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A new step every two weeks in the order they were written!Al-Anon's 12 Steps & 12 Traditions
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I don't think things are going to work with Al-Anon. I tried, I wanted it to work so bad, my life passed "unmanageable" several miles back and I was really hoping I was going to find help... but I'm an atheist.
At first I thought I could make it work... get through step two calling the group my higher power, and get through step three turning my life and my will over to the wisdom of those who have gone before me... but "the wisdom of those who have gone before me" turns out to be things like "let go and let god" when facing a family member's self-destruction -- belief that you don't have to keep saving your loved one because god has a plan for them -- and substituting "the group" in that context doesn't work!
I don't have religion, I don't have spirituality or a sense of a unifying life force... there's nothing out there. I have tried so many different religions, tried spirituality of various forms so many times... and if I want to believe badly enough, I can fool myself into it for a while... but it never lasts because I know it's not real. If I go outside and look at a tree, so matter how much I may want to see "mother nature" or "the miracle of life", all I see is a plant.
To me, faith is a placebo... it only works if you don't know it's just a sugar pill, and I can never make myself forget that.
...so I'm an atheist, because it's the only thing that makes sense to me. And I don't see how I can find answers in Al-Anon... how do you "let go and let god" when there is no god?
I needed this to work so badly, but the more I see how everybody's recovery is based around their placebo god, the less hope I have... and the fact that it's phrased "came to believe" is no help because even if I "find god", I'll only be fooling myself, and everything I've built on that will collapse as soon as I remember the foundation isn't real.
Are there atheists, with no sense of any sort of spiritual higher power, who have still been able to recover with Al-Anon? ...and if so, how do you make "let go and let god" atheist-accessible?
(No insult intended to religious people here... I'm glad it works for you, but it doesn't work for me)
I don't believe in a "Deity" or placebo or Jahweh, the Judeo Christian Deity either, I have faith in mathematical concepts
If you look up the word "God" in the dictionary, one of the definitions is "The Great Reality", real I can do, if you have surgery what heals you? the doctor sews you up but what joins and fuses your skin back together
long explanation here about white blood cells etc but the truth is -NO ONE KNOWS-
in Alanon we get to have a god of our own understanding
OK, so my god is a non deity with NO peepee (not big on deities with peepees, many of them seem to think we can just rape ole mother earth, when I grow up my god is going to have a womb) that is...no seperateness, it's everything, all the future, all the past, and the infinite present, this "God" has "laws" we know as "natural laws", if I drop something it falls, the earth revolves around the sun, plants grow and reproduce, people and animals grow and reproduce, it doesn't matter whether I believe in a deity or not, these things happen
So when I think of the god of my own understanding, I think of all those unknowable things, I think of God as "X" which equals "A power greater then myself" that equals "everything that ever was and everything that ever will be all except for that little voice in my head that gets me in all this trouble"
The steps are a series of socratic questions that are there to bring about a "spiritual awakening" or more simply put "A personality change so we can fit in with the world around us", they are a mathematical equation that have a specific result, in order to get that result you need a "power greater then yourself" that is not "you"
easy, it's everything
A column I read just addressed that the other day
How do you turn your life and will over to a group of people? Or, to refine that a bit, how do you make a group your Higher Power?
To best answer that, I need to show you some things. Take my hand, we're going to travel through Time and Space for a few minutes. Ready?
J: Where are we?
Mr. SP: Ummm, my aim isn't as precise as I like but if I ...
looks up at the night sky, checks the constellations
Mr. SP: Yes, this is roughly the early 1800's, and we're somewhere in Texas. See that old guy over there?
J: By the campfire?
Mr. SP: Yes. He's got something to tell us.
J and Mr. SP wander over.
Old Guy by the Campfire: If you need space by the fire, I can share.
Mr. SP: Thank you kindly.
Old Guy by the Campfire: You two look a might new at this. Remember, if you get up in the middle of the night to take a pee, shake out your bedroll before you get back into it.
J: How come?
Old Guy: Scorpions. They crawl in when you get up, attracted by how warm and toasty you left the blankets.
Mr. SP: Thanks, we've got to get going though.
