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I've been lied to. Am reeling slightly and unsure how to react. Your thoughts?

(66 Posts)
Fuckitthatlldo Sun 11-Nov-12 12:56:04

Ok, so full story: I'm in early recovery from alcoholism and have been attending regular aa meetings. I've made some friends there, in particular a group of four of us have become fairly close, sharing lifts to meetings and occasionally going for coffee together afterwards.

This group consists of two men, me, and another woman who I've become particularly close friends with. One of these men is banned from driving so I have been giving him lots of lifts to meetings and we have spent a fair bit of time together. As far as I am concerned our friendship is completely platonic. There are no feelings of attraction there for me at all - we're just friends.

A few weeks ago this man relapsed. He is in a very bad way apparently. I have not seen or heard from him since he picked up a drink although he has been in contact with the other man. I didn't want him to feel abandoned so I have sent the occasional text to say we're all thinking about him and will welcome him back with open arms should he want to come back to meetings.

Yesterday I had a reply back to one of my texts. It was from a woman. She said he was in a horrific state but that he was safe with her. The tone from her texts seemed slightly hostile. I had no idea who she was - the man had told me he lived in a shared house with other men and was single.

I contacted my female friend from the group who I have come to believe I share a close friendship with. She told me that the texts I had received had been from this mans partner.

She told me that he had asked other members of our friendship group not to let it be known to me that he had a partner. He has "feelings" for me apparently. And both she and this other man had decided to collude in this lie with him, although she does claim to have told them both that if it "started to affect Fuckit" that she would then break the confidence.

My problem now is that I feel rather as though I've had the rug pulled out from underneath me. I've been friends with these people for six months (a short time I know, but bonds are strong within aa as you're sharing so much personal stuff). I never imagined they would be so dishonest with me. What if something had happened between this man and me? At what point would he, or anyone else, have told me that he had a bloody partner?

My main bugbear is that this had potentially serious implications for my sobriety. If anything had happened between this guy and me and then it all turned into a bloody mess, it could well have caused me to avoid meetings out of embarrassment, or become distressed and so more likely to drink.

I'm unsure how to react. My gut tells me I need to back off a little from these people. However I'm also painfully aware of my tendency towards melodrama. So I'm posting here to get some honest reactions from other posters. Am I over reacting? Or have they all been really out of order? How best to handle things?

Thanks.

qo Mon 12-Nov-12 13:12:45

I'm so sorry fuckit, I missed that bit - I'm posting between bouts of decorating.

The main thing is that you have done tremendously well and you can continue to do so - last night was just a blip. Remember that YOU choose how you deal with this, you do have a choice. You can think about how good your sober life has been and how you are not going to let anybody or anything effect that, do you feel it was worth drinking last night? If not use that as some form of strength/reminder of how much you don't want to go back there again.

I had an almighty blip this summer, but it was a one off because I used it as a firm reminder of why I decided to make the changes in my life.

We're all gong to get hurt/angry/sad etc by other people at some point, it's learning to deal with it thats the hard part. I think I'm getting there though, and you can too smile

tribpot Mon 12-Nov-12 20:29:12

Have you spoken to your sponsor again, OP? It's much more important to focus on not drinking today than on the fact you did drink yesterday.

Don't write AA off because of one bad incident - but perhaps you need to seek single sex meetings if your area does any? At the very least, everything that happens in the room needs to stay in the room - with the exception of your sponsor. And I think by all means talk about your feelings in the meeting - it's highly relevant given your response was to drink. There's no point blaming others (it was your choice to drink, not theirs) but you are entitled to your feelings too.

Have you read Rachel's Holiday? Very, very relevant to your situation (and also hilarious).

Keep going - be completely honest with your sponsor. Your first sober day is today, that's what matters.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Mon 12-Nov-12 21:57:25

Hi OP, I found this list of alternatives to AA. AA works for some people, but fails others badly: it is a 'method' that's based on superstition rather than science, and women in particular sometimes find that predatory men are present and will pursue them.
Good luck with staying sober. You can do it.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Mon 12-Nov-12 22:02:24

Fuckitthatlldo you have done well, yesterday can just be a "blip" if you can find the strength to continue your sobriety.

If you cannot move meetings (and it sounds like there are limited options) then as tribpot says, disengage from the others but continue to receive support from the meetings.

