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What We Talk About When We Talk About Grey


I had the idea a few weeks ago to write a blog post about why I live inside the grey and what exactly that means to me. It’s funny because I never ever thought about having a blog about recovery, until it felt like if I was going to stay sober I needed a place to put my thoughts everyday. I also knew if I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere, there were other people who felt the same. Thus, Living Inside the Grey was born.

When I first started going to 12 Step meetings I felt automatically accepted (albeit overwhelmed). I did AA the “right” way. I went to meetings, checked-in with my sponsor, read the Big Book, talked to other women in the group, etc. Until I stopped. And slowly by slowly I pulled out from the middle of the program (where they say the best recovery is) out onto the edge.

Let’s just say, leaving AA is not a respected thing by anyone in AA. You’re either going to die imminently or you’ll be back before you know it. Or, you’ll be like me. Technically “dry” if we’re using their terminology. Here’s the thing: I never felt like I fit into the rooms. I love the community of women, I love hearing and sharing our stories, but I don’t like that it started to feel like a job. Like I was made to feel selfish or egotistical every time I made a decision. I still have that voice today and I stopped really going to meetings (not like an occasional one here and there, but 5 a week) two years ago.

Yes, I have not been sober these last two years, but I am the first one to say, it’s not because of AA or anyone or any one thing for that matter. I dra(i)nk because I still have a choice and having a choice is a powerful thing. I know I am one of few and I hesitate to even share these parts of my story because I see the backlash of women like me who speak out against a program originally created by two white men and a very old book that just doesn’t allow for anyone not to be a cis-human. It’s hard to be a queer lady in AA. There. I’ll say it. While there are LGBT meetings (I’ve been to a few of them) the foundation of the program is rooted in whiteness and the dynamic between husband and wife. The book is treated like God’s words himself. I’m not about them.

I’m the exception, not the rule. I get that. I’ve had an ex die from an overdose. I grew-up in a very alcoholic and abusive household. My rapist was drunk the night she took my virginity. The list goes on. I know the realities of drinking and the consequences of prolonged drinking, but I also know AA is not for me and not for everyone. I’ve seen things in those rooms that border on cult-ish. I once messaged someone I knew was in the program and she responded with paragraph after paragraph of death related alcohol statistics. There is another way. I know this. We do not need to scare people into sobriety.

Living Inside the Grey is born of the fact that I need there to be another way. I need to know that I can create a community that isn’t conditional. You don’t need to call yourself anything, count days, go to meetings, etc. to be here. You just need to come back. You need to love yourself unconditionally. You need to know that addiction is like playing a game of Russian Roulette, you’ll never know when the bullet’s coming, but you can also put the gun down first.

The grey area is defined this way by Merriam Webster: having an intermediate and often vaguely defined position, condition, or character.

That’s what this space is: vaguely defined, unsure of its self, but showing up regardless

I don’t want anyone to feel like this space isn’t for you if you do choose AA or another 12 Step program. If something helps you than I highly recommend you keep doing that thing. These words are exclusively my opinions and my experiences. But, I hope if you are suffering and feel very lonely you know that you are in fact not alone and that this space, this space right here, is for you.

*DISCLAIMER: If you need medical help call 911. I am not a doctor and these thoughts do not in anyway belong to anyone but myself. My expeirences are solely my own.

One thought on “What We Talk About When We Talk About Grey Leave a comment

  1. “the foundation of the program is rooted in whiteness and the dynamic between husband and wife. The book is treated like God’s words himself…” :…but I also know AA is not for me and not for everyone. I’ve seen things in those rooms that border on cult-ish…We do not need to scare people into sobriety.” I really like these comments. It’s not for everyone and it’s so easy to become an AA parrot! Unfortunately, alcoholics have a tendency to go all out or not think at all.

    I recently read the big book in gender neutral at a book study and I surprisingly got good responses. I qualified my reading with “I do not like how Bill wrote this so I decided to read it differently”. I agree it’s treated as gospel in some circles and among the bleeding deacons. And while I am of the camp that recognizes the validity of keeping the first 164 the unaltered, I believe it’s up to those that are in “fringe” groups to speak up and help shift that mentality. There is a significant number of non-American people around the world in AA. India, for example, has a thriving AA fellowship and currently recognizes three sexes at the national level, M, F & T. I would go out on a limb to say that individuals who don’t identify as male or female are accepted in those Indian meetings.

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