View Full Version : Friend thinks I'm "sick"

11-03-13, 09:57 AM

Wanted to post about a situation that has unfolded with a friend.

So I developed this close friendship with a girl who attended a support group I went to, about 3/4 years ago.

She is alcholic. In recovery. And is very dedicated to AA. Her whole way of seeing the world is firmly within AA philosophy. And it works for her, she doesn't drink, and has come from a place where she couldn't get out of the bed without vodka, hiding drink in toilets in work etc.

My way of seeing the world does not fit into AA - I've had a lot of exposure to the programe and there are huge positives in it. But I'm not an addict I guess - although maybe that depends on how broadly you define 'addict' (I've struggled with food, and do tend to try to escape into things and run from my feelings in destructive ways). I think I have the potential to be in serious addiction - its why I've never touched illegal drugs etc ....something in my knew one try and I'd be gone. Plus LOOOOONG history of addiction in my family.

Alcohol weirdly does nothing for me though, it makes me feel even MORE adhd - can not keep track of myself at all - more disorientated, more lost in time, speed up talking faster and being extremely random...:o:o:o

Anyway anyway, I'm getting distracted from the point. Yeh so there are things about AA I don't agree with. I suppose with any group of ppl coming together - it can be a bit dysfunctional and messed up.

Many ppl in AA are 'AA is the ONLY way" and I get that - its saved their life. But its when it becomes defensive, can't stand other people's different views etc......

So thats pretty much whats happened between me and this friend.

And I'm kind of heart broken.

I feel terrible, because maybe she is right. I don't know.

Since that group we did a lot of social stuff together, counted her as one of my best friends. Every know and then there would be this clash- and it would be because we saw things differently on these AA views.

Oh God can I not get to the point. I feel like giving up trying to write this :scratch:

Right, well I'd share my thoughts with her, how I was feeling, and she with me. Even after I moved country we still did this.

A lot of crap started unfolding in my life once I moved away - illness in my family etc. I probably should have given up on this move long ago.

Anyway, I could tell there was tension between us. She would get angry with me for no reason etc. but when I asked she said nothing was wrong.

Then pretty much out of the blue she text me saying pretty much she had kind of had enough of me and my negative thinking. That she needed to "take a step back" (this is an AA biggy - not having contact with people who threaten your recovery).

When we spoke about it she said I had been struggling with the SAME thing for the last 3 years, and that I couldn't take it when someone 'challenged me'.

Probably true. I feel very judged/ threatened when 'challenged'. She told me she has problems but she gets back up, moves on, WORKS on her recovery.

I have been struggling with the same thing the last 3 years, in fact, I've been struggling with this core issue of how I feel about myself since I was a kid.

And she is sick of it. Its negative thinking.

And I am "sick" (another AA style view of things), I am in addiction (as in messed up thinking, etc, all the stuff that drives addiction in people...without an actual substance I suppose).

She has had tonne struggles, which I have supported her in, every single one. But when I pointed this out she said it was different. They were DIFFERENT struggles. She overcame each of them.

But I don't see it that way with me. Yes, there are all these 'surface problems' I face - and get through generally. Like messing up in work, or not having the confidence to try finish this course I'm doing. Or struggling to make friends.

I tend to persist with surface problems rather than quit trying to. Like keeping trying to make friends here, starting back on my course, turning up for work. She tends to abandon stuff if its not working out.

And probably, my could do with maybe giving up on a few things sometimes...maybe I take it to extremes - doing a job I hate - but its for a goal - I need to pay the rent, I need to have some independence that a qualification could give me. I don't have the resources she has - and want different things for my life than she does.

Right, well. There are all the surface problems - that pretty much everyone has in different amounts at different times. But what makes it really hard for some people to cope with life problems??? I think its the underneath stuff. The core problem. The real problem of how we feel about ourselves (or who we are, our unique set of strengths and weakness)? :confused:

What makes me struggle with work, with my course - fundementally - is how I feel about myself. Underneath it all.

And I share that struggle with that inner critic (cheesey phrase sorry :o) with her. And thought it was safe to do so.

Apparently it is not. And she is tired of me.

I feel that her quiting her course, leaving job after job, struggling with isolation, falling out with her bf, - yeh they all different problems - but at the root is how she feels about who she is? But thats my opinion. And I've never forced that on her.

