From Questions to Confusion

The outer circle posts are turning out to be kind of boring so I’m going to put them on a separate page.

The Friendly Atheist got me thinking this morning about the questions I get from other addicts in recovery. People want to know if I’m really sober. (I am.) They want to know how I work the eleventh step. (I think.) Do I pray? (No.) What’s my Higher Power? (Reality.)

So far, not a single recovering addict has tried to convert me.

Speaking of meetings and atheism, I love my home group. Those guys were there for me when I really needed help. It’s weird that the therapist who sent me there was actually causing my life to get more and more crazy – I still can’t think about that without getting confused – but the guys at that meeting held my hand through everything. Now I don’t need them quite as much or in the same way but I still love seeing them. But between doing pretty well in my recovery and the high price of gas – I’ve been making the drive less and less. It takes me about an hour and a half to get to the meeting and once I’m there, I feel like I don’t fit in as well as I used to when I was a believer. I’m sad about that.

We humans are social animals and we don’t do well in isolation. I really wish I there was something closer. I can go to open AA meetings, but it’s not the same. They think that having a sex addiction would be great. The pamphlet I secretly put up on the clubhouse bulletin board gets lots of laughs.

A few years ago I tried to start a local meeting. What a fiasco. Every church I asked, including my own thought that we really needed a group “like this” in our area, just not here. Every single church I asked said no, except one. The pastor at that church insisted on meeting me in person, which wasn’t unreasonable. He insisted on having my full name and address. That freaked me out but I gave it to him. Then we talked for awhile about sex addiction. He was remarkably ignorant, but that’s not unusual and I thought things were going well. He was an older man and when it was time to go, courteously helped me on with my coat. As he did so, he not so courteously slid his hand up my side and breathed down my neck. He didn’t actually grab my breast, just grazed it. He didn’t actually touch my neck, just breathed on it.

I went home in shock. I called my husband. Talk about feeling powerless! My poor husband was outraged but there wasn’t a darn thing he could do about it other than to tell me he was so sorry this had happened. My sponsor was sorry too, and suggested that maybe I should put starting a meeting on the back burner for awhile. I went home and took a scalding shower until the hot water was all used up. My (abusive) therapist felt bad for me too. He understood when I explained how dirty I felt and explained that I’d been in a vulnerable position and that the pastor had betrayed my trust.

I don’t know that pastor beyond that single interaction so it’s easy for me to see him as bad. There’s nothing confusing about it. I knew my grandfather, step-father, platoon leader, supervisor, and therapist long enough to know that they weren’t all bad.

It seems like no matter where I start, I end up writing about being confused!



  1. AA folks who joke about addiction — or think any addiction would be a great one to have — make me sad. If those folks don’t know the pain of addiction, who does?

    And it sounds like the pastor could use some help around sexuality himself. Sigh!

  2. “It seems like no matter where I start, I end up writing about being confused!”

    I’d say that puts you way out in front of the masses that don’t realize they’re broken and confused.

    I would think it would be good policy, if not impossible, to always meet strangers like the pastor in pairs. AAs never go on a 12-step call alone. I realize it’s not the same thing, but nevertheless…

    I knew a couple of guys in AA who used to hit the sexual addiction meeting just to score. I was pretty repulsed by it but for many guys there just are no rules where sex is concerned. (The end always justifies the means.)

    There are some awful people out there. I’m impressed that you realize that even the worst ones have some good in them. What little tolerance for imperfection in others I have has been hard won and if I’m not ever vigilant, fleeting.

    Your atheism is interesting. I thought I was an atheist for a time until I realized I wasn’t nearly accomplished enough in the hard sciences to hold such a radical view. Almost all the atheist I’ve ever come across are bitter, simple little people lashing out at whatever is available for them to project their ignorance and anger upon. I don’t get any of that from you. I suspect you realize it takes a hell of lot more faith to not believe than to believe (in something we can’t begin to comprehend). What I don’t get is why, when there’s no good reason (I’ve ever heard of) not to believe, otherwise intelligent/sane people make that leap of faith and choose the icy path of atheism? Seems like a zero return on investment to me.

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