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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?


HousewifefromBethlehem Sun 11-Nov-12 13:06:31

I would cut contact with them. In your fragile state it's just more stress than you need. Find another aa group and don't get so involved. I know it sounds harsh, but I speak from experience. Good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-Nov-12 13:07:01

They've all been out of order. People the world over will conveniently forget to mention a partner if they think it improves their chances of getting their leg over. So he's no different to anyone else in that regard. But in a group therapy setting of people who are all pretty vulnerable because of an addiction problem -who share very personal information and rely on mutual trust - I think it's really bad of him to try to take advantage and just bizarre of the others to collude.

You could take this one of two ways. The obvious one would be to back off from these people completely because I don't think they're bringing anything positive to either your life or your recovery. OR.... because I don't think you have anything to be embarrassed could use this as an opportunity to assert yourself. Tell him what a total shit he's been and tell the others they're no better. You may find that cathartic.

FermezLaBouche Sun 11-Nov-12 13:11:06

I think they've acted poorly - not only the bloke with the partner, but the others for not telling you. It just smacks of really really bad judgement and they certainly weren't acting in your interest.
I would back off from these people and wouldn't be able to trust them again, unfortunately.
Is there another AA group you can attend?

TantrumsandBananas Sun 11-Nov-12 13:11:18

OK. First things first. Speak to your sponsor.

Don't stop going to meetings, but get there and back under your own steam. Bit of distance required.

Projection much? Don't look for reasons to day at a time. PLAN today and forget about tomorrow.

So if you are going to a meeting today plan on going on your own, you don't have to tell anyone you are going or not.

Do remember that your "friends" are recovering alkies just like you are. Don't get swept up in the drama. Sobriety comes before anything, no matter what.

It happens, I had a strange time with some fellow newbies when I first went in. It passed. But I learnt the hard way.

Do. Not. Stop. Going!

Love Tantrums (just passed 9 years AA birthday)

Gorja Sun 11-Nov-12 13:15:46

Remember the serenity prayer. Change what you can change today, accept that you cannot change what has happened. Take one day at a time and do what is best for you, your recovery is the most important thing in all of this.

Thinking of you,

Fuckitthatlldo Sun 11-Nov-12 13:22:31

9 years? All power to you Tantrums - that's a fantastic achievement.

I don't intend to drink today. I'm working on my steps and trying to keep my head out of the shed. Will phone my sponsor later.

But I do feel confused and let down. And unsure how to handle things. I often pick this woman up for meetings - she has no transport. I am not her only option for a lift but she does often rely on me to be able to get to meetings. I feel as though I want to distance myself but don't really know what to say to her. I would like to avoid a confrontation if at all possible - I want to remain on easy terms as I live rurally and can't just go to a different meeting - there are not many around here.

Ahardyfool Sun 11-Nov-12 13:34:09

I think they maybe used poor judgement to do what they thought was right at the time. It wasn't great colluding like that but I would be inclined to try and not take it personally, particularly as they have now been upfront and true to their word about speaking out if things began to affect you.

I do think the man with partner has been very unfair and deceitful though, and deserves your annoyance/anger most. However, I can only presume that for many attending AA, the ability to make good life choices is either impaired due to alcoholism or diminishes because of deeper issues which may also have contributed to the drinking in the first place.

You need to strike a balance between compassion for those around you also struggling with beating their addiction and the reasons behind that addiction and preserving and building your own self esteem. Set yourself some personal boundaries, state them clearly and then move forwards with compassion and empathy for all if you can.

tribpot Sun 11-Nov-12 13:40:27

Tantrums is spot on. Speak to your sponsor.

These kind of friendships can spring up in many stressful or isolating situations, and in your case you've got the additional fragility of early sobriety. I completely take your point - it's not that this situation in itself is causing you to think about drinking, but had it gone to one possible conclusion it certainly could have done, and if these friends really had your sobriety and your best interests at heart they could have seen that too.