Old Guy: Suit yourselves.
Mr. SP: Speak up, I can't hear you over the engines!
Mr. SP: We're in a plane over France in... if I got it right, 1942...
J: What the hell...?
Mr. SP: Hang on, we need to listen to this guy...
Points to airman in camo and blackface
Airman: I've done a hundred jumps, and you guys are new, right? Remember, after you jump...
J: We're going to jump?
Airman: Pay attention! After you get your 'chute on, we'll do some recon over the landing site and you can jump when we see the signal. No matter how fast you think you're falling, make sure you do a slow count to 20 before you pull the ripcord... otherwise, your 'chute might tangle in the props, got it?
Mr. SP and J nod.
Mr. SP: Got it. Uh, I mean, Got it, Sir!
J: This is getting... where are we now?
Mr. SP: Florida Keys. Sometime in the '70's I think.
J: How do you know it's the '70's if you're not very good at this?
Mr. SP: All the paisley.
J: What is this place?
Mr. SP: It's a dive school. Shhh, here's the instructor.
Instructor walks up with a class in various scuba gear
Instructor: ... bends, which is basically when nitrogen bubbles, created by pressure at the depths we'll eventually dive to, enter the liquid in your body, and should you rise towards the surface too quickly will be forced out... very painful and possibly fatal. What you need to do is rise at a measured pace, via a schedule which...
Mr. SP: Okay, let's get back.
J: What was the point of all that?
Mr. SP: Okay, if you'd stayed by the campfire that night, back in the 1800's, and you'd gotten up to pee in the night, would you have followed that Old Guy's advice?
J: Well... sure.
Mr. SP: Why?
J: Well, he knows what he's talking about... I mean, I've never camped in a bedroll by a fire and he has so...
Mr. SP: What about the Airman and his slow count instructions? Would you have done that?
J: Sure, although I'm not sure how slowly I can count when I'm jumping out of a plane.
Mr. SP: Me neither, actually. But why do you believe him?
J: Well... he's like, a trained air force guy. He said he'd done like a hundred jumps and so, you know, he's... he knows how to do it. Don't think I can't see where you're going here...
Mr. SP: Indulge me. What about the Dive Instructor, if you were in that class, would you follow the formula he was going to lay out to avoid the bends?
J: The bends is painful, I know that without all this rigmarole.
Mr. SP: So you would make those guys your Higher Power? Like you'd worship them and stuff?
J: No, not... not worship them, that sounds weird and creepy.
Mr. SP: So in those situations you're turning your will and your life over to them -- meaning you'll seek their counsel and follow their suggestions -- because they have experience in how to survive where you find yourself.
J: Yeah. Okay, yeah.
Mr. SP: So it's not really the individual people you're turning your will and your life over to -- it's not specific people, it's their knowledge and experience of how to survive something. That's what you're surrendering to. It's their experience which is your "Higher Power."
J: ... well... yeah.
Mr. SP: So that's how you do it then.
J: Do what?
Mr. SP: Turn your will and your life over to a group. You find yourself in a position equally fraught with danger and potential for pain and fatality today as you might have been in any of those other scenarios. Only instead of scorpions and tangled 'chutes and the bends you're facing addiction and fear and ego. And the people in the meeting have survived those same things... so what they have to tell you has value because it's based on experience -- even if the way some of them say it is colored by their own ego and such. Just because someone's been around a while doesn't mean they stop being a work in progress. If the Diving Instructor turned out to be an unmitigated ass, it wouldn't invalidate the truth of what he was telling you about what the bends are, how they can harm you and what you need to do to avoid them, right?
J: Yeah, I guess. Yeah.
Mr. SP: Same in a group. It's not the people that you're turning your will and your life over to (they're messy and flawed as individuals, and in one way or another they always will be -- the best we get is progress)... it's their practical experience of how to recover, and how to apply this recovery and 12 Step information to your life, day in, day out, one day at a time. That's what you are turning your will and life over to. So you simply live your daily routine the way the group suggests you do, and when you hit a snag or have a question or a problem, share about it in the group and take in the suggestions which are offered. Some people might be easier to listen to than others, but on the whole, you'll get good orderly direction. And God knows, when I was newl, that's what I needed. What my mind came up with as how to handle things was usually NOT a good plan to follow. I needed to follow the plan laid out by people who had experience NOT doing pretty much the only way I knew how to do anything. Following their plan, and asking them for input when I was stuck, was how I first "turned my will and my life" over to the group.
