David B. Bohl is a relinquishee and adoptee, a professional independent addiction and recovery consultant, and a former consumer of substance use disorder and mental health services. He’s also the author of Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth, a memoir that chronicles the intersection of adoption and addiction in his life.
Who can save you? Do you pray? What if you don’t? What if you can’t? What if you’re dying and prayer is not an option? Why am I qualified to talk about it? Here’s a story how I’ve looked for GOD everywhere and didn’t find him on my quest to recovery from alcohol.
If you’ve made it to this page, you’re probably looking for some answers. That’s what people searching and researching spirituality usually do: try to find answers. And when we look for answers, we want to make sure that people who give them to us have background and reason to have authority on the subject. I will get to my actual bio shortly, but before I do, allow me to tell you about my journey to finding my own way in the world of spirituality.
Having gotten sober through using, in part, the Twelve Steps, I was always encouraged to look for my own conception of a Higher Power, but what people really meant was your “classic” Christian God – not something I was comfortable with. For that reason, the AA’s idea of Higher Power didn’t sit well with me. I always considered myself an atheist and simply couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of an omnipotent being in charge of not only my sobriety – I was told I couldn’t get sober without God – but also in control of my life and everybody else’s life. Eventually, I’ve arrived at the concept of Reality – being present and honest with myself and rejecting delusion fostered by addiction – as something that I could get behind to keep me sober.
In the following posts, I will talk more about how I managed to find my way around the conundrum that is spiritual-while-atheist, but the reason why I’m mentioning my 12-step past here now is that I think it’s an essential part of my qualification. My search and rejection of God are what allows me to offer testimony on the subject. And trust me, I’ve looked for God everywhere. I looked for God within myself and looked in churches and books, and I’ve talked to priests and academics. I tried very hard to pray, and I wanted to make myself feel deeply about it, but that was never forthcoming. The harder I tried, the less authentic God seemed to me, which created a great internal conflict. I was in the position where I was continuously asked to love my (new sober) self and where I was told that God loved me, but I felt neither. Eventually, I realized that to love myself, I had to do it without the help of a magical being I didn’t believe in. My self-love and my sobriety had to come from a place of authenticity and peace, and being conflicted about my beliefs was absolutely detrimental to that. I never discredit people who find God – in sobriety, in their lives in general – to be a true presence in their lives. In the end, it is whatever gets you through the night, as John Lennon once sang.
Today, as a person with over a decade and a half of sobriety from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, an addiction professional, a loving father, and a husband, I live to empower others. I do this by walking a value-centered path and leads by example. Starting as a runner on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) floor, the work week’s adrenaline rush was as pleasurable as the weekend alcohol binges. By my thirties, I had everything I wanted – except my freedom. Then I hit bottom. After getting sober, I decided to change my career path and help others who struggled with addiction. I earned a Masters of Addiction Studies degree and received Addiction Counseling licensing in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. I was also granted the certification of Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) by NAADAC (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors).
Today, I’m an independent addiction consultant and an author of the acclaimed memoir, Parallel Universes where I talk about my own recovery and my journey as a relinquishee (adoption trauma is my other area of expertise).
I am a graduate of the University of South Florida and Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. I am also a member of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), Addiction and Recovery Consultant to the National Association of Adoptees and Parents (NAAP), American Adoption Congress (AAC), and Concerned United Birthparents (CUB). Today, I live in Southeastern Wisconsin, with my wife, and we spend our free time on Lake Beulah, kayaking, sailing, and sometimes just watching it in awe from our windows, from the deck, and/or from the shoreline.
I talk about spirituality in my personal writings and on social media, but I do this quietly, not by shouting from podiums – if you ask me, I will tell you, but I will never push anything on you. That’s not my style, and it’s not my job. I look forward to discussing some of my ideas and beliefs here, but this a free forum and my biggest hope are that those discussions and my posts will serve as a platform to connect our various beliefs, not finding polarizing sides to them to argue. I really hope to bring some insight here and a fun, lively discussion.
Thank you for reading!
Read Essay 2 of 7 here: Is Secular Spirituality Even Possible? Words Matter
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