We are at the beginning of the journey into recovery from alcoholism. Everywhere we look, we find the admonishment that this is a "family disease," and so we are preparing for the certainty that all of us must change in the process of all of us finding healing. We are so recently come to all of this, that we have very little knowledge of what lies ahead -- of what it is that we ought to expect. For Tom, the formal treatment program starts this week.
At this point, though, what we've done, mostly, is read the AA Big Book. It is an interesting experience. Written in the 1930s, it remains through four revisions, very much as it was when it first appeared, and it really is full of anachronisms. For all of that, there is much of value there -- a very great deal that we recognized from our experience and our lives. For me, a lifelong spiritual backpacker, the unapologetic "god" language is startling and a bit disturbing, but I'm determined not to prejudge.
I am struggling, though, to quiet down the nagging little voice in my head that insists that the "god" of the Big Book would likely not approve of me:
Being convinced, … we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. … We had to have God's help. … We … said to our Maker: "God, I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" …We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. … We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. … we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. … We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given
I know that He is working hard at accommodating that part of all of this; searching for some way to reconcile that "god" language with His own rational skepticism about His mainline protestant, Christian upbringing. Suddenly, He's pulled out The Bible from its accustomed place on the bookshelf. He hunted down the gold cross that belonged to His mother, cleaned it up, and is wearing that on a chain around His neck. Then, He found another that He liked, made by Russell Simmons, the same jewelry designer that created the birthday bracelets that T and I were given, so that too, is adorning His chest. It feels like a lot to me.
Honestly, all this overtly Christian religiosity scares me. I am finding myself transported back in time to my Catholic school childhood... In those days, I was taught that simply being female made me "the near occasion of sin." I wore sensible saddle oxfords or Hush Puppies because we all KNEW that patent leather shoes reflected up. I learned to sit in class with a section of the local newspaper draped over my knees -- so I wouldn't lead some poor innocent boy into temptation... One think I knew for sure by the time I was twelve or thirteen, the god of my childhood didn't like sex and he, for sure, didn't like girls.
I am very much afraid that it is the establishment of close ties with that same, unfriendly god that is a necessary first step in this recovery process. Will it come to be the case that, in order for my Love to regain His health and sanity, I will need to give up my place in His life? Is there any room in the world directed by this "higher power," this "god," for our kind of loving? I don't find any direct proscription against what it is that we do, but I don't find any ringing endorsement either. The Big Book scares me.