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Doubts about Al-Anon

Old 08-31-2010, 07:21 AM
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Doubts about Al-Anon

So I went to an Al-Anon meeting yesterday, for the second time since I left my XAF. It's good to hear other people's stories, but they all say how I need to work the steps for my recovery. That's where I have the problem.
I am an atheist, and a scientist, as far from spirituality as can be.
Even though people keep saying that the Higher Power doesn't have to be God, I still can't connect to the steps.
I don't believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I believe I am the only one responsible for my actions.
I can't "Make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him.", as I don't wish to put the responsibility for my life on anyone or anything but myself.
I want to work on my recovery, but I can't do things that go against my principals and beliefs (or lack there of).
Any other non-spiritual folks here? how do you deal with the heavy spirituality involved in the 12-steps?
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:28 AM
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What has worked for many with your dilemma is this.

Every time your hear or see the word "God", think of it this way instead:


"G.O.D." Good Orderly Direction.

Makes a BIG difference in the meaning and fits in with your way of living.

Also, please try at least 6 'different' meetings as meetings can vary so greatly before making a final decision about Al-Anon.

Love and hugs,
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:23 AM
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Phineas,

I can relate. I'm a recovered alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in many years, and also has a pretty happy, useful life as the result of AA's 12 Steps.

I came to AA as a staunch atheist who though the idea of a 'higher power' was a crutch for weak-minded people. But I came to AA with something else. I came with an utter defeat in my heart, knowing that I could not think my way out of my problem. Knowing that I was screwed and had no hope of getting free.

Originally Posted by Phineas
I believe I am the only one responsible for my actions.
I believed that as well. But I didn't seem to have the power to make the right actions.

It was easy for me, as an active alkie. The evidence of my powerlessness was all around me. It's tougher to see that from the Al-Anon perspective.

In the course of 12 Step work, I get to interact with a lot of family of the alcoholics. Consistently, the drunk knows he has a problem. The destruction is obvious. Just as consistently, though, the spouse does not know they themselves are just as sick. They all think that their problem is their spouse. If only so and so would get his act together, or I'd leave so and so, then I'd feel better.

And it usually doesn't work that way. That's why Al-Anon is there. To get you focused on your own recovery.

For that to happen, you have to sort of recognize your own sickness. And for Al-Anon to be effective, you have to know that you can't just feel better by wishing it. You don't have the power to feel better.

If you did have that power, you'd already be feeling better.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:30 AM
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phineas, I don't remember how I came across it, but I'm an atheist, and the higher power thing wasn't working for me. I started calling it my higher consciousness, something that I feel is within me and I can use it by learning more, moving forward, remaining positive.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:05 AM
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Laurie has more time in the rooms than I, and I appreciate her response!

I live in the bible belt.
HP means Jesus to most of the members around here.

I am not a christian.

What helps me:
I have learned to take what I like and leave the rest.
I have learned that my HP can be my Hewlit Packard, because it can do things I can not.
I have learned to love others at meetings as much as they love me.

Now, I consider my g.o.d. or HP to be my recovered self. The self that has an enlightened understanding, and that sees limitless possibilities.

That puts step 3 as:
turning my will and my life over to the care of my recovered self. The higher self that knows a better path.

To me, it is a spiritual journey. Not a spiritual journey that requires worship. But a spiritual journey that finds an inner peaceful energy.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:09 AM
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The evidence of my powerlessness was all around me. It's tougher to see that from the Al-Anon perspective.

I believe evidence of my powerlessness is how I keep feeling the same feelings over and over again after a specific action and can't seem to be able to move from there.

Also as a another post reminded me - evidence of powerlessness, when I constantly feel let down by others who are supposedly "close to me". When I give a lot and see nothing in return, yes, that is my evidence. When I don't get a break. And yes it very tough to see, at least for me, compared to the alkie's destruction.


Phineas: perhaps you could post your question here
Secular 12 Step Recovery - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:30 AM
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Before I went to Al-Anon, I heard the definition of insanity-doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I lived that daily with my EXABF and i other aspects of my life.

Coming to Al-Anon, learning that I wasn't alone, taking that first step - not by just going to a meeting, but reading Step 1 over and over and over - admitting I was powerless over alcohol, that my life was unmanageable, that I was sick - that took a huge burden off of me. It allowed me the power to walk the path to sanity, to serenity, to recovery, even if my EXABF did not choose the same path.

It has also helped me in other areas of my life, realizing that I am powerless over people, places and things. I still struggle with this step, but going back to it when I have to make hard decisions gives me perspective in that the decisions I am making are for my well being and that others have to walk the path they choose to. they may not like my decisions but have to accept that they, too, are powerless on the path I choose to follow.

I struggled with the concept of a Higher Power and it was an Al-Anon old timer who told me to use my group as my Higher Power. That works for me because when I listen to others sharing their struggles and their triumphs, it helps me see something else I may not have seen before.