Yet she feels she needs to force AA on me - in that what I do, how I think, is 'wrong' and is 'sick' and needs challenging and I need to CHANGE :eyebrow:

So much of that is probably right? I honestly don't know. But it really hurts. Because to me its like she is saying - you don't try, you haven't made any progress, my 'recovery' is right and your 'recovery' isn't recovery at all. Your not 'in recovery' (this is all AA speak).

If I worked harder I'd be over it. CHANGE YOUR THINKING. I've no response to that?

So I feel really hurt, betrayed. I didn't realsie I was getting sized up, judged on whether I thought about things correctly, was too negative. I was just sharing how I felt.

And I am too negative. I am struggling. She said her view of herself changes every day - some days she feels good about herself, likes how she looks, feels good, other days not as much.

Well thats lovely.

I must be very different from other people.... because thats not how it is for me. I get it shouldn't be how it is for me. But its more hour to hour change on how I feel about myself - doing okay, glad got that piece of work done etc, or can't face this meeting etc. But pretty much - how I feel about myself is quite stable. I work hard at it - and do think I've made progress in seeing my good points, more confidence in my abilities, that I'm not rotten inside.

So I've lost a friend. Cause I'm too 'sick' to be around and won't change or take her advice on board. I'm so 'sick' in fact that she needs to get away from me.


11-03-13, 10:20 AM
Well, if you have ADHD, that's a medical problem, so I guess she's right about the "sick" part.

It sounds like the issue might have been that you talked about your various life problems with her a lot. From my experience, you can only do that with VERY close friends, and even then it has to be people who aren't already too crazily stressed by their own issues. Seems like you probably thought she was such a close friend, and the hurt is coming from learning that she isn't. But some people just aren't fit to be that kind of friend, at least at the current point in their life. I've heard of some people automatically dumping someone who's diagnosed with post-partum depression and starts getting treatment because they don't want someone "negative" in their life. (My mind is blown. You'd think they'd dump the ones who WEREN'T getting diagnosed?) It is good to avoid overly negative people (that's not just an AA thing; you'll find it in a lot of self-help books too), but some people just take good advice to stupid extremes.

11-03-13, 11:58 AM
I view AA as a form of mostly-benign self-brainwashing. A set of creative and sneaky lies and half-truths that they tell themselves, for the best of purposes. I have a feeling that there are people for whom the carefully-constructed mental maze that their founders built is convincing enough and helpful enough, and their addiction persistent enough, that the whole thing is justified. I would really hesitate, therefore, to clash with an AA friend and show them what I thought the lies were - because those are essentially what he's hanging onto to stay sane or alive or at least not drinking.

11-03-13, 12:26 PM
Hi thanks for the replies - Dvdnvwls yeh I hear you - thing is I never challenged her philosophy - the clashes came when she challenged mine. But you know, it has made me think.... maybe I didn't ever directly say I thought there were lies in the programe, but probably did give that message indirectly. How I was doing things and the thoughts I had were a threat to AA mindset...for her to think there is any other way of viewing the world is dangerous, so I was a threat.

If you behave or have ideas other than AA ideas, your not well, your in relapse, and your a danger to those in recovery.

It really hurts, cause (maybe childishly) I hate her thinking I'm sick, and what I say is 'disease' talk, that I'm "in the disease" - she told me she had spoken about it all with her sponsor and that was her response. Its like what you say is silenced because its sickness talk and therefore meaningless/ has no validity. And if she shares about this in meetings, people will nod and it will be all "she's not willing" "she hasn't hit rock-bottom" "she'll start recovering when things have got bad enough for her". Ouch.

But on the other hand I can see it doesn't matter what they think.

It hurts too I guess cause there is no way to remedy this - like if we were in contact, and I was so careful to present no challenge to AA way of life - I'd still be challenging it...I guess.

And then there is the doubt.... that she is right and I should be trying to do things her way.

Cyllya, yeh, I did talk to her a lot about my problems, and she with me and I thought it was okay to share things with her - and now I find out its not - and it makes me feel embarrassed...should I have known, did I overstep the mark, are there other people who feel the same but havent said. Like not having insight into how I behave :(

11-03-13, 12:39 PM
but not all of AA, would apply to helping adhd, would it?
its not an addiction in itself
its like in winning this battle, she lost her empathy...

i dont know that much about the program, i know its helped many, it saved my cousin's life.