It sounds like AA is for you, don't let their treatment/lies put you off receiving the support you need as you continue your recovery.

My DB is 3 years in AA and it has changed his life and him for the better. If it is for you, it can really work.

Thinking of you.

Fuckitthatlldo Mon 12-Nov-12 23:08:43

Thank you everyone for your posts, and thanks Solid for the link.

I talked to my sponsor again today to tell her that I'd had a drink and she immediately offered to come and see me or for me to go over to hers, bless her. She is really supportive.

Unfortunately I had a works do to go to that I couldn't get out of as other people were relying on me for lifts. I so didn't want to go - I've felt so ill and tired and hungover all day - but I'm glad I did now. We went to the theatre to see the vagina monologues and I actually really enjoyed myself.

Usually tonight is my home group meeting. I very rarely miss it and am responsible for the teas and coffees. But I'm feeling more and more like I just want to avoid these people. I mean there are other meetings I could go to - it would mean a huge amount of extra driving but it might give me a bit of breathing space...

tribpot Mon 12-Nov-12 23:24:30

I would make sure you're not trying to avoid the meetings, rather than just avoid the people. You can always attend another meeting just to remind yourself of the steps. But if your other meeting is a long way away it may get more and more difficult to motivate yourself to go, esp in the winter.

It might be better to take your existing meeting back for yourself. Cut ties with the people who've let you down and use the group as an outlet. What does your sponsor think?

TantrumsandBananas Tue 13-Nov-12 09:55:55

tribpot is right.

Why can't you go to meetings with your sponsor?

Fuckitthatlldo Tue 13-Nov-12 11:13:29

My sponsor only attends one meeting or so a week, although I do see her at that one. She has taken me to a meeting out of her way before when I've been having a tough time though. I go to three meetings a week however and these people are at every single one of them. Also, they are really gregarious whereas I'm far more shy and reserved and I just don't feel like people will want to support me as they'd rather be friends with them.

Fuckitthatlldo Tue 13-Nov-12 11:17:53

Actually my sponsor has just texted offering to come with me to my meeting tonight. I've said yes please - could really do with the support.

TantrumsandBananas Tue 13-Nov-12 11:47:57

Oh my, you are making lots of decisions for people...take your head of their shoulders!!!

Listen, been where you are. Was never the popular one, there are always these sort of cliques getting together. I persevered, and there were some really uncomfortable times. It will pass. It is not about who you are friends with, its about getting sober, and staying that way.

I can guarantee that you will have PLENTY of support and there will old timers who have seen it ALL before....don't get dragged into the drama, you are there to get sober. Its an AA meeting - not a coffee morning....

Chin up Girl - You have done NOTHING wrong. Be proud that you are there for the right reasons. Its not a social club.

Just an observation, but I am not friends with ANY of the newcomers who came in around the same time as me. And at the time I thought I had found friends for life.

So, I stuck around and put up with the internal politics (9 years sober)

Other newcomers at same time as me, one is in and out of mental institution, another is drinking and regularly arrested and in trouble. Another two are I'm afraid to say dead. Another one didn't stick around and has just come back after another 9 years out there drinking. She looks to be getting it this time round.

Decide what you want - and don't let anyone get in your way!

Fuckitthatlldo Tue 13-Nov-12 12:08:50

I know it's not supposed to be a social club and that I'm not there to make friends, but human beings are social animals and wherever you get groups of us together it is inevitable that bonds and friendship groups will form, no? It's just what happens. Also, I do want to make some sober friends too. However, getting and staying sober is the most important thing - I really do want sobriety. I know perhaps that sounds hollow when I made the decision to drink again on Sunday night but I do. I want to discover my own potential and rediscover some trust in myself. I don't even know why I feel so gutted to be honest - I don't know these people very well in the great scheme of things.

tribpot Tue 13-Nov-12 12:51:57

It absolutely is inevitable that humans will bond over shared experiences, particularly intense ones like addiction recovery. You're also right to want sober friends - but a bunch of newly recovering alcoholics could never really provide that. Better by far to ask your existing friends not to drink when you're around - no true friend would object to that (and in my case, my friends welcome the 'excuse' provided not to drink).

I honestly would read Rachel's Holiday. The false intimacy created by the rehab experience is very well described in it. Rachel falls off the wagon big stylee before she gets it - that the strength to manage her addiction can only be found in herself. This is not a war where the people new to the trenches can help each other best.

