Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Healers, Heal Thyselves

Alcoholics Anonymous has become pretty welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks. Which is a good thing, because there are a lot of drunks in the GLBT community. I should know, because I'm one of them. And I know a hell of a lot more than one.

The organization has a ways to go, however, when it comes to understanding how to make us FEEL welcome.

Mind-numbed, Bible-thumping dogmatists are not our favorite people. A lot of us have problems with mind-numbed, Big Book-thumping dogmatists, too. Some of us have even become them.

The Big Book is the A.A. "Bible." And it really is a lifeline to untold numbers of people. It is read and quoted, by many, with the same devotion with which legions of Christians rely upon the Bible. It really is a wise, reassuring, challenging and empowering book. I now read my Big Book every day -- right along with my Bible, the current version for me being "The Recovery Bible."

A friend, also in recovery, has warned me about "the thumpers." Not the Bible-thumpers, but the Big Book-thumpers. And he's right; they truly are scary, scary people.

Some folks, when they became involved in A.A., seem to have been assimilated into the Borg.

I had a conversation, a few nights ago, with two lesbians who are in A.A. They knew virtually nothing about me except that I was in A.A., too, and that I had only recently returned to regular meetings.

For all they knew, I could have been sober for twenty years. It's actually only been two and a half, but whatever the case may be, my clear implication, in the little I did reveal about myself, was that I was not an active drunk and that, in fact, I had been sober for some time.

For reasons quite unclear to me (and probably even to themselves), they insisted on assuming I was only two or three tottering steps away from the halfway house.

One of them informed me -- with all the self-assurance of an expert -- that I "had not yet accepted that I was an alcoholic." And how had she reached this conclusion? Because I said I wanted a sponsor who actually cared enough about me to get to know me.

Heresy! Burn me at the stake, and hold a Big Book before my eyes as I roast. I'm not sure why it's heresy, but a mind-numbed dogmatist basically told me so.

It was obviously very important to her that she knew more than me, and that I was helpless. I recognize this sort of attitude; I grew up with a recovering-alcoholic father. It is the behavior of a classic dry drunk.

My temporary sponsor (and believe me, she is temporary) tends to treat me the same way: very bossily and condescendingly -- almost with contempt. Dry drunks, who are, of course, recovering alcoholics who's still got a lot of recovering left to do, seem to transfer contempt for themselves into contempt for those who happen to be at an earlier stage of recovery than they are.

I need a sponsor who has been sober long enough -- and who has recovered sufficiently -- to share her recovery with me, instead of her sickness. Only someone who isn't very smart, or very honest, could smugly diagnose my desire for a healthy healer as any unwillingness, on my part, to admit that I'm in need of healing.

Thank God, not every A.A. member's eyes glaze over into otherworldly obsessiveness when I speak with them. Some are farther along in their recovery than others. I hope and pray I'll find a regular sponsor at least a little farther along than I am. One, in other words, who can actually be of help to me.

I shouldn't be surprised that in A.A., there are a lot of sick people. In A.A., we're all sick people. But just as the Bible can be used as an excuse to keep from growing in holiness, the Big Book can certainly be used to keep from growing in health.

Thumpers of either Book need to stop their thumping and get back to their reading. It's especially unbecoming for straight dry drunks to lecture gay ones about God (as my temporary sponsor is prone to do) as if we could never possibly have heard of "Him" before. They need to be part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem.

Healers, heal thyselves.


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