So yesterday was kind of rough, but I am glad it turned out the way it did. I learned a lot about myself, and put into practice actually feeling things and coping with negative emotions without alcohol. So while I wasn’t pleased about what happened, I am truly thankful for it.
I touched on a part of the issue with yesterday’s post, and it deals with the negativity of some members in the A.A. community. I posted to a group on Facebook asking about it because I am genuinely curious how they think beating people over the head lends itself to helping people live sober lives.
To me it is basic psychology. People respond to kindness, and flee from brutality. Their logic is that they have seen people come into the rooms on their “pink cloud” and then leave thinking they don’t need the program; only to relapse because they stopped coming to meetings when they felt good. The point I think they are missing may just be WHY those people left.
I left that group on Facebook yesterday not because I feel good and don’t think I need the program, but because I was quite literally belittled, demoralized, and “yelled” at for asking a question. Now if I were a less dedicated person, or if I didn’t have the education I received in treatment, these people a month ago would have quite literally driven me to drink. “Why bother?” would have been my excuse. No one who is feeling good for the first time in their lives wants anyone to shit on that feeling. No one is going to respond positively to being told to shut up. No one in their right mind would tolerate that abuse especially when they are feeling good and actually have some self esteem for the first time in their lives. I didn’t leave because I don’t think I need A.A. I left because they are a bunch of assholes who can’t manage to listen to any other point of view other than their canned responses and wise words of their sponsors.
Now I understand the warnings. I understand why they feel the need to prepare people for the inevitable. In my mind however, there is a right and wrong way to go about that. Certainly you don’t need to abuse people to get that message across. I am painfully aware of the statistics of people who are able to quit drinking successfully their first time out. They are dismal. However, those stats depend on the people who act as support, the A.A. groups themselves, people who have trudged through their lives and learned how to do it without alcohol or drugs. We can’t beat the physical disease, we can only put into practice measures to protect us from ourselves. Realistic and honest conversations need to happen; however, not allowing someone to learn and grow as an individual and belittling the progress someone has made – even if it is only 4 hours; is not the way to encourage people to stay.
Let’s look at it this way; you go into a nursery because you want to start a garden. You are super excited to start that garden, and you want every plant in the store. The ecologist who works there starts showing you around, and telling you which plants you might have better success with as a beginner, and teaches you about the different kinds of soil, fertilizer, and sunlight needed for each new plant to thrive. You take their advice and purchase the recommended plants. Then you get to the cash register, and are all excited and the cashier says, “These are all going to die within a week! I’ve seen new gardeners buy these plants in the past, and they all died. They will all eventually die. The fertilizer you have is wrong. Your yard can’t possibly provide the sunlight and nutrients to sustain it. You are wasting your money, and you will never be able to keep these plants alive until you have at least 20 years of gardening experience.” All of a sudden you are standing there, all excitement for gardening gone. You stare at those beautiful plants, and you don’t want to kill them so you put them back. There is a possibility that an experienced gardener might buy those plants, but there is also the possibility that no one will buy them and they will die anyway. The ones that suffer from those cashiers words are the dashed hopes of a new gardener, and a few plants that may not ever have a chance to thrive because someone didn’t even try to nurture them because they were too scared to give it a shot.
No one wins. That new gardener will never go into that store again. That cashier with their words and negative attitude killed dreams, and the plants they were trying so fiercely to protect. The ecologist is sad because they just wasted a lot of time helping that new gardener set a foundation to learn; that they will never do now because they are too afraid to try because they now believe they are incapable of caring for those plants (even with help from an expert).
I like metaphors and analogies. I use them all the time because it puts things in a new perspective. I might be a new gardener, but I did take the time to learn. I might have a few plants die along the way, but with time; with help I will be able to take on greater gardening challenges. I refuse to quit trying because some bitch cashier thinks I can’t do it, and thinks me even trying is a waste of time. I am just going to go shop at a new nursery that welcomes new gardeners and helps them plant beautiful gardens that will last a lifetime. Who knows, I might one day become an ecologist.
The lesson I learned was simple. Don’t let the negative people drive you away from what is important to you. With all the negative voices out there; there are positive ones too. Focus on the positive, be realistic with your choices, and don’t ever give up on your dreams no matter what the odds are.
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