Lean on your sponsor - that's why she's there.

TantrumsandBananas Tue 13-Nov-12 16:41:49

tribpot absolutely.

I don't mean to sound harsh, just trying to say it how it was for me. Last Chance is an under estimate.

No, you don't sound hollow, when you say you want sobriety, and you know, a great friend of mine (met her after two years in AA) she went out and drank after 6 months. Just the once, and she credits this with being the turning point for her. She says, that for her, she needed to do it. That was her clarity moment.

I never did go out again, once in AA (yet). So I hate to think the agony you must be feeling. Booze in your Belly, AA in your Head. Nightmare.

Please don't be so hard on yourself, you have beaten yourself up enough.

Every time I see a post from you, it makes me smile, you are doing the right things, talking to your sponsor, talking to Mumsnet, you haven't withdrawn from the world with a bottle. So you have learnt something in the last 6 months! Keep talking about it, til you are sick of talking about it, thats when you know its passed.

If I bumped into you I would be happy to have a coffee with you. It IS very lonely in early recovery. But focus on getting yourself better.

Lots of Love in Fellowship.

Fuckitthatlldo Tue 13-Nov-12 16:47:39

Thanks Tantrums and everyone else too. I really do appreciate all the support I can get. I imagine I will see my female 'friend' at the meeting tonight. Perhaps I will have an opportunity to speak to her.

My intention is to state calmly that I feel let down and see what she says. I will express how I feel and then try to let it go.

TantrumsandBananas Wed 14-Nov-12 09:36:02

How did you get on last night? Not as bad as you feared I hope?

Fuckitthatlldo Wed 14-Nov-12 10:57:56

Not great Tantrums. I went to the meeting with my sponsor, my friend was there, and we had a talk before the meeting. She was very defensive, said she had not done anything wrong, and that she was astounded I had become so angry about it all and confronted our male friend.

I told her calmly that I felt my trust had been compromised, that I felt let down and was angry and upset about it all. I also said that our friendship was important to me and that I wanted to understand why she had made the decision she had.

The conversation was civil enough but I felt extremely uncomfortable during the meeting. Her and this male friend were sitting very tight together (clearly they have been busy bolstering each others views that they have done nothing wrong) and if my sponsor hadn't been there I would have felt completely isolated.

She sent me a text after the meeting saying that it had been good to talk and perhaps we could go out for lunch sometime soon?

But I don't really see how we can move forward while she is refusing to acknowledge that she has done anything, or take any responsibility for her behaviour. At the same time I realise hanging on to any bad feeling will be damaging to both of us.

I feel I'm at a crisis point with aa really. I'm questioning everything. I just do not feel it is a safe environment for me. At what other group therapy type situation would you immediately be told to avoid half the members as they may not have your best interests at heart? I'm not supposed to associate with, or trust the men. I can't trust the woman I had become closest to either. And yet somehow I'm supposed to sit in meetings with all these people and share some of my most personal stuff??? I didn't get anything out of the meeting last night I felt so uncomfortable. Without trust and basic emotional safety, there is no value in the therapeutic model.

I'm considering bowing out. I have a lot of aa literature, have learned a lot about alcoholism, and have access to all sorts of resources for recovery that I didn't have before. So perhaps I can try maintaining abstinence without attending meetings. I'm finding attending meetings exhausting anyway - because I live so rurally I'm often not getting home until 10.30pm after working all day, and I have to be up again at 6.00am to sort my three children out for school. I'm constantly knackered, constantly forgetting important things, and am not eating properly because I just do not have the time to eat a proper dinner between finishing work and going to meetings.

I've got a sponsor I can keep in touch with and always have the option of going back to meetings if I find I can't manage without them.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 14-Nov-12 11:38:53

Look again at the links I sent you: you might find any or all of them good alternate sources of support. I think at least one offers online support rather than meetings.

I am not in any kind of recovery or anything myself but I have friends who have had negative experiences with the 12-step movement and it is definitely not the only way to recover from addiction. So basically don't feel that if AA, specifically, is not suiting you, then you have no alternative route to getting your life back, there are alternatives out there. And an awful lot of HCPs now feel that AA is not a particularly good method for a lot of people.

janelikesjam Wed 14-Nov-12 12:09:10

Just want to send you some support thanks.

