Sunday, February 16, 2014

Back Up

I just finished re-reading part of LIT, by Mary Karr. When she's talking about being brave about spirituality and praying I started feeling a little antsy and also intrigued.

Y'all, I want to pray.

Religion is a damn hard thing for me: my own mother thinks God is a joke. She thinks people are fooling themselves to believe that some man in the sky is waving his arms and controlling it all. That religion is a collection of stories made up so rich men get richer and the poor just get religion.

In my own self I am suspicious of myself for thinking about taking spirituality seriously.

But I need it.

This quote got me:

"I've hitchhiked in Mexico and blustered drunk into biker bars all mouthy. Those acts all strike me as more pitiful than brave- the sad bravado of a girl with little to lose."

That was me: I drank so much and the way I did because I had little to lose. Even a husband and children did not seem to be big enough to make me understand that I had worlds to lose. I felt worthless all the time. Unconnected to a thread within myself than made me feel cradled and valued. Worthy.

I'm starting to feel like prayer and the Great Spirit are all part of the puzzle. That I need to feel the higher power that is part of me, not apart from me.

"You don't do it for God! You do it for yourself. All this is for you...the prayer, the meditation, even the service work. I do it for myself, too. I'm not that benevolent."

"How does getting on your knees do anything for you?"

"Janice says, 'It makes you the right size. You do it to teach yourself something. When my disease has a hold of me, it tells me my suffering is special or unique, but it's the same as everybody's. I kneel to put my body in that place, because otherwise, my mind can't grasp it.'"

Yesterday was hard. I ate too many pieces of chocolate and a handful of Girl Scout cookies at 11 PM when I couldn't sleep. I powered down three pieces of deep dish pizza for dinner and made myself feel a little sick. I knew I was off, I knew my sweet self was wobbly and I had no where in me to go.

There is reaching out for help, and then there's being able to reach in for help. I have got to be able to reach in: I am by nature not comfortable sharing my struggles with others. When life is being regular day to day life I need a place in me to touchstone for comfort: a place to say "Here comes the crazy making. Help." I have people I can lean on for support, but I need myself to be part of that group.

And in myself I think there is God. I think that by being able to pray, to lay down burdens and offer gratitude I can continue heal my little to lose self. It comforts me to think that I can get quiet and have a place of my own to go when I feel anxious. It makes me uncomfortable to get all God-y and help me Jesus, but so be it. I'm taking offers of help from all Great Spirits out there- anyone who will listen.

"'Faith is not a feeling,' she says. It's a set of actions. By taking the actions, you demonstrate more faith than somebody who actually has experienced the rewards of prayer and so feels hope. Fake it till you make it. Didn't you fake half your life drinking?'"

"Wouldn't any god be pissed that I only show up now, with machine gun fire on my ass?"

"'First off- can't you see this?- you have a concept of God already. It's one who's pissed at you.'"

I don't feel like God is pissed at me, just indifferent. But in my life I have longed for a savior. But I have always felt that that savior was part of myself: that it could be found in the trees and in a simple kindness. That I didn't have to put on a skirt and get to a building one morning a week to find that savior, but that it is all around me.

And then I sort of snort at myself in my head. Fool.

But it keeps coming up.

It keeps coming back.

Find some religion. Find a spirit. Pray some. Be vulnerable, even when I feel like a fool and want to pretend I don't believe. Find some magic, make it my own.

"'You were saved for something,' she says. Don't die before you find out what. What's your dream for your life?"

"Just pray every day for ninety days and see if your life gets better. Call it a scientific experiment. You might not get the money, but you might find relief from anxiety about money. What do you have to lose?"

And truthfully, I need some back up.