Once I threw my old concepts out the window as the result of doing the steps I realized being spiritual wasn't just some religious mumbo jumbo, but just the way to learn how to fit ourselves into the world around us, it didn't matter what clothes it was wearing, old white guy with a white beard, wandering jewish hippy, fat asian guy that smiled a lot or simply gazing at the stars, there is wisdom to be found everywhere, I just needed to learn to be open minded enough to begin to see it
Let go and let God is the perfect thing to say as we watch the train drive off the cliff, because all we ever had was the illusion of control anyway, and jumping in front of train wrecks never had any good results for me, the train got mad for my interference and I got run over, now I pick up a big bucket of buttery popcorn and wonder why I am not losing weight as I watch the train drive off the cliff and say to myself, "oh well, let go and let god" (and maybe mutter under my breath and good riddance because I fo sho aint no saint)
Atheos,I dont know if this will help you, I dont know if you ever heard of the phrase that Alanon has "take what you like and leave the rest" that seems to have helped meas I am a practicing Buddhist and we do not believe in a God, power, etc, outside of ourselves. I encourage you to accept the practical philosophy of Alanon toward thealcoholic for there is no other program that is as effective as Alanon in empowering ourselves against the devastation of this disease.Buddhism believes that science and religion are connected, we believe in cause and effect, otherwise how would the moon and the sun just hang up there in the Universe.There has to be a Law of some sort otherwise there would be chaos. I have managed to align my beliefs with Alanon after you really have familiarized yourself with the philosophy. You dont say how long you have been trying to do this, but it does take time. Alanon talks about "your" God whatever that may be, Ocean, mountains, etc. Buddhists nevertalk about God, yet this program has helped me immensely because I take what I like and leave the rest. I just say "Let Go" , I hope you make it work for YOU! All my best to youBettina
atheos wrote:I don't think things are going to work with Al-Anon. I tried, I wanted it to work so bad, my life passed "unmanageable" several miles back and I was really hoping I was going to find help... but I'm an atheist.At first I thought I could make it work... get through step two calling the group my higher power, and get through step three turning my life and my will over to the wisdom of those who have gone before me... but "the wisdom of those who have gone before me" turns out to be things like "let go and let god" when facing a family member's self-destruction -- belief that you don't have to keep saving your loved one because god has a plan for them -- and substituting "the group" in that context doesn't work! I don't have religion, I don't have spirituality or a sense of a unifying life force... there's nothing out there. I have tried so many different religions, tried spirituality of various forms so many times... and if I want to believe badly enough, I can fool myself into it for a while... but it never lasts because I know it's not real. If I go outside and look at a tree, so matter how much I may want to see "mother nature" or "the miracle of life", all I see is a plant. To me, faith is a placebo... it only works if you don't know it's just a sugar pill, and I can never make myself forget that. ...so I'm an atheist, because it's the only thing that makes sense to me. And I don't see how I can find answers in Al-Anon... how do you "let go and let god" when there is no god? I needed this to work so badly, but the more I see how everybody's recovery is based around their placebo god, the less hope I have... and the fact that it's phrased "came to believe" is no help because even if I "find god", I'll only be fooling myself, and everything I've built on that will collapse as soon as I remember the foundation isn't real.Are there atheists, with no sense of any sort of spiritual higher power, who have still been able to recover with Al-Anon? ...and if so, how do you make "let go and let god" atheist-accessible?(No insult intended to religious people here... I'm glad it works for you, but it doesn't work for me)-- Edited by atheos on Tuesday 19th of April 2011 11:03:26 AM
-- Edited by atheos on Tuesday 19th of April 2011 11:03:26 AM
sweetie, one more thing...people believe what they can imagine. you are looking at reality period. in reality, what exactly are coincidences? why do things happen at exactly the right time? or exactly the time you least expected? here is a thought. when you plug in your thoughts to positive brain waves, you are more likely to get positive results than when you plug your thoughts into negative brain waves. it has been tested on plants. try telepathically telling a plant, live, and give it water and sunlight. it will. try telling it negative things like die! and it will. With kids its the same way. even with us. why? Energy ..baby.. by the way our sun is destined to burn out. like our bodies. and everything around here changes form. yeah? so you have a choice about the thoughts you think...positive or negative, you choose!