I think you might be better moving on from that group as you say, it sounds a bit of a mess and not a good start/safe enough place for you to be. As already said on this thread, there are other options if you need them.

Keep looking after yourself, and finding your own strength.

x

Fuckitthatlldo Wed 14-Nov-12 12:09:42

Thank you Solidgoldbrass I did have a look at that link, and have also previously looked at alternatives such as Rational Recovery e.t.c.

I had been interested in other options primarily because I am an atheist and so some parts of the 12 step programme did not sit particularly easily with me. I have found, however, that I've been able to navigate my way around that. I do not believe in god, but I do believe in the basic goodness of people (including myself) and have been able to squeeze that belief into some sort of higher power concept. It took a bit of mental gymnastics but I got there!

But I've gone off on a tangent. What I wanted to say is that unfortunately, I really think that if one wants real life, dedicated peer support with recovery, then aa is the only option. Perhaps not if you live in or near a big city (where there might be secular or Women For Sobriety meetings) but certainly if you live rurally as I do. And I honestly think it is that support, rather than the steps in and of themselves, which really helps people.

Ironically that's also the reason I'm in such a pit - because the people I relied on for support have turned out not to be reliable.

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 13:07:29

I have recently been badly led down in a 12-step group - interestingly, the issue was the male/female dynamic too. I have immediately started going to a women-only group as a result. I had no support when the whole horrible thing kicked off in the old group and, like you, older members ganged up when something really awful happened in which I was entirely innocent but blamed (and bullied tbf). It has been very shocking, I thought they were my friends. You don't think you're going to have to battle the group on top of your addiction; you think you're with friends who can be trusted. Not so, sometimes - everybody is fucked up, even though you think they'd have surely got the basics (especially the longstanding members!).

You have the full support of your sponsor - that counts for a lot. Go to another group if you can. Take stock, steady yourself, keep going, day at a time .

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 13:16:26

fwiw what they did was wrong imo. big time!

Fuckitthatlldo Wed 14-Nov-12 14:02:58

Oh no Springy I'm sorry to hear you've had a horrid experience too. Glad you have a women only group you can attend - that's definitely what I would be doing as well if it was an option.

TantrumsandBananas Wed 14-Nov-12 16:51:07

I've read all latest posts, and find it all very interesting (I don't mean the horrid situations you have been put in *OP and Springy*).

We used to have a women only meeting but it shut down....shame it was my favourite. I would say that my shares were alot more honest.

I know that we don't want the Men/Women thing to make a difference, but it does. Some of the crap in my first year was men/women related too.

I am trying to think of alternatives, maybe some sort of on-line women only meeting? The only ones I have seen have been american, maybe I will have google and see if there are any in the UK.

I think you feel that AA IS for you, but not the meetings you are going to, but you have little choice in your area.

Maybe we should have a littleAA network in a hidden corner where we could support each other? Oh I don't know, just thinking out loud.

Gotta go, of to work, but will be back later on.

I think you were very brave talking to your "friend". VERY.

Fuckitthatlldo Wed 14-Nov-12 17:41:02

Like an online meeting/aa thread type thing Tantrums? I like that idea smile

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 19:22:27

Perhaps it could be on Off The Beaten Track?

My conclusion is that I don't think it's a good idea to be 'friends' with other addicts, or addicts in the group. In the old group we were socialising now and again - planned socials - and I don't think the crossover works. You're baring your very soul in the groups and perhaps it doesn't work to then socialise together, or be friends, which takes specific skills which most addicts don't have. It could be a learning experience but only if people are committed to learning ways of healthy relating. It's a fine line and one I'd love to master but I have so far not found any takers. Plus I'm pretty crap at managing conflict if I'm the only one who is prepared to step out and risk it. Hmm just read that sentence and it's no wonder I'm 'crap' at it if I'm the only one prepared to take the risk!

Addiction, and recovery, are profoundly selfish (or self-interested) activities, and that's how it should be for recovery, at least in the early stages (and all along up to a point). learning boundaries is a mighty difficult skill if your boundaries have always been up the spout; then utilising said boundaries, fine-tuning them... well, it's a tall order! ime people get the gist of boundaries and can often come out all guns blazing and machine gun anyone who gets in their way.... which is erm a bit painful for the target [understatement]

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