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"I Wish" A Sequel By an AA Heretic

I've remained silent here for some while. Sue's previous post "I Wish" has been rattling around in my now almost five months sober brain and this only adds to my ongoing aspiration to, at times, think I'd like to write about all that has, and is, going on with me, but I never can seem to bring myself to do so. It is interesting as I type this, how good it feels to do so. Maybe I will now come to write more as a result of writing this post.

What an interesting series of exchanges Sue's "I Wish" elicited. Nothing brings polarization to the fore like being critical of a cult, and that is borne out here. Having been forced to live within AA now for five months, I feel much more qualified to confirm my perception that AA is in fact, a cult. Unlike other cults, it is not intended to control its members for exploitative ends. It truly is intended to do good for many people who are suffering with drug and alcohol addiction. It is not exploitative unless you are subject to a provider of the huge industry of U S. drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, or one of the thousands of "professionals" who provide treatment within that extremely lucrative system, which relies on, and feeds the cult in collusion with funding and mandates from our courts that everyone who has drug and alcohol involvement in any issue before a U. S. court, receive "treatment" which entails religious conversion. AA as a collective organization truly intends to help and save poor, worthless drunks and help them to experience a life of redemption.....a sort of spiritual do over. It is, as far as it collectively perceives itself, a benevolent and helpful network of souls all working to save others by having them delivered by god.

There is no surprise that the response of the AA hierarchy in Toronto to the formation of non-god based AA groups was to expel them as heretics (thank you, Selkie, for passing this onto us in the comments to "I Wish.") The folks who tried to establish secular non-God based 12 step AA clones in Toronto confirmed the truth essential to AA. AA is about god first and foremost. If you remove God, there is no AA. Every meeting begins with the serenity prayer and ends with the Lord's Prayer. It is not about recovery, or sobriety, or a healthful lifestyle, or healthy families and communities, or any of the many side effects that many of its cult members would cite as the rationale for AA’s value. AA is a religion, requiring huge adherence to participation in worship services, and continual recitation of prayers, maxims, parables, and dicta from its holy scripture, "The Big Book," which is memorized, ritually read and studied, complete with its “How It Works” substitute for the Nicene Creed, and its twelve steps and traditions (proxies for the Christian ten commandments and beatitudes) which begin each and every meeting everywhere AA meetings occur. And occur they do. There are over 10,000 of them about the U. S. with millions of adherents participating weekly most of whom are, or once were, required to be there to stay out of jail or prison.

I have been depressed about my participation in all this. I took all this seriously and allowed them a foothold in my head……..heck all three of us in this family did. I was scared. It kept me out of jail, and my continued ability to have them believe I am a new convert to the cult will continue to have me “free.” My family was scared of me, and for me, and wanted our love to be borne out to our family’s continuing to have a long, positive future. I have been depressed at buying into their dictum that I am nothing but a worthless drunk like all drunks, that my sobriety is not about me but is simply a miracle granted me by god, and that my intellect and analytical reasoning mind are not assets but liabilities, preventing me from wholly accepting the truth of god’s plan for me if I will only pray to him morning and night, and accept his plan for my life into my heart so that I may be saved despite my being captured by Satan in this evil disease.

But being free has nothing to do with spending several hours each week worshipping The Big Book and testifying that I am a grateful recovering worthless drunk, who is sober today because I have been saved by god from the demon of drink.

I have to pretend to buy this for 33 more weeks in my continuing care group after I recover from my surgery. I can’t participate for some weeks after my surgery, because as it was once explained to me by one of the treatment counselors, “They can’t have me in here (i. e., any aspect of the treatment program) while my brain is poisoned by drugs of any sort, and the pain medication I will be on after my total shoulder replacement qualify and will “poison my brain and prevent me from receiving the truth.” It astounded me as she presented this to me with a totally straight face………she who is supposed to be an educated mental health professional -- but these professionals are the priestesses and priests of the cult and believe this, or at the least support it without question or equivocation.

It is clear I cannot drink, nor will I again. It is clear the only way for me to get through the legal aspects of this is to pretend to become a staunch adherent of the cult for 9 months further after I recover from my surgery and I am determined to do so.

I do feel devalued and worthless as I go forward from here. As I listen to 12 steppers, some of whom commented on the previous post, they make it clear that the only hope I have for a future is adherence to AA’s dogma, discipline, and lifestyle, or jail. I find myself more convinced that, if those are my options, I will chose not to continue to live.



  1. It's really nice to "hear" your voice, Tom.

    If it makes you feel any better, there are many of us out here who agree with your point of view and don't pretend to know what god is. I'm sorry you are forced to use a program that doesn't fit with you.

  2. Anonymous1:04 AM

    Tom, how about this? Since you're stuck going for 9 more months, make a game out of it. Become the most fervent, passionate religious/cultist AAer in there. You and Sue and T can plan out your act beforehand. Stick in all the stuff that annoys you the most and make it your own creed. You can share your stories with the ladies when you go home and the three of you can have a good laugh.

