Magazine

From the February 2013 magazine.

February 2013: No Lightning Bolt, No Burning Bush

Her plea was not an earth-shaking moment—but it worked

During my first three weeks of sobriety, I felt extraordinarily irritable, frustrated and angry. I remember yelling at my kids, stomping around the house and feeling decidedly unsettled; I was getting worse, not better. So, while crying angry tears, I picked up the phone and called my sponsor. Suzie had a matter-of-fact way of making suggestions; she asked me if I had “asked out loud.” I replied that I had not. In fact, I had no idea what she meant. She clarified: Had I asked out loud for the desire to drink to be relieved? Of course I had not. Suzie was never forceful—only suggestive. She told me that I “ought” to ask out loud for the desire to drink to be relieved.

Besides being an alcoholic, I am also a sixth-generation Unitarian on my mother’s side; my father was a Unitarian minister. I was raised agnostic, leaning toward atheism in a household firmly grounded in logic, science and reason. If you’re Unitarian, you just don’t have to believe in God. When I was first introduced to AA through an outpatient rehabilitation program (over a decade ago), I could not come to terms with the “God thing.” In early sobriety, this posed a particularly difficult challenge when it was suggested I find a Higher Power. Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program—not a religious one. In meetings, in discussions with other alcoholics, and in The Big Book, every time the phrase “Higher Power” was mentioned, in my closed-mindedness, I heard “God”—with a capital G—complete with a long white beard. After 42 days, sobriety lost its priority and I drank again.

-- Katherine B.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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