Al anon feels too much like church to me

Old 11-10-2010, 02:49 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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Like Freedom--my idea of what God is was formed by things I did not want to be part of--mostly a church. My xah has been a church musician for close to 30 years yet he in no way acts like what the church says a Christian should act. Being the wife of someone employed by a church I saw way too much hypocrisy to think that church and God go hand in hand.

But there is something about being in a group instead of trying to fly solo that helps me in AlAnon. People have their own version of their HP. I am sure my God is not the same God as my xah or many other people. I was raised in a family that practiced their religion as it suited them-again, so I was not fond of church or religion. One day I fell into a place that was as untraditional as any church can be. I liked the "format" and I liked what and how things were said. They was no condemnation. I'm still not sure it is the place for me as I still do not know a lot about the place and where they fall politically (because believe me, churches are very policital places--which is why I have avoided most).

It has taken me many years to understand the idea of a higher power. Yes, I know I have complete control over what I do. I don't think there is something that is holding a big stick and is going to whack me if I do something wrong. For me I think it was the understanding that I was not the center of the universer (nor was anyone else).
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Old 11-10-2010, 03:45 PM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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I try to talk and walk my Christian faith like Jesus did. He didn't associate with the Pharisees, instead He associated with the helpless, hopeless and the broken. Being a Christain in not something we can put on like our Sunday's best dress, instead it becomes ingrained into our character and traits. One of the worst ways to convert someone to Christianity is through "Bible thumpering". Instead it's something we carry inside ourselves that make non-Christians say to themselves we possess something that they want too.

Alanon does not speak about Christianity, unless that is our Higher Power. It talks about a Higher Power that we have come to need to turn our compulsions or obsessions over to. We have come to realize we, as mere human beings, don't have the ability to control. In Al-Anon, we strive for an ever-deeper understanding of ourselves. We admitted we were powerless over our compulsions or obsessions and that our lives had become unmanageable. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, and made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power as we understood Him. Our power is non-existent unless our actions have effects.

"God helps those who help themselves" is a bit unfair to God. It IS fair to say that God's help is more likely to be effective if you are earnestly trying to do your part to help yourself. And sometimes, God can't EFFECTIVELY help a guy who's working too hard to UNhelp himself. God is facing an uphill battle in making people happy.

What if a person liberally indulges in modes of thought and beliefs that would make ANYONE unhappy? Evidently, that person doesn't WANT to be happy -- at least, not enough to sincerely handle his or her part of the bargain. God wants people to be happy, but should God make us happy AGAINST OUR WILL? And, CAN God make us happy against our will? The answer to both questions is no. God's efforts are in vain if we won't (reasonably effectively) help ourselves (or at least, stop hurting ourselves very effectively). God can't heal us for long, if we remain busy making ourselves sick. What use is God's help in building our house of happiness this morning, if we tear it down this afternoon?

It all comes back to the truth, and here it is: free will rules.

Until and unless the WILL to be happy is certain and stable, no one can enjoy stable happiness. For stable happiness, what is needed is a WILL to protect happiness from the happiness-destroying effects of negative thoughts and beliefs.

God needs us to be on the same team. God needs us to support happiness in ourselves. WE need to support happiness in ourselves. Then God and the individual can work TOGETHER, toward the same goals. That way, success is certain. Not otherwise. We could say it is DIFFICULT to succeed against a person's will, but that's an understatement. Actually, it's IMPOSSIBLE!

*******************************:ghug3************* *****************
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Old 11-10-2010, 03:52 PM
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Well, I don’t believe I’ve ever shared specifically about this on this forum, but since no one else has touched on anything close, I’ll try to articulate what I believe. Maybe it will give you a different direction to look in. You mentioned truth as a higher power, and I think you may be on to something there.

I don’t believe in God, in the traditional sense, and organized religion is something I avoid whenever possible. And, I also live in a small rural town where the majority of people would proudly call themselves “God-fearing Christians.” For these reasons, Alanon didn’t work out for me, but interestingly enough, I had a personal therapist who helped me discern, distill, and generally figure out what I DO believe in, rather than just knowing what I DON’T believe in.

