Barb’s Secular Sobriety

Barb was adopted into a conservative, Catholic family where she had a happy home life with parents who cared and provided for her. There wasn’t anything in her childhood that was especially traumatic, but she did get pregnant in high school and put her baby up for adoption. It was a Catholic school, and though they told her she did the right thing, no counseling was offered and it was never discussed. Barb said, “they just expected me to move on with my life.”

As far as alcohol goes, it was always part of life and she never gave it much thought, and though she drank a lot in high school and often more than others, people thought she was fun when she drank. It wasn’t until she went to college that her drinking began to interfere with her life. Drinking made it impossible for her to study, and she ended up drinking her way out of school.

Leaving school and getting married, Barb eventually got a divorce and was raising three children on her own, until she met someone else and remarried. She and her new husband drank together, but neither thought they had a problem. However, Barb began to feel some shame around bringing her youngest son to the bars when she went out to drink. Soon, this led her to consider that perhaps she had a problem with alcohol, and she found her way to Alcoholics Anonymous.

She loved AA and got heavily involved with service work. AA with its rituals, dogma, and community, reminded her what she liked about the Catholic church, which she felt no longer welcomed her. Still, a believer, Barb worked through the Big Book, and the steps. Eventually, burning out on service work, Barb got another sponsor who encouraged her to sponsor other women, since there is a shortage of female sponsors. This took up a lot of her time.

When COVID came along, Barb stopped attending AA meetings and since she works as a nurse, she began to study the science of COVID. This research led her down a path to explore other areas of science such as quantum mechanics and cosmology. Thinking she might find God somewhere in all of this, it turned out quite the contrary and she began to let go of her belief in a deity and came to understand that she is an atheist.

It’s been difficult for her to attend traditional AA meetings, and she even finds some of the secularly formatted meetings a bit dogmatic. Inevitably, there seems to be someone at a meeting who insists that the steps must be worked, and though she finds some value within the principles of the Twelve Steps, she no longer feels it’s important to work through them as she had done in the past.

Today, Barb stays connected through podcasts and social media, and she feels better about herself than she ever has in the past. She says she is “okay with who she is today.”