  1. Good for you, Amy. I would never tell anyone what to believe about spirituality, but praying has helped me stay sober- I truly believe that. I think it's cool that you are seeking your higher power. My thoughts have always been that there is absolutely no harm in it. Praying is a healthier way to spend your time than doing many other activities, and if it helps it helps. Best of luck to you on your spiritual journey. xx

    1. This is such a touchy subject for so many people- myself included. I think people often mistake praying for falling for something when actually it's just an SOS or a gratitude line to the greater world out there. Thank you! Glad to hear your prayers are out there rubbing shoulders with mine. :)

  2. This is exciting! Your HP is drawing you close. Is opening your eyes to see your need. I love when I get to watch this unfold.
    I have quite the spiritual history. I had a lot of ugly stuff to undo in that area of my life. I had an angry God for many years who scared the bejesus right outta me. But when I came to the end of myself one day, one month, one year, I met a kind and compassionate God who accepts me as I am and it changed me in some really significant ways. Its not about religion...its about a relationship.
    The other thing that came to mind when I was reading your post here, was the statement in the Big Book of AA that calls alcoholism a "spiritual malady." I really do believe that. It sounds like you are discovering that aspect of your journey now. Its all a process....the layers are being peeled back. I am excited for you! <3

    1. It is a relationship- and I feel kind of like when you start to fall in love: do you tell everyone? What if he turns out to be an asshole? A mistake? Not the marrying kind? So I'm just sort of putting it out there and seeing how it turns out. I'm pretty excited myself- and nervous too. Thank you for your support. <3

  3. Amy, I'm sorry you had such a rough day. I know that wobbly self feeling, and I don't much care for it either. But I am so very with you on this prayer thing you're talking about. I think for lots of us with big serious drink troubles, a big part of it is a spiritual need. I don't know what to make of a lot of religion. I grew up Catholic, but I can't seem to make it work for me as an adult. I don't know what (or whether) to believe. But I have to pray. Sometimes it goes like this: "Hello, God. I don't know what you are, or if you are. But please please please help me." And then I start to cry. Then it's not hopeless lost crying. It feels like relief, like I'm resting somewhere for a bit. Sometimes I just recount what I'm thankful for. Sometimes I think about people who are having a rough time, and I ask God to help them, too. I'm not praying to 'God in the sky all powerful and me down here abject and unworthy' because that doesn't wash with me anymore. It's more like 'the God in me and the God in you and the God in trees and kindness and everything else, too.' So it's not exactly reaching in, and not the usual kind of reaching out, but it connects me to the world somehow in a way that I think is important. I fear I'm sounding wooly and incoherent here, as this stuff is hard to talk about. But I get what you're saying, and I think it's super important. Just pray, and somehow you'll get the back up you need. xo

    1. Oh that wobbly feeling. It keeps on going for me this week- PMS, moving, schedule out of whack.

      Religion is hard for me. Praying is not. Faith is not. I love how you said "it's like I'm resting somewhere for a bit"- exactly. Sometimes I need someone who knows all my shit to say, "Hey. There there. You're OK." And then I don't have to explain, or excuse, or hide anything- it's just me and HP me, and we get each other sometimes. xoxo

  4. I loved LIT, but could not get behind all of those god-y feelings when I read it.
    In AA I swore the whole point was to get me to "come to jesus" and i was having none of it.
    And then....feelings so similar to yours hit, at a little over a year. I had worked the steps, i was being of service all was good except there was a big something missing, and in my heart of hearts i knew that would take me out.
    I did pray, because i was told to, and on my knees because that was a mark of humility...but it felt all wrong to me.
    When I started yoga and meditation it all cleared up...I kneel in a gesture of openness to the divine within me and within everyone around me. I ask for daily help and direction from that place inside me that was so broken but now is healing. I have a daily gratitude practice that keeps me focused on what is good, and what is good and right and true has become my god, my HP.
    The actions of faith brought it to me....something i held on to tightly in early sobriety, even not believing anything was the idea of "first the gesture, then the grace"...helpmehelpmehelpme as a legitimate prayer. Then yoga and moving meditation , the action of that, started to align me with what i must have always known was true, but swore off in fear and self-hatred and anger.
    Everything is so much better now. I know this is esoteric and hard to describe, and I think that's good because it makes it clear to me how we find our OWN HP, inside us, what works for us. I do not relate to a puppet-master god controlling the universe, but I do believe, now, that the universe is kind and not out to destroy me, and that is a sea change. When I align myself, thru prayer and meditation with that scared good I find i am at peace, the kind of peace I have never known.
    You have perfectly described here the feelings I had when i first realized i needed something, something else, something more...keep moving toward that goal, wherever that takes you. I think it;s in the willingness to search that we are able to find what works. I have no illusion that i have found it forever because i think it can be as fluid as life....but that doesn't scare me, it excites me, it gives me hope and keeps me moving ahead.
    You too...keep writing about this. safe travels....