Rather than a Higher Power, for me, it’s more accurately a Higher Self. I believe that there is a part of me (and everybody) that is divine. It’s the part that “knows” (e.g. the gut instinct), the part that is integrated in the natural world, the part that wants what’s best for me (and everyone else), and the part that is deserving of a fulfilling, satisfying, good life. It is a part of myself that cannot be connected with through thinking or intellectualizing. That’s why I find it difficult to explain with words.

So, my most important spiritual goal is to nurture and develop my higher self. To learn to listen to and heed the part of me that knows what to do and how to be, even when my ego and the committee in my head don’t want to. I have a long way to go, but I see it as a lifelong journey. Believing this way helps me on many levels. Handing things over to the “better” part of me is much easier that giving them up to some imaginary being. It also helps me with compassion and forgiveness to realize that each person has a higher self, too, even if they do not even recognize it.

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Old 11-10-2010, 04:32 PM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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I am also agnostic. But I also am a firm believer in taking responsibility for things and being the one to steady myself, not turn to a god or others. I'm about empowerment and being responsible for my own choices, not god.

I have the power to make better choices and I've made bad choices as well. The addict/drinker in my life, yes I am powerless over his illness and what he does. But I need to control my own impulses and obsessions, not leave it to some higher power. That is just how I see it.

12-step programs work for many but not for all whether that is AA or al-anon. Except I do take the general principles to heart esp 'take what you like and leave the rest'. I do leave a lot of it but take away that which I can apply to my own life. The concept of Higher Self is how I also approach it.
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:05 PM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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It's all that hugging I don't like...
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:12 PM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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yeah the hugging is a bit much .. i need my personal space!
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:20 PM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Me three!
I dont want people to touch me.
It does not "help" me, it makes me feel icky.
Hows that for grown up?

i leave early just to make sure no one can get me.

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Old 11-10-2010, 05:32 PM
  # 28 (permalink)  
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lol, I always thought it was just me.
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:14 PM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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Gym+therapist have made me feel way better.

My problem is not alcohol but codependency and in therapist I get to work on that. Going to the gym helped get my anger out of my system. Also a therapist that knows about addictions may be very helpful. Mine has tons of AA and Alanon literature and we also talk about steps. Her personal take is that those groups are like a "maintenance" thing but real change only happens through therapy.

I hope you find a group that is more suitable. I do not like most religions as they disregard females as lower forms in many ridiculous ways. But that is just me. Its a very personal thing.

Higher power can also be nature...
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:20 PM
  # 30 (permalink)  
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You know TC,
for me that is true.
nature is what i use as an HP.

one example,
i was on one huge training exercise in Kansas while in the Army.
everyone was there, thousands of troops, loads of equipment, the strongest army in the world.
but, when a tornado warning came, everything came to a halt.
(oh, it was the coolest thing ever, we laid down in ditches, it was very very close, and i could actually see the funnel cloud!)
yeah, nature trumps all.

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Old 11-10-2010, 07:04 PM
  # 31 (permalink)  
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I would say try to find another group..but at the same time go with your HP of Truth and see what happens.I had fully surrenedeerd by the time I got to alano and knew my way wasn't working.I was willing to TRY anything at that point and damn those peole were so much happier than me. I decided to LISTEN. My HP is a little fuzzy..sort ofenergy"life flow" Nature..hippyyoga HP.Not a guy in the sky. There is something about surrendering..letting go that is freeing.I do not believe that nothing bad will happen to me or my loved ones, but the turning over of you will is the more important part..taking life on life's terms.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:00 AM
  # 32 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool View Post
and I haven't been a Christian since I was a kid.

So I'm having difficulty. It seems most of the people in my rural area want to talk about the 3rd step over and over again, almost every meeting.

It's not that I don't think what they are doing is good for them. It's just that I can't relate to the thinking that a higher power is going to take care of everything.
I simply don't believe that a higher power is going to take care of everything. I can't hand things over to a higher power when I don't believe that a higher power is looking over me.
It's not that I don't believe a higher power may exist. I'm agnostic. There may or may not be a higher power, or Christian God, as pretty much everyone in my meetings believes in but me. I'm not saying they are wrong, by any means.

