Years later, recovery turned this notion upside-down — it made me start to believe that I could do things until I believed in them, that intentionality was just as authentic as unwilled desire. Action could coax belief rather than testifying to it. 'I used to think you had to believe to pray,' David Foster Wallace once heard at a meeting. 'Now I know I had it ass-backwards.' For a long time, I’d believed that sincerity was all about actions lining up with belief: knowing myself and acting accordingly. But when it came to drinking, I’d parsed my motivations in a thousand sincere conversations — with friends, with therapists, with my mother, with my boyfriends — and all my self-understanding hadn’t granted me any release from compulsion.