Why I Stopped Going to AA and Why I Feel Guilty About It

By Steve Bergier

So we AA’s failed them. Perhaps more often than we think, we still make no contact at depth with those suffering the dilemma of no faith.

“The Dilemma of No Faith” (Bill Wilson, AA Grapevine, April 1961)

When I first came into recovery in 1990 I had a higher power. The higher power was making me pee in a cup randomly. I don’t know if I could have stayed sober without my higher power. I also had the dilemma of no faith. I had a de-conversion experience in my high school years, long before I got into trouble with alcohol and drugs. I was very unhappy at that time and I decided to listen to these people in the recovery community.What I was doing wasn’t working. I wasn’t sure if I was a powerless alcoholic, but I did accept the second half of the first step and I made a sincere effort to work steps 2 and 3.

They said I needed a spiritual higher power to stay sober, so I made a rigorous effort to reconcile my worldview with the AA philosophy. I read numerous books on theology and studied religious history. At that time, when I did the second step, I embraced Taoism. I later came to believe that the motivation for that was just to be compatible to the AA program, and that was the least unpalatable option I could come up with.

Somehow I muddled along in the program and stayed sober. I never went beyond step 2 and never sponsored anyone. For a dozen or so years I continued in 12 step. Never enthusiastic about it, or in the center of the pack, I stopped going around 2002 and remained sober for 5 more years.

In 2007 I returned to AA after relapsing. My life was not as out of control as it was in 1990, but I wanted to return to the program before I spiraled further downward. I found a “We Agnostics” meeting. It was over 40 miles away, but it was worth the weekly drive. I live in a conservative county with over 1,200 weekly AA meetings, but even now, there are no agnostic oriented meetings. It was so refreshing to go to meetings and discuss staying sober while also staying true to my worldview. I realize now there were secular AA meetings in the ‘90s, but I didn’t hear about them or even know they existed. I might have stayed in AA if I’d known there were.

I believe that the benefit of the AA is the fellowship. The benefits of belonging to a church come from being involved in a community, not from worshiping a deity. The community of alcoholics is a vital component of recovery for many a suffering drinker. Supernatural beliefs are a secondary, less important component of recovery. Of course many a Big Booker will tell you the opposite is true.

I continued going to local, mainstream AA meetings. Increasingly I found myself sharing a message of secular recovery in AA. I would advocate for having a secular higher power, such as Group Of Drunks, or no higher power at all. Surprisingly many would come up to me after the meetings and say they are also atheists or agnostics, but don’t talk about it at meetings — even some old timers.

Whether or not you believe in a supernatural higher power, AA can be of benefit. Oddly, the atheist is more likely to believe the fellowship is more important than the spiritual aspects of recovery, but is also more likely to be ostracized from the community for thinking so. Making contact with those suffering from the dilemma of no faith, as Wilson put it, became a rewarding aspect of AA meetings for me. Over the years I have seen many people go to a meeting or two and leave because of the “God stuff”. Hearing a voice of secularism amidst the prayers and God soaked 12 steps might just keep someone coming back to the meeting. I would often be rewarded by people thanking me for my shares after the meeting. Some people would even consult me to help them when they were sponsoring non believers.

Needless to say, often my shares were not welcomed by all in AA. I would get people reminding the group that although the book says it is to be taken as a suggestion only, if you were jumping out of a crashing plane would you take a parachute that was only suggested? I would often get angry. I would come back with more abrasive shares, like, “recovery is not dependent on superstition and magical thinking“, and “imaginary friends aren’t needed for sobriety“, etc. My anger was fueled by memories of friends past who left the program because of the dogma. Some of them didn’t do well; they might have benefited from the fellowship.

Eventually I had to admit that showing newcomers a program of strife and animosity wasn’t good for anyone, so I left AA. Deciding to stop complaining about AA and do something different, I started attending a local SMART recovery meeting. Eventually I became a SMART facilitator and currently conduct a weekly meeting. Many SMART attendees are averse to AA. As a practical matter I often tell them they need to interface with the 12 step program, since they are the 800 pound gorilla in the recovery field.

I feel guilty about leaving AA because I feel reaching out the hand of AA to those with the dilemma of no faith is vital–not only to newcomers, but vital to the health and diversity of AA. While I may have become a detriment to the local area AA, I believe the increasing presence of the secular movement within the program is essential to its long term relevance. I laud what AAAgnostica, WAAFT and other atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are doing in AA. I know it’s an uphill battle, facing rejection from many AA members, Central Offices etc. But keep up the good work; you will keep AA from becoming irrelevant.


