The This I Believe website claims their project is an attempt to engage “people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives.” Based on a popular 1950s radio series hosted by Edward R. Murrow, the series has been back now in various forms for a few years.
Perhaps because of my interest in narrative nonfiction, I wanted to see what I could do with this format. Writing it was an interesting experience. It didn’t really come together until I was able to acknowledge that I have struggled with faith. From there it turned into a little testimony to Mom, which pleases me to no end.
My humble offering to the ongoing discussion, I hope you like it…
I have always lacked faith, believing instead in life’s shrewd certainties. When I went to the Bronx for in-patient drug treatment, I felt my chances were slim. I had been using heroin for ten years in my small hometown in Pennsylvania, and New York City seemed like exactly the wrong place to kick a heroin habit. But I found a challenge and urgency in the Bronx that pulled me through treatment.
Despite my success, I didn’t think I would last long outside treatment. I didn’t want to feel ambivalent, but I was trying to be realistic: I had no family ties to New York City, no job skills, and no education.
I got assigned an AA sponsor, who I eventually went to meet at a busy downtown diner in Manhattan. I told him what I was thinking. Wiping fried chicken from his fingers and mouth, he leaned forward. “Do you believe that I believe you can stay sober?” As soon as he said it, he waved his hand in my face and added, “Now listen here! I’m not asking if you believe any of this. I’m asking, if you believe that I believe it.” He jerked his thumb into his chest.