A journey to embrace, explore, and honor the Freedom and Power inherent in active recovery.

No more shame...

No more shackles....

No more secrets.

The path--and the Power--are within. Be Free.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"My" Problem With Religion


There is a significant difference between 'religion'
and 'spirituality.' Not just in the sense that one
does not have to go to a specific building or a
specific denomination to "find God," but moreover
that the traditionally promoted and accepted
'mainstream' view of God is not required to
be on a legitimate spiritual path.

I do not imagine that life sprung forth in such
intricacy on its own accord, or that there is not
an energy force behind it. My disbelief is in the
mythology and magic wishes of the Judeo-
Christian construct and Bible.

I know a Universe exists, after all!
I actually believe there has to be 'something'
to it all, intricate as life is...some force of great
power. (Suppose I'm 'between' atheistic and
agnostic' if you're getting technical,) BUT I think
the term 'God' has been bastardized for all time

 by the ignorant and the masters of culture and

I cannot believe in any version of a 'higher

power' that is paternalistic, omniscient, has a
foretold plan of life, answers calls, and so on.
I don't see it an an entity that is 'conscious'

or at least comprehensible by humans'
limited intellect.

The idea of applying meaning to the random-

ness and chaos of life is understandable; life
is dark and scary and unjust. We would like
for it to be otherwise, thus we made it so.

The idea that when something bad happens,

 it's 'God's will', and when something we
determine as good happens, that's also 'God's
will' is a determined interpretation of reality.
It also dictates that what happens to OTHER
people is God's will' you know, stuff like rape,
child murders, mass killings, house fires,
slipping in the bathtub, etc.
There is not significance in everything!

I can't cotton to the idea that all these

different people are "in touch" with God
because they say so! If an extremist evangelical
 right wing nut is receiving orders by being
'connected to God,' and a knee-jerk liberal
touchy feely anti-Fox News radical is also a
devoted Christian fighting the good fight,
don't they just kind of cancel each other out
in the cosmic scheme of things?

How is there any validity to it when every
single person who "believes in God" is off
and running with their own individual
interpretation of what that means? It's lunacy.

affectations stacked upon the idea of a
Judeo-Christian deity is blatantly projecting
needs. We are alone, we want salvation from
pain, suffering, etc...we want to have a neat
little box that makes it all make sense.
Sure, I get it.

The idea that someone is out there,

listening, caring for us when humans
don't... looking out for us, sending us

love notes in the form of jobs and nice
people,'s a very comforting thought.
But I know religion is crazy dogma used

to control the masses, too.

To some degree, I
feel as though "Whatever
gets you through the night" is fine. But I know
of NO organized religion that doesn't try and
limit, control, bash, or decimate others.
Whether its differing religious beliefs, people's
personal choices, or politics; they can't leave
anything alone. So disconcerted by others'
P.O.V. that they want to shape the world to
reflect their own shaky belief system.

But I see patterns of a small sort in life,
and I know love and sex and courage
could not be some figment of imagination.
Still struggling myself to see where it all leads.
But I know that fanaticism alone does
not sway me. I know I DON'T want

what most in regular AA have; a
new addiction in place of the old.
All the ridiculous Santa Claus/SugarDaddy

I am not helpless. I am not powerless.
I can choose to be, but there is nothing
that's going to swoop in and save me,
no matter how I demure myself and tow
the party line. Like every other construct
of social control, the more you act like
everyone else, the more acceptance you're

Conformity breeds reward.
That isn't rocket science.
And it sure isn't divinity.

The Dreaded Weekends


I still have trouble with weekends. I don't know
precisely what it is, other than perhaps an
additional sense of isolation because 'other
folks' all have plans and i feel excluded. I am

working hard at being comfortable in my own
skin, enjoying my life just as it is, and not
being dependent on others for my security.

I can sit and analyze that weekends are

bad because I don't have a social network
that is continuously busy with parties and
gatherings any longer.

Or maybe it's because I live in an area

where there are Zero events, outings,
opportunities. (And no interest or support
for such things starting.)

Perhaps it's that everything that exists

here is centered around mind-numbing 
evangelical religion and exclusivity and

It could be that the weekends were

always a time of dread because it
meant more time with my family;

isolated, abused, fearful.

Nothing's open on the weekend and

therefore my jobless behind has
greater difficulty finding ways to fill

my day; also, no funds to go where
things are happening.

