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I Wish...

Master is in the midst of His court-ordered rehab and "recovery" program.  Each week, He attends a continuing care group -- phase two of the intensive outpatient rehabilitation program that meets on Tuesday mornings.  He is required, as a condition of that program to attend two AA meetings each week -- one on Thursday evening and one on Saturday afternoon.  In addition, He chooses to meet with His therapist on a weekly schedule.

He goes to continuing care and to AA, and He really does work to participate fully and consciously in the goings on -- even though there remains a very great part of the whole business that is entirely contrary to His belief system and His intellectual understanding of the world and universe.  He has learned that He does not need to try to battle with others about their acceptance of all that AA religiosity and cliched mumbo jumbo, but He often feels oppressed and beleaguered by the pervasive "god" based responses He gets to whatever He expresses.  If He struggles, if He is sad or depressed, if He is confused or frustrated, if He is scared -- the forever and only answer seems to be to "pray and turn it all over to god."  He comes home from meetings and from group feeling worse than He was when He left home; and they make it clear to Him that His feeling that way is His fault because, in their view, He isn't "doing it right."

I want to be supportive and I want to help Him through these days and weeks and months, and I am frustrated that the resources which we are required to use to navigate all of this are so completely unresponsive to the FACT that their view of life doesn't work for Him, or for us.   He comes home and He seems so sad and so wounded and so hurt by it all, and I just want to grab them all and shake them.

Tonight, as I lay in bed with Him snuggled in beside me, reviewing the last couple of weeks and all of the times He's been disappointed and rejected by groups that are supposed to be "helping" Him, I found myself formulating a vision of what I wish could happen the very next time someone lays that "pray and turn it all over to god" voodoo on Him.  I wish it could all go something like this...

AA groupie -- All you have to do, for whatever obstacle or worry or pain you are experiencing, is pray everyday and turn it all over to god.

Master -- I don't pray.

AA groupie -- GASP!  What?!?!?  How can you say you don't pray?

Master -- I don't pray because I don't believe in your god.

AA groupie -- but you have to turn your life over to your higher power.

Master -- My higher power is the Great Blue Heron totem and the spirits of the Mohican people from whom I am descended at the very root of my being.  I have learned who I am, and I intend to learn to follow their ways.

AA groupie -- How can they help you learn to be a good old drunk?  How will they help you when you relapse?  I think you are just fooling yourself into believing you are something better than the rest of us -- but you will regret that thinking.  You are nothing but a drunk and that is all you will ever be.

Master -- No.  I am not a drunk.  I am sober.  I have chosen to be sober, and I intend to remain sober.  I am not a drunk.  I am a man, and I am in full possession of my faculties.  I am healthy and strong and good.  I made mistakes, but I have learned and I will live my life in keeping with the strength and majesty and wonder and beauty of the Native spirits who speak to me across the centuries and the powerful totem of the Great Blue Heron.  I do not begrudge any one of you the path that you have chosen, and I wish you well, but I will follow my path to my own life and the reclamation of my sanity and my power. 

I doubt that conversation will happen that way.  It probably isn't prudent for Him to do that with these narrow minded and sometimes vindictive and nasty folks.  He is in a position where He has to play their game for the next number of months.  Still, I wish I could hand Him that script -- or one very like it -- that would give Him back His voice and His vision and His life.  The words they are teaching Him are destructive and untrue.  I want to give Him back His best and truest self.  Sadly, I am only one woman.  Sadly, I am labeled as a "normal" by those AA groupies.  I don't talk the talk and I won't walk the walk, and they would declare that I am a codependent mess.  I've worked really hard to see the world the way they see it; to translate their weird religion into something I can use.  It doesn't work, and it is destroying the Man I  love and serve.  I am done.  I will tell Him the story that I believe from now on, and I will not echo their nonsense any longer.  If that is wrong in His view, then perhaps He will tell me that.  Until that happens, my voice will be heard around here.



  1. Religion is complicated. Some people believe. Some want to. Some just think it a variant of the "opiate of the masses" I think.

    I don't know what I think. Times like now, when I've lost someone, I really want to believe there's something else, somewhere else.

    I sure understand where you and Tom are on this though. Good luck.

  2. wandering traveler9:48 AM

    part of the discipline is taking what serves and being compassionate with what does not. just has Tom finds respite in his beliefs, others find respite in theirs. no one is right or wrong, except for their own well-being. the god talk can be oppressive to be sure, until you see beyond it and witness only Surrender the the Mystery. in that way, we are all the same naked, scared, wounded and hopeful soul. in that way, we are one.

