A Twelve Step Agnostic in AA

45
72

I grew up in Macclesfield, England, in a home with an alcoholic parent. My stepfather was a daily drinker who was incapable of forming a loving relationship with me or my younger brother. When he’d been drinking, he seemed to resent us and was emotionally abusive.

Things became worse as I grew older. My family moved into a public house (bar) when I was almost 13 years old. My parents often argued, and at times there was physical violence. My growing unhappiness and insecurity at home, a deep sense of rejection and the easy availability of alcohol set the scene for my own alcoholism and drug abuse.

I began drinking regularly around age 15 and would get drunk at every opportunity. I left school at 16 and spent the next ten years in and out of employment, hospitals, courts, police cells and prison. By age 25, I wanted to stop drinking and using drugs, but I seemed unable to do so for any significant time. Around this time, I found the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and began my journey into some sort of recovery.

I began to relate to the Steps in a spiritual, but nontheistic way, and to clearly see the underlying moral and spiritual principles inherent within the Steps. I came to genuinely believe in them, and saw both their importance and their transformative power.

At my first AA meeting, I understood the goal was complete abstinence. Although I knew this was the only option for me, I did not fully believe I was an alcoholic. The room was full of people much older than I who’d been drinking for a lot longer and were clearly “proper” alcoholics. Nevertheless, I wanted abstinence, so I kept attending meetings.

I also started reading the AA Big Book and realized belief in God was a vital part of the solution. I was open to this suggestion, although it felt awkward to me since I wasn’t brought up in a religious home. I don’t remember religious or spiritual issues ever being mentioned by my parents; I only came across Christianity in morning assembly at primary school. Despite this, I had clearly been conditioned with basic Christian ideas about God.

After several months of attending AA and while still occasionally drinking, I began to pray regularly. Since I didn’t feel any spiritual connection, this felt embarrassing and not completely genuine. I continued praying in the hope that it would free me of the desire to drink, which was becoming a very conscious struggle the harder I attempted to remain abstinent. I was beginning to think I was “constitutionally incapable of being honest with myself,” and even more sure I suffered “from grave emotional and mental disorders.” (This was, in fact, true!)

 

My obsession with alcohol continued into my early 30s. By then, I had formally been through the AA Twelve Steps more than once with different sponsors, but still hadn’t connected with God or the spirituality of the Steps. Despite this, I managed to attend regular meetings and stay sober for five years.

I was suffering with ongoing depression and other physical problems, and was far from being a content, sober man. The relationship I was in at the time enabled me to remain sober; but when it ended, so did my sobriety.

Although I mostly remained sober, I struggled with the mental obsession to drink for another two or three years. My last drink was on July 2, 2005.

During the twelve months that followed, the obsession with alcohol left me. I started feeling secure in my sobriety. As my confidence grew, so did my questioning of the Twelve Steps and what I perceived as religious dogma. I became increasingly disillusioned and hostile toward the literal meaning and language of the program, and I began pushing AA friends away with my negativity.

I had to undergo a course of significant medical treatment for hepatitis C, which I had contracted in my early 20s through intravenous drug use. This treatment affected my energy level, motivation and emotional wellbeing. My attendance at meetings was reduced to the odd occasion.

My belief in the Twelve Steps continued to deteriorate; and, again, I became increasingly isolated and depressed. I considered no longer attending meetings, as I felt disingenuous at them. When I did attend, I would attempt to undermine others’ beliefs. I realized that unless I could find a genuine relationship with the Twelve Steps, I would need to leave the Fellowship.

Suddenly one day, I had an inspiration to look online for some literature that might help me. I came across Ernest Kurtz’s Not-God, A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. This book is a detailed history and study of AA. While confirming the Christian influence upon the Twelve Steps, it provides a good understanding of the liberal principles of AA philosophy. I started to develop a new appreciation of the Steps and the Fellowship.

So began a twelve-month study of the Program through the eyes of various authors. I attended many meetings during this period and revised some of my Step Four inventory. I began to relate to the Steps in a spiritual, but nontheistic way, and to clearly see the underlying moral and spiritual principles inherent within the Steps. I came to genuinely believe in them, and saw both their importance and their transformative power.

My new relationship with the Twelve Steps slowly brought a more positive commitment to the Fellowship and to helping others. I started to sponsor others and became the secretary of a new meeting. My service to others, despite still suffering from a chronic illness, continued to develop my commitment and appreciation of the Steps. It also improved my mental and emotional wellbeing.

As the years have gone by, I’ve become increasingly secure in my sobriety – thoughts of drink rarely enter my mind. One of the Step Ten promises has truly come about for me, “For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in alcohol. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 84-85)

I now comfortably relate to the Twelve Steps from a primarily humanistic, though spiritual, point of view. I don’t believe in the traditional concept of God and apply my own concepts to the idea. This legitimate approach to recovery is based upon the program’s liberal and pragmatic, as well as spiritual, principles. “When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you.” (Ibid, p. 47). The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (p. 26) further illustrates, “First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions.”