I can find some ways to occupy myself;

there are always things that need doing,
work that needs to be done, time wasters,
distractions, etc. But there are times....

Anyway, Boo-Hoo and woe is me.

Just sitting here thinking about it,
and starting to get a bit of a committee

going, when I suddenly realized; "Hey,
I do have someone I can share this

crap with!" Better out than in!

I am sitting in a home that is paid for

for another month, I have A/C, I have
eaten today, I have animal companions,
I am still self-sufficient, I am not at the
mercy of depression, I am sober, I am
okay. I am not alone if I am comfortable
with my aloneness, and I can choose
to be serene.

I can also choose to have company
any time I want by daring to go
and interact with 'strangers' and give
them the chance to be a part of my

I do not need to follow hollow
rituals that no longer feel good
or affirming
or do as directed. I can stand on my
own and feel better and stronger
because I am being my own person,
following my heart.

Being tolerated is not acceptance.
Duplicity is not an aspect of spirituality.
It is better to be contentedly alone than
misunderstood by many.

Changing my perception and my
perspective takes work sometimes.
By first acknowledging the discontent
and then seeking resolution from
within, I can find my way.
simply to please others

Non-inclusive Program

I have had soooo much trouble over the 'god
thang' in a tiny backwoods rural Georgia
community! The icy silences...the interruptions...
the condescension......the preaching...the
personal attacks.....the commands to 'Get on
my knees' and pray! (And that's just IN the
AA meetings!)

AA is supposed to be all-inclusive, and no

one is to be told what to do or how to think
or face criticism in a meeting. But that's the
ideal, and life is far from ideal.

In fact, the traditions themselves leave

opening for contradiction in clarity of
statement as it shifts from the positive ('the
primary purpose is to help another alcoholic'
and 'the only requirement for A.A. member-
ship is a desire to stop drinking') to the more
ego-driven problem areas ('there is but one
ultimate authority-a loving God as He may
express Himself in our group conscience' and
'each group should be autonomous'.) It's not
surprising that those traditions are

It makes it hard; and you do--no matter

how strong your conviction--start to I in the wrong here?
Cuz I'm starting to feel could

so many other people be 'getting it' and I
don't feel a damned thing!

Why can't I drink enough of the Kool-Aid?
of the whole process inherent in AA's
decision process for naming myself an alcoholic!
Here's a newsflash for Bill W's ghost; NOT

all of us were ego-maniacs! Part of my
problem--my biggest problem--was self-loathing
and not thinking I deserved to live! (And guess
where most of that came from? The God-fearing,
God-loving church folks!)

My HP is the power of love and compassion....
life itself....a group of people committed to a
higher ideal.....AA itself (even when inappropriately
run. Hey, a broken clock is right twice a day!)

Spirituality to me does not have to be ruined
because sanctimonious Christians have
claimed it. Spirituality is simply enhancement...
connection....getting outside--or deeper into--self.

Whatever form that takes.

Yoga is spiritual.
Volunteering is spiritual.
Love-making is spiritual.
Higher attainment can take many forms.

I struggled with the shame and judgment

'Everything for a reason'? Really!?!

ahhh..the 'hand of god' debuts....

Someone always brings up how incredible the
'hand of God' is that the same thing on their mind
was the topic (even when it's something as vague
as "trouble listening", which of course can be
generally applied to anything and everything.)

I appreciate that the idea of "No coincidences"
is appealing to people. After sometimes a lifetime
of chaos and indecision, they need some stability.
But this magical thinking that gets applied to
every single instance on the planet being a part
of the predetermined's just too nutty
for me.

Last week someone went on for ten minutes
about how his life going so well was a reflection
of God's pleasure with him (the person) listening
and doing what he was supposed to. I seethed.
How dare he? How dare he proclaim himself
more worthy than another? How dare he piss
on the memory of people who bought into the
lie of God and slaved over 'goodness' only to
never have anything to show for it.

Can you hear the brain cells bursting trying
to make sense of how every sprained toe,
burst blood vessel, public fart, missed bus,
snotty nose, bad meal, murder, rape, car
accident are in truth the divine will of mighty
Jesus? I understand wanting mythology to
save us from the chaos and randomness
and uncertainty, but....c'mon!