  3. Swan, just a quick drop-in- but see this article in our Toronto Star - think you guys will relate!

  4. wandering traveler3:24 PM

    gah, please delete my last comment! a few hours later makes it sound so preachy, i can't stand it. i didn't mean it that way, honestly! i was just lost in a non-religious sort of spiritual reverie that evidently doesn't translate well into a blog comment.

  5. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Couldn't that just be ego and semantics stemming from frustration? Whose feelings are hurt? Yours or his? Of course we meet certain definitions of codependency, we are slaves. Co-dependency and ego are what causes us to 'decide' what we need or "should" do for Master's benefit - even when he doesn't tell us to, ask us to or even WANT us to. It's a trap we all fall into at one point or another that puts our desires above another persons. What is the actual difference between co-dependency and submission? Not very much.

    "God" is a euphemism for - whatever belief system or philosophy you believe in that formulates the person you actually are and causes you to determine for yourself what is right or what is wrong and how you choose to live life.

    When someone tells me to "Pray about it" I hear - "As you look inside yourself for the answers you seek - because that is the only place they will come from - trust what you believe in enough to find the answers based on your own known truths."

    Because really, if you don't even believe in yourself and the philosophy that makes your life worth living then asking someone else won't get you any better answers. The answers to all the questions, problems, concerns and so forth - all come from within an individual regardless of the issue. The wording is simply handy to avoid making statements filled with disclaimers designed to cover as many people as possible with one fell swoop.

    God doesn't call one up on the telephone, Allah doesn't text, the Great Blue Heron doesn't use facebook - everything any single individual believes to be their personal truths comes from within themselves not from a phone call, text or internet memo from some unseen deity. It isn't "God" who answers actual questions or comforts or advises, it is the individual who does so based on what he has been taught and/or believes in.

    When someone suggests praying about something what they really are saying could be "Look inside yourself for the answers based on your own personal understanding of life - no one else can answer your questions for you." Saying that god is the problem is the ego speaking, making an excuse and not allowing one to look beneath the perceived problem (god) to the actual issue and how it applies to or affects one's life.

    Saying "I don't pray" is simply the ego stating that *my* way is better than yours because
    I don't have to talk to a god I don't believe in when in reality - I actually utilise my own personal philosophy to do the exact same thing but it is important to me to make sure you understand that I am not like you at all - even though I am because I too have a belief system that has formulated my life. Pfffft.

    This is the part where I insert all possible disclaimers as to my opinion, my perception, my words and thoughts, you mileage should vary from mine and what works for me or that I believe in may or may not work for you or yours within your personal structure. (I am slave, you are slave - we are entirely different types of slave but that doesn't make either of us less of one. One man prays, another man reflects on his personal philosophy - they both are doing the same thing to achieve similar results). And for all the disclaimers, for all the words - they are just words that are as meaningless or meaningful as any one individual finds them to be.


  6. Anonymous12:12 AM

    He tried walking his path. It led him to jail. No good trying to re-write history at this point. You may recall, before the last meltdown, he firmly stated that he was sober. That he didn't drink and didn't intend to drink. Like the saying goes, those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.

  7. Jessica7:00 AM

    Magdala is a very smart woman.

  8. Anonymous2:22 PM

    I was appalled at the article selkie pointed out; taking those secular AA groups off their AA register because they took the word "God" out of the steps!?

    I don't see anything wrong with that. I got tired of going to meetings and having to reinterpret the word "god" every time it was used. Why should we have to go through such mental gymnastics? It's supposedly a public support meeting for all; religious types, spiritual types, atheists, agnostics, everyone! So just take the damn word out already so the meetings really do fit everyone.

    I don't believe in any kind of spiritual mystery or cohesive universal power or force or anything remotely like that and I would have loved to work through the revised steps without having to reinterpret the word "god" every time it was used. And not have to say the Lord's Prayer at the end and spout words I didn't believe in in order to work the program. And have to tell myself every time I read/heard the word "god", "Well, now, you know, they don't mean 'god' as a specific god, but just whatever you believe in, blah blah blah."

    Yeah, been there, done that. Extremely tiresome for those of us who don't believe in anything spiritual.

    I got tired of it and I know I'm not the only one.

    There is a saying in AA that a "doorknob" can be your higher power, point being that the concept isn't about "god" but to realize that you're not running the show. That you're not the most powerful being in the universe. That there are plenty of things much more powerful and wise than little old tiny insignificant you.

    To deflate the ego so you can begin to heal.

    Okay, fine. I get that. Cool. That's a good thing to do. We should all be a little more humble in this world, I believe that. So take the word "god" out altogether and then it's really up to each individual to decide how they want to work the steps. Either via their god or a blue heron or allah or the group or themselves.


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