About the Author, Steve Bergier

Steve has been in recovery since 1990. Presently retired and living the good life in sunny southern California, he has a particular interest in the neuroscience of addiction and how this affects treatment programs. He is also interested in the neuroscience of religious beliefs and non-critical thinking.

In May 2013 he wrote an article posted on AA Agnostica: God and Diet Pills. Today, Steve is a certified SMART Facilitator and runs a weekly meeting. He’s the webmaster of the local SMART website, OC SMART and blogs at the Sunday Irvine Meeting Blog.  Another one of his passions is comics, from the Golden Age to contemporary off the shelf.

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  1. Victoria V. February 4, 2016 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    This posting and this site is so, so refreshing to come upon. Been sober over fifteen years, processing departure from the intercessory prayer idea for the last two or three, and stopped going to meetings maybe six months ago after a lot of frustrating mental gymnastics and difficult conversations / pushback about the God-idea method. So much to untangle here, not unlike leaving a deeply fundamentalist church / cult / etc. — “it works if you work it, so you must not be working it hard enough” kinds of stuff…

    I feel much less alone after reading this and all the comments. The foundation AA laid for me is irreplaceable, and so crucial to my recovery, but right now a low dose of Prozac combined with therapy and acupuncture are doing me more good than the last five years of meetings put together.

  2. Kent V February 1, 2016 at 11:08 am - Reply

    My own journey in sobriety started around five years ago with a twenty-eight day detox and rehab. I was in horrible shape after about 4 years of the bottom dropping out of my life due to my alcohol use. The journey has not been easy. I relapsed for the first three of those years. I had many problems with AA. The God business as well as interpersonal issues with members. But in the end I did return. I had been in another secular recovery program, reading everything I could get my hands on but could not maintain sobriety.

    I do credit the 12-steps and just flat not drinking for my sobriety. I also credit my own intuition that my core problem was something that neither AA nor SMART could really help me with.

    I realized that Bill W. ran into the same problem that I did and he also eventually sought outside help to sort out his depression and his childhood. I am the youngest of five children by eight years. Go figure. The short story is that my parents were tired of raising kids. By the time my siblings left home my parents own alcohol use ramped up. The key to my own sobriety today I can only attribute to grinding it out and seeking solutions.

    It is my own theory that people leave AA for a few reasons. One is, they are not done drinking. Another is the God Business. And yet another is what in the world to do with what they figured out in the fourth step.

    Just as I needed some time to sort out my past and what to do with it, I needed to figure out how to better manage the recurring problems in my life. Most of them relating to interpersonal relationships. I went to SMART to see if maybe they had some more effective tools than, humbly asking God to remove my “defects of character.” This happened at around a year and a half sober and working the steps to the best of my ability. I lived and breathed the steps and the program.

    It was pretty much a *bingo. I did have quite a bit of sober time at that point. I was done drinking so some of the tools at SMART were not really needed. But REBT and the ABC tool have been ones I have really put to use. It is so very practical and effective. Like anything I have to put it into practice, day in and day out practice to make it work.

    I went so far as to go through host training at SMART. Not so much to host meetings but to better understand the philosophy or methodology. One of many positives I have to say about the training is the time taken to make it very clear that sobriety is a very individual path for everyone and also the time and words spent to say that SMART has no opinion on other paths to sobriety other than to affirm the idea that it is more than possible to get and maintain sobriety without dependence on an outside deity of some sort – or a god of the imagination. (An aside here that really helps me in AA is to just change all references of “God as you understand God” in the BB to god as you do or don’t have the ability to imagine deities.)

    It is also my opinion that through the use of tools like REBT you can have what amounts to a spiritual experience, without ever naming it a spiritual experience. That is because what is happening is that you are recognizing and then changing how you react to your own thinking.

    My last thought here is that with-in my own “faith” if I identify with that faith I have become attached to it and missed the whole point of it. Becoming unattached has made all the difference in my own life. Included in there are AA members with their own beliefs about flying deities or how those deities work in their lives -I really could care less. If I do I better then take a very hard look at my insistence on my tendency to be the “actor running the whole show”. And also my “self-righteousness” at being “non-righteous”.