When I share with others at a meeting, when I talk to my sponsor, I'm not judged, I am accepted, warts and all. I am loved, regardless of what decisions I make, what paths I take. To me, they are my loving, Higher Power.
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:32 AM
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If you are a scientist then you know that the Earth, solar system, etc. are are working in coordination with each other, you can't control that and it is a power greater than you..I think of HP as life force, flow of nature. The ocean is a power greater than you as is the sun. This world has many powers greater than us little ol humans..think outside the "god" box and you may find something that works for you.
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:17 PM
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Thanks everyone!
I read some wise words from y'all (I've been living in the South for too long).
I will keep going to Alanon and see how things go. There's an all-men group tonight I want to go to.
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:30 PM
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all good stuff above. have you thought about individual therapy as well as al-anon, I found it immensely useful. It maygive you a perspective that you are struggling with in al-anon at the moment.
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:33 PM
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all good stuff above. have you thought about individual therapy as well as al-anon? I found it immensely useful. It may give you a perspective that you are struggling with in al-anon at the moment.
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:37 PM
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phineas, at meeting #2 for you, you don't have to be too concerned about how it's all going to play out, what the steps mean, etc. It's enough if you hear encouraging stories and that you feel better as a result of going, be it that you learned something new, heard a story worse than yours to make you grateful, or that you were able to vent safely and without judgement. I too am not at all religious, but I found kinship with those with similar struggles and tools to help me cope. I didn't even start any of the steps until a year in. I think that attending meetings slowly has an effect and your perspective may start to shift in different ways. Don't take on too much too soon or read too much into it, it's not necessary.

My AH had suggestions from his AA group (he is a scientist and also didn't buy the religious concept) and they said the group could be used or our daughter (she is more than the sum of our parts so definitely something beautiful at work here).

I consider this a spiritual program. I think that the things I've learned along the way have helped me see what spirituality can even be; I had a limited understanding of it. To be spiritual is to look inward, and find your peace within this world and all things - nature, society etc. To understand that there is a system at work here and that I'm a part of it - like every flower, tree, animal. Like the seasons. Like the tides. Everything is powered by an unnamed energy. When I surrender to this I quiet my ego (I am responsible for my action), and listen to my intuition, my inner energy that is common to life on this planet. Carl Jung's concept of collective unconscious worked well for me until I had my own definition.

Consistent with Freud, I consider our ego the 'surface' - my persona that lives and interacts with our material world. It gets caught up in wanting stuff, workplace gossip, the latest and greatest movie, and the hair appointment that I booked that was way too expensive. This voice doesn't always serve me. Quieting all that noise allows us to listen to our bodies, follow our instincts and that is the 'spiritual' side talking. This program simply encourages us to surrender to that more basic place, where the answers can bubble up if we let them.

I love this example - have you ever struggled with a problem, you look at it until you can't anymore, spinning this way and that, and then you finally walk away, frustrated and ready to beat your head on the wall? And then while you're getting ready for bed, the answer just pops into your head? This is how I see it. You applied too much surface thinking so that you blocked your inner answers. When you finally let go of being unable to see the solution, you allowed the answer to come.
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:38 PM
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As an atheist too, I see the reference to a higher power as the greater community within which we all live. I interpret it as letting yourself relinquish total control over your own life and being guided in part by minds other than your own. But yes, I totally get how off-putting the God stuff is in the 12 steps.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:59 PM
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I understand where you're coming from - I'm an atheist too and the heavy religeous feel from Al Anon stopped me from going back. I worked with a counsellor and read lots! I also found a more secular approach to the 12 steps here: The Proactive Twelve Steps workbook. I found that the less I focussed on an HP and more on the concept of letting go what isn't mine, the better things got. At a push, I have one of my cats as my HP!
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by phineas View Post
Thanks everyone!
I read some wise words from y'all (I've been living in the South for too long).
I will keep going to Alanon and see how things go. There's an all-men group tonight I want to go to.
I've found that the "man hug" is an acquired taste.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote

BTW, I use God, cause I'm too lazy to explain what I believe. Silkspin did a good job though.
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by coyote21 View Post
I've found that the "man hug" is an acquired taste.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote

BTW, I use God, cause I'm too lazy to explain what I believe. Silkspin did a good job though.
Alright, I admit it, I run out before anyone can touch me!


Thank you so much for that link bookwyrm.
My daughter is trying to find her way without the god thing.
We shall see if it is just an excuse not to do anything recovery wise.

Step One. I am powerless over others.
Powerless I say!

she will be 18 on sep 20 and living with me, so good god, let the recovery begin for both of us!

Beth
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:12 PM
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I don't care for all the hugging. There. I said it.
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by coyote21 View Post
I've found that the "man hug" is an acquired taste.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote

BTW, I use God, cause I'm too lazy to explain what I believe. Silkspin did a good job though.
Hugs in general will make my daughter nuts. She doesn't like to be touched. Never has. Even as a baby, cuddling wasn't very high up on her list of priorities, and she would scream if someone other than family touched her. She hated people. I guess you could say, she still does.
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:21 PM
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I don't hate people, not at all. I just don't like..smells.

And people smell. lol.

I have a bionic nose.
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:32 PM
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1. hope,2. surrender, 3.acceptance,4. honesty, 5. openmindedness, 6. willingness, 7. faith in the group/process, 8. tolerance, 9. patience, 10. humility, 11. love, 12. sharing and caring.........Bill Wilson studied why certain groups worked and why some didn't.....the steps are designed to lead us to an awakening.........good orderly awakening The Big Book has a chapter to the agnostic.........
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