Hi, and welcome.
I'm thinking that no matter what you believe or don't, that there are great tips and insights as far as how to cope on a daily level. Alanon also says "take what you like and leave the rest". So, I suggest taking the parts of the program that serve you well. For you, you could replace the word God with space or the atmosphere. Many of us have worked around the same issue and managed to work the program. I guess I'm what is considered a new ager when it comes to spirituality, so organized religion isn't up my alley either.
There's so much more to Alanon then this issue. I believe you can retrieve much from the program anyway. Let go and let God doesn't have to be taken literally, IMO. It can simply mean let lose of the situation and allow the chips to fall where they may. We do have choices in Alanon. There is no brainwashing to attempt to make you believe one way or the other. If that was the case I would have been gone a long time ago. I just have to change the wording (in my mind) of certain phrases to make them acceptable to me.
Try taking the focus off of that particular aspect and tune in to you and program suggestions on what has helped as far as reacting to the alcoholic. Like making them responsible for their actions, having boundaries, putting yourself first etc. These are the things that will stop the feeling of insanity and whirling in the wind with no direction.
If we think that miracles are normal, we will expect them. And expecting a miracle is the surest way to get one.
Of course it works for athiests ,try thinking of this program as * Good Orderly Direction = God * ,this is a program for living life to the fullest getting rid of behaviors that arent working for us anymore . I felt exactly like you did when I arrived here but I stayed I knew I was in the right place . One of the things i appreciate the most about this program is that I can believe the way I choose not the way others think I should that was very important to me , still is. I dont have to explain or justify how I feel to anyone . I too chose the group as my HP for yrs slowly I began to believe that there was something out there a little smarter than me , I simply learned to Let Go of things I cannot change . keep going to meetings practice and live in the steps and your will be fine .
I came- I came to-I came to be
Happy for you!!
Aloha Atheos...I am always amazed at how people different than I can be instruments of my own spiritual growth and here you come Atheist and all. I am grateful cause you got me to reflect on my own growth on the subject of Higher Power and how that has developed up until now. The most resent lesson was not what "God" was but what "God" isn't and that reminded me that most if not all of my oppositional definance has to do with fear and the lesson was "God isn't fear" I've learned that the opposite of fear is Love and so simply to me today even as I sit and read the membership responses to your post I see "God" or as Abbyal offers "Good orderly Direction". I get to watch you being Loved and for me then I see my own understanding of God which has evolved in Al-Anon over the long time I've been here. The requirement was to Keep an open mind and then I would find help and I need(ed) to keep coming back to get that.
I'm grateful you found some solution as we have and hope to keep coming back. You have stated a great need in front of others who have experienced that themselves and had it fulfilled. Just for me I started with my HP being a "doorknob" because I was led to believe I would not open any door without one. How profound to someone who use to study theology. LOL Openmindedness and the courage to practice what has worked for others.
Glad you showed up at MIP...MIPers are marvelous huh? (((((hugs)))))
I'd like to welcome you to MIP! I discovered this board some time ago, became a member, then deleted my membership because it didn't feel right at the time.
The discussion about people's "higher power" and the use of all the slogans, such as "let go and let God" made me feel uncomfortable. I felt a bit phony trying to refer to my higher power because I wasn't too clear about what that was exactly. I knew I didn't believe in God in the traditional sense - much of what some churches preach. That never settled with me as a kid, let alone an adult.
I felt Al-Anon was a bit "cultish" and the use of slogans reflected a group of people that didn't think for themselves. I often thought of my neighbor's parrots - just mimicking what they hear.
