A Secular Sobriety, authored by Dale K. is an invaluable tool for anyone who may be interested in a secular interpretation of the 164 pages of AA's Big Book. Dale takes the reader through the first 164 pages, but rewritten as a secular version of the book. The book also contains personal stories from secular members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, we are featuring one of those personal stories: Joy!
I grew up on a little hard scrabble farm in the hills and hollers of eastern Tennessee. Our farm was on a gravel road that connected to two more gravel roads before reaching an asphalt state highway. Planting, harvesting, and preparing tobacco for market auction was a family affair that everyone helped as soon as one could walk. The process paid for next year’s seed, property taxes, Christmas presents and every 4-5 years a new used but not quite worn out car.
I start my day with a 10-15 minute meditation. I’ve done this most days since I got sober. The form changes from time to time. Sometimes simply to relax. Sometimes to let be. In early April 2007, I needed to drink alcohol to get through my day. When I tried and tried sincerely to not harm those those loved me so dearly, I drank alcohol regardless.
In the spring of 1938, the future of the group started by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith three years earlier was very much in doubt. There were only two meetings–in Akron and New York. Wilson had proposed an ambitious plan for expansion: he wanted to send members on speaking tours around the country and hoped to open medical facilities where alcoholics would be welcome. But there was no money to pay missionaries, much less to found hospitals.
I got a reputation as the rebellious atheist type at my AA home group, even though I never spoke against religion or the Judeo-Christian concept of God or identified myself as an atheist, and had, in fact, encouraged Christian sponsees to practice their faith.
Making a decision to go to your first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is a major step. Whatever you’ve heard about it—whether you have a friend who goes, you’ve seen it on TV, learned about it in rehab—it is going to be an experience like nothing else you’ve ever had a chance to partake in. The reason for this is that, despite AA meetings maintaining certain structures through readings, announcements, and a particular format (Speaker meeting vs. open sharing, steps discussion, etc.), it is still something that can get completely unpredictable.
When I was newly sober, my feelings overwhelmed me. I began to write and share poetry as a way to be with overwhelming feelings. Writing helped me observe and accept reality and truth and sharing helped me to not be alone with sometimes raw, scary, confusing and shameful things. What I see now looking back and beginning to review and to annotate poems is that many of the poems themselves, and the writing was subconsciously, at first, challenging the clear and firm boundaries that I had erected between science and spirituality. They helped me develop a vocabulary that began to build a bridge between objectivity and subjectivity - between science and spirituality. And they became a tool that I now use to learn about who I am and how I am.
As someone who’s in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug dependency I’ve often reflected upon the various causal factors associated with addiction and what these suggest in terms of successful recovery. There seems to be many diverse opinions, often polarising voices, in relation to the causes, nature and treatment of addiction.
I wrote the fragment -"Greed, Rage, Fear, Hate, Such a tightly wound knot"- about a month ago. It felt uncomfortable and uncontrollable and so I left it in a drafts folder. I felt uncomfortable. When I see greed, rage, hate in the world hurting so many, it fills me with fear and often my own rage.