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Old 02-17-2009, 02:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Can you do AA without believeing in any God or higher power?

I know that there are a lot of other groups who tout this, however I'm very limited to who I can turn to for help, and everything I've seen from AA is attractive to me - exept for the God/Higher Power. My bottom line is that I want (need) to stop drinking. I think meeting and speaking with other alcoholics will help me alot. I am worried, though, that because I don't believe in God, or any other higher power that they will reject me. (And I think a lot of alcoholics have problem with rejection, not just me )

I really want to be able to speak to people who can explain to me what I'm going through. Why I feel like there is a gorilla on my back, talk me through the bad times when all I want to do is drink until everything goes away. But I am afraid that if I go to AA they might feel betrayed by me because I don't believe. I went to one meeting a few years ago and it scared me into the bottle shop on the way home.

I want to quit and think AA can help, but I can't ever commit to a God or Higher Power. I made myself a drinker, not God. I don't want to go to these meetings and have the people there feel betrayed because I can't believe in God or a HP.

Are the other members of these groups likely to feel that way towards me?

All I want it to get better.
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Many people come into AA to stop drinking and not all want
a Higher Power. Some do find one...others do not.
I do use God...I did not find mine in AA.

Some use nature as a HP Some use the AA group

I suggest this...just go and listen.
Why not? Your way has not been working to your benefit.

Yes...you too can quit ...and stay quit...
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I would give it a try.Use the wisdom of the group to help you get started on sobriety.It worked for me.Honesty,open minded-ness and willingness about my drinking helped a lot.Looks like you have some of that already.
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks Carol. I do like hearing from you, as you would know I caused greif the last time I was a regular poster - all because I was drunk when posting.

I managed to alienate myself from the few people who cared because I got drunk, posted, and was embarrassed to come back. Took me a long time to understand that you guys care no matter what.

I will be going to AA, but my major concern is that they will resent me becaue I don't believe. Maybe I will find something to believe in while I'm there, but if I dont, does that meant the steps halt for me?

I don't want to present myself as a false person anymore. I've been doign that for so long. I don't want to go to AA and pretend to pray. One of my hall marks of being a drunk is that I sensationalise everything. My boyfriends left the country on September 11 2002 turned into "I lost someone on september 11" looking for the sympathy and attention. It disgusts me how much I do this. I almost deleted that comment. But the fact is, if I am going to get better and get this big shame monkey off my back I need to say these things. I am ashamed of what I have said. I didn't do it to get money or anything stupid like that, but I did it to get attention.

I have digressed. Mostly I just want to know that if I go to these meetings, without any belief in God will they shun me?
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Well done to you on sharing and looknig for a way to live honestly - and freely!

I can guarantee you that if you go to the meetings, you will NOT be shunned. If anything ppl will relate and be grateful for your honesty. They will not resent you. They will help you as best they can. That's how they stay sober. You will be welcomed and I do hope you get to a meeting sooner rather than later. It changed my life.

Good luck and please let us know!

Well done on your honesty!!

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Old 02-17-2009, 03:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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First of all you know there's a secular recovery forum - and also a secular 12 step forum - on SR.

Second, AA is about programmes of actions which help alcoholics like us to stop living life one way - the way you are now - and to start living it a different way. It's not about beliefs. What other people believe - or what you think they believe - doesn't get you any more sober. It's the actions that you take that get you sober. In the beginning I would say that the most beneficial action you can take is to get your arse to a meeting. The next most beneficial action you can take is to learn to listen to people without comparing yourself or judging them (that's not a personal comment to you, just a general principle!). After that, the actions you need to take will be made plain to you.

Honesty. Open-mindedness. Willingness. Nothing there about religious beliefs, but these are the best tools you can look to cultivate in AA in the early days. Seems from your previous post that you might be starting to get honest, so that's great! Suffering in drink does that to us. It forces us, eventually, to get willing, or to die. It forces us to acknowledge that the scale of the problem we face outweighs any of our own resources, and we better get open to other ideas - or die.

The most hopeless alcoholics may drink themselves to death eventually. But we're dead men walking a looooong time before out bodies give it up.
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Maybe I will find something to believe in while I'm there
That is a great start !!
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Old 02-17-2009, 04:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yes, you absolutely can start down the 12 step path without believing in any God or Higher power. I did it and many people I know from A.A. and N.A. have also done it.

You may find that after several months or several years, your whole outlook on the spiritual life has changed. At least, that is what happened to me. I still don't believe in the God I didn't believe in when I started but I do believe in a higher power I had no knowledge of or experience with until I started.

Honesty, open mindedness, and willingness for sure. And don't close any doors before you get to them.
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Old 02-17-2009, 04:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Well you have the honesty which for me was one of the major keys to sobriety to me, you also have the willingness.

You also have a fear of rejection, oh how I can relate..... I to fear rejection, not for the same thing as you, but any type of rejection. Fear of rejection is normal.

