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Al anon feels too much like church to me

Old 11-10-2010, 08:06 AM
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Al anon feels too much like church to me

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?
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:13 AM
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I also have trouble with this and here is how I work through it. The step says we turn our lives over to god as we understand him. For me I know that there is some power out there greater than me. Whether it's god or goddess or the universe or the sun....there must be something you can put your faith into to help you through. I hope this helps. For me it's just about letting go of the destructive and negative feelings. Work through them and let them go.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:19 AM
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I haven't been a practicing Catholic for over 30 years now.

I struggled with the God concept myself, because the only version I knew was the one of my parents' and the Catholic church's understanding.

What I did know was that I saw something working for the people in those rooms, something that I wanted too.

I kept an open mind, one that was open to new concepts.

So I started by viewing the group as my higher power. They certainly had more knowledge and experience collectively than me.

It was a slow gradual process, and eventually I did find a God of my own understanding, not the one my parents or the Catholic church understood.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sapphire69 View Post
I also have trouble with this and here is how I work through it. The step says we turn our lives over to god as we understand him. For me I know that there is some power out there greater than me. Whether it's god or goddess or the universe or the sun....there must be something you can put your faith into to help you through. I hope this helps. For me it's just about letting go of the destructive and negative feelings. Work through them and let them go.
I agree, I certainly am NOT the biggest force around...there is no doubt many things that are more powerful than humble little me.
I just don't think those things that are more powerful than me, I can turn my power over to them, because 'they' aren't going to do anything with that power.
'They' simply have no interest at all.
So how do I turn my power over to nothing?

I know...pick something...I was trying to pick "truth".
Because I certainly can believe in the truth.
That's somewhat of a working idea for me. The 'truth' is definitely bigger than I am, and has much to teach me.
It's still difficult though to listen to so much Christianity and not scowl. It's my own judgment I suppose. I listen and think, No...there isn't somebody out there looking after you...so it's as much me accepting their higher power as it is them accepting mine. I see the scowls back at me, unintentional of course, no harm intended, simply that they in their heart think I am on the wrong path by not seeking a Christian God, and I can understand that.

Maybe my problem isn't that I can't find a higher power, because truth definitely is one for me that would work.
However, if I'm at such odds with everyone else, how do we work as a group?
More time I guess to try...but I'm struggling here.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Freedom1990 View Post
I haven't been a practicing Catholic for over 30 years now.

I struggled with the God concept myself, because the only version I knew was the one of my parents' and the Catholic church's understanding.

What I did know was that I saw something working for the people in those rooms, something that I wanted too.

I kept an open mind, one that was open to new concepts.

So I started by viewing the group as my higher power. They certainly had more knowledge and experience collectively than me.

It was a slow gradual process, and eventually I did find a God of my own understanding, not the one my parents or the Catholic church understood.
Yes, an open mind. I am trying. Even if I don't sound like I am here.
I have this feeling they are trying to convert me!
That could be my problem that I view it that way.
The program, the steps, feels like conversion.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:47 AM
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I felt the same.
I am an atheist, I don't believe in any higher power. I am also completely non-spiritual, I believe that what makes up a person is nothing more than a bunch of electrochemical reactions in the brain.
I tried al-anon, but couldn't relate to any of the concepts.
I don't believe anyone or anything, let along something surreal as a higher power, has control over my life. Others can advise, but ultimately I make the final decision. So i don't believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity, only I can do that. And I'm certainly not going to surrender my will and my life to anyone or anything.
I remember i felt similarly when my xagf was sort-of doing the 12 steps of AA. I could never relate to the first step. If they are powerless over alcohol, how can they ever expect to quit? I was not surprised when I learned that AA has only a 5% success rate, same as the natural remission rate.
So I stopped going to Al-anon and started going to the gym. Made me feel much better about myself.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by phineas View Post
II remember i felt similarly when my xagf was sort-of doing the 12 steps of AA. I could never relate to the first step. If they are powerless over alcohol, how can they ever expect to quit? I was not surprised when I learned that AA has only a 5% success rate, same as the natural remission rate.
I think you misunderstand that first step. Step 1 tells me I cannot safely ingest any amount of alcohol, period. Once I do drink, the mental obsession and physical compulsion take over.

My success rate today is 100%.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Freedom1990 View Post
I think you misunderstand that first step. Step 1 tells me I cannot safely ingest any amount of alcohol, period. Once I do drink, the mental obsession and physical compulsion take over.

My success rate today is 100%.
And how does that step apply to me in al-anon? how am I powerless over alcohol?

For my ex, the success rate for AA was 0%, which is why she is my ex.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:30 AM
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Do you have a sense of universal order or of any type of matrix that involves your own spiritual development?

I do not believe that an almighty GOD with a white beard is overseeing things..I have found that surrendering my control to universal perfection works for me in certain situations. More specifically: the things I have no control over to begin with.

I figure, my higher power is a more enlightened, future complete me. And she knows what to do. I draw on that as my higher power, too.

Also, there is a friend of mine who always says things like (and I realize this post may end up to sound kind of vindictively based..but, it illustrates my point best):

"It doesn't really pay to spend a lot of energy trying to punish an a**hole for being an a**hole. Being that person probably already sucks. Thats most likely why they are such an a**hole."

