Monday, September 10, 2012

What made my higher power hard to find

I wasn't raised to NOT talk about the three taboo dinner topics, religion, politics or sex.  Well, if I was, I don't remember. My dad speaks of almost nothing else but politics.  Election years are rough around these parts for folks that are on the other side of his voting preference.  He believes those folks are wrong and that he can change their minds.

I have spent a lot of time talking about all of them.  And I have very strong opinions, as most do, about all three.  What I am about to say is not meant to offend, enrage, or piss you off.  I am only stating my truth and how I roll.  I don't care how you chose to roll with any of the above mentioned, as long as you don't tell me how to do it either.  Cool?

Having said that, I am going to talk about religion and my higher power.  Sit tight, this won't hurt a bit.

Being in a 12-step program means that I had to find a higher power.  This was no easy task for me because I don't believe in god like many people believe in god.  Well, not the god that many of my American friends believe in.  Here is how that may or may not have come about for me.

Growing up, we went to church, and did the church stuff.  I got my first communion, went to Sunday School, the whole bit.  I saw church as boring and a bummer.  I believed in the whole Jesus deal and everything that went with it, the best I could, with what I was taught.  We were never really taught about what a relationship with Christ could do for us, we were just made to go to church.  There was no spirituality taught really, just another thing we "had" to do.

As I mentioned before, my mom died when I was 16.  She was 46.  She had lung cancer that lasted one year, She was horrifically sick that year and it took her life at such a tragically young age.  That is where any belief in god, any hope that religion could help me, or any thought that I would be taken care of, left me.  I knew there was no god after that.  No one was in control of anything.  No fucking way would a god that loved us, do that to her, or to me.  I shut that door tight.  I shut the door on trusting anything would ever be okay again.

When I hear people say, "my loved one's cancer is gone, god is great.  It is the power of prayer.  I KNEW that god would take care of us," it makes no sense to me.  Because I can guarantee everyone that just as many people prayed for my young mom and our family.  But she got sick and died anyhow.  A god didn't fix that for me at all.  And I just assumed that god hated me, I felt abandoned, and I walked away from any belief in a god or any higher power.  Well... there are MANY other reasons for me, but that is the one that really stopped me dead in my already wavering, faith-tracks.

So when I first looked into outpatient treatment, I searched the yellow-pages for a treatment center that DID NOT use the Twelve Steps.  Because god is mentioned WAY too much in those and I thought it was a cult.  "A god of our understanding" just plainly meant I was going to have to believe in god.  And I didn't want anything to do with god.  There was no way I was going to get sucked into that.  I had trouble finding such a place, where I live.  So I just bit the bullet and decided to go anyway. I was beginning to surrender, and ready to THINK about trying anything to get sober.

As I was introduced to the steps, and the language, I couldn't wrap my head around a"god of my understanding."  I felt like I had to have something specific to believe in.  I sought out people who weren't religious in the program. I looked into all kinds of other religions or beliefs, well...the top three, mostly. I read books by people who were Atheist or Agnostic and did the 12-steps.  None of them really fit.  I couldn't feel it.  I felt doomed.  I couldn't stop feeling like this program wouldn't work for me, because I couldn't commit to anyone else's ideas.  This is another reason I relapsed.  I tried to skip this part.

This last bout of sobriety, (and hopefully the everlasting) I have come to find a higher power.  The most important thing about this, first and foremost, is that the higher power isn't me.  I am not in charge of jack shit.  I surrendered the idea that I had to find THE god of my understanding.  I just went through the motions of the program, practiced letting go, and tried to grasp onto the feeling of doing the next right thing.  I don't have to have THE god to do this program.  I just have to make it more simple.  I use the earth and the universe.  Good energy out, good energy in.  Simply put, I do the next right thing, and the next right thing will come.  Even if it is a shitty thing that comes, I try to do the next right thing.  It all will work out as it is meant to.  It works for me.

Don't get me wrong, I do the wrong action all of the time.  But I don't need to do anything but try again.  To try and be a good citizen of the earth by taking care of myself and respecting those around me, one thing at a time.  I feel more connected to that concept than any organized religion or a man in the sky.  I can see, breathe, and love the earth on which I am standing. Also, love the people on it. Corny, but true.

