This post is overdue, but a while back I had mentioned that I was returning to regular Twelve Step meeting attendance. I delayed writing this in detail just to see if it would stick, and lo and behold, it did. So, here goes:
Why did I return? Partially due to circumstance. Although I have been sober for almost 12 years (my sobriety date is tomorrow the 22nd, actually) and have had a very good sobriety that I’ll stack up against anyone’s, my periods of “sobriety” were increasingly interrupted by periods of merely “not drinking.” In other words, the RIDs were on the rise. RID in AA parlance means “restless, irritable and discontented.” It refers to a sobriety that is troubled.
Although I was in no real danger of relapsing, at first I turned to just picking up AA’s “Big Book,” and flipped through a chapter at random. And although I have read the Big Book before, maybe twice through in its entirety, and afterwards mostly just chapters at random, this chapter seemed different! It was like someone had rewritten it!
Upon investigation in the online recovery sites I mentioned in the post linked to above, this is not a rare happening. Others have experienced it, too. It usually means that the reader has gone through quite a bit of spiritual development and changes since the last time that chapter was read.
Well, no kidding!
Anyway, so I figured I’ll try face-to-face AA again, this time find a meeting and stick with it for a while. Luckily, I did not have to try too many meetings. This one is a good Group, and I’ve already made it my Home Group. Yes, I now have a Home Group after 10 years! It is rather large, and after the typical opening rituals and announcements they break up into four smaller groups: two beginner meetings, one covering Steps 1-3, the other focusing on Steps 4-9; a Big Book/Step Discussion meeting; and the general discussion table. I’ve been going to the Steps 1-3 beginner’s meeting, as I feel the need to get back to the basics.
I am only attending one meeting a week, and at 52 meetings a year this means a 5200% increase in my annual attendance. (For those bad at math, since 2004 I’ve averaged one meeting a year, except for the period around my Mom’s death in late 2005.) It is a Thursday night closed group for men. I had long thought of attending this particular one, and so I finally used this as an excuse to try it. I liked it, and now feel I probably should have tried it years ago. My experience with it is somewhat different from my original AA experience, where I sobered up from 2002-2004.
By no means does this discount anything I have written during these past seven years on Sober Catholic regarding the effectivess and worthiness of Catholic spirituality, sacramental life and devotions in maintaining one’s sobriety. As I had inferred, I have been attending on average one AA meeting a year for nine years, thereabouts. My Catholic Faith had kept my head together during all this time.
But perhaps the scalpel-like precision and focus that AA can bring to certain issues that alcohol served as a crutch for in the past was needed. I feel no need to attend more than this meeting; it is enough.
Maybe my Catholic Faith is not an issue, perhaps it is me. Maybe I haven’t “progressed spiritually” enough in the Faith to feel the full healing power of the Sacraments and the graces from Jesus, the Divine Healer. I truly do feel that ideally, religion alone can fully heal one of addictions. If the sacraments are life-giving, and all Masses are “healing Masses” (which is true, when you think of it) and the power of the Word of God to transform your life is possible, then perhaps my return to AA is more a weakness of mine, and not of the Faith.
No matter. Perhaps it isn’t any of those. Maybe I’m supposed to return for other reasons. Time will tell. But for now, I’m back in AA, at least on Thursday nights and in my daily morning meditations.
The focus of this blog won’t change. Catholicism will still be the primary inspiration. But there may be an uptick the the references to Twelve Step spirituality and AA.
Please feel free to offer thoughts and opinions in the comments…Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"