Killing by AA Cliche
OUR CLICHE’S AID IN SAVING OUR ASSES, BUT WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL HOW WE USE THEM WHEN AIMING THEM AT OUR FELLOWS. WHAT IS THE MOTIVE BEHIND THE CLICHE? MOTIVES ARE RELEVANT. SOME ADDICTS DO KNOW HOW TO TAKE A HELPFUL TOOL AND CAREFULLY TRANSFORM IT INTO AN ARSENAL OF WEAPONS.
I have a razor sharp cliche and it’s aimed at YOU! YIKES! Like “Keep comin’ back”. Everybody in A.A. knows that sometimes it is code for “your an idiot maybe if you come to enough meetings you will grow a brain.” Or how about “some are sicker than others” which is code for “your way sicker than I am buddy!”
Emotional Sobriety 101
I want to investigate the topic of AA cliches and some common uses for our little sayings. Keeping in mind that if we did not have human weakness, fear, shame, regret, guilt, remorse, joy, happiness, sadness, we would be sociopath.
What is the fine art of killing by AA cliché and who is it that uses such ratchet techniques? Firstly anybody who has been around the rooms for a while knows that we in AA have lots and lots of little helpful sayings that when we apply them to ourselves and put them into action not only do they aid us in our recovery but they can save our lives.
Also, when we are trying to make a helpful point to others in a meeting, giving advice to those who ask for it or telling our story at jails or institutions we quote the cliche to help make our point. These sayings also help the newcomer remember the solutions by adding the little saying to their recovery toolbox to put into action.
Oftentimes it’s easier to remember a catchy phrase and put it to use than to remember the principles and instructional paragraph size readings behind the phrase. Sayings like “Out of the problem into the solution” are priceless to an addict who is spinning around inside their mind and obsessing on a fear. We remember to just get out of the fear by choosing a solution and taking that action.
So what’s killing by cliché? Can such wonderful things as our innocent AA sayings be used in a wrong way? I don’t know can the bible be used in the wrong way? Hell yes and often!
An AA cliché is best used with the RIGHT MOTIVE and the right meaning; right motives behind the cliché are vital . When the alcoholic is still miserable, suffering from low self-worth and has a boat-load of wreckage yet to clean up from their past or present the old survival skills are still in place. They are still hurting, sick and suffering. Lashing out at others sadly brings them relief. Putting other people down is the only relief and form of self-worth they can get right now. They either don’t have the healthy and respectful solutions for emotional pain or they have chosen not to use them. However most of us sober or not do know right from wrong we know that in AA if we blatantly attack someone verbally our fellows will call us on it. The verbal attacker would be ostracized publicly and shamed for being mean and disrespectful. So instead the attacker do a little passive aggressive dance. They seek out emotional vulnerabilities in others such as a newcomer who has the courage to admit they are afraid or an old-timer who has the courage to admit they are going through an emotional time. This is how we get help and feedback. But the emotional butchers hone out addict traits in people with their high powered alcoholic perception and strike with the AA sword lopping off the emotional head of the recipient striking fear in them to never open-up in a meeting again.
Under the guise of “telling the truth” (truth should be tempered with respect and care even gossip is often truth) they cut off the emotional head of their vulnerable fellow by teaching them to never open up in a meeting again. Healthy emotions are indicative of talking about our problems, crying, venting, journaling, processing not stifling, repressing, hiding and denying that our feelings are there, that my friend is how we got sick to begin with. “We are as sick as our secrets.”
Sharing experience strength and hope is done by hearing the topic of the first share person and then asking ourselves can I relate to that, if so how, what solutions worked for me when I went through THAT SAME THING. By sharing that we undergo or have undergone the same personal and emotional struggles, and fears as the original sharer we don’t put them on the defensive or belittle them. We don’t punish them for having trouble staying sober. If we can’t relate to them maybe we are not an alcoholic regardless if we don’t relate then we have no business sharing advice. We don’t punish them for struggles or ignorance, we are not better…we are just perhaps in a better place.
It is by the Grace of God that we are sober when we start sober bashing with clichés we hurt ourselves and others. When we quote an AA cliché we should share what it means to us so the newcomer understands the right use, the loving use for the saying. “Keep it simple stupid” is one perfect example of killing by cliché. These sayings were not made so we can call the alcoholic wrong, stupid and bad and engage in fault-finding and criticisms while we are pretending to be helpful. the cliches should not be used to set ourselves above others by belittling.
“Help others do no harm”. Recovery is not a lesson in how to further harden our hearts and teach others to do the same. Recovery is about staying sober and becoming better people.