I’ve been thinking about why I constantly put off going to Al-anon, or why I make excuses not to go, and I think I’ve discovered a large part of it. It is a religious based organization. I am not of a “main stream” religion, and I don’t want to “release my problems to God”
I know they SAY that you can pick whatever higher power you prefer, but it is still largely Christian based, and when they speak of a God, they are using Christian rationale and Christian beliefs. Which is fine. If you are of that religion. And what of my husband who waivers between agnosticism and atheism? What would his higher power be?
I’m not saying it’s not a good program. I’m not saying that it hasn’t helped TONS of people. I (somewhat hypocritically) recommend it here. I even link to it in the side bar over there.
Anyway, here is a list of the 12 steps. They are the same for AA and Al-anon, you just apply them differently.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. This, I can relate to
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Not so much this one. I have the power to let go. I have the power to make my choices. I don’t leave this up to a higher power
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I practice free will. I believe we are responsible for our own lives, and own wills. I don’t turn that over to a higher power.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
This I can get on board with. I think all of us living with an addict need to do this. Less of a moral inventory and more of a “this is why” inventory. We need to search ourselves and find out WHY we married addicts, why we are staying and what we need to do about it.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This, again, I can get on board with. Again though, not all of us believe we have to confess our sins to a higher power.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
This, I don’t like. I don’t believe that a higher power “fixes” our character defect. I believe that only WE have that power. And that it is something you do for yourself. This entire phrase or step grates on my nerves. To me, it implies that it isn’t your fault you’re an addict. It’s God’s fault for making you defective.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Still believe you do this yourself. You have to work on it, and it isn’t easy, but it’s not something that God will magically fix for you.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
No problems here
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Still doing well
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
I like this one. Makes you take responsibility for your actions.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
This has nothing to do with alcoholism or living with an alcoholic. This is purely religious in nature.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
No real issues here. It does sound a lot like the witnessing that some religions do, however.
Let me make it clear now, I have no issues with whatever religion you choose to be. I am not knocking Christianity or any other religions out there. They just aren’t mine. You will notice, I did not mention what my religion is. It doesn’t really matter what it is. It’s different enough that I am uncomfortable with the a lot of the points in the 12 steps.
Really, what does religion have to do with addiction at all? Why blame God? Why expect God to fix you? I don’t see where religion (any religion) has to enter the equation at all.
Sadly Al-anon is pretty much the only support group for those of us associated with alcoholics that I know about. It might be nice to meet others going through this as well.’
I also tend to use this blog as therapy. The anonymous factor seems to help. The brutal honesty that I’m trying to convey seems to help as well.