So, I have 153 days sober today. I have been attending meetings since the 1st of the year, and a few weeks ago finally found a sponsor. Yesterday he decided he “could not work with me” because I had some questions that he either could not answer, or did not care to think about enough to answer. I was fully committed to working the steps, and his first plan was to simply read the big book aloud, trading paragraphs. As we came to certain parts, I expressed my lack of understanding about a few things. So when it comes to a “higher power” I expressed that I was Buddhist and therefore did not believe in God in the sense that the founding members of AA did (ie: the Christian God). But I explained that the interdependence of all humans, meaning the fellowship of AA members, and the power of working the steps was what I considered to be a power greater than me. I don’t think he understood that, being a Christian himself. But he, as I have heard many people in AA say, proclaimed that “this chair” as he gestured to a chair, could be my higher power. To which it seemed that basically one is relying on a higher power as a source of encouragement until one had worked the steps and found the strength through the community and the power of taking inventory and making amends. Apparently this was not good enough because he basically told me that as we worked the steps, hopefully I would change my mind. This was one week ago yesterday, and when I called him to plan our usual meeting before a meeting, he told me that he had talked to some guys in our group, and his sponsor and decided he could not work with me. This was disappointing, as I had found a power greater than myself in this group, and was fully immersed and set to work the steps. So perhaps some of you could shed some light on why this is a problem, because basically I have gotten nothing but blanket statements and black and white thinking on the subject from a few AA members including my now ex-sponsor. I appreciate it.
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A question for those with some experience in AA
March 14, 2018 at 2:46 am #4973March 14, 2018 at 10:40 pm #4978
Hi Joseph, So sorry to hear what happened to you. Not too sure I can answer in depth, although sober since 1976? I’m truly shocked by the sad revelations I read, after joining the online group. The AA fellowship I joined in ’76 would not have behaved so. I got sober in Maryland and continue here in Maine, both, particularly Maryland, known for their spirituality. If AA can accept atheists and we do, we can surely accept people with other beliefs, as long as none of us, Christians or whatever try to prosletise ? spelling there- at meetings. The lack of open – mindedness I am discovering after all these years is a tragic eye opener for me. The 12 and 12 book, Steps and traditions, says at some point that ‘ the eye of the needle is larger than we can imagine’ Paraphrasing there. If you have the cojones to continue to attend this group, because you felt you were receiving some benefit from it, do so. However, my sponsor, now long dead, told me that some groups are sicker than others, which may be the case here, and to check out as many as I could, which I did, settling on 5 I attended each week and 11 when ever possible. If you do return to that group and have the courage to do so what I suggest next, I’d suggest you request the Group have what is called a ‘Group Conscience meeting’ and share your experience in detail. This is where troubles such as this are discussed and it’s not always the loudest voiced OR the majority which rule. However, we ned to be prepared for ‘flack’ and to give them a choice mentally, of seeing things our way, or not. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. Do not, again as my sponsor said, ‘Let the b—-rds get you down or pull the rug out from under you. You seem to have more sobriety to me than they have. Another thing you might do is send what you have already written to the offices in New York and or contact your GSR representative in your area and discuss it with them. Hope this helps. It has always – as far back as I can remember – been absolutely Kosher to use the AA Group as a Higher Power. I draw the line at door knobs, but the group was mine, until I found one. I was agnostic, borderline atheist. Kind regards and God bless, Jean MMarch 15, 2018 at 5:09 am #4979
I truly appreciate your response, kind words, and suggestions. Sadly, I am in a small town and almost all of the meetings in the surrounding towns are frequented by the same close-knit group of men with whom my sponsor is friends. So that makes finding another meeting that I feel comfortable with even more difficult. I understand that the basica of AA are based in the Bible, which my ex-sponsor was very proud to point out more than a couple of times. The frustrating thing to me is the inability and unwillingness to stand behind what they believe. That I was essentially denied help because I questioned the purpose of a higher power when it was suggested that it could be an inanimate object is somewhat pathetic. Especially considering that I did have a more definitive and nuanced definition than “that chair” and that I was ready to honestly and diligently work the steps. It seems to me that if one believes in something and is taking a position of service as a sponsor, one’s belief should be able to withstand scrutiny. Also unfortunate, is what seems to be a lack of updating definitions based upon new studies and research. My ex-sponsor believes that you either are an alcoholic and therefore need a higher power to overcome your “powerlessness” or you are just a problem drinker and maybe you just need to see a therapist and get over some issues. I think my questioning this black and white perspective was too much for him, the other men in his circle, and his sponsor to handle. Rather than acknowledge my desire and willingness to proceed or even discuss it further, he fled. I do not wish to potentially harm anyone’s sobriety, so I probably will not push it or report it to anyone else. If this narrow way of thinking helps these people to improve their lives, then it has some merit. As much as I benefit from skepticism and analysis and research of modern studies, that may be a hindrance to others. While disappointing, this will not affect my progress or self-care. Again, thank you! I appreciate your response and wish you well. I just hope that people like this are not what is keeping the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous in the single digits.March 15, 2018 at 4:12 pm #4980
You might want to consider joining this online group. There is one religiously oriented meeting; however, the usual chair does use a Buddhist prayer as well as the Lord’s. The other meetings are the more AA oriented and non sectarian. A Big Book study group is just getting starting and sorting itself out. When my grandson was in school, he had to write a paper on different religions. I was struck by how like the AA philosophy, I had come to understand, Buddhism was. In addition – a member of the Women’s group I attend is Buddhist and receives no flack for her beliefs, so I wonder what the heck is happening and where all this is coming from? Has to be ignorance of the AA text and beliefs? Good luck.March 15, 2018 at 4:14 pm #4981
PS I truly believe if you were to send in to the Grapevine magazine – exactly what you have written here – and to General Services in New York, you would receive a helpful response and help others at the same time. Kind regards.April 2, 2018 at 2:47 pm #5152
Welcome!! I started my journey in AA a bit more than a year ago.. AA opens up a door to a world of spirituality. Even though i don’t consider my self a Buddhist 100 % yet.(have not taken a refuge or precepts) I find that Buddhists philosophy helps me tremendously in my recovery. Let me know if you need any help with anything.
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