The Dark Night of Recovery

The Dark Night of Recovery: Conversations from the Bottom of the Bottle
by Edward Bear 
Published January 1, 1999
Health Communications, Inc. 
ISBN 0757310419
175 pages 

The Dark Night of Recovery, by Edward Bear is a delightful tale of recovery from dependence on alcohol. Told in thirteen chapters, a prologue, and then each of AA’s twelve steps in a form of conversations between an iconoclastic and wise sponsor and a somewhat skeptical sponsee.

As the narrative unfolds, each of the chapters/steps is discussed against the backdrop of the many and varied challenges of living life sober, divorce, relationships, careers, regret, resentments, children, dysfunction within some AA groups, etc. Scattered throughout are references to Alcoholics Anonymous, The Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Prophet, Star Wars Trilogy, Thomas Merton on Prayer, Songs of Kabir from the Adi Granth, Tao The Ching, The World of Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, hope for the flowers, to name several.

I first encountered and used The Dark Night of Recovery when searching for resources to use with sponsees beyond, Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and my personal preference, One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps. Early in my recovery, I had more sponsees who though they sought me out with the full knowledge that I took a secular approach to recovery, they sought me out regardless. I tried to use the Big Book and the 12 & 12 to respect their spiritual or religious orientation. I even went to Back to Basics with a couple.

Sober, I’ve made a decision to not pretend to avoid offending others. I have no desire to convert anyone to a secular approach, but at the same time, I can’t ignore my concerns about the Big Book, the 12 & 12, and especially the lockstep I felt in Back to Basics. I found that over time, people with more secular leanings gravitated towards me and fewer with more traditional leanings. I still wanted to find some resources that I felt truly comfortable with for all regardless of their beliefs and that was true to me.

The Dark Night of Recovery has filled that niche for me and for many sponsees. It created a common ground that I struggled to find. The combination of wisdom and humor is engaging. The format of conversations reminds me of Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Ptolemaic and Copernican, and Plato’s Dialogues. Tyler in many ways is a modern-day Socrates guiding Lawyer Bob as he “enters the dark part of the forest. The part where the real work [of recovery] begins during their weekly conversations.

“You want to be free?”

“I want to be free.”

“Good. We may be on to something here. How about we meet at your place every other Tuesday? Seven o’clock. You have a tape recorder?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. Get some tapes. Long ones.”

“Why the tapes?”

“Mostly to humor an old man”, said Tyler, “And someday you may want to remember what it was like. You may even want to tell somebody what it was like. It’ll help you refresh your memory.”

From the Author page on Amazon.com:

Edward Bear, a pseudonym, was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Los Angeles. Early experiences include a brief stint in minor league baseball, too many years in construction work, day labor, bartending, and a variety of dead-end jobs. He attended (sometimes very briefly) six colleges and received no degrees. A correspondence course in engineering landed him a job at Hewlett-Packard, where has been employed for 27 years. His major influences are Winnie the Pool, Eugene O’Neill, John Steinbeck, Meister Eckhart, T.S. Eliot, and Jacques Maritain, not necessarily in that order. He has published several fiction pieces in small literary magazines and a novel, Diamonds Are Trump.

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