When I was just a young grasshopper in sobriety, I felt embarrassed of my alcoholism and especially of my involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to lunch with my first sponsor 8+ months ago, and she said “AA” audibly enough for the waitress to hear; I came this close to yanking the tablecloth off the table, throwing it over my head, and bolting from the restaurant…As if that’d draw less attention.
My personal stigma toward recovery didn’t last long. There’s no shame in having a disease, and certainly no shame in seeking treatment. The fact of the matter is that my body felt like a dark empty cavity 268 days ago with a stillness inside that scared me, and that void is being filled with love and faith through God. This is where I get embarrassingly uncomfortable.
Like so many others, the mere mention of God used to make me cringe with discomfort and tense up with fury. I think my averseness to the notion almost took me out a few times because I thought AA was trying to make me stand in a pew and confess my laundry list of sins.
Religion has always seemed like a manipulative institution of beggars and choosers; picking what can support their narrow-minded system of beliefs and leaving the rest. In my mind, spirituality sort of glommed onto religion but seemed more like hocus-pocus, falling into the same category as Santa Clause—both nice, both lies.
I have come to learn that not all organized religions are evil, and none of them are affiliated with AA. AA is a spiritual program and just because Santa was a letdown doesn’t mean spirituality is, too. With acceptance of a higher power my definition has God has become defined in a very undefined way.
God to me is hearing a story of pain that ends in hope, it’s saying things I didn’t know I knew, it’s accidentally ordering the wrong truck cover the day before I was supposed to go to California, it’s asking for patience in moments of frustration, or being able to help someone who needs it as much as me in the moment. Sometimes my God is simply “Dear Higher Power,” or “Thank you Mother Nature,” or “Sup, Great Spirit.” God can be an acronym for Group Of Drunks, as long as I admit that by myself, I cannot stay sober.
Despite my comfortably and loosely constricted concept God, along with the fact that I’ve separated “Him” from religion, I can’t help but feel chagrined expressing spirituality with both alcoholics and non-alcoholics.
I feel judged mentioning “God moments” because if there’s a silence that falls afterwards, I immediately feel the need to explain myself and justify the importance. It takes every fiber of my being to refrain from launching into my own higher power as I understand her/him/it, so I don’t, and then I sit and stew and wonder if I’ve been brainwashed. My insecurities come from self-centered fears of what other people think. I make up scenarios in my head of what people say when I’m not around, about how I found God and lost my marbles.
What I need to work on is caring less about what others think. I suppose caring less means gaining confidence, which comes through step work, and ironically, interaction with my higher power. Part of me wants to get it all out, and proclaim my faith from the rooftops, yelling to anyone and everyone that I believe in a God, but that sounds as drastic as the tablecloth plan…I’ guess I’ll just pray on it. Maybe I’ll pray for Johnny Depp, too.