Otherwise, I can relate to most things.

Is there a way to get past this, or do I need to drive around to find a new meeting group, or is al anon not going to work for me?

I very much am a huge codependent, and I very much need to work through my issues.
So what do I do?
Hi, You are not the first person who has ever been challenged by the "Higher Power" stuff. I was the same way. What worked for me was to just let go of it and focus on Step One. The rest will come and if it never does, that is okay too. The principles of Al-Anon are applicable to anyone regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs. Athiests and agnostics are also included. A
Higher Power can be anything but you. A lot of members use the group as their Higher Power to get started or permanently. I started out with a view of a certain mountain top peak, where I lived. It was important for me to not use another person, i.e. as my Higher Power because it feeds into the codependency cycle. The idea is to learn to be your own person, whether or not the alcoholic still drinks.

Al-Anon is not religious. Historically, its roots are from A.A. and A.A. was derived from the Oxford Groups. So there is an original base of Christianity but again, Al-Anon is not religious. It is important to understand the difference between religion and spirituality. That was new information for me.

You usually hear the statement, "Take what you liked and leave the rest." That is applicable to what is said or read at a meeting. It is okay for you not to have a Higher Power. I just kept coming back because I knew my group of five understood something about alcoholism. The idea of the First Step and its statement of powerlessness is that I cannot control another person's drinking or anything else about them. And when I do, my life becomes unmanageable.

Keep coming back. Al-Anon will grow on you.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:33 PM
  # 33 (permalink)  
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How can you get to step three without first doing steps one and two?

Admitting the powerless part is the first thing.
Then coming to believe in a power greater than yourself is second.

It's so individual. A river is more powerful than I am. Oxygen is more powerful.

I have a violent reaction to christian evangelizing, so I steer clear of those folks, but otherwise, live and let live.

Also, I plan to hug the daylights out of all you personal spacers when we finally meet up.

Just sayin
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:37 PM
  # 34 (permalink)  
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Also, I plan to hug the daylights out of all you personal spacers when we finally meet up.
well, of course i was not speaking of you, lakota woman!
you are a force of nature!
geez, i am powerless over that.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:45 PM
  # 35 (permalink)  
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Me too. Powerless over the force of nature.

I'm wondering if brokenheart can ask the folks at Alanon to do step one? Or two? Ask and ye shall receive. Receive what we can never tell, but receive you will!
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Old 11-11-2010, 01:26 PM
  # 36 (permalink)  
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And...Cyronaok wins the prize. He was the first to suggest I find a new group.
Last night I went to a new group in a larger town, a little more cosmopolitian than my rural tiny village.
The people at the meeting were wonderful. Not only did I relate to them better, but religion wasn't mentioned once! I really enjoyed the meeting and the relating to others when they spoke.
Not that I would mind if religion was mentioned a few times, just not incessantly.
We did close with the 'lord's prayer', but I have yet to be at a meeting that doesn't do that, and I've been to about 6 different locations. I held hands but didn't recite it, although I know it from childhood.

We were working on the 10th step, which I haven't done in a meeting before.

It's not that the other group always picked step 3, it was more like the other group always made any step turn into step 3 when they talked about it.

They were friendly and offered me phone numbers. At the other location I felt, even if they didn't mean to do so, ostracized because nobody said anthing to me after the meetings, nor offered phone numbers.

