Today’s Rambling Post, in which I wish to share a great quote but somehow fail to make a broader connection that would show me to be erudite. Several colons were harmed in the editing of this post.

2013-01-29 17.01.13
Bad coffee at an AA meeting: tastes like peace.

I’m often asked how I can be in recovery and an atheist all at the same time. How do I work steps? Do I actually work the steps or just give them lip service. What about step 11? Do I pray? What about the opening and closing prayers?

I think most of these questions boil down to curiosity about whether I’m really sober, and whether I’m really an atheist. So just to set the record straight, I really am an atheist. I do not believe in God. I have a HP that I choose to call Truth; an idea not a deity. Although sobriety as a sex addict is more difficult to define than for an alcoholic or drug addict, I have a clear sobriety definition. There are certain behaviors that if I do them, I reset my sobriety date. Masturbation, deliberately viewing pornography of any type, including text. Smoking cigarettes. Any contact with my former therapist.

Since I left treatment, I’ve made two changes to my sobriety definition. The first was that I removed alcohol from the list of things that will reset my sobriety to my “middle circle.” The second is that I have added googling my former therapist to my “inner circle.” So far, I have been absolutely honest about when I have slipped, lapsed, or reset my sobriety. In all the s-recovery meetings I attend, the custom is to state our length of sobriety, which I have done honestly. I’ve also been honest here on this blog about my length of sobriety. I haven’t changed the dates in the sidebar because it’s just too depressing and I don’t need the extra shame just now. But I’m pretty sure anyone reading has been able to tell that I’ve been struggling.

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind.

by Sam Harris

I’m attending open AA meetings now, where I introduce myself as an addict. I’ve gotten some feedback that it pisses a few AA folks off when people do this, as if they are somehow better than alcoholics. Ha! Better an alcoholic than a sex addict. The truth is that it’s as honest as I can be about who I really am and still maintain safety and integrity. Although if I don’t get my head on straight soon, I may be able to honestly identify as an alcoholic. But that’s another post.

I’d like to start a local s-recovery group again – we had one but it fizzled out – I wish there was an easy way to do this and stay safe. Until then, I’ll continue going to the open AA meetings. I’m glad they’re available.

If you are a sober person who attends meetings even though you don’t need them as desperately as you once did – I would like to sincerely thank you. It is because of people like you that meetings are available for those who are suffering.

And thanks for not being a dick when I share about being an atheist, when I don’t join in the Lord’s Prayer, and when I come in late. It is really good to have a place to go that feels like . . . sanctuary.

Sheesh. What a ramble! What I really wanted to say is this:

  1. There is this great quote by Sam Harris, you should read it
  2. I really am an atheist
  3. I really am in recovery
  4. I sometimes have trouble explaining how the 12-steps work for me
  5. I’m not sure why I relapsed this time
  6. I’m not sure why I’m doing better this week than last week
  7. I’m pretty sure that going back to open AA meetings is helping
  8. I’m pretty sure the new therapist is helping
  9. I’m pretty sure that blogging is helping

To my fellow addicts in recovery: being an atheist doesn’t mean I’m evil, lying, or stupid.

To my fellow human beings: being a sex addict doesn’t mean I’m worthless.

To my fellow atheists: being in recovery doesn’t mean I’m stupid.

To my fellow blogger/readers: thank you. I am humbled and amazed that there are people in the world who care how I am doing. When I feel worthless, it helps to know that there are people on earth who think I have something to say that’s worth reading. I hope you know that I care about you too.




  1. My husband and I are both athiests, him in recovery and a month sober now. Athiesm and ethics have nothing to do with each other. For him, the higher power is ‘our love’. For me, it is bigger… mother nature and the interconnectedness of all forms of matter/energy (not only am I an athiest, I’m a total nerd for physics). Neither of us has a problem with the 12 step model and have both gained quite a lot from it.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, it is good to know that we have company in our struggles and that addiction transcends all walks of life and all belief systems.

  2. Thanks for post, you have my support, I too am an atheist and there is no moral advantage a religion or a god provides that an atheist can not practice. From love to hate, from humility to narcissism (i.e. the greatness of an evangelical preacher saying how he/she is closer to “god” than most mere mortals to christians seeing themsleves better than muslims as easy as an atheist can see themselves in the same way about “knowing more” than those who follow religion, it is the person’s self perception that shapes their attitude), all are capable of any moral or human action. If you fall down, you can stay down or try today to get up and get support. Good luck!

  3. Even though we disagree on the issue of God, as people in recovery we share a bond. We have come from places we don’t want to go back to. I respect anyone in a recovery meeting because of their desire to find a better way. Early in recovery I was what I would call “violently agnostic”. I would become angry when people talked to me about God. My subsequent devotion to Christ came much later in my sobriety and has in fact changed my life for the better.
    I was still able to stay sober with a Higher Power I really didn’t understand. We all come from different places and backgrounds with one common thread holding us all together. We may not agree but we must not be disagreeable. We have all earned our seat in the rooms with no one more deserving than another.
    I have said many times before, I am grateful for your wisdom and counsel. You helped me through a dark time in my life. You helped me understand the addiction that was wreaking havoc in my life and marriage. I will always be grateful for what you have given me. You hold a special place to me and I will always care how you are doing.
    Thank you for being you. Thank you for sharing a little glimpse into your life. You impact others and are having a positive affect helping other addicts in their recovery.
    Have a good day. I count you as a blessing.

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