However, after trying things "my way" I decided to give this board another chance. I was welcomed back into this cyberspace community with open arms - no judgements.
I also began attending meetings just two months ago. I found one group that I particular like. It still feels a bit weird in some sense. I do feel a bit strange when I listen to others' describe how their higher power does this or that for them. But I also realize that is my problem and something that I need to look closer at to understand why I feel strangely about it.
I do consider myself a spiritual person now - not in the traditional, go to church, type of spiritualality. I do believe in a "source." I still feel a bit uncomfortable naming it "Higher Power." I have referred to it as such in some of my posts; but truthfully, I do feel uneasy about it. Like I say, I need to explore why I feel that way.
All in all, meetings have been just about the best thing I've given myself. I sit and listen, and even share my thoughts. There is something magical about being with people who understand what you've lived through. And it's absolutely wonderful to listen to some of the members who've gained so much from the program regarding what they do to maintain their serenity. Meetings reinforce what I have learned through countless books and private counseling sessions.
Be certain that many people feel very uncomfortable for reasons you shared with us. Don't let that get in your way of trying meetings out! I avoided meetings for 3 years. As a result, I suffered much more than I needed to.
If you don't like the chemistry of one group, please search for another. I have gone to 2 different meeting groups and have decided to focus on only one because of the chemistry of the group. I jive with it.
Please give meetings a good try! If they aren't for you, then at least you know that for a fact.
You have to go through the darkness to truly know the light. Lama Surya Das
Resentment is like taking poison & waiting for the other person to die. Malachy McCourt
Welcome to MIP, I've only been a member for a few weeks but find this place a warm and friendly place to find help and support.
I have struggled with the concept of a Higher Power/God as I understand God, and wanted to share my thoughts in case they might offer something to you.
I don't follow a religious programme and have really appreciated the openess that Al-anon has offered me in being able to develop my own sense of a "Power greater than myself".
I believe I operate coming from a place of love or fear. Having looked at myself and my way of being in the world, I can see that fear has been the dominant feeling, and as a result I have tended to constrict myself and try to control my surroundings, other people and events that may or may not happen. This makes my life unmanageable.
When I have been able to come from love, my life has expanded, my connections have become more powerful, and I have been able to let go of control.
I think of my Higher Power as being a connection to love, that I cconsciously make, I feel this love flow through me, like energy. When I listen to the slogans, I think of them in terms of love or fear... Let Go and let God becomes about me moving towards love and moving away from fear by just letting go of my control of the situation. Good Orderly Direction = GOD becomes about me moving again towards love and away from fear, so that I am choosing how to behave, respond, feel, rather than reacting to someone else's behaviour, responses and feelings. I choose to believe that love is a tangible energy that is in every living thing, and is present all around me, the heat from the sun, the wind blowing, etc. I see my ego as operating from a place of fear, and I see my recovery coming from being more open to love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, non-judgement, and tolerance of myself and others. I see my recovery from coming from learning how to love myself, just as I am, and to love other people just as they are, setting clear and healthy boundaries for myself. So thinking in terms of love and fear is like a compass for me, moving towards love brings more of the good stuff, moving towards fear, brings the ego driven fearful, unmanageable stuff.
Hi Atheos, I have exactly the same struggle -- after 15 months, I feel like I'm stuck on step 2.
I was raised atheist -- worse, I was raised by an ADad who is a physicist and believes only in the empirical, the measurable, the tangible. I have the same belief system: I believe in what I can see, touch, hear. God and faith don't fit that paradigm. I feel like the least spiritual person on earth sometimes.
I have been unable to find a sponsor with an "alternative" Higher Power to help me out with this; it seems like everyone I meet in Al-Anon has conventional religious faith and belief in God.
Twenty years ago when I was in ACoA counselling, my therapist suggested I work with an idea of a trusted person in my life who was loving and caring; we settled on my deceased grandfather. That wasn't successful as I don't believe in any form of existence after death.
For a while, someone else tried to get me to work with a concept of protective, unconditional love which led me to think of a former dog of mine, so my Higher Power concept was basically a big Rottweiler in the sky, lol. That idea was just too goofy to last long, however.
