Wonder why they are so miserable. Keep trying to work the program because you know „the problem is yourself“. Clean ashtrays and fill coffeepots. Become the XA transportation service person, even if you barely have the gas to get there yourself, and feel „gratitude“ when you run out of gas on the way home because you are doing „service work“–you are „working the program!“ 13th step the newcomers. Work the steps more than one time. Never get past step 1 or as far as 3. „Relapse“ so you don't have to do that dreaded 4th and 5th. Bring AA strangers into your home and wonder why you get robbed. Your family thinks you are a „bit balmy“, and they are right. Drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes. Grateful to be an alcoholic.
attend meetings frequently, have had numerous sponsors, now have a sponsor but never seldom call unless they know they are not at home. Seldom read the big book. Confused by contradictions in the program and real life. But still believe it. Wonder why you feel worse about yourself now than you did when you first went to XA. Confused by the conflicting behaviors and statements of other XA's. Occasionally mention contradictions with the program to no avail. Still think the big book is sacred and that the problem is between your ears. Wonder why you just cant get those darn promises! Worry about the „Yets.“ Go to meetings for social life and out of fear. Live for the gossip. Get deeply hurt by the gossip. Have been robbed at least a couple of times by a fellow XA. Not sure about AA but still think it is the only hope for survival against alcoholic destruction. Wonder if the answer is to go to a different meeting than usual. Count the days of sobriety. Pick up lots of chips. Get offended and leave only to come back in humiliation for drinking or from loneliness, (or to find out who has the best drugs). Still keep trying to work those darn steps. Tell your entire life story in graphic details to strangers and think it is normal. Drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes. Leave the ashtray cleaning and the coffee pot filling to the newcomers. Screw the ashtrays! Let the „trusted SERVANTS“ do that, and ask a guru how long he has had that big stick up his butt. State you are very grateful to be an alcoholic, through gritted teeth.
attend meetings when bored, lonely or desperate. Arrive late, leave early. Big book is covered in a heavy coat of dust and you couldn't find it if your life depended on it. Big book is a doorstopper or in the back of the garage somewhere. The dog chewed it up. It got mixed up with the laundry. Bye-bye big book, bye bye. Ditch the sponsors. Sick of the same old same old gossip and bickering and slogan speak. Don't even bother with the steps. Only go because they don't know where else to go. Fear. Guilt. Harassment. Only go to get papers signed. Use meeting to keep XA police off their backs. Or for a pick up joint. (Or to pick up a joint). Or to bum some money. Or to steal money from the basket. Or to find a place to stay for a while. Sick of the lies. Disillusioned, bitter, hopeless. Humiliated, and pick up some more white chips. Smash white chips with a hammer. Leave them in the collection basket. Hide the chairperson's papers. When reading the steps in a meeting say things like „sought through prayer and MEDICATION to improve our contact with God.“and laugh till tears roll down your face when no one gets the sarcasm. Re-write your own version of the steps, including the 13th in colorful terms. Attach a condom to the front door knob. Let the air out of a few tires. You make a point to show up at a meeting drunk as a skunk or high as a kite just for the hell of it. Make up a rumor about yourself to see how quick it gets back to you. Drink a lot of coffee, leave enough in the pot to where the next person can't get a full cup and enjoy their sudden loss of „serenity.“ Make it unbearably strong for everyone else to complain about and BUM a lot of cigarettes, bum a LOT of cigarettes, cuss a lot and go off on drunken binges– mad at the world but still blaming it all on yourself. Not grateful to be an alcoholic and absolutely loathe „gratitude“ meetings.
avoid meetings as much as possible. Think AA is a bunch of hogwash, everyone is a hypocrite or incredibly deceived but have no more friends other than AA because all that slogan speak has made the way you think ill fitting with the rest of the world's thinking and the world thinks you are weird. You are positive you are weird. You decide you are gonna bitchslap the next person who tells you „Meeting Makers Make It“. Don't know where you belong anymore. Not fit for XA and not fit for the real world. Decided that most folks in XA are nuttier than fruitcakes. Decided that you are nuttier than a fruitcake. Makes you mad just to drive by the place. Self esteem is eroded to next to nothing. Anger is building like a pressure cooker. Drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes. Hate even the mention of the words XA. May have burned your big book. Life sucks. Wish you never heard of XA.
never go to XA at all. Burned out. Had enough. Moved on. Found new friends. Learned how to speak your native language again. Self esteem has rapidly bolstered. Researched XA and understand why it all seemed so out of sorts with real life and why it does not work. Find books and resources for information. Head clearing up. Remembering what it means to „have a life.“ Join 12-step-free. Actively remove residual AA thinking. Drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes. (ha!) Have a little wine with a meal and don't go into sheer terror of the demon alcohol and total loss of control. Or chosen abstinence. (You have learned that you do have a choice) Discovered that alcoholism is not a „disease“ and that it is not fatal unless abused–sorta like driving too fast–risky, and potentially fatal–and yet still a choice. Have decided that that „disease doing pushups“ thing was just a hallucination from a bad acid trip. No longer feel powerless. Learned to laugh again. Maybe choose abstinence. Alcohol or drugs no longer an issue. (Lot of wishful thinking on this paragraph!)
Seldom even think of AA or 12 steps. Living stable life despite ups or downs. No longer even on the 12-step-free group. XA or steps are no longer an issue, the deprogramming has ended. Life goes on. By the way, please don't take this too dang seriously. The whole point is that you cannot gauge whether a person is 100% free of all XA residue, unless you live in their head. There are too many variables. Figure out for yourself what those variables are if you really have an interest in it–if you don't, and you just want to label people like a kid in science pinning insects to a board–man, you really need to get a life.