From the April 1998 magazine.

A Crack in the Wall of Disbelief

I sampled AA ten years ago but never really got past the First Step. Steps Two and Three smacked of religion and turned me off; after all, I was in charge of my life. I made some futile attempts at finding a power for living sober but never learned anything about spirituality or had much willingness to change my attitudes. About six years ago I hit another bottom and agreed to return to AA meetings because I refused to listen to the Employee Assistance Program counselor when he suggested a treatment center he could get me into right away. I was afraid of that kind of commitment and thought that if AA didn't work again I always had treatment, like an ace in the hole. In fact, I didn't want to get sober for the rest of my life, only get some people off my back. Just because I couldn't get along with my bosses, coworkers, the union, or anybody else didn't mean I had a problem--I just needed some time to regroup.

First, I bought a Big Book and started to read it, and tried a Sunday Grapevine meeting and a Thursday Step meeting, where the topic was Step Two. An old drunk, a former schoolteacher named Howard, was leading the meeting, and I was trying to figure out how I was going to get past Step Two this time. He was talking about not having to believe but being willing to believe: don't say no, say maybe. He also talked about having one's own conception of God and then told a story about a nonbeliever who had a tall tree as his higher power. I laughed to myself and thought what a bunch of nonsense that was. That turned my mind off for the rest of the meeting. Later on at home I thought of how amusing the old guy had been--a tree for a higher power!--and wondered about the kind of bull that kept those people sober.

-- Anonymous

Mason City, Iowa

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