What Was The Moment That You Were Indoctrinated Into A 12 Step Group?

I posted this in a Facebook group today and wanted to also share it here in my blog:

I know I’ve been posting a lot about my experiences lately in these deprogramming groups. It’s because I’m going through a period of fairly quick healing right now. The speed of my healing process tends to fluctuate over time. I’ve seen the question asked in these groups about the moment when you realized that AA was not for you or the moment/event that opened your eyes to it. But, I’ve been pondering another question over the last few years: When was the moment or what was the event that finally pushed me into complete indoctrination into the AA program?

Last night, I finally figured this out, after four years of reviewing the situation and any and all memories of AA, particularly the one on one situations that I had with abusive women and sponsors in the program. I also have been putting my behavior while I was in AA on a timeline so that I could see when I started to really down slide. What I’ve been able to tell is that even though I loved AA by the end of my first year of my time there, despite the fact that it still made me somewhat uncomfortable, that I had still held on to at least some of my former identity. And, although I had some memory loss that I knew of, I still remembered, for example, inferential statistics to a T. Furthermore, even though I joined AA in 2005, in Winter Quarter of 2007 I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology and was at the top of my class, earning a 3.9 GPA and winning awards for my experimental research. I also still had retained my weird sense of humor, and was writing funny and sort of out quirky blog posts on Myspace. And, I had retained many of my interests and skills, such as playing the piano, and was still able to learn new material quickly.But eventually, this all just fell apart, and I had memory loss, skill loss, and had issues learning new materials. I lost my sense of humor as well and other fun parts of my personality.There are so many things in 2007 that likely put me over the edge, but, I’ve narrowed down the beginning to the end of my indoctrination into AA. I call this the beginning to the end because this one interaction finally made me stop talking about my trauma and mental health issues, and that was not sustainable for me. So, even though it did indoctrinate me, as I said, it was the beginning to the eventual end of my time in AA.

This all happened in the spring of 2007. I had been having a lot of problems with PTSD symptoms and was changing medications because of it. While I was changing medications, I was put on a temporary six week course of benzodiazepines, likely Klonopin, to help me get through it. At that point in time this putting a patient on a short-term dose of a benzo during a medication change and withdrawal was a common practice.Up until that point, I had shared about my feeling and my life fairly openly at AA meetings. Sometimes, I shared about my trauma history too. This sometimes resulted in scapegoating, and sometimes people were supportive. But, I was considered a “newcomer”, and people in AA tend to put on a front to newcomers to pull them in, and I think that they did this for me in some ways. Like, they didn’t let their worst sides show right away, except for certain ones.I was really scared to be on a benzo because of everything that I had heard about in AA and treatment regarding how bad it is for “alcoholics” to take benzos for any reason. So, I was really having issues with the fact that I had to take them. One day at a meeting I decided to share what was going on with me. I shared about how bad my PTSD symptoms were, and how I had been prescribed a benzo while I was changing medications, along with my fears of relapse. I was crying, and really upset. After the meeting, an “old-timer” woman took me aside, and despite the fact that I was crying and obviously upset, she told me that what I shared in the meeting was inappropriate because it might be upsetting and scary to people there who had “real mental health issues” and “actually needed medication”. She pointed out a guy to me who was in that meeting that day who has schizophrenia, which everyone knew about, and told me that what I said could really hurt him by saying that I have mental health conditions when I do not have one (even though I have been diagnosed by a counselor with PTSD when I was 13 and had been re-diagnosed by a few mental health professionals since then). After that, I left that particular meeting hall and never went back. And, I not only stopped openly sharing in AA about my life (always sticking to the topic) but I also started to screen what I said in the rest of my life as well. It was at that point that I think that I started to go into denial about my trauma history and have severe memory issues. Finally, in 2015 I started to come out of denial about my trauma, and found that people in meetings still didn’t like it when I talked about this stuff and “got off topic”. But, this time I fought against all their attempts at further indoctrination and shushing and eventually left the program. I was tired of memory loss and all of the other issues that I was having, and was determined to move past it. Nothing could get in my way because when I truly set my mind to something, you cannot stop me.

For those of you who are still reading, and were highly indoctrinated, do you remember your moment of indoctrination?

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