I won't spend time with anyone who undermines my sobriety, it's too important to me. Your number one priority is yourself, and I think as a n00b at AA you're not supposed to feel you should be reaching out to help others, that's what the sponsors are for.

In my view you should be honest with the woman - you feel she has let you down, perhaps with good intentions. You're not willing to engage in an emotionally charged situation because it runs counter to your recovery. You are happy to continue to give her a lift to the meetings but you are equally happy if she wants to make other arrangements. And that is the end of the discussion.

I think trying to avoid the confrontation could be riskier in the long run - avoiding looking the truth in the face is how we got to be alcoholics in the first place. But you do need to put your own needs first, which is why I would take advice from your sponsor on the best way the situation can be defused.

Take care - we're all with you.

Fuckitthatlldo Sun 11-Nov-12 14:36:18

Thank you everyone. I have spoken to my sponsor who feels I should distance myself entirely from the male members of this friendship group (one of whom has 24 years sobriety and should have known better), and then perhaps calmly let my female friend know that I feel let down thus, giving her the chance to apologise.

I think if she is able to acknowledge that she made a poor judgement call and is sorry for that, then that is something I can accept and our friendship can continue. However, I mean to distance myself slightly, whatever happens. I feel as though I have been drawn into something a bit dark and I mean to pull away from that.

Feckbox Sun 11-Nov-12 14:40:45

what a very odd thing to lie about.Was he hoping to start a relationship with you at some point in the future?

Fuckitthatlldo Sun 11-Nov-12 15:31:54

Feckbox I think he is the sort of man who cannot be without a woman. I think he is using his current partner for somewhere nice to stay and various other benefits, but that he was hoping to line me up as some sort of future relationship, yes. Either that or he fancied a bit on the side.

Whatever. It was never going to happen. And thank god too, in light of the current revelations.

TantrumsandBananas Sun 11-Nov-12 15:45:03

one day sobriety, 6 months sobriety, 24 years sobriety - its all relative if you take it one day at a time.

Friend just arrived, will try and come back later - keep smiling.

Feckbox Sun 11-Nov-12 16:59:43

Fuckit that is pretty sad really. Particularly as recovery is so much about honesty - with yourself and with others

TantrumsandBananas Sun 11-Nov-12 18:08:12

Sorry disappeared. So, what can you learn from this? I'm sure your sponsor has said this, but look for your part in this. I am NOT suggesting you have done anything wrong, your friends and this man have been deceitful. But thats how they want to work their programme. You decide how you want to work yours.

After your first 6 months you have come down to AA earth with a bang and realised that noone is perfect. Specially not in AA. Put a group of people together, these sort of things are going to happen. Acceptance is the key!

IF you want to gain some decent and long living sobriety, Be harsh, what do you want? Some "friends" who have been less than honest, OR lovely lovely sobriety, where you will make proper meaningful relationships.

I know its said that AA is not a selfish programme, but initially it has to be. Get back to basics now.

Men for men

Women for women


Fuckitthatlldo Sun 11-Nov-12 23:58:43

I went to my Sunday meeting tonight. The guy that failed to tell me our friend had a partner was there. I could see that he had been told I now knew the score. He immediately made a beeline for me and asked if I was ok. I said I was, took my seat and ignored him. But at the end of the meeting he approached me again.

I'm afraid I handled it badly and told him I was angry and felt let down. He just gave a litany of excuses and tried to go on about how sick the guy who relapsed is. I know that he is sick, but I pointed out he was not the only person I felt let down by. I said I had been lied to. He said no, that they had simply witheld information. I said that was lying by omission and was the same thing. I could hear my voice starting to rise so I said it was probably best to leave it there, and he left.

Too late though. Other people from the group overheard that I was clearly upset and angry. A couple of the old timers stayed behind to talk to me. I told them what had happened. They told me to try to mend my friendship with the woman but to steer clear of the men.

