Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Step Three:

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him [or Her].

As you can see, I have added the "or Her" part to this Step. I do this for a couple of reasons.

1. I feel that a Higher Power is not really a Male (or even Female) aspect, but both or neither.
2. If I were to try to describe my Higher Power I would have to say that HP has more feminine that masculine attributes.
3. I want to respect earth-based spirituality, and the Goddess.

This Step was the hardest for me thus far. WIth the first two, I had little problem admitting that my life was unmanageable. I knew that something more powerful than me would be the only thing that could fix it.
However, here is where I felt compelled to define that Something.

I digress here to include words from last March's blog on my idea of a Higher Power and my spirituality.
{ SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009

I am working on my Fourth Step in my program right now, and it has brought up some interesting things for me so far. I have learned that depending on myself is what got me in the total mess I am in today, and I want to find my way out of it. Everyone I talk to says to *Have faith.* Yet I have no faith in anything, least of all myself. So today I am being strongly led to look into the faith issue.

The whole concept of God/Higher Power/religion/spirituality is one that I have basically glossed over, run from, ignored and otherwise avoided like the plague in my program so far. I have only looked for reassurance that I don't have to be a Christian to be in the program. I don't really have anything to fill that gap, however. I have talked to friends who say they see the universe or fates or something larger than themselves as a Higher Power, and I understand and applaud them. I don't see them having a dearth of faith, and I know they are good and intelligent people. What they have said gives me comfort.

However, at one time in my life I had an abundance of faith. I was raised Catholic (irish Catholic, no less) and while I did not always agree with it, or love it, I did believe it. I felt like there was some truth there, and I was feeling like Someone cared. But I lost this. I lost it when my fiance committed suicide in 1990. When all I truly loved with passion was taken cruelly from me and by his own hand, no less. He willfully chose to leave me in the most permanent way possible, and this convinced me that I was no longer worthy of love. And this God-dude, well, he took him from me, let him do what he did, so that pretty much convinced me that I was not worth bothering with from a God-perspective. This God-dude did not love me, did not want me to be happy or have a life like other people, so either I accept that I am worthless and not worthy of life, or I find how this God-dude is telling me to live. Fast forward a year or so, and I am not able to live with the God-dude's hate, and I am listening to people tell me that it was God-dude's will that my best friend and lover and man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with was not in the picture. So my sick mind reads this as God-dude telling me to be a nun. I try out the whole nun-business, and find out that nuns are as mean and weak and hateful as anyone else, and decide that no one there wants me either, and God-dude is booting me to the curb. This time I get the message, I think. So I lose my faith again.

In a few years I had fashioned a marriage, had a baby, and was miserable. I loved my baby but hated myself. So I went back to college, got a BA and a Masters in like 3 or 4 years total, and threw myself into school. I made Deans List every semester, graduated with departmental honors and magna cum laude, then when on to grad school with an endowed scholarship and the support and grudging admiration of even my toughest professors. I made academia my church. And I was good at it. Especially after I ditched the husband, who was at best an obstacle to progress.

Then I graduate. I decide to go out and "help people," because I now think the God-dude is telling me he has allowed me to be miserable so I can understand and help others out of their misery. So I abandon my hopes of being a writer and go out to help people with disabilities. I mean, I am mentally ill, right? And my first baby is born with a deformed shoulder and arm, and then does not talk when babies/toddlers are supposed to, so I think I am supposed to make this a better world for her. So here is my career. I think. Because I am still listening to this God-dude's will.

And yet, I am still miserable. So I decide, no more God-dude. He has messed with me long enough. I go back to other spiritual paths I had looked at and felt some resonance with after the 1990 event. I look at Buddhism, which I had loved from an intellectual as well as gut perspective since childhood. And I look at paganism, which tells me that the beauty that speaks to me in the natural world is there to comfort me and show me there is a natural earth reason for my being. But paganism loses its appeal for me when the pagans I meet end up being even more screwed up than the Christians I had run from. And I cannot afford the classes at the Buddhist meditation center.

In the midst of this, I meet another man. I tell him about my past, my PTSD and mental illness and this hole in my heart where a God-dude is supposed to be. This man is not a church-goer. But he has no hole where the God-dude is. His God-dude is a good guy. He tells me that he thanked his God-dude for bringing me into his life. And he wants the same things I do - a real life, a stable life, happiness and a family. And when everyone else treats me as worthless, he tells me I am not. He tells me I have value. And I *almost* start to believe him. So we are married four months later, and in a year we have my second daughter, his first. Even though he drinks daily, is plainly an alcoholic, he is still more normal than the rest of my family and there with me. He does not leave me. Even when he is angry with me, and even when he almost hates me, he still loves me enough to stay. And so here we are.

So now I have no faith. And part of my "searching and fearless moral inventory" is to determine why I am so screwed up, and what need I am trying to have met by my outrageous behavior and lost choices. And my only answer is to get my needs met. And the only need I have right now - on a non-material plane- is the gaping hole in my soul where the God-dude used to be. So i am trying to be open to see what is supposed to go there.

I am interested in others' spiritual paths, and I am interested and begging for Divine Intervention. I would prefer that no one I love dies for this Intervention this time. I cannot handle any more loss of love or dreams. I just can't.

Yet when I read this Step, it says nothing about me having to name and describe this God of my understanding. If anything, recovery has taught me that my understanding can be expanded and enhanced at any time. Hell, if anything, it should be expanding throughout this process of working on myself.

This Step does not say, "You gotta pick a God and know everything about that God and never deviate one iota from what your puny human definition has been set."

This Step does say I need to make a decision. And that decision needs to be about my will. And my life.
And if I admit the truth, even making that decision is act of my will.

I have to make this Step everyday, and sometimes multiple times per day. Being a puny human with limited understanding, I keep flubbing up. And then I realize that I am making a terrible screw-up when I try live by only my own will, wants, desires. And don't think about the bigger picture.

With this Step comes a willingness to trust that the Universe is running as it should with no help from me. This is a huge relief when I slow down and let it be. It also asks me to trust Something intangibly bigger than myself. And believe that things are working out as they should....
In one of my readings I learned that even my mistakes can be used to work out into something fabulous. I've even seen this happen firsthand.

Probably the biggest gift this Step has given me is that I am no longer responsible for anyone else's happiness but my own. I don't have to carry others slung around my neck, nor do I have to carry their problems on my back like a huge burden. I can let others carry their problems, because they have access to their own Source/Higher Power/Universe, and it can take care of them more than I ever can.

It's a hard Step. But it is liberating.


  1. I too have that hole in my soul but I think it's getting smaller. Your life hasn't been easy and you are obviously a deep thinker -two more things I can relate to! And then this business about a Higher Power and Catholicism, paganism, Buddhism... check, check, check. I get it. The journey to God is just plain weird and elusive by times. But you're right, we don't need to have God all figured out in the third step. (Despite a very strong urge to do so!). I'm working on step three this week so I liked hearing what you had to say about it. I have been procrastinating with it because I felt I was supposed to have some life-altering insights or experiences and I didn't see that happening. I had that wrong too. I'm not sure I have it "right" yet, but I know what I had wrong. Am I making sense? I'm going to stop writing now...


  2. Oh, I came across this and thought you might like it: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/CategoryView,category,BestOfTwitter.aspx (Totally not related to this post -but good stuff for a writer!)