If our brain is a deck of cards, we are a few cards short in the reasoning and maturity suits.
~ “A Skeptic’s Guide to the 12 Steps”, by Phillip Z.
Twenty-seven years ago today I checked into treatment for my alcoholism and addictions to other drugs. It was a terrific relief.
I’d known for a long time that I was an alcoholic. I was totally unaware of AA’s existence, and that there was an effective treatment for addictive disease. In truth, I couldn’t have been entirely unaware, because I’d been dealing with drunks and addicts for years as a police officer. It had simply managed to escape me that AA and other programs were anything other than a place to dump problems that turned up back on the street later anyway.
By the time my boss more-or-less forced me into treatment, I’d had most of the jackpots: divorce, foreclosures, evictions, loss of other people’s money as well as tons of my own, estrangement from relatives — all the fun things that we addicts collect along the way to perdition. My denial about my surface problems was pretty weak, and it didn’t take much for me to become accepting about treatment, then hopeful, and then enthusiastic. I ended up damned grateful to the Chief of Police and whoever advised him about how he should deal with his relatively high-ranking and increasingly visible problem.
So I got sober, haven’t had a drink or used since, and became a credit to my mother, my school, my family, my country and all that stuff. I worked in the recovery field. I talked recovery. I even became a bit of a recovery guru, writing about addiction on my own and for treatment facilities that needed a down-to-earth approach to some of their material. But, to a great degree, I was a fraud, and I didn’t even know it myself. Continue reading
First of all, I need to assure my readers that I have absolutely no connection with the author of this book or his publisher. I received no incentives to write this. I purchased the book myself, and have been using it daily for several months. This review is based solely on my admiration for an exceptional recovery resource that doesn’t get enough air time around the rooms.
I begin this review with trepidation because it is normally my policy not to do book reviews or promotional posts. I had to adopt that position after years of requests to read books, infographics and do reviews of websites, some of which were great, some of no interest and some of which were even toxic. Nonetheless, I’m writing this one — with full knowledge that it will probably engender another s—storm of requests (which will, let me say in advance, be refused).
A year or so ago, I started looking for recovery resources that would be suitable for people who have a problem with the “God Thing” in AA, NA and most of the other 12-step fellowships. As we all know, this is an issue for some, newcomers in particular. While searching, I stumbled across “Joe C” and Beyond Belief — agnostic musings for 12-step life, his book of daily readings for folks in recovery. After using it for the past eight months, I have come to the conclusion that it is the most valuable recovery resource I’ve used in more than a quarter of a century in 12-step recovery, excluding the basic texts of the individual fellowships, of course. I learn something from it every morning, and I would be proud to have written it myself. Unfortunately, I’m just not. . .that. . .good.
Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t a trash-the-believers book. It’s respectful and inclusive: more a secular examination of the various addictions and programs than agnostic in the sense most people think of it. No believer of any kind need be put off, and it would be a crying shame if any were because this book is a treasure chest of down-to-earth, triple-distilled recovery of the best kind.
I opened the book at random to the July 7th reading. Consider the following:
First time Fourth Steppers are cautioned that this list is no magic pill; it is a step in the right direction to honest self-appraisal. Many of us do Step Four more than once just as some businesses do a complete inventory every year or two. Each new inventory isn’t an admission of failure of the previous stocktaking. Rather, it is a new balance sheet on a new day to quantify progress and circumstances.
Some inventories look at the good and the bad: shameful acts vs. great accomplishments, healthy expressions of fear and anger vs. unhealthy expressions of fear and anger and our histories of deception and avoidance vs. examples of bravery and honesty. Mismanaged feelings are addiction triggers. Step Four uncovers the emotional triggers that set off the freeze, fight and flight reflexes. [Emphasis mine] Like a blueprint, Step Four shows us how we’re wired, opening the door to change.
Like I said, I sure wish I’d written that!
Please, suspend your prejudices about the word “agnostic” (which, after all, only means “one who doesn’t know”), and get a copy of Beyond Belief. I promise you that it will be one of the best recovery purchases you’ve ever made. It will be part of my daily practice from now until I move on to find the definitive answers, and I’ll bet it will be for you, too.
by Joe C. (Author)
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