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