11-03-13, 12:43 PM
im not in AA

but your friend doesnt represent someone who is truly recovered

the all or nothing thinking is addict thinking

she may be refraining from substance use, but with that thinking, not for long

the 12 steps are actually a method of learning self awareness, self regulation and breaking patterns of unhealthy defense mechanisms

i know several recovered addicts, who recovered from AA, none of which are judgemental like your friend

just a different view, sounds like your friend has the problem, not AA

11-03-13, 12:57 PM
If you behave or have ideas other than AA ideas, your not well, your in relapse, and your a danger to those in recovery.
But that's exactly what I meant - that IS the AA philosophy in a nutshell, IMO.

11-03-13, 02:13 PM
Firstly, thanks for opening up about this. It really strikes a chord with me in that I reckon similar things have happened to me in the past.

I.e. You make a bond, people are drawn to your honesty, after a short time they get fed up with your honesty while your left standing there with this "connection" to the initial bond. It hurts.

I think there is some truth in both sides here. It may help a little to see this in context. That people come and go in life anyway. That you both shared conversations and helped each other etc. etc. That you both had differences. And as a positive, the friendship ended before things got heaps nasty. So, it was a positive experience?

I think with us, when someone else calls the end, we're real hurt. Stops us from seeing the truth and places more personal blame... i.e. They ended it therefore, I am flawed. Try just to see it as a parting regardless of who made the call. This way it could be a gift..... well kinda.... At least she had the guts to talk about it with you, unlike many many other people i've known who may share a similar belief but say nothing, just cease communication / or even worse, partially continue it with the belief that your not worth anything to them.

11-03-13, 06:24 PM
Your feelings are always valid :grouphug: sounds like your friend needs to accept this :grouphug:

11-03-13, 11:05 PM
There is no "rock bottom" with ADHD, or with the common cormorbid disorders
of depression and anxiety. Going to meetings and praying the serenity prayer
isn't going to set you on the path to some "recovery."

ADHD and the cormorbid disorders are medical conditions, and the best way
to treat them is with medication and therapy like CBT.

If this person can't accept your friendship unless you share a common interest
and belief, then don't let her lay the guilt on you, just say goodbye.

11-17-13, 04:17 AM
I see it like this, it's irrelevant to me what AA is about, in the sense how indoctrinating it is, and just how much its adherents are true believers, but I've known enough people in AA to know two things, in the beginning there is no room for luxury of alternative recovery, mindset, and newcomers are pretty much incapable of comprehending something like ADD when their own house was on fire. Later, many AA people mellow and they learn to look at themselves and others in a wider persepctive, and many AA people discover in recovery they have ADD. But all this takes time.

Second, I agree with the comments here about sharing our own vulnerabilities, our own limitations, for me my mental illness in a sense. Most people do not know what to do with this, they react instead of acceptance, judge, or take pity on me (yuck!). They are not well educated enough, and then I get angry by this, or feel isolated, feel more different than I already feel. This is one reason why I want to have a few ADD friends, not so I can sit and ruminate over my unbalance, but so I can relate and be accepted, even though I struggle.

Third, is rejections hurt. She doesn't sound like the right person for you, even if the connection was authentic, mutual, and that liking of each other. On some level, at least in her present stage of consciousness, she wasn't right, or you were a threat, or she is in denial and living a live of AA indoctrication. I try to make these into something positive, that closing this door lets me free to open another door with someone else. You'll be OK.

11-17-13, 11:00 AM
I use some of the AA principles because I am an alcoholic but I do know there can be two kinds of AA people. There are those that think everyone is sick, no human can drink without becoming an alcoholic, and that the world is secretly full of in denial alcoholics. These people often try and "diagnose" other people as alcoholics, become the alcohol police, and believe it is their job to impart and the AA principles to every person that they meet. The thing is, if you understand AA, then you know it is not YOUR job to diagnose anyone with anything, it is not YOUR job to convince a drinker that they need not stop drinking or that they have a problem. It is NO one's job to manage another person's habits. The true principles of recovery mean taking care of your own issues, keeping yourself in check and having overall kindness towards your fellow man/woman.

To me, those things are supposed to be a part of AA and really should be a part of every human being's core values. I have experienced other situations where someone from AA tries to convince another person that they have a problem and need recovery. Again- not their job, not their problem. I am not sure why this happens because I have never felt like it was my job to do this and I have never been a fan of being an evangelical alcoholic. Maybe I just dont understand what its all about but its the way I feel.

You have to do what works for you and no one else. You have to make your life work on your terms or you will always set yourself up for failure.