Sleep evaded me at my bottom - unable to fall asleep without drinking alcohol - unable to fall back to sleep without drinking alcohol. Lately, though sober for some time, I’ve had several nights of waking and being unable to fall back to sleep.
I need to find a way to stop my “us and them” mentality. On several occasions, while attending A. A. meetings, emotions have arisen in me that are far removed from the compassion inherent in Buddhist practice.
In this episode, we meet David Whitesock, who shares his story of addiction and recovery, and how his journey led him to develop the Recovery Capital Index, a useful tool for measuring recovery capital.
In my struggle to find sobriety in AA, I unexpectedly became Buddhist by doing the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The pandemic has taught us some things -- one being that the thirst for secular AA exceeds our most optimistic imaginings. A very short time after face-to-face meetings began to be shut down, there was a notable spike in requests to join the various secular recovery groups on Facebook. An old-school Google group called "Atheists and Agnostics in AA" saw new member applications leap from 10-15 per week to 10-15 per day.
I take the title of this essay from the 1722 English work of Daniel Defoe which is a fictionalized account of the last great Bubonic Plague outbreak in London of 1665. I am writing this piece in September of 2020 when the entire world is in the midst of its own “Great Plague” caused by the COVID 19 pandemic and many of us older people, as well as some younger folks, find ourselves under dire threat.
Writing, including gratitude lists, parts of my personal stories, essays about principles, and steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, and for me most importantly, poetry, has been an essential part of my recovery.
Of late, I’ve noticed despair and desire arising and sometimes becoming a distraction and a focus of my meditation for several days. I, at times, intentionally try, and impossibly fail, to avoid feelings of despair and feelings of desire. Despair often creates hopeless sadness. Desire becomes an obsessive urge, often harmful, to change the way that I feel or to escape the way that I feel. And yet, like so many things I notice, despair and desire are inextricably connected.
While I’m committed to the practise of spiritual principles as a part of my recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction, the emphasis within Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on being accepting, compassionate, tolerant, unselfish and loving, etc, and of “practising these principles in all our affairs”, combined with literal interpretation of fellowship literature, can lead to unrealistic expectations of ourselves and potentially harmful consequences.