Now we have a terrific account from Murray J. of Mississauga ON, Murray is a terrific man, he identifies as heterosexual, he has been an inspiration as well as a supporter of both our group and our cause, as well as a personal friend.
First a bit of background. I’m in my late 60’s and my sobriety date is June 20th 1996.
The reasons for becoming an addict/alcoholic are myriad. For me it was growing up in a family where alcohol abuse was epidemic. A great treatment program and introduction to traditional AA worked for me. At least it worked initially. Step 1, powerless over alcohol and life unmanageable, I had no problem with. But when I hit Steps 2 and 3, coming to believe in a power greater than ourselves and turning our lives over to care of god etc is when I bogged down. I spent years and hundreds of meetings trying to “get it”. I never “got it”. But along the way I stayed sober. Just over four years ago I heard about a new secular AA meeting. I didn’t hesitate. I went to my first secular AA meeting. Every Wednesday night at 7pm I attend our Beyond Belief closed meeting at the South Common Community Centre in Mississauga. We are 8-12 on any given meeting night.
I’m an agnostic which for me means I have no idea if there is a god or not. But if I have a choice, and I do, I choose the secular AA path. It just makes life less cluttered and dogma free. I also find our group is open to everyone whether they’re a believer or not in higher power. We are also more liberal when it comes to those suffering from drug issues.
I have also been fortunate to have had two great sponsors on my journey. I am active in service as I enjoy helping others. And the real secret here is they really help me!
The last 11 years of my working career was spent as an addictions counsellor in Probation and Parole around the Greater Toronto Area. Most of my clients were young offenders. They were amongst the most marginalized in our society. And a fair number were from the LGBTQ+ community. I tried my best with all my clients to give them as much support as I could.
When I retired 14 years ago I was fortunate to be involved in a not for profit agency that deals in trauma and addictions. The Executive Director is someone I went through treatment with in 1996. The CAST Projects is small but effective. I love working with the Board and the staff. To me this is another way of giving back what was so freely given to me.
In conclusion, I have been elated at the growth of secular AA over the past few years. It has opened up another road to recovery for those not comfortable with the god emphasis in traditional AA. And I was equally elated when I heard about Canada’s first secular LGBTQ+ meeting in Toronto. I am a strong supporter of diversity in general and AA in particular. I will be celebrating my 23rd year of sobriety this month and coincidentally it’s Gay Pride month in Toronto. Lots of reasons for me to celebrate!