    • Steve Bergier February 1, 2016 at 2:18 pm Reply

      Great reply Kent. I must admit that I also utilized individual counseling and group therapy in my recovery. I think that it may take many tools and support systems to achieve recovery for many people, myself included. I don’t think I would of maintained my sobriety after my HP stopped collecting my urine if I hadn’t of had intensive psychological counseling.

  3. Loulou January 26, 2016 at 2:56 am - Reply

    I think it’s difficult and when I first did. 12 step I struggled with my HP and I just looked at it as people in the rooms or love or whatever. My HP concept has now changed but it happened as a matter of course and force.  Try and read between the lines with that stuff. When Iwas using a power greater than me was drugs and It was such a negative powerful force. It made me do things I would never do now but I continued.. I think we must embrace all routes to recovery as there is so much to learn.   You should also look in to ACT peer recovery it’s mind blowing and big in portsmouth.

  4. Rob McCormick January 25, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with the author about the value of fellowship serving as a “power greater than myself” in the recovery process. Connectedness can be studied as a biological process and consequently makes sense to me. My outspoken secular humanist views are well known and accepted in my home group. I don’t speak abrasively about a god working miracles or knowing exactly what I will need etc. , etc.  Many people hold such beliefs to support their own recovery and are simply re-affirming what they hold to be true.

    After all, belief is that which we have come to accept as truth. Like the author, I have an interest in the biology of belief and recommend reading anything by Sam Harris, but particularly Waking Up:  Spirituality without Religion.  Another on-point book is Breaking the Spell:  Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett.

    I purchased the SMART handbook when my daughter began dabbling in that program. She has not found the same kind of fellowship that I experience in AA and that she also recognizes from the AA meetings she has attended. The cognitive psychology seems appropriate,  but the absence of an equivalent to a 4th step and the 8th and 9th steps makes this program seem strikingly self-centered. I wonder if it will survive more effectively than its predecessor, Rational Recovery.

    • Kent V March 2, 2016 at 1:39 pm Reply

      “The cognitive psychology seems appropriate,  but the absence of an equivalent to a 4th step and the 8th and 9th steps makes this program seem strikingly self-centered. I wonder if it will survive more effectively than its predecessor, Rational Recovery.”

      I think that is a great question. I have asked myself the same. I used the process of SMART and REBT or the “ABC’s” for much my own self examination or fourth step. Too, I figured out that it was deep, deep seated fear that drove 99% of my seeming inability to handle life or my “defects of character”. For myself I realized through that process the impact I had on those around me or, my part. The outcome of that for me was a pretty natural desire to not trip over myself with apologies but to set myself straight with the world.

    • Lucy January 25, 2016 at 2:23 pm Reply

      SMART Recovery is about self empowerment and self management – by changing the way we behave it hopefully has a knock on affect to those around us – that has certainly been my experience. You need to fix yourself first before you can even begin to fix what is around – that to me is the greatest gift you can give to your loved ones.

      We don’t take the view of ‘making amends’ not in the same way as the Fellowships as those around have heard I am sorry a million times so it becomes meaningless – the best way to show someone you are sorry is by changing and making the most of your own life. I can assure you SMART Recovery is here to stay – growing here in the UK every day.

  5. Endgame January 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    I needed to read this today. I am in the middle of screwing things up still. Or, maybe I am on day 5 of a life in repair. My confidence is obviously shot.

    There are no agnostic meetings in Montreal. I have tried and tried, but regular meetings are more likely to leave me angry and resentful than anything else.

    This place and you people are really my only hope.

    • Don M. January 25, 2016 at 8:32 am Reply

      Endgame,

      I live about 2 1/2 hours from Montreal in Kingston, Ontario.  Last July, three of us started a secular AA group.  We thought the word secular would be less controversial than agnostic/atheist.  We were sadly wrong.

      That said, our group has been more successful than I had imagined. We have 8 members with sobriety from 3 years to 45 years.  We are attracting newcomers who feel uncomfortable in traditional A.A. meetings.

      If you can find one or two other like minded individuals, I encourage you to try starting an atheist agnostic meeting.   I would be happy to help you find useful information.   My experience was that many people I knew from meetings felt the same as I did and joined our little group.

      If you are ever travelling between Toronto and Montreal on a Weds night, please drop by and meet us.

