In a previous post, I shared a paper I had written — following an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I attended — for a graduate-level class I am currently enrolled in. Here is another paper written following the second meeting I attended. Share your thoughts in the comments.
The second meeting I attended opened in a similar fashion as the previous meeting – this time with a different person sitting at the front table officiating the meeting. The daily reflection spoke about being ‘seized with a rebellion so sickening that we won’t pray.’ This rebellion, though, shouldn’t lead persons to think poorly of themselves, but rather should lead to more prayer as soon as possible. The ‘Higher Power’ will wait for persons to land in a ‘safety net’ after the disease of alcoholism tells persons they are failures following turning a back to the Higher Power.
Following this reading, many members commented on the reading noting that prayer has helped them in recovery and overcoming a ‘barren of spiritual being.’ Another member explained how she believed God disappointed her and, although she prayed hard, as she said, “it turned out in God’s way.” She then questioned prayer saying “if it’s going to happen his way anyway, why pray anyway” and mentioned that God brought everyone to today’s meeting.
One member, seemingly summarizing his experiences with alcohol, said, “I didn’t get in trouble every time I drank, but every time I got in trouble I drank.” He noted, though, that he was never in trouble when he prayed because he paused instead of acting impulsively. He said that prayer, for him, is a tool which he needs to practice and learn how to better use.
A new member announced that he sought the meeting following suicide attempts, one being recent, and a struggle with alcoholism. He claimed to have been molested at a young age and, following this, he was not willing to trust people easily. Following this, he discussed his religious ideas: a God who is watching everyone and will take care of people who really believe. “You can’t say there is no God,” he said, “we are here for a reason.”
Another member, talking about alcoholism, spoke about an illusion of feeling in control – but that is not how it actually is. He said, “it’s how and when I want it but is not how it is.” Further elaborating, he described ‘alcoholism’ as ‘not alcoholwasum’ discussing how it is not easy to remain sober at times.
Following the previous meeting I attended, I was not surprised by the great deal of discussion concerning religious beliefs and themes. Many members from the prior meeting returned and shared some similar stories with the group while some new faces, still mentioning religion, attended. It was interesting to hear some attendees seemingly question their religious ideas (why pray if God has a plan), but there seemed to be no skepticism concerning the existence of such a god. Discussion of the ‘illusion of control’ was also interesting and seems to show that, at least for this member, alcoholics could not get drunk and stay out of trouble or avoid negative outcomes associated with alcohol abuse.
Once again, the religious overtones in the meeting were not appealing to me. The daily reflection, explicitly mentioning prayer and rebellion, seemed to lead the discussion with a religious element as opposed to the generic ‘higher power’ that may be discussed in AA literature. Most compelling, once again, were the stories individual members shared – especially the member who had attempted suicide and was abused as a young boy. These problems, compounded with alcohol, seem to be quite overwhelming. Perhaps this person resorted to alcohol use after the abuse and attempted suicide because of both the alcohol abuse and the childhood abuse?
Members discussed the difficulty of overcoming alcoholism which, to some, is a constant struggle and not just something from the past that is no longer a problem. Considering the difficulty of overcoming alcohol abuse and the undesirable consequences which follow alcohol abuse, theories of addiction seem to be a reasonable explanation. Certain members voiced being sober for twelve years. This seems interesting in the light of them still coming to AA meetings. Are they having a difficult time staying sober? Do they still need reinforcement? Are they just happy being with a group of people?