One of the things I am wrestling with over this past week is anger. Occasionally, I am able to express my anger in an appropriate, intelligent, and even constructive manner. I am a firm believer that anger is an instructive emotion: a reasonable response to prevent injury or correct a wrong. I could go more in depth in this, but for now this statement will have to work.
One of the topics I am angry about more often than not, is my relationship to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. As I stated earlier in this blog, I am no longer associated with either organization. Over the past few years, I have become embroiled in periodic debates with my peers regarding 12 step recovery. Part of the problem I have in talking about this with other professionals is my ambivalence about the whole topic. I don’t mean ambivalence as in “I don’t care,” but ambivalence as in “I see this this way, and I see that that way.” My position seems to contradict itself. However, for myself, I am absolutely and totally consistent. But in this day and age of worshiping the cognitive fallacy that is Occam’s Razor, it’s a bit complicated…
I’m not going to be able to express my entire thought in this post. But I do want to set the foundation. In the first thing to establish right away, is that without three specific meetings of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, I would not be here writing this blog post on this day in the middle of November.
I began my current unbroken string of sober, abstinent recovery on August 8 of 1992. I was living in the small farm town of Dixon California at the time. I reached out to the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, into stable members of the fellowship came over to where I was living on a 12 step call. They took me to a meeting in Dixon, the Friday night meeting, that overwhelmed me with its unconditional acceptance, understanding, and sincere welcome that I was in the room. That meeting became the bedrock of my recovery for the next six months.
A couple months later I accidentally found the Narcotics Anonymous meeting on a Tuesday night, also in Dixon. I was randomly driving around when I saw a school parking lot filled with motorcycles and old beat up cars. Something inside me said this must be the NA meeting. That something was right, and even though I didn’t even have 60 days clean, I walked out of that meeting with the service commitment to chair the next meeting, that Thursday night.
The next meeting I credit for saving my life was in the nearby liberal college town of Davis, California. There was a very sparsely populated meeting on Saturday mornings at the local co-op. If I had to guess, I would say that meeting generally had three people or less most of the time, with occasional “explosions” of up to 10 people every now and then.
Looking back on it 24 years later, and I think what set these meetings apart from other meetings I experienced was that they were safe, healthy, and absolutely recovery oriented. The only problem is, they did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the dark underbelly of what can go on in 12 step meetings…