      • Endgame January 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm Reply

        Thanks Don – at this stage, I am tempted to take a drive out to Kingston. We actually lived there for a year when I was a baby – only 50 or so years ago.  🙂

  6. Thomas B January 24, 2016 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Yes, thanks so much Steve for this post. I especially appreciate that you don’t view Smart Recovery as an alternative to AA, that you recommend folks to attend both Smart Recovery and AA.

    Hopefully, you’ll be able to evolve a secular AA meeting where you live so that you can benefit from both Smart Recovery and AA. My recovery has been immensely enhanced by starting secular AA meetings in my hometown of Seaside, OR and nearby Portland. We now have a growing community of secular AA members with 8 meetings presently and more being planned.

    Today’s meeting in Portland had some 35 people sharing their experience, strength and hope along with lots of laughter and fellowship for both newcomers and long-timers . . .

  7. steve b January 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I go to conventional AA meetings nearby. There are a few atheist AA meetings about an hour away, but I don’t feel like traveling that far, so I don’t go to them. At meetings I will sometimes express my disbelief in higher powers, and nowadays I don’t get much flak from others, although years ago people would freak out when I spoke my mind. SOS is the way AA would be if it were stripped of the steps and the higher power. I liked it better than AA, including atheist AA, but there are no meetings in my area. I helped start 2 SOS meetings, but both folded for lack of interest.

  8. Ed O'Connell January 24, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Been sober for 38 years, 37-9/10’s of them without god, and I can no longer attend meetings without developing stomach problems.  I do miss the community, however, so every wunce in a while, when I very hesitantly put my toe back in the meeting waters, I have to defend my philosophy rather than discuss recovery.  In self-defense, I developed a quote that stymies *most* AA god-fanatics, and anyone of a similar secular bent as me-self is welcome to it.  As an aside, I lived on the streets for 10 years during the 70’s, so that’s where my “street corner” quote emanates:

    “Put me on a street corner with a bottle and god as my only help, and I’ll drain the damned thing.  Put me on that same street corner with that same bottle but with another recovering alcoholic instead, and we’ll almost-fer-sure talk each other out of drinkin’ it.  The odds are better if I depend on another human bein’ rather than some figment of my imagination”

    Really appreciate stumblin’ upon this site … and, “screw god”.

    ‘Ol Ed

  9. Cherie January 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    This works for my experience with N.A. also! Thank you!

    • Leslie January 24, 2016 at 7:20 pm Reply

      I’m thinking we need to all exchange email addresses. As a new atheist with 26 years clean, I’d like to give and get support.

      Your input please.

  10. Willow F January 24, 2016 at 11:19 am - Reply

    It’s so empowering to me that I am reading my own story over and over and over in these pages!

    I am new to these realizations and still processing exactly what it all means for me personally, and what I will do with/about it.

    I started with speaking my truth and my struggle in my home group. I was not “shut down”, but there were a few subtle admonishments. Through a bit of investigation I found an unrelated group of sober atheists – through that I found a new secular meeting 5 miles from my house (and 1/2 mile from my old home group).

    I’ve now been to a Secular AA day-conference, am working on starting another meeting, planing to get involved with service work at the district level (to have a place at the table for our voice), planning to attend a bigger conference in November, and looking into attending some other”general” conferences/conventions to facilitate secular events at them.

    As others have said, I have seen people unable to access the message of recovery because of the way it’s delivered. Some of them have died.  If I can help just one of us hear the message more clearly by simply showing up and speaking my truth, it will be worth any stink eye I get. I’m a big girl with a solid program (finally) – I can take it.

  11. life-j January 24, 2016 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Steve,

    Thanks for this. I have gone through much the same succession of interactions within AA. As I do feel a need to continue being involved in F2F recovery to some extent, I continually have these abrasive relationships within AA now. And I do run a small freethinker’s meeting. We were three last week, one was a newcomer with deep aversion to religion, so I feel like I get to do some good there, and I am finding that now and then someone in the traditional AA meetings come up to me and cautiously express thanks for my share after the meeting. Last week I got to lend a copy of Do Tell to someone. I even do have a few of the openminded believers essentially in support of what I do, even though they at the same time are annoyed when on occasion it turns abrasive enough to feel like a disruption.

