I Have Faith in AA
I was one of those that "have tried the way of faith and the way of no faith."* The first time I tried the program, with several relapses ranging from one day to a year or more, I brought with me and used the faith of my parents ~ that of a loving God who wanted the best for us and led us in the right direction so as to get us to the point He had destined for us.
After 3 years of sobriety I drank again. This time, "I was so sure God had failed me that I became ultimately defiant, though I knew better, and plunged into a final drinking binge."** I figured I would drink until I died.
17 years later, I had been through community college and many years of working. I had bought and lost 2 homes to disaster (fire & flood). My children were grown and I had several grandchildren. My father died of natural causes and I was there for him when he passed. I was recently married to a gentle man who swore to love me no matter what. Sounds like the trappings of a normal person’s life, doesn't it? Except that at night I would drink alone until I passed out, only to wake and start all over again.
I realized late one night – in a moment of clarity – that I was a Black Hole . . . sucking the life out of everything that came near me. Earlier that day, my son stood at the door saying goodbye in our usual way, pausing to say "I love you." I said, "I love you too", but there was an extra pause and our eyes met for an extra moment.
I didn't feel it! I couldn't feel the love coming in or going out. I knew that my death from alcohol was not forthcoming and that it was more likely that I would live like this a long, long time. I thought about detox and treatment but I knew that AA was the only real answer, the only answer that would last a lifetime.
I had recently outted myself as an atheist, and the thought of going to AA and the "god of my understanding" finally presented very little struggle to me. I knew that those people were staying sober, and since I did not believe in any god at all, the only thing that was left was for me to go and see what it was they were doing that got them sober and kept them sober.
So it was that I set upon the broad highway. I wanted what you all had so I did what you all did. I realized that AA could and would restore me to sanity, be it through the way of faith or no faith.
At first it was important that I tell people that I was an atheist. I went to many meetings all over the Area so many people knew. Some accepted me right out, others with a question mark in their eyes and others out-right vocal about how I was doomed to drink unless I fell to my knees. I got into service right away and I have no doubt that my commitment to an AA meeting kept me sober on more than one occasion. I chose a home group where I would settle in. (I am now the GSR of that group!)
I found a sponsor, a believer, who would willingly help a suffering alcoholic through the Steps despite my refusal to believe in anything other than Alcoholics Anonymous. I was able to remain honest, open and willing.
One of my favorite questions from a believer, and the answer that “magically” popped into my head, goes like this: If you believe that AA is your Higher Power, what do you do, who do you talk to, late at night when there is no one else around? My answer is this: Every hour on the hour 2 or more people are gathered together for an AA meeting. I am never alone.
Today I have faith in AA. I don't have to worry about tomorrow or my eternal soul. All I want is to stay sober today and to not hurt myself or others if at all possible. If at anytime I do not “feel the love” I can take a look at what is going on around me and the reality that feelings are not facts, just signposts – and that these feelings can point me in the wrong direction so I have to keep a keen eye on what all you sober people are doing!
I stay in the “middle of the herd” where it is safe. Things are better today than my best day while drinking. If something happens later that I need to re-evaluate, I have the tools to do so. I thank AA for my sobriety today.
*from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 28
** from Daily Reflections, page 43