I spent a huge portion of my adult life (from 23 until about 2.5 years ago) in Alcoholics Anonymous. The last few years I was ‘in the program’ were mostly me navigating extreme discomfort that I couldn’t articulate, knowing I needed to leave, not knowing how to leave; burying myself in shame and guilt for even considering it. I finally walked away from AA convinced that I was alone and would invariably drink myself to death as the literature (and culture) predicted.

I’ve learned a lot over the last few years, primarily that alcoholism and addiction are not diseases at all, just manifestations of compulsive behaviors that are covering up deep-rooted issues — issues that are much better solved in some type of therapy with patience and logic than they are in the forced faith-healing tents of AA. I was taught for years that my only options were to ‘go back out’ and drink forever, dying if I was lucky, or to accept help for a ‘spiritual malady’ which would then open the pathway to solving all my problems. As it turns out, there are as many ways to deal with compulsive drinking and drug use as there are people having the experience. And more importantly, I am not ‘spiritually sick’ and I do not need to dedicate my life to decades of control mechanisms and forced, shame-based obedience. I am not helpless, I am not hopeless, and I’ve learned more in the time I’ve spent post-AA navigating these mental blank spots that ‘the program’ left behind in me than I did in the entire decade prior.

I’m finally free from guilt and self-doubt (around this, not with everything in my life obviously), and having found my old AA literature this past week, I decided this morning that today would be a perfect day for setting it all on fire. Watching it burn to dust was intensely cathartic in a way I can’t quite explain; if I’d had any rolling papers around, I would have lit a joint off these motherfucking flames.

TL;DR (too late): trust your gut and stay away from cults, you guys. If you find a group of people that tell you that their way is the only way to do something, shunning all other ideas, run like hell. Run to our house if you have to, we can make a pot of coffee (or crack a few beers) and put on some records and talk about it.

#feelings #shamefreesaturdays #mindcontrolisahellofadrug