Saturday, May 12, 2007

No Gods of my Understanding

I sat surly and attention deficit in AA last night. I wanted to be anywhere but there and kept looking at my watch. That hour passed by excruciatingly slow. One elderly lady talked for twenty minutes about her pets and the hell they have been giving her lately. Yawn.

"This is when you need a meeting the most," I thought as I sat there drinking really bad coffee as I fiddled with the dollar bill I would later place in the donation basket.

The meeting ended with the entire group standing around in a circle reciting the Lord's Prayer. I couldn't wait to bolt out the door and light up a cigarette. My good friend Wanda was sitting next to the door of the porch puffing on a cigarette as well.

"You never share in these meetings anymore," she told me. "I haven't heard you share in weeks."

"I just haven't had much to say," I replied, apologetically.

"Well, when you share it really helps others."

I don't need this shit.

"I'll try to share tomorrow night," I replied.

There really aren't too many bad things going on in my life at the moment to bitch about. I have those minor quibbles with my father and his role as the family fixer, but other than that things have been good. I shudder to think if this is the calm before the storm as it often is. My natural tendency for self destruction often occurs when the pasture is greenest so to speak.

"Have you been working the steps?" Wanda then asked of those fabled twelve steps.

"I stopped at step two," I replied. "I just can't believe some mythical power higher than me is going to take away the urge to drink."

"It's a God of your understanding," Wanda said, correcting me and growing frustrated with my lack of belief.

"I just can't understand any gods," I replied.

I could see from the look on Wanda's face that she was growing exasperated. She had that "this guy is going to drink any day now" look I see often in AA. The people in AA think their way is the only way, but if you look at the statistics, the numbers that get sober with AA are abysmally small. I would love to see the results of a double blind research study with sugar water as the magical elixir placebo as it compares to going to these meetings.

"Who do you consider your higher power?" I ask Wanda.

I already knew the answer.

"My lord and God, Jesus," she replied.

I sighed as I put out my cigarette in the ashtray and bid Wanda goodnight. I walked home thinking about the steps and they just seemed so daunting to me. It reminded me of the trouble I had with college and those rigidly set paths to certain goals.

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I took comfort in that I could at least get one step right: step one. I doubt I will ever get beyond step two. There is just something terribly distasteful about not taking responsibility for my past addictions and throwing it into the hands of some grand mythical pooh bah in the sky. I will take my chances with reality. I've had enough delusion in my life due to schizophrenia to last a lifetime. I don't want anymore.


greglo said...

Hi Andrew,
Couldn't agree more with you even though I would tend to be on the spiritual myself. But I think believing in something doesn"t deprive us from our right and duty to do our best, take responsibility for our actions, etc. This is part of what we are as human beings. Then, when we tried our best, something else might happen. I think you guys have a saying in english : "Man's extremity is God's oppportunity", isn't it? Then let's do our best, if you don't believe in any superior power, I guess the great guy up in the skies won't mind, and he/she/it/whatever/ will no matter what love you.
... but in the end... I don' t know.
Anyway I loved this post of yours!
Have a great day.

PipeTobacco said...


If you so desire, I think you could construe the "higher power" in #2 to be your "sober philosophy on life". The philosophy itself could be your higher power. You would then only be committing to adhering to your own philosophy.

That would allow you to complete #2 and move on to other numbers in the walk of 12 steps.


Chertiozhnik said...

I first went into AA sixteen years ago, and thought, okay, it's stopped me drinking, job done. The steps are for the cranks and suchlike.

Sixteen not-always-sober years later I'm back again. I may have been mostly dry but I didn't grow or change in any way, and as soon as I got the chance to really hit the sauce, I did.

So this time I am starting the steps. No idea what a Higher Power might be, but I'll just go along with it and see what happens.

Good luck, anyway...

Katie W said...

I completely agre with you Andrew. You are responsible for your own actions. Yes you have an illness, but at the end of the day only you can say yes I will drink today, or no I won't. I think as long as you understand that choice, and don't try to aporttion blame elsewhere you have a better chance of staying sober than many.

Blue Gardenia said...

AA was invented is a time when all of the current mindset was that alcoholism was a degenerative disease from which there is no cure and no hope. Someone went to Switzerland to see the famous Carl Jung. They asked him if there was any hope. Carl sat and mused awhile and said that people from Shamanistic cultures cured themselves from supposedly incurable diseases by total self-surrender. They would surrender to whatever Deity they worshipped in their culture and allow their prolonged suffering and abstinence to be handled by this mythical higher power. Meanwhile, back in the states, they came up with a plan and used the Christian mythology to juxtapose what Jung said into a doable plan. It worked for many thousands of people. If Christianity is not your bag, invent your own God and surrender to that. Andrew's higher self can cure Alcoholism. Nowadays the current mindset says that Schizophrenia is a degenerative disease that is incurable and hopeless. An old-fashioned notion. Andrew's higher Self can also assuage the symptoms of Sz. Believe me Andrew, the game is worth the candle!!!