I feel really upset by this :-(

ninah Mon 12-Nov-12 00:01:18

don't be upset, it's good you expressed your hurt. Now let it go

TantrumsandBananas Mon 12-Nov-12 08:25:14

Old Timers are so right.

Men for Men

Women for Women.

You have found out the hard way why this is best.

TantrumsandBananas Mon 12-Nov-12 09:38:05

ninah is right.

Remember, you can only think about one thing at once. When it pops up, think about something different! Even if you have to say it out loud to yourself....

Fuckitthatlldo Mon 12-Nov-12 11:03:49

Well that may be true Tantrums although if it is so imperative that women avoid the men in aa, one might well question the validity of mixed meetings. I'm supposed to be able to trust all the people in those meetings - after all they are all privy to very personal information about me. Either it is a safe environment or it isn't.

Also, the person I feel most hurt by is another woman. Must I avoid any kind of friendship or bond with anyone?

I drank a bottle of wine last night and I feel absolutely furious. Furious with myself for having allowed this to upset me so much. Furious with them for behaving poorly and breaking my trust. I've had two hours sleep and am in work having driven in still over the limit. I look like hell and have had to lie to my colleague and tell her I'm ill. I'm back to square one and I don't know what to do.

I don't know where to go from here. I don't feel safe in meetings anymore - they're just full of other fucked up people who can't be trusted.

TalkingintheDark Mon 12-Nov-12 11:14:51

You're quite right to feel upset by this, Fuckit. It is really upsetting. And it's doubly so because you thought you were in a safe environment and you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and you trusted the people you were with to not abuse that. But they did. And this particular dickhead (the guy who lied by omission) won't take responsibility for what he did, and is leaving you with all the crap. How are you supposed to go to the meetings and sit there and share really personal, vulnerable stuff, when you know he is listening, and so are other people you really can't trust? It changes the whole dymanic for you.

I have never been to AA but I do have experience of other 12-step groups and I've experienced emotional shit going down in that setting too. People whose whole life is supposedly based on honesty and self-awareness and personal growth blah blah but really they're just in massive denial still. I was deeply, deeply upset by the behaviour of one member of the last 12-step group I went to and realised that there was zero emotional safety there - she was actually the person who'd started that group, a sponsor umpteen times over, the unacknowledged "leader" so there was no point trying to take her on. So I stopped going.

But I had other options. The group wasn't a life-saver for me, it was something that was a back up and it kind of worked up to a point but it wasn't the be all and end all. (And, tbh, I never really bought into the whole 12 step philosophy; but then I didn't have a physical addiction to address.) Your situation sounds a lot more urgent. Your need to stay sober is obviously a very serious and real one (and I so respect you for tackling your addiction, huge kudos to you.)

You say you live rurally so your other options are limited, but do you have any other options? AA online? The long-running BraveBabes thread on here? What about some personal counselling or therapy, if you can afford it? Are there any NHS or voluntary sector services for addiction in your area if not? I think you need to widen your net and not be totally dependent on the AA approach.

Because 12 step groups are basically collections of people who are damaged in one way or another, and people who are damaged often behave badly. Even when they are trying not to, and I personally think the danger of these groups is that people can kid themselves they're doing it all right because they're "working the programme" but really they are still avoiding stuff in themselves big time.

Anyway, to cut to the chase: yes, your gut is spot on. You do need to back off from these people to some degree and protect yourself from them. You are not being melodramatic or over-reacting. This was really highly, highly questionable judgement on the part of your "friends" and I would not want to be close to anyone who had made such a bad judgement call.

I wouldn't be trying that hard to mend things with your female friend either. Why on earth would one woman agree to withhold from another woman that a man they are both "friends" with is actually in a relationship? It is lying by omission, as you say, and who needs friends who lie about stuff like this? It potentially left you open to all kinds of headfuck. And the fact that she and this other guy did it at all is definitely a head fuck in itself, because, as you say, you'd shared a lot of personal stuff with them and thought you could trust them, and it turns out they're not the people you thought they were at all. That's hurtful in that it's feels like a betrayal, and it's also scary because you're in a vulnerable place and feel you need the support of others to stay sober.