    Then, at the end of 9 months at your last, forced meeting, you can stand up and share your truth. That you felt pressured, that it was all an act, that you never believed a word of what you said. And tell them you'll be coming back every year on this date to say you're still sober and yet, not brainwashed into their religion.

    That would be awesome. I would pay money to see that. :-)

  3. Hello Tom and family,

    Have you heard of Jack Trimpy's Rational Recovery. He uses something called advert. He call's 'it' (drink or addiction) the beast. He's all about getting sober by using your own abilities.
    I'd suggest you drop him a line, he deals with this all the time and ma
    Have some suggestions to help you out, or how to at least deal with them to survive for your family.

    I had a disabled(from a TBI) client at a group home. He hated it there. They treated him like a stupid baby. But he had to not have any temper flare ups. Well the biggest part of his brain damaged was where anger is centered. He communicates that it's like his anger button is turned on all the time. Anyways, he speaks in sign and I devised one to represent 'kiss ass'. He hated doing it, but he was able to take it with some humor till he was finally able to move out and lived independently. So perhaps your family could come up with a sign to help. We also came up with an 'inverted bird' that he would use in meetings with the ffing b'crats. It would make his eyes twinkle in the midst of their ongoing Poo festival. When it's worst, gotta try and make your own humor, or the butheads win and Tom, you cant let them.

    Anyways, just a couple ideas I hope help.
    Best to all,

  4. Another quick note as I just read a legal family petition for folks exactly like you Tom. Please go read it on the rational recovery site, maybe of more immediate help then I thought!
    Hope it helps, looks highly promising,

  5. Jojo it is good to be heard here again and to hear back from you.....thank you.

    Anonymous that is somewhat like the plan I have in mind other than being public with them after the fact about my having bluffed my way through my AA conversion. These people, for all their seeming benevolence, are as evil and vindictive as any cult, but are even more dangerous in that they act as minions of our courts and our religious community. There is no end to what they might do to someone who would do this. I will pretend my way through this. It is not as though doing their "step work" (the renamed version of "soul surgery" their founders, the Oxford group, practiced in the early 20th century) will harm me, and it may help give me content to fill my time with them as a good fervent new cult practitioner. Then, when I am done with the continuing care phase of my rehabilitation program, I can simply quit participating. If they ask about not having seen me, I can tell them I am attending one of the other several hundred groups that meet all over our community (there are about 600 groups around our mid-size city).

    Thanks for responding to this. The fact is that any sort of failure on my part to play the part in this, between now and the end of January 2013, and I will go to prison for a year. It is just not worth it to mess with them. They are so embued with their self-righteousness that they would gladly send me to prison and believe they were saving me and my family in the process.

    Mystress, thank you too for your input. We too looked at this website last year as we were trying to figure out as a family what to do about my drinking.

    The alternative they mention to court ordered AA participation would never satisfy our court. We are in one of the more Christo-facist-Republican centers of the U. S. The court is not at all above forcing a religious conversion onto convicts. If they for any reason at all, regardless of the cause, or without cause for that matter, decide to, they may violate my probation and then will be off to prison for a year. Any indication by my rehab. folks that I am not fully participating in my AA meeting process will accomplish that. I have to provide them weekly written reports of the AA meetings I attend, and they have folks who let them know if you were in fact there. Any questioning that the rehab professionals cannot overcome by having me come to believe "the truth" and I will be off to prison for the time I have "on the shelf" as a condition of my my case a year.

    Thank you again for your caring enough to respond.


  6. Anonymous1:54 PM

    It's too bad you created a situation in your life where you are forced to participate in a program so contrary to your nature. It gives rise to your bitterness and cynicism, which were rampant before your arrest and "recovery". Sustained negative emotions make it harder to avoid drinking (or any other addictive behavor).

    AA and its offshoots have helped millions of addicts find peace and sobriety. That being said, I understand that it doesn't work for everyone, for various reasons. I thought the adaptations of the steps as written by the agnostic group were beautiful and don't see why the concept should be controversial.

    I am wondering what you intend to do after this next year to maintain your sobriety. I think it's difficult to impossible to do it alone. Have you considered starting your own group? It could incorporate parts of AA or be completely different. If you are committed to remaining sober you will need a plan for accomplishing that.

  7. As a recovering person of 29.825 years, I would have to say that Ohio has some of the most rigid AAers in the country. I can easily find meetings almost anywhere I've been that accommodate people with your belief system.

    I was not forced to AA, I chose it and it worked for me. My outpatient counselor also recommended Al-Anon less than 2 months into my sobriety. Since you're having difficulty with your counselors/other AAs, maybe you should get some Al-Anon, too. ;-p

    Seriously, I've heard lots of times at meetings to take what you want and leave the rest...I did and still do.

    You don't pray, I'm fine with that. Meditation (not religious) is finding that still point within, where you find you. I do think that can help.

    I still pray, you're there even if I don't write.



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