Unsure about AA

I went to another meeting last night. I got excited when I saw a box of chips sitting next to a women. I figured out she was the secretary. After they read their promises and steps and other pieces they read before each meeting, they celebrated two people’s milestones. One was received a 90 day chip and spoke. The other received one for 31 years and spoke. I listened but felt cheated that they did not ask if anyone had 30 days of sobriety. I was on day 35 and still chipless. It feels so childish to get upset about this.

Maybe the AA meetings in this area just operate differently that other areas I have been. When I first went to AA meetings in 2002 and 2007, there were all in the same area. They would announce at the end of meetings “who wants a white chip for a desire to quit drinking? Who had 30 days sober? Who has 60? 90? 6 months? 1 year?” and so on. I think they might have had a 45 day chip at a few cause I think I got one? I know somewhere I have 3 colored coins in storage. I think white, red, and maybe yellow or gold-like? 45 days or 90. Maybe it was 90 cause I think it was after my 2nd DUI.

Even the first meeting I went to last month gave out chips. I stopped at one during a roadtrip and I wasn’t even sure about going sober. I did not collect a white chip then due to my uncertantity.

I have started to look up meetings in nearby cities just to get a chip! And to get out of the house and see the area. I am only here until May.

There is more to my skepticism about AA than just not receiving a chip.

For example, as I was leaving last night, a woman yelled out “wait” and stopped me. She was nice and I understand she was just reaching out. I introduced myself in the meeting as someone new to AA. Throughout the meeting they asked for stories from anyone under 90 days. I did not want to speak. I would have rather heard about other experiences. (I did speak for the first time Sunday and enjoyed that meeting.) She asked if I have been sober long and I honestly said no, but then felt guilty for not speaking up during the meeting. I do not want to go somewhere that is gonna make me feel guilty. I spent the day fighting to stay awake at work and kept wanting to doze off at this meeting. They only reason I went was because I was hoping for a chip.

So I was tired, chipless, and this woman kept wanting to chit chat. She introduced me to two other women. They asked where I was from and I replied “I am nomadic.” They laughed and she said “I am a road warrior too.” I have no idea what she meant. But I find saying  “I am nomadic” is easier than trying to explain that I move every few months with my job and travel abroad when I am not working. I did not feel like going into my life story when I was dreaming about my bed.

I apologized to the women and explained I was struggling to stay awake all day. They asked where I worked and then told me there is an AA meeting there. I told them I do not go to AA meetings where I work. I once had a therapist that recommended against that. This woman blinked. “Why?” I said in case coworkers or clients see me going there. She told me they are too busy looking at their belly lint to care if I am there.

Sorry, but I think I will take the advice of a professional therapist over an AA member. I know AA is “anonymous” but there is nothing legally saying someone can not tell others you are there or judge you for being there. Just yesterday, I had a coworker tell me she has no sympathy for people that “get themselves addicted to drugs.” I doubt she will have sympathy if she knew she was working with someone addicted to alcohol. I can not imagine walking to the parking garage and have her see me sneak off to a meeting.

When people did share last night, a lot of of was about “feelings”. A lot of people talked about finally being able to feel emotions again after going sober. I never a had problems with feeling. I had moments of happiness and sadness and the whole range during my drinking days. The only time I had problems with feeling was when I was on Prozac. I stopped that because it made me get drunk too quick. Also, I hated not being able to cry when a coworker died. I hated not being able to feel even sadness and grief. I now take St John’s Wort and it seems mellow enough to uplift and not block moods.

I think, even though we are all alcoholics, everyone is different. Therefore, we drank for different reasons and have different ways to recover. I am beyond fooling myself that I can drink moderately. I know I need to abstain. But I do not believe I need “90 meetings in 90 days.” I do not think working the steps is the only answer. And one of the promises always makes me pause. “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.” Does AA give finance classes? Teach me how to budget my money? Sobriety is not gonna make me stop spending money on expensive Broadway tickets. (I will just enjoy the show more now that I won’t be drunk during it.)

I was reading my old journals from when I first went to AA and I was “praying to God” but I know I never believed that. AA sort of pushed me into something I did not believe. I am now okay with prayers and people’s beliefs in God or gods or whatever. But it was traveling Asia and friending people of almost every religion that got me comfortable with that. I have sprirituality now from talking with monks and reading up about Buddhism. Abstaining from alcohol is actually one of thefive Buddhist Precepts. I will blog about my spirituality another day.

I was googling other ways to sobriety without AA. I found some interesting stories about people that left AA and stayed sober. Belle’s blog and her thoughts on AA came up in the search. I found a wikihow page describing the CORE process, or Commit, Objectify, Respond, Enjoy. Another program I found is SMART Recovery with it’s 4 point program of building and maintaining motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feeling and behaviors; and living a balanced life. I have known people to go sober without AA. It is not the ONLY way. It works for some. But I am someone that likes to research all possiblities. I am like a 3 year old always asking “why?”

I am going to a meeting today. I doubt I will get a chip. grrrrr But I do enjoy some of the meetings and hearing the stories. I just do not want to feel pushed. I like knowing there are other options. Maybe reading my journals has pounded my problem in my head. I do not want to go back to that life. I know I can not control it.

Reading books and blogs has been a huge help. I feel I don’t really need to call anyone if I have blogs to read. And responses from fellow bloggers has been a great support. Maybe instead of readingAA steps, traditions and promises from another century, I will survive sobriety with my cyber community.

Mistake # 28- It was my first time in Vienna, Austria. I was staying with a friend that I met in San Francisco. He actually was letting me stay in his room at his apartment with his roommate while he went to stay with his girlfriend. I met up with some people in a bar. They were all locals and I knew two of them from a website. They all had jobs or classes the next morning so everyone left at a reasonable hour. I stayed by myself to drink more. There was live music downstairs. I relocated down there with my journal and my pint. I wrote in my journal, enjoyed the band, and drank a lot. I am not sure what time I left. But I got lost on the way back. The streets of Vienna are not a grid map like I was used to in the USA. I started to walk down one, thinking I was going the right direction, and then find it curving the wrong way. I kept walking and wandering. I was drunk and scared. I started to cry. I texted my friend I was staying with and told him I was lost. I don’t know how long I walked but I mangaged to find my way to his apartment. I was lucky. I was in another foreign city with a language I did not know and was irresponsible enough to get drunk alone.

I woke up early the next morning with my friend barging in the bedroom. He said he was worried cause he got my text this morning and tried to call. I must have turned off my phone accidently or the battery died after texting him. He rushed home to check on me to make sure I was okay. I was embarassed and hungover. My eyes were red and puffy from crying. He was late to class because of my foolishness.

I had to take a train that day to another city. But on the way to the train, I was very tired and hungover. I laid down on the steps to a building, propped myself up against my backpack, and took a nap. I remember women walking by and pulling their kids from getting too close to me.