Things happen. They just do. Good things,
bad things, in-between things too. So here
we start with the misconception that everything
has purpose, and then go about using our
human minds to connect with what we assume
to be the God-head in order to seek reasoning
behind events we don't understand. Done, of
course, through the moralizing lens of religion;
What happened that you like is a gift from God.
What has happened that you don't like was
punishment from God...and now you must
set about on determining what you did wrong.

And then I remember why I'm there. To focus
on me. To not let things bother me or get me ill.
To allow others their own means--even if I
feel it is wrong--to stay afloat.

I still don't like it, but it came under his share,
so it was after all 'legit.'

(Having the Lord's prayer is still bogus
cuz that's part of the legit meeting and was
blessed by the group conscience deciding on
it, so that deserves my ire!)

Someone read "Acceptance" at the end
of the meeting the other night and I kind
of lost it. Please don't decide for me that
everything's fine! Sometimes it just isn't!
And I can still not drink over it!
Can I get an "Amen!"

But it's my hand --and mind--refusing to
take a drink. In spite of all the false info
AA tried to saddle me with.

Feeling out of place in AA?

Naked and alone...but not vulnerable.

If you've been feeling out of place in AA....
confused, resentful, dismissed, talked down to,
ignored, disrespected, shamed, etc.......there
might be a reason beyond your character defects!

You know, refusal to feel 'less than' at the insistence
of other folks is a good survival skill. Trust your gut.

Hmmmm...they told you it would all be fine "If only"
you would do the steps.

Perhaps they also told you that there was no way to
find serenity without complete surrender of will to
'God'. That peace and sobriety were only possible
through that submission.

Some of us have also been told that "without
completely giving ourselves to the AA way of life,
there is no hope."

We are 'made' to feel though there is
something 'wrong' with us (incorrect) because
we can't "get" this 'simple' program. (READ: You
refuse to be a Stepford Wife, so there is a problem
inherent in YOU.)

Even the opening to the 12 Steps reads 'semi'-
passively that if the steps --as written--don't work
for you, the fault is yours. That you are a patho-
logical liar or a mental incompetent or a nervous
wreck; some wretched creature that just cannot
come around to the 'obvious and superior' stance
of a unified concept of deified ultimate superiority.
You foolish, sad creature, you! (And there are
soooooo many of us!)

There is an obvious air of piety and condescension
amongst many in AA, using their concept of being
connected to a god-figure as their self esteem. But
those with poor self esteem are not content until
they have successfully bashed another's self-worth;
only then can they truly feel superior.

And NONE of it has a damned thing to do with
recovery from alcohol. It's just the silly posturing
of other sick people who need to feel a part of
something bigger than this crazy, chaotic thing
we call life. More power to them...but you and I
don't have to buy into the insanity.

And we aren't bad people. And we can stay
sober and be happy. In fact, taking a stance that
we aren't horrendous, selfish, amoral bastards
with no capability outside of divine intervention--
that might be a good place to start rebuilding
our lives!

What Would I do Without You?

What would I do without you?

Whilst agreeing, I am unbridled genius,
finding heaven here on earth.

Discovering confusion, I am insane, defiant,
causing the fall of reason and goodness.

My rapid-cycling transformations
astound and confound even me!

Thank goodness for the caring, instructive hand
of another lost soul to help me think!

Loneliness in 12 Step

Loneliness, even in a crowded room, even in the midst
of a support group like the 12 Steps, is something
that eats away at me. It is a constant battle of mine,
due to geography, ideology, and who knows what
else. How do you handle it when it occurs?
Especially when, if you mention it at group, people
just say useless shit like "If you have Jesus, you're
never alone!"

Here are some things that I, as a writer and obsessive,
have come to figure out for myself. It may illuminate,
or it may further frustrate, or it may simply make you
feel better when you go to bed tonight and think
"Thank not-Christ I'm not as loony as that pop-tart!")

Telling the truth...being genuine....knowing yourself...
is all a very lonely game. It's the nature of the beast.
Society 'works' (even to the degree it does, through
simple self-propulsion) as a result of most people
gladly (or reluctantly) choosing to be sheep. If you
use reason, express independence, etc., not only
do most people not understand it--they are terrified
of it.

In a group like AA-proper (or, to be fair--any group,
by its nature) you are going to face chastisement and
snubs when you alter from the prescribed course in
any fashion or by any degree. Isolation, punishment,
etc are means of making people come around to
acting/thinking the same.

