When I hear the word “casual”, I think of being relaxed or easygoing. I was surprised to see the word used in the Big Book at a very important moment. The author has been describing the baffling and often self-destructive decisions that alcoholics make. If you have been to many recovery meetings, you may have heard someone start their story by saying “I thought I was doing great with my sobriety, when suddenly…” they totally lost their sobriety.
Maybe they had just arrived home after a recovery meeting. Or they talked with their sponsor. Or they had a very uplifting phone call with a friend. Or they received some long-hoped-for forgiveness by a spouse.
Then…. suddenly…. without warning…. as if from nowhere…. unbelievably…. they picked up a drink or returned to whatever their self-destructive behavior is. The Big Book does not use the word “suddenly” here. Instead, it uses the word “casually”.
The defintion: “Casually – Without design (accidentally, fortuitously, by chance, incidentally)”
It took me years to notice that word. There are two words describing slips: deliberately vs casually. Strangely, not much else is said about them. However, they suggest that a person who slips does so in just one of two ways: they slip deliberately (meaning they sensed it was coming before it happened) or casually (meaning there was absolutely no sign it was about to happen).
For my drawings of these two words, I had to resort to a very unorthodox approach. It shows two men painting a house. It looks like they had both been doing their work well, but then something has gone wrong. The man on the ground has accidentally (i.e., casually) knocked over his paint bucket, causing it to spill on the ground. Surprise is clearly visible in his reaction. The man on the ladder is different. For whatever reason, he has lost his temper and is intentionally (i.e., deliberately) throwing his paint in all directions.
When I am sober, I want to stay that way. But sometimes, I can detect an urge slowly forming that can and often does result in me losing my sobriety. If I detect that “deliberate” urge, I tell my sponsor, call a friend, go to a meeting, read some literature, and/or pray. I have the time necessary to do all of those things because this urge creeps up slowly. However, I sometimes am instantaneously seized by an overwhelming impulse to lose my sobriety. The word “casual” seems misplaced here, but that’s the word Bill Wilson used to describe this sudden urge. When I sense such a powerful desire crashing over me, I drop to my knees and pray as hard as I possibly can. There’s no time to think, to discuss, to read literature, or go to a meeting. I must turn to my Higher Power and surrender everything…. including that “casual” urge.
I have found that the best protection against a lightning fast and nearly irresistible “casual” urge is to have recently gone to a meeting, spoken with my sponsor, helped someone else in recovery, prayed, meditated, etc. In other words, if I work recovery every day, its power will be available to me even when I am caught offguard by my insanity.