I will tell you what I know of AA in my area, one of my sponsee's is an agnostic with strong aethiest leanings according to him, I have never seen anyone reject him, I didn't! Like you he had a great fear of rejection when he aproached me to be his sponsor, he was totally honest and told me "I am an agnostic, is that going to present an issue?" ("He did not have the aethiest leaning then.), I told him that as far as I was concerned it didn't, as long as he was willing to go to any lengths to stay sober we were good to go. He did find a Power greater then himself, what it was I have no idea, none of my business, when it came to step 2 & 3 we worked through it just fine. He usually remains silent when we pray and simply joins in the circle, no one has ever said a word to him about not praying.

In my area most of the folks in AA do not question others about thier HP or lack there of, it is not something that is any of our business. There are a few folks that feel if you do not beeive as they do you will have issues, but they are few and far between, we stick with AA's primary purpose........ To stay sober and to help others achieve sobriety! That is it.

As others have said, go and listen, try and relate into instead of out of. Yes you will hear the word God mentioned, I say it, but simply for simplicity, I am not religous, my God does not fit the definition of a Christian, Muslim, Jewish or any other faiths God, it is a God of my understanding, a Power greater then myself.

BTW one of the best speakers I ever heard was an aethiest, he spoke at length of how even as an aethiest he had been able to find a Power greater then himself that he understood and had even worked the steps. One of the neatest things he shared was that one of his sponsees was a minister.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes, a good start indeed.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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for myself i did find god at A.A. the "higher power" can be anything you choose.. as bill w's friend told him (as stated in the BB) why don't you choose your own conception of (god?) HP can be the group it self as carolD said!
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:48 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Took me a long time to understand that you guys care no matter what.
Hey there, aa works like that too... I found those guys care no matter what.......The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You can absolutely do AA as an atheist, I do, but without a *higher power* of any sort, I don't really see how it works. However I wouldn't let that keep you from going to some meetings and see what you get from it.

Group acceptance is another matter. Some will accept you with open arms. Others won't, they have their own preconceived notions of what kind of people atheists are. *shrug* I have found more acceptance than rejection.
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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FD, you may find these links to be helpful:

Agnostic AA Meetings in New York City - Agnostic Twelve Steps

The Member Zone: Suggested Reading

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Old 02-17-2009, 09:54 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I didn't come to AA with a set belief in this whole "god" concept, but I wanted to stop drinking and couldn't do it.

I think where a lot of people get hung up on this is that they "think" they know what God is - to themselves and/or other people...from what I have gone through and many of my AA friends, God took on a whole new meaning somewhere during the actions taken in the 12 steps.

I was willing to believe that miracles do happen, so I started moving my feet.

I think I was six or eight months sober and I had this 'revelation' that I was AGNOSTIC, I truly truly was. I thought I believed in a higher power - I thought it was something that I could probably define and describe and box up neatly to fit my life. What I went through, and what I came to believe is that I will never "know" what god is...but I do believe there is this power I tapped somewhere in the steps and it is very very real. My attempts to define God or higher power only serve to limit it for myself and others. Finding this thing that I refer to as god - was the key to my getting sober, and staying sober....but I wanted soo much more than that, and I have received in abundance (I actually feel pretty much mostly good and happy most days... and haven't even thought of taking a drink).

I think a lot of what stops people from actually tapping this power is the inability to set prejudice aside..ie - approach the steps as if you have no idea what god/higher power is or does, and be open to experience that which is available to everyone.

Staring death in the face - I didn't much care if someone asked "are you willing to believe that there is a power that is greater than yourself - great enough to remove your alcoholism through some simple actions?"
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:49 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I went to AA with little or no belief in God.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:16 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I made myself a drinker, not God.
So much is said about powerlessness/power right there.

Thanks for sharing that. I can really relate.
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:16 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Show me someone who is an alcoholic and lives a happy and productive life, and a way to emulate their success and joy...i'll believe that my desrt sppon is my HP and work step 2 on that basis. I may be jumping the gun here, only second AA meeting tomorrow but i am not going back to the living hell of 4 months ago and there is nothing more important to me than sobriety, as a result i have no fixed beliefs and im certainly not trusting the brain that had me drinking for 20 years to keep me sober lol
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:29 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The only requirement for AA meeting is a desire to stop drinking. I know a lot of people, who would not qualify for membership if there were two requirements for AA membership.
1. a desire to stop drinking
and
2. a belief in God

And I am not knocking your beliefs at all, but this thread reminds me of the Al Anon joke that goes:
Q 'Why don't alcoholics believe in God?'
A 'Because they don't like competition'

Ouch!
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Old 02-17-2009, 08:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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could i add somthing to this forum..?

I heard something in a meeting i thought was helpful..

If you have trouble with the word god.....put another "o" in the word ...good...and believe and have faith in that..

Also something my sponsor pointed out...regular..lol
The step says "came to believe" not "do believe"....the "came" suggesting it may take some time to accept a power greater than you in your life.

He suggested that being open minded to a "power" was a great start.

Today i have faith..........it started with belief............i now have faith that he is always by my side......

today i can imagine it any other way...............trucker.
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