Friday, July 13, 2012

Spiritual Disconnect

My friend Jo left a comment on one of my posts yesterday that something lacking in my recovery is a faith in God.  It got me thinking.

I usually tell people I'm an athiest because it's easier than trying to explain things.  My definition of an athiest is someone who is 100% confident in their belief and knowledge that there is nothing out there.  No creator, no great spirit, no higher power, no great shamoo, nothing.

Well, I'm not 100% confident that there is nothing out there.  Something had to start all of this.  What that something is, I don't know, and I don't care.  I know that I don't believe in the Christian version of things or the Christian God.  I know I don't believe in any other organized religion either.  In the 90's I went through a pagan/Wicca phase but we'll just pretend I didn't admit that.....heh.  So, because I can't say I'm 100% athiest, I guess that puts me in the agnostic camp.  I do believe we all have souls.  I'd like to believe that there is an afterlife and good people are chillin' out having fun and the Hitlers and Ted Bundys of the world are roasting in agony, and I'd like to believe that when I die I'll get to see loved ones again who went before me.  But the whole Jesus salvation born again thing?  Nope.  Not drinking that Kool-Aid.

Anyway, I fully admit that my struggles sticking to 12 step programs is the hangup with the higher power thing.  I just don't get it.  I don't know how to make the spiritual connection that's supposed to take place in order for some great inner transformation to occur.  I mean what do I do?  Literally?  Talk out loud to something that's not there?  Have a conversation in my head that no one will hear but me?  Talk to the chair? And what emotions am I supposed to be feeling while doing this?  I just don't get it.

But I do understand being spiritual. Years ago when I was admitted following a suicide attempt, one of the group therapy sessions was led by the chaplain and going into it, I cringed because I thought it was going to be "Jesus Recruitment Hour."  Surprisingly he didn't address religion at all, but focused on spirituality.  One of the more lasting impressions I took away from that was how nurturing your spirit has nothing to do with religion.  Listening to a piece of music that moves you, reading a book or watching a movie that makes you cry, experiencing a moment of pure joy at the site of a child laughing or a cat purring....those are the spiritual moments that make us human, and it's these emotions that we shouldn't run from even if they're painful, but should embrace them and let them nurture our soul.  Now that I can understand, even as I do try to drown out emotions with booze and drugs.

But to apply that understanding of spirituality to the 12-step higher power thing?  Clueless.  What I described above about my understanding of being spiritual is related to human emotions, not trying to make contact with some third party entity.  The KEY tenet of the steps is that you come to believe a higher power will help restore you to sanity and that you are willing to hand your will and life over to that higher power.  Without that belief, the "steps" don't work.

Add to that the fact that many meetings only adhere to the "higher power" thing with lip service only - most just flat out say God instead of higher power and there is an unspoken, unofficial, but very real and strong expectation that newcomers do so as well.  I've been to some who even quote biblical scripture during the meetings.  It all had an uncomfortable cultish vibe to it.  That really turns me off of wanting to give AA/NA another try.

Now I am NOT bashing AA/NA.  Not at all.  I know they have helped millions of people.  I'm just trying to explain my experiences and my disconnect with the 12 step process.  I wish I could believe.  It would solve  a lot of problems.

So is recovery dependent on a spiritual connection?  Is that the only way to go?  I'm interested in your opinions and thoughts on this.


  1. I agree with your thoughts --we can discuss further but not here. And I love the bits of humour you interject into everything.

  2. I'm on my phone and I need a decent medium to answer I gotta get the baby to sleep .. And I'll be back ... Until then breathe ...

  3. Steven, I love that you are responding and thinking. Those are both very good starts. Spirituality is the heart of any religion. I do not now attend any church. I don't want to. I don't need to. God is in me. I believe he is in every word, every thought and every action. I do have free will. I can choose to turn away or toward his love. It is infinitive. The love of God has no bounds and never ends. I may choose not to love him, he will love me anyway.
    Now, for you. You can talk to yourself aloud, in your head or you can shout to the heavens, wherever that is. Knowing what is in your heart and being clear of what you need and what you want is a matter of being quiet enough in your soul, meditation helps here, to feel your path. To feel what is right and to gain the strength you need. You can call Him anything you want, for now, I will call Him the Universal Power since calling him God is not where you are.
    The Universal Power will give you strength you never knew you possessed. Peace you have never felt. Assurance you have never known. Happiness you cannot even imagine. Wonder and appreciation. You get that by first asking for it. Inside your head without muttering a word, if you prefer. Secondly by believing it will happen and thirdly by accepting it when it is offered. It is as simple and as complicated as that.
    How do you believe, when you don't know how? Ask. Ask for a clear heart to accept the Universal love that is there for you. Ask for the wisdom to see it when it is there for you. Ask for peace to find happiness and then, Steven, the hard part, wait for it. Quietly, faithfully, knowing it will come, wait for it.
    It has happened in my life more times that I can tell you about. It has come to me while I'm sleeping. While I'm doing laundry. While I'm driving down the road. Seemingly out of nowhere, the answer to what I should do, where I should go, how I will manage any number of things, clearly and plainly in my mind as if it were there all along. But it wasn't. Where confusion or despair had lived, peace, wisdom and confidence now resided. Over and over again. The Universe gives what is asked of it and more. Faith. Trust. Prayer.
    Hope this helps and hope others have other ideas for you to think over as well.