I am not trying to paint a picture that I am this ultra green, earth mama, who never drinks out of a plastic water bottle, only eats local organic and has an electric car. As much as I would love to be exactly that, I am not. I just try to live fair and accept everyone (well...not those who judge me, I'm too busy judging them) around me. Again, never ever am I close to perfect. But that's my higher power. It makes sense to me.

Now, I know this post might cause some folks to tell me where and when I went wrong with Jesus.  If you feel moved to tell me your opinion on this, have at it.  I am not going to argue with anyone.  And I can appreciate good discussion.  There has been a LONG LINE of people, who I am close to, that have taken their turn up to bat at saving my soul.  I appreciate that very much.  If I believed my loved ones were going to spend their eternity in hellfire, I would try to save them too.  Try and understand, as much as you believe this is true, I do not.  I respect everyones ideas and faith, and I ask you to do the same.

Follow, or comment or share or something. Otherwise I'll worry I did something wrong.

Oh you think I need to go back to the codependent posts again?

I promise not to discuss politics., anyhow...


  1. I have the same thoughts about god being good. Ironically, "god" took my daddy after a nasty battle with colon cancer. I haven't had any use for "god"or church since. My daddy worked the 12 steps (he was an alcoholic). He never went to church or wore a tie unless someone got married or died. He always told me that everyone needs something to believe in. I chose secular humanism, so my belief system runs similar to yours. I believe in being good to myself and others, but I just don't need a magic sky being to make me do it. Sorry such a long comment. Thanks for sharing your story :)

  2. I feel the same way as you and often wondered how the 12 step program would work if you just pretended to believe all the god stuff that seems inevitably involved in recovery. Good stuff.

  3. Ok, so totally not offended at all and i respect everyone's differences in beliefs. Let me ask you something, many times i've commented that my prayers are with you and your family. When i say that, i mean it from the bottom of my heart and sincerity. Does that bother you that when i pray for you it's to God/Jesus Christ? For many reasons that i won't get into now, it was my beliefs in GOD that has held me and saved me and made me who i am today. I am not one of those that go head to head verbally and try to "save" people. I just also dont want to offend when i say that you're in my prayers.

    1. That doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I greatly appreciate it. I am never, ever offended when people say they pray for me. That anyone thinks enough of us to pray for us, is always a positive thing. So I say thanks!!!

  4. Hey Betsey, thanks for hitting my blog today....I'm glad you did so that I could end up over here reading some really great contemplative material.
    My feelings on what a Christian woman should be kept me from becoming sober for a long time, I just wasn't that and for my own reasons hid further in the life I'd drafted up to cope.
    Eventually I hit the point of devastation where I re-entered a 12 Step program and was intent on giving it all up to Him....I found I could have that relationship.
    Now, I'm a Christian woman who absolutely believes in respecting other people's faiths. I tell folks I don't care where or how you find a Higher Power just find one so that you can give up the reins of your life. It's often by pointing out how the world around us functions even when we're not involved that folks can catch my meaning.
    If there's one thing I've learned in recovery it's not to judge, keeping an open mind to things in life has been my largest learning point.
    Growth doesn't happen if I don't listen and obnoxious am I to think my beliefs are above anyone else's!
    Glad to know you my sober sistah

    1. Hey Julie! I've read your blog often and appreciate your honestly and courage. I have had a wide opened, closed mind on all things religious for so long. I mostly was just jealous that I didn't have something to believe in. I am glad I am past that now! Thanks for your kind words. It is good to know you are out there. Glad you found my blog and also glad to know you.

  5. The funny thing sounds like you are LIVING the way the magic dude in the sky actually wants people to live. Opposed to talking about it. Specifically the love part. Hmmmm....Is it strange that I think the church people should read your blog and follow your example? Wonder how it would go over if I went to church sunday and said "Excuse me, pastor, I think you should check out this blog that a recovering addict is writing and take notes?" LOL.....