    1. I find some of my biggest moments of clarity on my yoga mat. When I'm in and breathing and onyl thinking about my squishy insides or rolling around feeling yummy a thought will rise out of the blue. Ding. Of course. I think my "religion" is the kind where you do yoga, listen, pray, help others, help myself, and remember gratitude. And I like singing and dancing so there can be that too. I like the part you said about "OWN HP"- I've dubbed it "HP ME". I think I've gotten to the point where I need more than my own gritted teeth, I need to talk to myself out loud about some stuff, and then listen up. xoxo

  5. Amy - there are such wonderful comments here, I don't know what more I can add. This is wonderful thing to read, your post. It shows that things are shifting even more, and that is where things really take off. Inviting the Creator (or Divine Spirit, or Universal Mind or whatever you want to call it) into our lives is where the transformations occur. Like mentioned in the post, praying is where I find humility, where I get connection, where I plug into the juice, where I find strength. I don't have to be on my knees, literally, but in many ways I show myself that I am not God. I always thought I was, and that's where the shit happened.

    All I can say is this - I didn't get me sober, Amy. I did everything in my human power to get and stay sober. 25 years of dangerous, hard core, piss-away-my-life suicidal drinking. And then one day I woke up without the urge to drink. This after a month or two of doing the work, praying my ass off and doing the things that would open me up to a Higher Power. Poof! The mental obsession to drink gone. All I can say is that it wasn't me that did that. Some can say that my mind was getting rewired, that my neurons and pathways were being adjusted, etc. but I know, for me, it was something more than that. They say that we have a God-sized hole in our souls, and that only He can fill it. I tried with booze and that didn't work. People try with food, sex, gambling, etc. and it doesn't work.

    Anyway, I am very excited for you in this new part of your journey. :)


    1. I totally agree with not getting myself sober. Who took over my body that first month and got me through day 4 where I would have normally felt better and un-guilty enough to drink again. How I made it through day after day without drinking, and then put together more months and now a year plus. I am forever grateful for whatever took over and saved me. It takes time to realize that although I am sober I am far from healed. The soul hole is still there, but now I take the time to figure out what goes in rather than tossing in everything and the kitchen sink. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. Cheers. :)

  6. Amy and Paul, I just wrote a post and I linked to both of your blogs...I just wanted you to know. I hope its ok.

  7. Ooohh lovely stuff from all the lovely people in our online community and Amy.. Amy.. Amy.. my dear sweet Amy who deserves only the best and the brightest warmest most wonderful love in the world. I think what you are exploring and sharing with us is truly great. You are heading up and up and up. xxxx

  8. I came here from Annette's blog and I really loved your post. I have always believed in God. Always, Always.......but I never really trusted Him. My prayers were a honey do list of what I wanted when. When I found out that my son had a huge problem with drugs and alcohol I still told God how to fix him and when.... But over time, I have accepted that I have no control over my son or his addiction. Over time I have learned to shut up and listen when I'm talking to God. Over time I have found relief in knowing that I don't really have control. The church did not grow my faith, addiction did.....sounds odd I know but I am a totally different girl than I ever was before. Good on you for sharing your journey!