    All things are possible, but not alone. The Universal Power is yours for the asking and accepting.

    ♥ Another day clean and sober and another chance to find faith. ♥

    1. So what you're saying is to just start talking to air even if I don't believe anything will happen and feel silly doing it, and eventually something will happen? How do you believe if you don't believe?

    2. This will sound ridiculous, but you just have to fake it until it's real. Let go of the negativity and one more thing, you need to believe YOU are worth the effort. I know you will have trouble with that, but deep inside somewhere, you must feel you are worth saving. Using is never going to make you happy. Happy comes from knowing you're a strong person who is fighting addiction and living in your own 'now'. This minute, this instant YOU are good. Take don't, not, won't and can't out of your vocabulary and insert do, is, will and can...fake it until it's real.

    3. Thank you for your encouragement and belief in me Jo, and for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. You're right, feeling that I'm worth the trouble is a huge problem. I'll think over what you've said.

  4. I'm back..and I know I do. Religion ( or the notion that religion will take care of these things is as foreign to me as it it is to you. You must understand that since the relapse has been fairly recent, you are starting over..AGAIN.The feelings are not rosy and lovely..they are of self hatred..and doubt..and struggle, because it's fucking hard work. it was nearly a year for me before I could even begin to see or even recognize any happiness. I was way to busy trying to gain back the trust that had been shattered among my family members. ( which by the way pissed me off too) I only knew one thing and one thing only, and that was that I would never pick up again. I was mad as hell I was ashamed, so ashamed I never ever attended an AA/NA class. Not one. The problem with using is's a fucking nightmare. PERIOD. not ifs, and, or buts about it. You just have to want to want something..anything..but that "anything" is not even remotely possible using. You know this. And even if you used last month, last 6 months..last year, you're not ready yet for a relationship which is what I "assume" you want. I know I wasn't, I just had way too much shit to work out. I had to learn to live all over again, after 20 yrs of addiction I had to learn to love the feel of the sun on my face,to love to go on long walks of quiet reflection with my dogs.... to love that I could feed and take care of my animals properly. I had to find reasons to be good, to have something other than myself to take care of until I learned to take care of myself. it started out being a dog, and two cats, then it became another dog. The slowly but surely all of a sudden I was contributing to my childrens' lives and buying dinner for a friend every now & then and that felt good. I simply wanted to be a useful part of society again. I started ti like and eventually love the little girl who was lost in side me ( Steven I know you hear me here) and once you learn to love & respect yourself again, you will not settle for anything but the very best for yourself. ( and that includes never picking up again. I fucking hated myself..the whole time I was using. and once I slowed down and allowed the peace to come it did. There were set backs, there were times of sitting on the floor and crying my eyes out. I knew I was ok when I allowed myself to do one more cocaine deal after I got to Austin. I even told my son to show him I could make the money and not indulge, he even came over and checked to make sure. I was fine of course but I had these two friends geeking out in my living room and I had to leave it made me so uncomfortable. I was ashamed for them, I was ashamed for myself and I decided i don't ever want to feel that way again.And I went and bought a TV with the profit knowing that was the very last time I would ever touch the stuff. Ya gotta stick around for the good stuff..ya just gotta, and you have to have the sense to know when it offered to you. I love you "infinity"

    1. Virgo, please don't take this the wrong way, but do I know you by a different name from Myspace or Facebook? I'm having trouble placing you.

      That out of the way, I hear what you're saying and I don't know what I want. I don't even know if I want a relationship. I know what I think I should want, what society tells us we should want - house, spouse, kids, car, 401-K. I honestly do not know what I want. A friend messaged me just now asking me the same thing and I'm stumped. I mean there are things I enjoy doing like reading or watching movies, and sometimes writing but a goal to aspire to? A hobby? Something I'm passionate about? I got nothin'. I'm really not trying to be purposely obtuse about this. Now if we're going metaphysical on this, what I want is to have the feeling of wanting to be clean, of desiring it for myself because I think I'm worthy. I'll be honest, I'm clean at the moment purely because there is not a hookup anywhere within 200 miles from me these days, can't get pills either, so I'm drinking myself into a stupor every night. I know all the reasons why I should stop it all, I'm wrecking my health, I feel like shit all the time, and I've quit (except the drinking but that's another post entirely) because I have to but not because I want to. I desperately want to want to, and that is why I write about all this, searching for that desire, hoping I'll inspire myself or be inspired by others. I'm very appreciative, and humbled, by everyone's support and belief in me that I can do it, but I wish I felt that I am worth it. You'd think feeling like shit all the time would be enough.

  5. oh shit a\
    sorry Steven it's Ileene xoxxo so you know your first step to find out what you want to do...start with that..I think you need another dog..too

  6. You've just described spirituality in the most perfect way. <3 I love that you put into words what I have felt but was at a lack to be able to explain.

    As for AA/NA, there HAS to be something else out there. Something not based on religion. HAS TO BE!! Back when I was going to a counselor had she even mentioned a "higher power" I would have shut right down. I cringe at religion even though I do believe in God.