There is universal perfection in that, LOL> That is a little bit of how I view "higher power". It is something, that just is, which is bigger than me or my plans or my little agenda.

If I surrender what I cannot control to a higher power, it is essentially just living and letting live.

It requires an inherent self study that can be difficult, though.

I am sorry if the post became a little obscure, LOL...

Just wonder if you have any kind of identified spiritual path type thingy?
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:41 AM
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Find another meeting-- they are all different...

...I don't believe in God, I hate church, and I hate to pray. And, usually, I don't really enjoy being around religious people at all. Any religion (they are all the same to me). Pretty much ever. Unless they promise not to talk about it.

AL-Anon works for me!
  • It works for me because I tried different meetings until I found ones that work for me.
  • It works because I didn't focus on the parts of it I don't like in order to justify not going or doing the step work (I take what I want and leave the rest).
  • It works because my higher power is The Group, and even though The Group never fixes anything for me, being a part of it is helping me fix things myself.
  • It works because I keep coming back.
  • It works because it forces me to listen, sometimes to things I don't want to hear.
  • It works because I keep myself accountable to The Group in the sense that I feel like we are helping each other get by, one day at a time.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

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?
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by phineas View Post
And how does that step apply to me in al-anon? how am I powerless over alcohol?

For my ex, the success rate for AA was 0%, which is why she is my ex.
You were powerless over the ex and what alcohol did to her, yes?
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Freedom1990 View Post
You were powerless over the ex and what alcohol did to her, yes?

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.
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:22 AM
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I love this thread!

This issue of a higher power has been my biggest hurdle in Al Anon. I too don't believe an a supernatural god. I know that there are many forces in the universe far more powerful than I. I just don't think that those forces have any awareness of me or my problems.

Yet, Al Anon has been my anchor since I found it. I've found a number of groups that work for me. And for me, it has been through the power of the group that I've had the support to do things that I wouldn't have easily done on my own. I don't necessarily 'give' anything to the group (as in giving something up to god). But I know that in sharing my experience and asking for help I get the peace and confidence to do what I need to do.

If someone gets on a religious tangent, I just look at it as if I'm at a wedding at someone else's church. I can respect them and allow them their beliefs. I guess that's my little way of letting go.

We're social creatures. We've always survived better in groups. The Al Anon group serves that same wonderful purpose.

I can't lift a refrigerator. But with a group of friends it's easy. Simple yes, but it works for me.

I hope lots of other folks post on this topic!
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:46 AM
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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.
That's terrific for you. For many of us, however, that didn't solve the entire problem.
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by SteppingUp View Post
I can't lift a refrigerator. But with a group of friends it's easy. Simple yes, but it works for me.
This is a great analogy! That's pretty much how it worked for me in the beginning of my recovery.
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Old 11-10-2010, 12:11 PM
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Gee, I feel the opposite. Al-Anon is not sufficiently like church to me. Nah, that's not accurate -- wouldn't want it to be like church per se --- but I cannot work my recovery separately from Christian faith and doctrine. It seems like I've seen unabashedly Christian 12-step programs publicized --- not sure about Al-Anon.
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Old 11-10-2010, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool View Post

I simply don't believe that a higher power is going to take care of everything.
BHF - I don't think you have to believe this for Al-anon / 12 Steps to work for you. For me, a big part of "turning it over" is letting go of my judgments, opinions and expectations, and then practicing acceptance. A book I read on mindfulness and recovery suggested using the Power Of Things As They Are as a higher power. Maybe that would be helpful for you. Best, John
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Old 11-10-2010, 12:35 PM
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I am an atheist and I don't go to Alanon either. I wonder if I'm 'missing out' somehow! Anyway, I did work the steps, but used the proactive version: The Proactive Twelve Steps workbook It helped me wrap my head around the concept of letting go.
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Old 11-10-2010, 12:53 PM
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This is why I have never gone to a meeting. My family was raised atheist and we just don't believe in a higher power. My sister is the Alcoholic, and she struggles with this concept but goes to meetings because there really isn't an alternative program. Many of the people at her meeting think her alcoholism stems from not having a belief in God. They just don't understand that we don't view this as a character flaw or sign of weakness.
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Old 11-10-2010, 01:26 PM
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I have worked the Program WITHOUT a Higher Power and I have worked the Program WITH a Higher Power. For me, having a Higher Power is more effective than not. I also was what many of you are but what I was called, I do not know the correct term. I did not know if I believed in God or not and I could not stand to be around anyone who so much as referred to a bible verse. The irony of it all is that it was the last alcoholic who came into my life, who is also an active crack cocaine addict, that changed this for me. I was uncomfortable with religion in any form. And it was HIS acceptance of a Higher Power that helped me to also find mine. It is strange how when you think YOU are helping someone else, THEY are actually the one helping you.

If you want to avoid the use of 12 Steps because you do not want to get a Higher Power, but you still want to get healthy, I would suggest re-examining your self and your thinking. Or just going and taking what you like and leaving the rest. Fake it till you make it. That's what I did.
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