The best hope I have is a sort of Mother Nature concept. Someone here struck a chord with me talking about plants always turning toward the light, and I already have a sense of wonder about the perennials in my garden coming up again every spring. See, I know there are natural laws in operation and I have no difficulty believing in those, I just have to find a way to personalize that into a Higher Power idea.
There is a really awesome long post by a member named Ago (I think??) in a Step Two thread on the Step Work Board that made a lot of sense to me too.
I've been muddling along in Al-Anon despite all this, applying the tools to my life anyway, and certainly making progress. Like you, I have difficulty with ideas like "let go and let God" (let who?? I'm alone in this!) and being told to pray for answers or direction -- I really need a firm grasp of what or to whom I'm relying on before it can work for me.
ythannah wrote:There is a really awesome long post by a member named Ago (I think??) in a Step Two thread on the Step Work Board that made a lot of sense to me too.
How I worked Step 3
linbaba wrote:ythannah wrote:There is a really awesome long post by a member named Ago (I think??) in a Step Two thread on the Step Work Board that made a lot of sense to me too.How I worked Step 3That one?
Thanks for finding that -- obviously I was providing misleading info in saying it was a Step Two post -- poor Atheos might have been searching in vain.
I have that post copied and pasted into a document, along with many other snippets of wisdom, so I didn't have the URL bookmarked.
Atheos, just to say that I am an atheist and as unspiritual as they come. I've defined "Higher Power" in my own way -- not a supernatural way -- and it works for me. I only have a minute on the computer right now so I won't go into it, but just to say that I'm confident that there will be a meaning of Higher Power that can work for you. Hope you keep coming back.
parfait624 wrote:Atheos....I am also not a particularly religious person. The slogans to me sometimes seem a little cheesey no offense to anyone. I had a bad experiance with face to face meetings because I live in a very religious area and the meetings are all sponsored by churches. I felt like they were pushing something on me, so for now the boards are my source for meetings, community etc. As far as a higher power I feel good when I do good and I believe in karma. That's what I go by so to each his own. But I don't think it matters if you filter out the religion part and take the other parts in.
Atheos....I am also not a particularly religious person. The slogans to me sometimes seem a little cheesey no offense to anyone. I had a bad experiance with face to face meetings because I live in a very religious area and the meetings are all sponsored by churches. I felt like they were pushing something on me, so for now the boards are my source for meetings, community etc. As far as a higher power I feel good when I do good and I believe in karma. That's what I go by so to each his own. But I don't think it matters if you filter out the religion part and take the other parts in.
All but one of the meetings in my area are held in churches (the other one is held at the addiction treatment facility) and here at least that is only because a) the churches are willing to let 12 step groups use the space and b) the rent is far cheaper than we would pay elsewhere. It's not "sponsorship" by the churches per se.
I thought the slogans were a bit silly at first too. Until I had the experience of having one pop into my head when I needed it, then I had to revise my opinion, lol. I have also studied a bit about neuro-linguistic programming and understand that it's more difficult to stop an unwanted thought in the mind if you have nothing to replace it with -- the unwanted thought will just return to the empty spot. The slogans serve the purpose of substituting a positive, productive thought for a damaging one.
Last month was when I began attending meetings. I resisted meetings for a long, long time. The past 3 years I had seriously contemplated attending, but just couldn't bring myself to go until recently.
I was uncomfortable that most meetings are held in churches, but I got over that. I no longer think about where I am, just focus on who I'm with at meetings. I think for first 4 times it sort of bugged me that I was inside a church.
Also the slogans still get me, but I realize there value. In crisis mode, they are easy to remember, and like someone said, easy to replace negative thoughts. So I "get" the reasons behind the slogans. I still feel a little unnatural using any of them, however.
pinkchip wrote:LinBaba is pretty smart....That AGO guy was a loser tho (smirk)
LinBaba is pretty smart....That AGO guy was a loser tho (smirk)
mutter mumble haha thanks mark
Thank you Bettina for practical help. I feel exactly like the poster who started the thread. Can Al Anon Work for me, when all I can really admit is that I do not believe in God? I am almost fearful of ever saying that in a meeting because too many times there is not a true free and open sharing, or respect for where people are.
