From the October 2010 magazine.

I need answers!

A newcomer reads the Big Book in rehab, but a sponsor helps her understand it

Receiving the Big Book at a twelve-step treatment center was supposed to be a moment to remember. It was June 2008, and all the girls who were 'graduating' posted their Big Books in the community room to be commemorated. My book just had my name in pencil because at the time I thought I would never forget the girls or the experience we went through, and that was enough for me. Being a reader, marring a book in pen strokes was just not done because I like to give my books away to others and I want their experience of the book to be free and clear of my musings.

At first, reading the book was a lesson in confusion. I was in treatment to receive the answers. Answers were in books. This was the book, so where were the answers? Who was this man Dr. Silkworth? What was he to this guy Bill? And then there was this guy, Dr. Bob. All these men, too many men, war and men. What was all that supposed to mean to me? I was a modern woman with modern problems. I tried to concentrate really hard on each and every word to find the answers, but it was a losing battle. The words were all so ambiguous. (Ha!) There was a chapter entitled, "How It Works," but it was like reading an alien language. How were these words going to work for me? I needed concrete answers and pretty darn soon. My heart was willing. I was heavily invested and so was my pocketbook. Having only 28 days, I put aside the Big Book and tried to read the endless handouts, homework assignments and books like Came to Believe. It was all a big blur to me. All I knew was that if this didn't work, I would die. The truth: I was, as an Irish playwright wrote, "too young to die, but too drunk to live."

-- LISA E.

Vail, Colo.

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