Recently I began to wonder if it is really necessary for me to be a part of the 12 Step Program that I believe lead me to health and a reconversion to my Catholic Faith.
This is nothing new. I have gone through periods in the past when I wondered if there was really a place for me 'within the rooms' or if it was time for me to sever ties and sail forth as merely a happy, dedicated Catholic Out Loud. When I have considered walking away from the like-minded and similarly afflicted people it is not out of anger or resentment; rather, it is because I start to 'feel' like I am no longer a part of the program. My politics are different, my relationship to God is different, my views on service expand - in other words, there is an internal shift that involves my questioning my values and my involvement.
It is very important that the reader understand that I am not angry at anyone or feeling pushed out or misunderstood. That is not what is going on here. I have the utmost respect for the process that is the program of 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts. I love many of the members and others, well, not so much but I have so much respect for everyone who is struggling with the disease of alcoholism because I know what kind of daily fight it is to not pick up a drink, one day at a time.
What I am thinking about is whether or not I am an asset to the program or a liability.
Let's face it - as a Catholic, I am not exactly in the majority when it comes to social beliefs or how one relates to God. In fact, I left the cookie-cutter, Santa Claus, KUMBYYA, EverybodyGoesToHeaven God years and years ago. I do not automatically believe that everything I do is ok, or everything I want is God's Will, which is usually as far as most people get when exploring the theology behind the 12 Steps. Not only do they not understand that there is a theology, they insist on saying silly things at group level like "religion is for people who do not want to go to hell, while spirituality is for those of us who have been there but do not want to go back". My personal favorite? "this is a spiritual program and not a religious one" as though religion and spirituality are mutually exclusive and not so incredibly intertwined as to be virtually impossible to tell apart.
As a Catholic, I understand that my personal relationship with Jesus Christ cannot be separated from The Church HE founded - that He did not write a book, He founded a Church. I cannot ever think that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ means I leave out the relationship with The Father and The Holy Spirit - that God is Trinitarian in Nature and it is the Love of the Trinity which facilitates my creation and my existence.
I cannot not stop learning and studying about my Faith and I cannot let others who do not understand The Church make silly or uninformed statements (my all time favorite is always going to be the one where someone told me that if we just changed our teaching on artificial birth control everyone would love us), or hateful and bigoted statements about my brothers and sisters in Christ.
However, and this is important too, I am well aware that there are times when 'normies' do not get me. They do not understand what it is like to walk through life in an almost perpetual state of "am I ok like this?" that is nothing more than a symptom of the disease of alcoholism; a symptom that seems small to most of the world, but can be devastatingly horrible to someone like me. Couple that with the sure knowledge that I can change that feeling instantly by taking a shot of tequila or JD and you gots trouble a'brewin.
And, see, none of that would even matter if all I had to do was take that one shot and not worry - not worry that I may end up in Guam after a week of black out drinking, underneath someone I do not know and without any way to get back to California.
So...what does all this mean?
It means I have a lot of praying to do. It means I must never lose sight of the fact that I am in a 12 Step program for one reason, and one reason only - to stay sober. It means I cannot forget that God's Will for me includes my staying sober, no matter what, just as much as His Will for me is that I be united in worship with Him through the Church He founded.
I cannot leave my 12 Step Program. I cannot walk away from Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
I think I just answered my own question!