    To myself it is surely not a peaceful undertaking being in mainstream AA anymore, but at least it is more honest. As for smart recovery, it is too far away from where I live, but the name of it rubs me about as wrong as the LP does. Other than that, I have read one of its books, and it seems a sensible approach.

    What I have been reading this last week is the self published book which Graham in Olympia brought to the conference we had there last week. Though there are a few spots where it gets a bit tiresome, I think on the whole it is excellent. What I particularly like is how he goes through the steps and discusses how to not throw the baby out with the bath water. how in each step there is something useful and essential, and sometimes he goes to great lengths to dig it up. Explaining very well all the “spiritual” aspects of the steps in secular terms. I highly recommend it, maybe Pat will facilitate contact for spreading it.

  12. Pat N. January 24, 2016 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Thank you, Steve. I think you express what many of us have felt: On the one hand, it would surely help some unknown alkies if I shared my broadminded approach at customary meetings, but I’m comfy in my two secular meetings, and frankly, I’m afraid of the potential hassle. That’s my  dilemma to confront in 2016.

    I realize now that I never did sincerely believe the theology I was saturated in until my mid-30’s. My ancestors were among St. Patrick’s converts, and I heard no doubt expressed in the culture I grew up in, or during 16 years of church schooling. But I think my commitment was purely cultural/intellectual-it wasn’t from the heart.

    What the fellowship of AA did for me, besides saving my physical life, was make me confront my hypocrisy. I didn’t accept the authority of the church, and certainly wasn’t following its rules. So I finally started walking away, and have never wanted to return. I dabbled in a couple of other churches until I was honest enough to admit I didn’t need any religion. What I learn about through microscopes and telescopes is life-affirming and love-affirming enough.

    • Steve Bergier January 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm Reply

      Thanks Pat. Taking care of our own sobriety is the top priority. If it would be a hassle to attend mainstream AA don’t risk it. I especially am concerned about newcomers who are non believers and are open about it. They can be ostracized before they are secure in their sobriety.

  13. Lance B. January 24, 2016 at 9:13 am - Reply

    As is common, this article of yours expresses more clearly the dilemma I’ve been trying to deal with since discovering secular AA.  And it does it wonderfully well.

    I’ve been told recently that what I say in meetings is disruptive to the group and the two examples you give of statements which don’t help anyone are things which I must admit to.  Yet I maintain that they are true expressions of my experience and I cannot tell anyone what that experience was without at least suggesting that supernatural beings were not part of how I became continuously sober in 1986.  Thus that aspect of others’ beliefs was not essential to me.  I did try using a little guy on my shoulder whom I called Hose’ Pepple (HP for short) who would whisper in my ear when I was going to ruffle some feathers in AA meetings.

    Since others from my home group are feeling ruffled lately, I’ve deliberately begun staying away from some meetings and get lectured by some that I should not do that.  They say they need me, but they also insist that the lord’s prayer is essential to their recovery.  And I now have travelled all over the US attending secular AA meetings.

    Every time a traditional meeting becomes easily available I think I ought to attend.  But then I just don’t feel like going to the trouble.  Thus my meetings have become one sided and, while I don’t feel that is good for AA, it’s just easier and more pleasant for me.  I don’t meet or listen to the back to basics people and my sponsor from that school has felt he cannot reach me while I have such disruptive beliefs of what is good for AA.

    I share your feelings of sorrow for not participating fully, but like the relative openess I can feel at secular meetings.  And I find myself becoming less inflammatory there.  In the beginning, when I found aaagnostica.org, I wanted to scream at the difficulties my friends had put in my way to recover for years and tell them how wrong that had been.  I’ve now had my edges worn away just a bit but don’t enjoy listening to the same irrelevant material from tradional meetings and stay away.  Dilemma, yes.  Thank you.

    • Steve Bergier January 27, 2016 at 7:20 pm Reply

      Thanks for the complimentary words Lance. I too have been told I’ve been disruptive to the group. In my area there aren’t any agnostic meetings unless you’re willing to drive.

       
      The reasons to attend, aside from your own recovery, are to increase diversity in the meeting and hopefully keep newcomers in the rooms when they would otherwise bolt. Perhaps a partial solution is to have the area central office school the GSRs and meeting secretaries to recommend secular oriented meetings for attendees that are having difficulties. I think continuing to push mainstream AA on such newcomers will push them out of AA.