So, I might have found a fit, although I don't like the idea of spending so much gas money and travel time.
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:25 PM
  # 37 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by phineas View Post
No, that's the thing. I had a problem with alcohol, by having an alcoholic for a girlfriend. I removed that problem from my life, and now alcohol is no longer a problem.
What is the problem that keeps you here?
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Old 11-11-2010, 03:13 PM
  # 38 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Chino View Post
What is the problem that keeps you here?
That's a very good question. One I'm also trying to figure out.
I guess it would be the fact that I am still not over the relationship and her, regardless of the alcohol. Alcohol is just the reason I can never get back with her.
Lots of relationships end, for different reasons, the love is no longer there, someone cheated, different goals, etc. Mine ended because we couldn't agree on her not drinking anymore. Most of the people here also ended their relationships for the same reason.
There is a proverb in Hebrew that roughly translates to "The trouble of many - half of the consolation." Which is the same as the reason many people go to support groups: to hear that other people have suffered the same or more, somehow makes us feel better.
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Old 11-11-2010, 04:49 PM
  # 39 (permalink)  
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Although I do absolutely believe in God and value my spiritual life, frankly sometimes I think that the "turning it over to one's HP" can be viewed, and used effectively, as a mental trick to help you let go of things. It's like having a mantra to help you meditate: the OM phrase or whatever doesn't have any function except to give your restless mind a little toy to play with, because getting your consciousness to be quiet and hold absolutely still is much more difficult than repeating a phrase over and over... but the result is much the same.

Instead of turning your problems over to God/HP/the Great Cosmic Muffin, imagine taking them to a huge cliff at the edge of the universe, and pitching them over the edge. The point is to teach yourself how to be less burdened by them.

Some alanon groups were too overtly Christian for me too-- I go to a pretty secular one these days.
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:21 PM
  # 40 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool
I simply don't believe that a higher power is going to take care of everything.
I was trying to wrap my head around this very issue today. The conclusion I came to is:
> I want to change, because habits and behavior I learned from being around alcoholics make my life (relationships, job, even just feeling comfortable with myself for any amount of time) difficult, to say the least. From alanon, I have learned I am not alone. Being around alcoholics, be they a wife, husband, parents, or children, seems to magically create thought patterns that are hard to shake, even if the alcoholic or alcoholism has left our lives. Alcoholism/codependency is the 'gift' that keeps on giving. I think of this as 'Step zero'.

> I can't change me by myself. Sitting in a room alone, I am not going to make any change at all. I can't do brain surgery on myself. This is my powerlessness. I am sure some have stopped using/drinking/obsessing on their own, but I haven't heard of anyone achieving at least some degree of serenity and comfort with themselves without help that was external to their own will and knowledge.
Self+Self=Self; no change there. I think of this as Step 1.

> I think admitting one needs help makes one buy a self-help book, go to a therapist, join a group, or start posting on a web site. We admit we lack the tools to fix ourselves. Some recovery programs focus on will alone as the key to recovery (such as rational recovery), but they still advise buying their book (cd, software, ect.). Thus we look to a power greater than ourselves (or at least greater than our problem). Like me, many find some of that power in the sharing of a group.
Originally Posted by phineas "The trouble of many - half of the consolation."
Self+Other=Change. I think of this as Step 2.

> I believe that the power of any program, including 12 step programs, lie in making me work my recovery. It gives me homework. I recall some famous study that showed that learning most most effective when students did something active (such as riding a bike or writing), and reading was less effective, and listening the least effective. So I think we recover best when we 'turn over' our problems and our recovery to the guidance of something else, be it God, a group, nature. For me the key is committing to being guided by a will other than my own. That will can be the order one senses in nature itself, or the sound advice one hears from a group, or what a functional and fully self-accepting me would do and say.
Originally Posted by brokenheartfool
I simply don't believe that a higher power is going to take care of everything.
I turn my will and life over to what I think will guide me best. In my case, I do believe in that there is conscious presence in the universe and he/she/they/it is aware of me and can well guide me better than I can guide myself. Sometimes, my belief gets weak and a simply think of the collective wisdom of my alanon group.
If Self+Other=Change, then 'Other' is damn important in my life. I think of this as Step 3.

I choose to work the rest of the steps, 4 to 12, and I choose to work them in Alanon. YMMV.
Full disclosure: I have gone to 5 therapists over the years, and none produced the progress that I have achieved in Alanon. Part of the reason for this is that having been raised by 2 alcoholics, I am an instinctive people-pleaser. I think I wanted my therapists to feel like they were helping, even though I was paying them! My alanon group does not let me get away with that.

Yeah, I get a little uncomfortable with the hug stuff, but its a pretty small sacrifice considering what I get out of meetings.

Last edited by guiab; 11-11-2010 at 05:28 PM. Reason: added comment on the hug issue.
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