I hope you can find the support you need and the strength within yourself to carry on on your road of recovery. YOU are the one at the end of the day who is keeping you sober (or your Higher Power, if you prefer to think of it that way), not AA. You actually sound really clear and together. Probably a lot more so than your supposed friends; I am sure part of the reason this has been so shocking for you is that you just wouldn't do something like this yourself.

And I guess it's a good lesson in learning who to trust and maybe to take things more slowly with new friends in the future - I know firsthand the dynamic that makes you "bond" with people over-quickly in this kind of situation and it's a hard lesson to learn but an important one, especially for your recovery. And I think your reaction is a good indicator that you can trust your gut feelings, so that's something to feel good about! It's OK to be upset. It's your right to be upset, it's a genuinely upsetting situation. And it's your right to use your upset to change the way you're approaching things, in a way that works for you.

Fuckitthatlldo Mon 12-Nov-12 12:51:35

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed post Talking.

I think the brave babes thread on here is a great source of support, and there is other online support I can tap into too, but it is not enough for me on its own. I have long term, deep seated issues with alcohol and feel I need the intensive peer support that only aa can offer.

There are other drug and alcohol support services in the area but they all use the harm minimisation approach. Again, this does not work for me as I cannot control my drinking no matter how hard I try (and believe me, I've tried!)

You're right when you say the reason this has been so shocking is because I just wouldn't behave like that myself. I do not claim to be a beacon of fantastic mental health, or someone that never makes mistakes. My own judgement can sometimes be poor too, but to me that was just so obviously a shitty and wrong thing to do. I feel a bit bewildered to be honest.

The thing is, aa was/is last chance saloon for me. If I can't make this work I have nowhere else to go sad

qo Mon 12-Nov-12 12:57:02

I remember your previous thread about a man at your meeting who you had a crush on - is it the same guy?

qo Mon 12-Nov-12 12:57:29

Forgot to say well done on continued sobriety you are doing amazingly! smile

Fuckitthatlldo Mon 12-Nov-12 13:03:39

No qo it's not the same guy - luckily I have no feelings for this guy - if I had have it might have been an even bigger mess.

And I don't have continued sobriety. I drank last night. I'm in a mess and I don't know what to do.

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.


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]

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 19:25:36

I would love to resolve this recent conflict (and tried to!) but I simply don't have the courage - being as I was pretty much ganged up on by the heavies (though I don't mean to get out the violins).

BabyBorn Wed 14-Nov-12 20:35:40

Apologise if this has already been said, but I think you are being very over sensitive and melodramatic here.

Sounds like you are making the whole situation about yourself, which is pretty much what these aa meetings are like isn't it? Me, me me.

It also sounds like your making what's happened a reason to feel stressed, so you can give yourself a good reason (in your mind) to have a drink.

The reason this sounds harsh is because I understand how it all goes. Been there done that. Thankfully out the other side without professional help. Just realisation of what an utter twat I was under the influence and sheer will power.

You sound like you have far to go yet. Drop the drama, and wanting to make friends with these people and concerntrate on the reason your at these meetings.

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 20:50:17

grin - you're a 12-stepper alright, Baby!! brutal honesty and all that grin

BabyBorn Wed 14-Nov-12 21:06:34

Springy, the Shitty bits in life want to make me want to reach for a drink everyday, lol, but I don't.

The OP has more to worry about than a playground fall out.

Addiction is about selfishness, lying, secrecy, disapointment, humiliation and being dramatic and out of control. That's why these people would never make good friends.

You can get through the other side. But only when your ready.

You have to be honest when your looking at a situation you can see straight through. Cruel to be kind and such like.

BabyBorn Wed 14-Nov-12 21:09:02

Sorry about the cock up in first paragraph. I'm ironically trying to breastfeed my youngest.