    • Joe C. (@Rebellion_Dogs) January 24, 2016 at 9:28 am Reply

      I ditto what you have to say Lance, about getting to more mainstream meetings. The conversation is skewed if freethinkers aren’t bothering to go to regular AA meetings. If I went to more meetings, I’d go to more mainstream meetings but I have family, work and other obligations.

      That said, I am active in service at our District. I was GSR for a while, PI chair for a while and now I work on the Access Ability committee. So I’m involved in AA as a whole. I’m well liked by some and, I suspect, disliked by association by a few fundamentalists. But I do get asked to speak and chair panels at Area and while I’m not promoting secular AA, everyone knows that my home group is Beyond Belief Agnostics & Freethinkers AA group in District 10, Area 83. And the good news, it’s all Responsibility Declaration there (no Lords Prayer).

  14. Joe C. (@Rebellion_Dogs) January 24, 2016 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I got to know James Christopher, founder of Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) which he founded in the mid-1980s. At the time he saw AA as “a religion in denial” and he undertook to offer what I would call, “not being a square peg fitting into a round hole” options for people who didn’t see faith-healing as a solution to alcoholism.

    There was an SOS meeting in Toronto on Tuesday nights and it was on my radar as somewhere I’d like to go. I had other commitments Tuesday including softball in the Spring/Summer/Fall and AA commitments that made Tuesday’s difficult. Of course if I had the Gift Of Desperation (another of the infamous “round” GOD acronyms for “square pegs”) I would have gotten there but I didn’t ever get around to it. In the AA freethinker community I meet SMART fans and while I had an interest, I never got around to attending online or f2f SMART Recovery sessions. Our Thursday, Beyond Belief Toronto group was visited by a couple of SOS Toronto members which I thought was a great act of broadening fellowship but I never made it a priority to return the favor – at least not so far. I have read a great deal of the literature and quoted it at times in my writing.

    I really do embrace all recovery from addiction. I certainly get the impression that Bill W loved alcoholics more than he loved AA and he would have felt neighborly, not hostile towards secular peer-to-peer alternatives.

    Thanks Steve; I’ve always enjoyed your insights and contributions. Having a one foot in, one foot out perspective offers an important objectivity that those of us deep in the forest can’t muster. I really identified with your struggle to fit in in early AA recovery. Now that agnostic AA has celebrated over five years in Toronto I know so many who have come in with a choice and elected almost entirely to attend and participate in secular AA, I wonder at times what it would have been like if I was aware of this choice.

    What I remember from mid 1970s Montreal AA was a way more open-minded, less dogmatic community of AAs. Openly expressive atheists would certainly have been the minority but literalists were rare, too. Most members took everything with a grain of salt and found their own way of doing things. One of the less attractive characteristics about my personality then was a need for approval. It wasn’t enough to be liked in AA but at some level there was a need to for approval from the largest possible number of fellow members. I was a people-pleaser and while I presented a certain brand of uniqueness, a damaged self-image made it difficult for me to be completely authentic. I would hint about my doubt/skepticism in a humorous way. I would talk about a higher power of my lack of understanding. I would joke, “I’ve never had what I’d call a spiritual awakening but will rude awakenings do?” I would let others believe, and maybe I was hoping it was true,  that I was open to and on the verge of connection with the Divine. Would I have been so eager to do so if the first meeting I went to was a secular AA meeting or any secular recover group? I sometimes think about that.

    Years later I found my integrity and equilibrium but I wonder if it wasn’t an unnecessary struggle. I’m glad it isn’t for many people new to recovery today.

    • Steve Bergier January 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm Reply

      I think that if secular recovery had been around when I started out I probably wouldn’t of gone to mainstream AA.

       
      I will say it was helpful to research religion back then. There is wisdom to be had. Right action is one of the eightfold paths to liberation in Buddhism. I’ve always read it as right thought follows right action. I think AAers might say fake it ‘till you make it to mean the same thing. You could even say that some aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy are based on right action first, psychological improvement follows.

      I do miss some aspects of AA.

    • Oren January 24, 2016 at 9:45 am Reply

      I would talk about a higher power of my lack of understanding. I would joke, “I’ve never had what I’d call a spiritual awakening but will rude awakenings do?”

      Joe, thanks for the humor. I try to view the absurdities of life as comical, and a laugh is as good as a prayer. Or maybe better.

  15. Jon S January 24, 2016 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Great post, thank you.

    Jon S

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