ARROGANT “OLD TIMERS”

It’s no secret that I am emotionally charged and borderline irrational, but I really must vent a bit about the arrogance and oftentimes blatant rudeness of some self-proclaimed “old timers” I am encountering in online AA forums. And don’t be offended if you are one. Obviously I’m not talking about all of them.

I’ve repeatedly mentioned that I am not new to AA and that I’ve done this before and I’m being spoken to by certain individuals like I’m a five year old. One told me, “Wait until your my age and you’ll see what I’m talking about.” That’s odd because I don’t recall ever disclosing my age and I haven’t alluded to anything that would date me. Also, there are so many cryptic and self-aggrandizing answers that these people are giving in response to my very real, fair, and simple questions. For instance, I explained some of the physical responses I’m having in my first 2 weeks sober. I talked about what ails me, what is getting better, and how I feel overall physically. I then asked others what got better for them over the first few weeks. One person said, “What got better? I GOT BETTER.” That’s it. That’s all they said. Well no shit. And thanks for the fellowship and making me feel like you understood what I was experiencing.

Look, I totally respect and admire people who have gotten sober and have years upon years to show for it. But the last thing a newly sober person needs is a chastising grandfather that acts like I should be bowing down to the God of recovery and giving thanks for the incredible amounts of wisdom they are imparting upon me ESPECIALLY when they aren’t imparting any wisdom at all and are instead just being a smart ass. The truth is, I came to this on my own. I came before I lost my job, my family, my license, and my ability to walk or talk or speak clearly. I didn’t come as a result of some catastrophic bottom and I’m thankful for that. I understand and comprehend what is going on here. And I don’t think it’s productive or healthy for the sober folks with dozens of years on me to address every newcomer with the same glib and snide remarks as if I just walked in from a gutter without being able to remember my name.

AA allows seemingly anyone to declare themselves a leader in the name of service. But let’s be honest. Not everyone should be.

Sometimes it feels like some people in the AA world aren’t even actually listening to the words coming out of my mouth. Like they have this bag of preprogrammed responses that they just spit out. I think that’s the problem I’ve always had with AA. While I totally understand why it is important, I never seem to be able to get over the fact that it all just seems so staged, repetitive, and formulaic.

I’ll keep going though.

13 comments

  1. Hey,
    Just wanted to say hi, and congratulations. I found you through the Sober Journalist. I’m early days too — just turned three months and can’t believe I made it this far. And also in NYC. Haven’t made it to a meeting because I’m put off by the dogma you mention, so I’m doing this by reading sober blogs like yours. Thank you for putting a resource out there to help other people — finding you has helped me on a bit of a slump day.
    Thank you!

      1. Actually you sound fine to me. It’s amazing any of us make it through the first months– truly amazing. I didn’t write in my early recovery so have a lot of admiration and respect for people who can. They are tough days … Those first days. Your ability to articulate is beautiful. Looking forward to your journey. Lots of great people blogging at wp. 😊

  2. Yeah for someone who has had the same AA experience, I’ve tried many times to get sober and couldn’t get call the gibberish.I tried with my toddler in my arms she was like 2 at the time and was asked to leave by some old biddie named Virginia she might hear things that are shared.??? WTF she’s 2 .

  3. I had similar experiences when I first came in. Luckily, I was able to latch on to some healthier folks who behaved in a way that was more in line with what I was shooting for. I complained about the people who annoyed me (I kinda complained about everything for a while, which was perfectly okay), and the people who had what I wanted would kind of laugh, nod, and say, “Don’t mind so-and-so. They’re sick too”, or, “Well, we are just a bunch of alcoholics trying to get well. Not the the hotbed of mental health. Take what you need and leave the rest”.

    Man, that really helped me early on, just a wink and a smile. Some “oldtimers” (not all) get by on their egos. It’s hard to watch and even harder when we’re returning (I’m a retread too) to listen to condescending crap. My first sponsor, who was awesome and also had a great sense of humor, told me to just say things like, “Okay, thanks for sharing!”

    It’s okay. It really is. But you probably know that already. Glad you’re sticking around. 😉

    1. Every time someone comments on this post and I re-read how angry and nasty I was being, I cringe! Amazing how much resentment and darkness has melted away. I thought about deleting it a few times but… no. This is part of my process. Thanks for reminding me that it’s okay to feel things!

      1. “Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all.”

        -Need You Now, Lady Antebellum (most codependent song ever)

        Your feelings were honest and you were of service to us by keeping it real. Own that shit!

        If you think you were angry & nasty, you should meet some of the folks who were around when I came in. I was a fucking lunatic. I mean, homicidal. Straight up. I think most AA’s who encountered me were either terrified or slightly amused, but most were kind and compassionate. I was also assured that being homicidal was major progress if I was no longer suicidal. So I tucked that compliment in my back pocket.

        Glad you didn’t delete this post. It needed to be said. We don’t have to keep the truth hidden anymore, even if it feels uncomfortable to let it out..

  4. This is the reason that I have not gone to AA yet. I may eventually go, but for now i prefer not to I am 21 days sober today and my insiration comes from blogs like this.

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