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 21:28:47

sorry to hijack but please expand on these Baby one by one

selfishness, lying, secrecy, disapointment, humiliation and being dramatic and out of control

though I appreciate you're a bit busy at present!

(really enjoying your posts btw - breath of fresh air)

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 14-Nov-12 23:16:45

One of the reasons why the whole 12-step business doesn't work for quite a lot of people is that it's actually sort of sold on the idea of forming lasting friendships and support networks with people just like you - and also, the whole group-understanding-hive-mind-non-judgemental stuff can make it very easy for people who have problems other than their substance abuse ie that they are arseholes to fuck up other people's recovery with power games, sexual predation, drama llama stuff... Unfortunately, this can mean that people who are abused by other group members (whether that's violence, sexual abuse, dishonesty or stalking) can get told to suck it up because 'we're all equal, we've all done terrible things, it's the imaginary friend Higher Power who has the right to judge us'.

OP: You can get your life back. You can choose to stay sober. You'll find a way that works for you. The one thing to hold on to is that anyone who tries to tell you that AA, specifically, is your last or only chance and therefore you have to keep on spending time with people who have behaved badly to you is lying or misguided. IE don't ever feel that it's a matter of putting up with their shit or drinking yourself to death. Because it isn't.

springyhopes Wed 14-Nov-12 23:38:04

I agree with your last sentiment SG - wholeheartedly! - but I don't think 12-step is sold on the idea of forming lasting friendships. it hasn't been my experience at all and I've been around these here parts for many years. yy to people being arseholes. I did mind you sneaking in your views about a higher power though - if people believe, leave them to it: mind you own business (to use a recovery principle)

BabyBorn Wed 14-Nov-12 23:59:20

Springy, I ment those are the general traits of someone that abuses alcohol or drugs. Usually to hide the fact that they havnt got a problem/ not drinking too much or even at all.

Just been through it with a friend. Just lost his life at 53 horrifically because of drink. He was in denial Upto the end. He was honest and hard working but extremely selfish, dishonest about his drinking and very secretive. Typically. He died painfully 3 days ago through complications related to alcohol abuse. Can see the shell of a man in his hospital bed now. Poor poor guy.

springyhopes Thu 15-Nov-12 00:17:46

I'm so sorry about your friend, Baby. My cousin died in the same way - a young guy in his 40s. We didn't even know he was an alcoholic until the very end <cry>

yes I know those are the characteristics but I was hoping you would go into some more detail. I recognised so much of that list in my family not me of course...

Fuckitthatlldo Thu 15-Nov-12 08:41:33

Had a read last night of the new comments and thought I'd take the time to absorb them rather than typing an instant reaction.

Baby, fair enough. I was always prepared to accept the fact that I may have been indulging my tendency towards melodrama. My sponsor has also spoken to me about the dangers of giving myself 'permission' to drink. So I do take all that on board. However my feelings of confusion and hurt are real enough and I do feel it was necessary for me to address them.

I think that's brilliant that you managed to stop drinking off your own steam - all power to you. However for some people it has nothing to do with willpower and they need proper treatment, extra support, and to be given specific tools and techniques to help them maintain their recovery. Alcoholism is an illness, not a weakness of character. There is no shame in having an illness.

However, like Solid says, unfortunately in aa all sorts of behaviours will be attributed to the persons alcoholism, even if they are exhibited while sober (because we still have the alcoholic mind-set, see). And I feel that this can allow people a lot of wiggle room when it comes to taking real responsibility for their actions. I feel that I have been encouraged to accept and 'let go' some appalling behaviour on the basis that people are "ill". As though I'm some sort of judgemental bigot for maintaining any boundaries at all.

Look, I have done shitty things in my drinking the same as everyone else. And while I can take steps towards forgiving myself and accepting that I was sick and not in my right mind, I do not expect that from other people. Because whether I was ill or not, I am still accountable, and people are entitled to protect their boundaries and wellbeing.