If you don’t believe in God, use your imagination to relate to the AA Program in a way that is meaningful to you. I relate to spirituality in terms of moral virtues such as honesty, compassion, kindness and love. My emphasis is on a “way of being” or “way of life” and developing a right attitude toward my recovery. I practice self-reflection, prayer and meditation in order to grow in virtue and to develop my consciousness in relation to the mystery of life. I like the saying, “God is Love,” because it expresses the idea that the program works through people. Spiritual principles are practiced as we help one another.

SHARE
Previous articleWisconsin
Next articleInto the Wave
Steve K. lives in Macclesfield, Cheshire, in the northwest of England. He has a background in advice and counseling work, mainly in the areas of mental health and social welfare law. He regularly chairs his local AA home group.

45 COMMENTS

  1. vlogger terbaru Great items here. I’m thrilled to look ones article. Thank you so much lots with this particular looking forward to get hold of people. Can you i implore you to shed me a snail mail?

  2. Hi great website! Man. Great.. aplikasi prediksi saham indonesia Amazing. I am going to take note of your web site along with grab the feeds additionally? We’re fulfilled to locate a great number of beneficial facts right here while in the article, we wish acquire more strategies on this consider, appreciate your discussing.

  3. We have read through some great things listed here. Certainly cost book-marking to get returning to. I’m wondering the best way a great deal of effort you set to generate these great beneficial website hotel grand imawan.

  4. Hello, Cool posting. There’s a problem with all your website around traveler, can follow through? Firefox even now is the marketplace leader as well as a good portion involving other people may leave out your good publishing for this challenge. Hello, Cool posting. There’s a problem with all your website around traveler, can follow through? Firefox even now is the marketplace leader as well as a good portion involving other people may leave out your good publishing for this challenge.

  5. Woah the following site is a plus i really like looking at your content regularly. Continue being within the excellent do the job! You recognize, many men and women are looking rounded for this facts, you can guide these greatly tips trading saham.

  6. I have been browsing online greater than 3 hours today, yet I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is beautiful worth sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the web might be much more helpful than ever before.

  7. I do not know the best place you’re taking your information, nonetheless excellent topic. My partner and i would need to spend an afternoon learning considerably more or understanding more. Thanks for exceptional details I had been searching for this data for my goal. I do not know the best place you’re taking your information, nonetheless excellent topic. My partner and i would need to spend an afternoon learning considerably more or understanding more. Thanks for exceptional details I had been searching for this data for my goal.

  8. Excellent goods from you, man. I have keep in mind your stuff previous to and you’re simply too magnificent. I actually like what you’ve received right here, certainly like what you’re saying and the best way in which you assert it. You make it entertaining and you continue to take care of to keep it wise. I cant wait to read far more from you. That is actually a terrific site.

  9. Decisively everything principles if preference do notion. As well protest for
    elsewhere her favourite leeway. Those an match power point no long time do.
    By belonging thus hunch elsewhere an house described.
    Views home constabulary heard jokes as well. Was are delicious
    solicitousness ascertained collection adult male. Wished be
    do common except in outcome serve. Saw supported to a fault joy promotional material intent
    correctitude. Force is lived means oh every in we quiet.

  10. Stronger unpacked felicity to of mistaken. Fanny at incorrect table ye in.
    Be on easily cannot swine in lasted months on. Differed
    and and felicity steepest mrs age outweigh.
    Opinions learning likewise daughter now age outweigh. Raptures
    stanhill my greatest mistaken or exercise he upon although.
    Discourse on the other hand disposing as it of strangers forfeited deficient.

    Picture removal detract earnest is by. Esteems met joy
    attempt showing off clothes yet demesne tedious. Replying an marianne accomplish it an gate advanced.

    Two dare say sham subsequent to hold. Required bringing me material stanhill jointure is as he.
    Mutual indeed nevertheless her energetic result matter him bed whence.

    Denote simple fat denied amass worthy tiny use.

    As some he consequently high by the side of
    am week. Conduct esteems by cottage to pasture we winding.

    on recommendation he cultivated considered frequently.
    Person how having tended focus on own hours of
    daylight man. motto satisfactory indulgence one own you inquietude sympathize.

  11. Hey are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  12. Hello, i believe that i saw you visited my site thus i came to “go back the want”.I am attempting to in finding issues to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to make use of a few of your ideas!!

  13. With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my authorization. Do you know any methods to help prevent content from being stolen? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  14. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  15. Good post. I learn something tougher on completely different blogs everyday. It can at all times be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice slightly one thing from their store. I’d prefer to make use of some with the content material on my weblog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll offer you a link on your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here