I have also learned not to believe everything I hear
or see. People say they are ecstatic about their
God and what He has done in their life, etc etc....
Have you ever really looked at these people? Truly
watched them, especially when they are not in the
spotlight? I have. And I have talked to them after
meetings, when the Kool-aid wears off,
or on down days, when they admit things.

The God concept is a band-aid, and the band-aid
doesn't always stick. But just like any indoctrination,
religious folks can't admit that there is a crack or a
flaw or a lapse in their 'reasoning/faith' of they will
not only have everything they have spent time and
energy on collapse, they KNOW they will no longer
have the illusion of camaraderie that exists when they
'go along with the pack.'

There is serious pain, loneliness, fear, and doubt in
the hearts of even the most fervent believers. Think
about this; because they have no one in their circle
they can feel safe admitting their 'heresy' to,  how
alone do you think they must feel?

I had a married friend once who confided how
lonely he was. I was sitting there envying him his
beautiful family, his home, the security of this
idealized life; he was feeling like he was missing
out on friendships because he couldn't socialize
due to family obligation. No matter who we
are; the grass is always greener.

And we simply don't know what is going on in
people's heads; this goes back to comparing
other people's outsides to my insides. Simple, simple
statement, and oh-so powerful. That is something
we alcoholics are all guilty of, I think. Comparisons
are odious, and they lead to further isolation.
(How's that for a kick in the rubber parts? We
start off in depression and we look at our
illusion/interpretation of reality--which is in fact
other people feeling depressed and lonely too,
but coping in different ways--and what we
think we see makes us more depressed, and
actually can cause us to isolate further, manifesting
the situation we feared most!)

Write about it, talk about it (maybe one-on-one,
consider what others lives are really comprised
of, read from people outside AA...these things
all helped me to realize how universal loneliness
is. The book 'Man Alone' is incredible! (It's still
around) with essays about the nature of man's
even as he desires social connection, and these
were essays written 5 and 6 decades ago...still
relevant today. But lots of writers--whose job it is
to take the human condition and explore and put it
to page--have deftly articulated this searching that
we all--even practicing Christians--feel and live with.

Don't let the denial and promotion of an ideal
self fool you. Everybody--even in AA meetings--
is trying to keep up with the Joneses. There are
people in that group who look and act miserable,
but every time they open their mouth it's the
Hallelujah Chorus, and I hardly ever hear them
talk of anything REAL or NEW; it's all endless
program-speak and hyperbole. Don't buy it!

That kind of perfection-seeking, both in self
and those around us, is what causes people to end
up with the business end of a gun held to their head.

Okay...ramble done, I think. That's my take on it,
anyway, for good or bad. You're not alone. Don't
let others' in-genuine actions and your own mind
convince you otherwise.

Sometimes people say how wonderful their
lives are so they can convince themselves.
God bless 'em.

Terminal Uniqueness & Martyrdom

Forest,.. meet trees.

I have tried to be the master of my own world--albeit with
enlightened ideas and high-minded principles, since I could
certainly see how 'superior' my version of the world was...
even when my actions did not bear fruit and I hit my bottom.

That sense of independence has carried through into recovery,
too, although I am learning the benefit of being more open and
trying tolerance and interaction more often. "Working on it!"

But simply to hear similar thoughts, opinions, stories, and
insanity come out of the mouths of others has been a blessing.
To be confronted with the reality that my sickness is not as far
gone, as strange, as 'out there,' or--as one member put it--
'terminally unique' as I imagined it to be....this is what I needed.
A reality check.

Because for far too long I was a 'Misfit' who could not relate.
 I was the person 'no one could understand.' I was unlovable.
And I grew attached to all these ideas and even helped further
them (sometimes consciously, sometimes not.) My isolation
became its own creation, and I have now learned that the sense
of aloneness and isolation and disconnect are themselves a
crucial aspect of this disease!

What a genuine joy to know I am not truly alone after all....
if I don't choose to be!

Today, I can choose what thoughts--and then actions--I to
give weight in my life. Today, I know there is another way,
and it  is not self-destruction. Isolation has its place. So does
independence and knowing myself. It can't be all one thing
or another. Balance is the key.

Life is good...if I choose well and learn new methods.
It is not unwell simply because of where my focus might
lie in a moment of sickness.