Having said that, I am forever blown away at how generous and accepting people are when they can see that you are trying to be better. I am lucky to have some fantastic friends and family who have stuck by me with affection and humour. However, they are people with healthy boundaries and self esteem and I know they will not tolerate shitty drunken behaviour. Quite right too.

helpyourself Thu 15-Nov-12 22:30:32

Hi Fuckit
I remember your post about the older guy.
Keep it simple, keep your head down and concentrate on yourself. I'm nearly 3 years sober, attend meetings regularly, but don't really socialise with my AA friends. I think you're feeling maybe AA's not for you, but as other solutions aren't exactly beating your door down, I'd persevere.
All the best.

hopespringy Thu 15-Nov-12 23:45:01

It seems, from what you've said, that AA is for you, just that you are having to negotiate the minefield that is (often) AA relationships.

Addicts don't turn into saints just because we've turned that monumental corner and got into recovery. All those years of shit that went into developing an addiction is still there and to be worked through - in one sense the lid is off and out it comes in all its 'glory'... ime it's only a matter of time before it pops up throwing (potential) headfucks spanners into the works.

it does throw a bucket of cold water over everything though: makes you kind of wake up with a jolt. As helpyourself so rightly says - once you get over the shock/confusion, you turn to keeping your head down and resolutely concentrating on yourself/your own recovery. Which is not a bad thing at all ...

Fuckitthatlldo Sun 18-Nov-12 08:36:53

Hi everybody, just an update.

This: As helpyourself so rightly says - once you get over the shock/confusion, you turn to keeping your head down and resolutely concentrating on yourself/your own recovery.

I think that's where I've got to now. As time moves on I find I'm less bothered about losing these aa 'friendships' and more concerned about the long-term. My sponsor has been incredibly supportive (at the same time as not giving me any flannel) and we've been doing some step one/step four work together which has really helped to focus my mind.

I've been working through the Hazelden classic step pamphlets, and doing the step one writing exercises. Actually writing down answers to questions such as, 'List three things you did when using alcohol or other drugs - things you would not do when sober', is really powerful in terms of smashing through any residual denial and reinforcing that desperate desire to get sober that propelled me into aa in the first place.

I still feel a little nervous about meetings, but I'm not going to allow myself to opt out. Changing meetings will be time consuming and expensive, and like my sponsor says, I haven't done anything wrong and there is no reason I should have to change.

Fuckitthatlldo Sun 18-Nov-12 08:50:20

Also, another question: Does anybody else suffer from sugar addiction?

I'm not talking about enjoying the odd mars bar too many, I'm talking about a serious problem.

When I am in the pit of my sugar addiction, I live on it. Literally. Breakfast will be a couple of cups of tea with two sugars. Maybe some biscuits. I will then eat cake, sweets, and biscuits throughout the day, substituting these for proper meals.

I can pull myself out of it (with difficulty) but I have to go completely cold turkey and then watch my diet like a hawk. If I even allow myself to have just one cup of tea with sugar in it a day, I eventually get back to the stage where I am living on sugar. I even have to be careful with overly sweet condiments and dried fruit, as they just feed my obsessively sweet tooth.

People in real life laugh at me when I tell them this as I am in good shape and a size 8. They don't believe me. But I don't put on weight easily - that's just my body type. Also the thing that usually propels me to go cold turkey is the realisation that I am beginning to put on weight.

I've heard sugar addiction is common amongst alcoholics and was wondering if anyone else had any experience? I need to get off this see-saw and find some balance.

janelikesjam Tue 20-Nov-12 09:25:42

OP, Beyond Sugar Shock by Connie Bennett briefly addresses some of this (size 8 but addicted to sugar and also connection to alcohol (p.69, p.184).

Its a good book actually I think (though very American IYSWIM). I expect you have enough reading material now, but maybe worth looking at at a later point.


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