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Dear Andrew,

Hi back atcha. I'm so glad you sent me a link to your blog, you're a wonderful writer. Besides, anyone who loves James Taylor and "All Joni Mitchell" has to be my friend whether you like it or not.

Keep in touch.

Tim H. said...

Delurking here to agree with most of the comments here.

Andrew, I think you're taking the term 'god' or 'higher power' a bit too literally. For some, sure, it will mean God or Jesus or Allah or Buddah or Xenu. But if you don't believe in any of that, make the 'higher power' the part of you that wants to be a better person... the part of you that wants to stay sober and be a good friend to Rosa and George and the rest of the gang.

Place your faith in that side of yourself, and continue on with the steps.

Good luck with everything, buddy... keep up the good work.

John said...

Yeah, ...what Carol and Tim said.

The little brother that arrived on my 7th birthday (many, many years ago) received a diagnosis similar to yours at about the same time in his life. I think he would also have liked blogging if it had been available when he was your age.

In my experience, AA is a tool. The Work of Byron Katie is a tool. Neither requires tests, teachers, or a formal religion (Thank God!). Both have worked wonders at helping people get to more peaceful ways of looking at their lives.

Gaviota_mx said...

Hi Andrew,

Once my daughter asked me if I believed in God, I said no. Then she asked me if I believed in UFO's, no again. Intrigued she went on asking, finally she asked me, what do you believe in? I said: I believe in myself. Now I think that was a hurried answer and the less bad I could came up with, but in the end that's true. I believe in myself and with it comes the realization of the things I can do and also my limitations.

Reading you everyday, thank you again for sharing.

Autumn said...

Hi Andrew,

I believe in God but I also believe that there are certain things which we can take control of in our life. Alcoholism is one of them. It is not a disease and even if it is, most diseases nowadays can be cured or controlled, subject to certain limitations, of course. But then again, maintaining control of one's life is always hard, even if it's not regarding alcoholism or drug abuse.

All the best with your control.


Mauigirl said...

Andrew, saw your post on Kuanyin's blog Who's Yo Mama and found your link. I just read a few of your entries and wanted to stop in and say hello and wish you the best of luck with your situation. In the comment I left on Kuanyin's blog I mentioned it is easier for me to completely give up something than to cut back on it (which is why dieting is always so hard for me). But even though I didn't find it hard to STOP drinking alcohol (and I drank 3 glasses of wine a day on average, so I'm not talking a glass at dinner on Saturdays), I do find it hard not to EVER drink alcohol again. I still miss it every day. So I've been eating ice cream and drinking a lot of coffee! Which is why I haven't lost weight! So I definitely relate to your situation. I too feel the way you do about it really being up to ourselves what we do. I've always had a hard time believing in God as He or She is usually depicted by the various organized religions.

Anyway, just wanted to say hello and wish you the best!

warmandsunnydays said...

Hi there and thanks so much for dropping by my little place in the blogOsphere. I'm still not sure what I believe in, but there must be something to the fact that we've come to each other's attention…'cos just reading this one post (and I will read more!), I can tell that there's a 'purpose' of some sort going on. Alcoholism and depression and anxiety and schizophrenia have touched loved-ones and, as a result, have featured largely in my life. Your writings here have already begun to help me just a little bit…and I thank whom/whatever made that happen.

I applaud your courage Andrew.

justLacey said...

maybe it's our lives we feel powerless over and that become unmanageable. alcohol helps you run away for a while, but in the end it brings you down more. i have tried my share of drugs and drink even smoked when i was younger. gave most all of it up before i was 25. too hard to lose what little control i have over my life. i must say i don't miss it though.

Marcia said...

Andrew, I have watched people win and lose with alcohol and drugs. I can't pretend to understand it, but from the few I have observed, it seemed to come down to them deciding enough is enough, this is what I want in my future, and they reached down deep inside, it was never easy, but they wanted to get away from it badly enough to do it. . . I personally believe the higher power is in each one of us, so if you choose to go for step 2, you could start looking inside. I wish you all the perseverance you can muster. Thanks for visiting my blog, by the way.

Adrienne said...

I'm with Tim H. your higher power is whatever YOU want it to be... When I started praying again it wasn't to god... I just started talking, like I would to a friend and it has grown from there.