People Fail, Program Does Not

I’m in a slump. I am entirely disillusioned with the people of our local Anonymous program. I’m tired of attending meetings (and I have recently started trying new ones) where people seem to be sober, but stuck… and sadly, have found none that break this tired mold.

The vast majority of the folks I meet in the rooms have one ultimate goal: to collect disability, and to bitch about the same things at every meeting. If they’re not on disability, or being supported by a sober living house, they’re retired. I have met very few members with full-time jobs and/or school commitments. (Boredom, in my experience, is a major trigger towards relapse.)

Add to that the fact that those who claim to want help ignore practical suggestions that might mediate their issues, and I feel as if I’m constantly hitting my head against the proverbial wall.

Members that do come to me for help (and appreciatively, I was recently told that I “have a reputation for truly living a strong program”), often just want me to fix their problems… and that’s not what we’re supposed to do in our journey to sobriety.

Admittedly, it is really difficult to live a life of honesty, openness, and a willingness to change in a world where most other people do not approach living in this manner.

Let’s be honest. We live in an extremely cynical culture that has conditioned us towards an “us vs. them” mentality; and ironically, within the rooms — where we are supposed to honor and welcome any idea of a higher power — this tribal bullshit is ever present.

The Chapter to the Agnostic…

I do not believe that the concept of “God” is necessary to achieve sobriety (and am outspoken on this issue). In my experience, it is the cognitive behavioral techniques built into twelve-step programs that work; but very few people speak to this in meetings. More often they subscribe to a “pray and sobriety will follow” dogma — a dogma that’s often off-putting to newcomers.

They go home after their first meeting, they pray, and nothing gets better. They come back to the meeting and share this with the group; and inevitably, someone will follow that share with, “You haven’t yet learned to pray,” or “Keep falling to your knees, and eventually you will be lifted.”

The folly in this (in my opinion), is that no one is explaining that getting off your knees is your own damn responsibility. No one, and no ethereal power, is going to do it for you.

However, if you speak this as your truth — that community and hard work are the path you walk in your own sobriety, regardless of a concept of “God” — people will come up to you after the meeting and try to convince you that you must be a servant of “God”, or your sobriety is in peril. And yet, as I mentioned earlier, I have a reputation for having a strong program, and have years of sobriety behind me… all without bringing “God” into it.

I see newcomers come and go, come and go, come and go. Very few ask for my number; but I give it away freely anyway… and receive very few calls in return.

I Haven’t Lost Hope…

Because of this, I changed my degree path. Originally interested in social work and psychology, I have come to the conclusion (within the rooms of the Anonymous) that people aren’t interested in changing their behavior. What they seem to want is a parental figure to assume all responsibility for their problems… not realizing that their behavior is the fucking problem.

So now, I am following a degree path that has both my husband and my psychiatrist asking, “Do you feel you are on an academic road that truly interests you? Can you honestly stop wanting to help people?” And the truthful answer is, “No. No, I cannot let go of the hope that some of them can be assisted in turning their lives around.” (Because, as the saying goes, “If I can do this shit, anyone can.”)

I know this is true because I have a beautiful young lady as a sponsee that has moved mountains on her own journey through sobriety; and she has — by her own volition — changed her life irrevocably for the better. And while she often thanks me for what she has been able to accomplish, I always point out that she did the work.

The problem is, in order to help others like my beautiful friend, Letty (whose true name also, rather fittingly, means “filled with happiness”), I must be present. Present at meetings that leave me feeling drained, depleted and depressed… and I honestly don’t know if I have enough positive energy left within me to counteract those feelings.

Thus, as I stated in the first sentence of this post, I am embedded deeply in a frustrating slump.

2 thoughts on “People Fail, Program Does Not

    • Life, it seems, is difficult… so much more so when you’re sober and trying to do the whole “adulting” thing. At the end of the day though, I’d much rather have difficult over the prison that addiction can become.

      Liked by 1 person

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