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.