God Can Take It From Here
TSM Yeah I think a lot of people have a big problem with the wording of that first step and also people that aren’t religious are like “so what am I supposed to do with all that God stuff?”
SKL Oh right and I mean that’s a whole other thing…luckily I didn’t have problems with the idea of a God or a higher power, it’s just that…I did have a problem with the idea that God somehow wants me to be sober because God’s been my buddy you know for my whole life, like God’s walked with me through everything I’ve ever done and now all of the sudden I’m supposed to pretend that God wants me to be sober? God doesn’t care…you know…God’s along with me for the ride no matter what I do … you know, so it seemed you know kind of arrogant to all of a sudden decide that God wants me to be sober when all the evidence in my life has been that God has been with me unconditionally … you know, so I mean and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to deal with that um as an atheist or an agnostic with no belief in any sort of um spiritual presence or anything like that … It’s like why, what does that have to do with the price of rice?
SKL I mean who really wants you to be sober? You do… I mean why is that not enough, why do we have to create this whole idea that something bigger than you wants you to be sober? It seems unnecessary to me.
TSM I’ve always looked at this from the outside so I’ve always tried to understand--so what exactly are you saying that you want them to feel like God is on their team so that they’ll feel this boost of empowerment that they wouldn’t otherwise feel?
SKL God’s always on your team. You know what I’m saying? It’s like God doesn’t care if I’m sober or not, God loves me just the same, no matter what so--what bothered me about it was that it was illogical to decide that A) we know God’s will at all, ever [laughing]and B) that all the sudden we’re supposed to accept that now God or a higher power has stepped in to go to bat for us for our sobriety. I mean, that’s just ludicrous, if that were true and God is all powerful why doesn’t He just flip a switch and make you not an addict anymore?
TSM I guess the counter-argument could be made that because we have free-will, until we ask for it , He can’t impose it on us against our will.
SKL Right, but God imposes all kinds of things on us. I feel like we need to pick a story and stick with it. Which brings me back to your really interesting question, if I were designing the program, what would I do? One of the things that I was really thinking about when I was in Denver in rehab is what part of what I was doing was effective? Was it the fact that I was far from home, living in a much different situation, being accountable to other people who knew that I was like struggling with this problem. Could it just be that without the whole 12-step thing and would that be as effective? And I thought that for me, it would be as effective.
TSM Like it could have been a yoga retreat or a Buddhist retreat or anything that got you out of your routine where alcohol wasn’t really part of the scene?
SKL Right and telling the truth about my problem because for, for a long time when I was living in Seattle and Michigan I was not being truthful with anyone in my life about how much of a problem that I felt that this was turning into. I mean I was functional, I was working, but at the same time I have this secret I have to protect and when I decided to sort of ‘out’ myself, that was a powerful thing because it made me accountable and it made me accountable to other people.
SKL I think that there’s something really powerful in saying that this is a problem for me and I think that it’s really hard, but I think that that maybe is the moment of change, not the powerlessness, not the whole “I surrender, I give up” you know, God’s gotta take it from here, but the fact that you’re admitting to yourself and to your primary relationships, “I f--ked up, and I’ve been f--king up and I don’t wanna do this anymore.” But to me that seems, really powerful,
TSM Right, because you’re owning it, you’re stepping up to the plate.
SKL You’re saying this is f--ked, essentially I’ve been lying to you all and I don’t want to lie anymore and I don’t want to lie to myself. I mean, to me, that does not seem like a statement of powerlessness.
TSM Yeah, definitely. Not that I’m in your inner-circle but I had no idea that you had a problem and so my finding out about it was your announcing that you had a rehab diary. Rehab diary? Why did she need rehab?
SKL I knew it’d sort of be out of the blue for most people. My partner didn’t know!
TSM I recall you were always posting these things about how you were self-nurturing…and I admired that. I really need to get on some of those things myself and it was inspiring to me that you would be posting about , you know, eating something nutritious, or making it to the gym.
SKL Both things can be true.
TSM Right, exactly--and I thought that was all [of] the picture and so it surprised me.
SKL Right. This is total heresy and I don’t even know what to think about this but part of me thinks that alcohol was not my problem, not my primary problem. Part of me thinks that my primary problem was absolute despair, and what I was doing to mitigate that despair was drinking a huge amount. But I’m not in despair anymore and the AA party line is like “well, you’re not in despair ‘cause you’re not drinking anymore” and I wonder if I’m not drinking anymore ‘cause I’m not in despair?
TSM Which came first the chicken or the egg? I think a lot of people use alcohol to self-medicate depression or other problems and I found myself wondering well, so are they true alcoholics in the sense of having a genetic based illness?
SKL Right…right. Exactly. Thank you for saying that so well ‘cause you know I go, I go back and forth. On one hand it was really interesting seeing that nutritionist and learning about GLA, the missing synthesis chemical that allows you to process alcohol. I mean, that was really interesting. You could definitely make a case for me being genetically vulnerable to true physical alcoholism, but I think the jury’s still out…I mean, I don’t know if it was just that simple, or if it was a confluence of like things that made me feel bad that I responded to by drinking to numb it. And of course, when I’ve talked to people who are hard-line 12-steppers about it, they sort of conveniently say “Oh that’s just the disease talking…the disease is trying to fool you that you don’t have the disease.”
TSM Yeah, there’s such a hard-line thing there that you can’t even explore it, and try to understand the difference between problem drinkers who can quit and not need constant reinforcement and treatment for the rest of their lives…
TSM …versus people who really will relapse if they have a drink and really need the regular meetings.