It's not that I don't get the "take what you like and leave the rest..." That makes a lot of sense, it's practical and frees you to utilize what helps in Al Anon, and there is a lot of help, a lot of wisdom from people who have endured the same misery and loss. But what makes me skeptical that Al Anon can work is the extreme that some members go to in their "oh I had an epiphany with my higher power", the everything is a higher power, the extremeness of it, if that makes sense. And some of those folks like that can't just accept that others feel their higher power is not called God, or worse if you don't constantly talk about it in the same terms as everyone else -- even though we are supposed to respect where each of us are. In sharings I hear too often, there is that belief among some members that you aren't doing it right unless you have a "God" never mind if it is one of your understanding or not, it is just that way.
I know one shouldn't worry or care what others think. But some others heavily into the spiritual aspect of it can be judgmental -- however subtly -- if you don't speak the speak and walk the walk the way too many think it is supposed to be. I don't know if I'm making sense, but those attitudes can come across. When they do, it's stifling of a truly free and open sharing.
I know what you mean. I have been religious in the past and then an atheist, but when I first came to Alanon I considered myself an agnostic. I heard some shares from people that were quite in the pocket of religiousness that felt off-putting to me, and I was scared to share my agnosticism and difficulty with having/using a higher power. But eventually I shared just that and a few people approached me after the meeting to say they felt the same! Some of them helped me to explore things that would work for me. I live in upstate NY, maybe it is different in Tampa.
It looks like there is a lot of good advice about this in the thread already, maybe it will be helpful to you. For myself, I tried a few different forms of "higher power" before I found one that works for me.
"...when we try to control others, we lose the ability to manage our own lives." - Paths to Recovery
Aloha Lost and welcome to the board...I love all discussions about religion because I learn from the fellowship thru my sponsor how to look at "the picture". He gave me a question 37 years ago that still makes me smile each and every time I am asked it or I ask it of someone else...."Could you be wrong"?...The answer is obvious and I have never let my pride cause me to answer that question in favor of my EGO which I also learned in recovery could stand for Easing God Out...I chose the opposite Offering God Entry which serves me daily.
When I first got to Al-Anon and was still enough to hear the statement I heard this, "We are not a religion and if you practice these principles religiously you will...." The difference twix a noun and adverb gave me freedom.
I was born into organized religion, was taught it in the schools I attended, practiced the rites, did service, spoke the language and even reached a nice level of Theology and then came to the reality of what organized religion did to my ancient spiritual culture. My culture is Hawaiian and Hawaiian isn't better Hawaiian because the Christians came here in fact many can say with certainty that it is presently less than. My first marriage was broken up by organized religion calling my belief "of the devil"....ohhhh well.
Al-Anon has a philosophy of practice that worked well for me when I first got here as a struggling newbie. It was said, "Act as if" which simply told me don't let your brain trip up your feet and that is what I did. I "acted as if" what I was being guided with and to was how I should walk it and it was. "It works when you work it" was the other angle to this and I worked it daily. Our closing statement of our meetings encourages us with "If you keep and OPEN MIND you will FIND HELP'. That is what I did/do. I stopped trying to define God in favor of God defining me. What I do is listen and when I do I hear. Some one in program gave me a small reader entitled "When man listens...God Speaks" and I was intrigued by how that title was arranged and afterward agreed I have to listen first and always before I can hear the message from a power greater than myself.
Culturally I am Hawaiian and my Higher Power is Akua the creator father of this nation of Hawaii which provides all that is necessary for us to sustain us and our families and our part in that is to malama ka aina...take care of the land we reside on. Simple. Is there more to it? Oh yes and very unbelievable to those who are not willing or don't care or are afraid. Still I have been around a long time and have lived within other cultures and beliefs. I have experienced much and shared experiences with many others. I have listened to the observations of many others regarding my life....what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. The majority agree that there has been and is some force for good that walks with me...I agree.
I can say I have witnessed many miracles in recovery...many. Keep coming back ((((hugs))))