Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery Podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery. And now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri
Adina Silvestri 0:27
Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 16 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast, and today is a solo episode. Today I thought we would focus solely on navigating difficult relationships in a non traditional recovery. And so for this one, I asked for a little help from my friends. And I took a poll on some of the social media outlets Just to kind of find out what people were thinking of what would have been helpful or what is helpful for individuals that regularly attend AA meetings, maybe by choice, maybe because AA is the biggest game in town, and, you know, they want to feel comfortable in these meetings, they want to find their people they want to connect. They want to come out of the Atheist closet. How do they do that? So I thought that I would focus on those questions today. And so this is how I want us to kind of go through our journey with this podcast today is I I received a lot of comments, which you know, I think is great, this is obviously something that that needs to be discussed more often. And I narrowed the comments down to four categories. And then so I'll talk about each of the categories, each of the four categories, and then I'll round it out with some resources. All right, let's get started. Number one, tolerance. This was a pretty common theme in a lot of the comments I received from from individuals that, that attend that regularly attend AA meetings, you know, they want their voice to be heard, you know, some will choose to pray, and that's, that's fine. It's not a it doesn't negate that, you know, they still have their own belief system, but maybe they just want to simply belong. Or maybe they're an Atheist and they also pray which is very normal as well. And then some People I was told, don't pray, they don't feel comfortable doing it. So tolerance. So, you know, for everyone in the group to just know that just because they're tolerant of your belief system. Also they want that same commitment to their belief system, whether it's a whoo whoo type of God or a higher power or whatever, whatever it may be. So tolerance was a big one that came up in the comments section. You know, and so to me, that means Respect. Respect for, for for one another. Okay. Number two, I titled this one losing one's religion. Dramatic, right. So the comments that came up With within with regards to religion was that you know interaction with others in recovery is satisfying its soul quenching it's you know I always say this I always say that we recover from anything we recover from breakups we recover from loss we recover from grief we recover from addiction we do it all in community. And so you know, individuals like going to AA some of them, you know, so that's the best thing that they could contribute to their staying sober. And like I said, in the beginning, AA for some people is the biggest show in town. It's the biggest act it's, you know, the only thing that they have, you want to you know, maybe you are thinking about going to other meetings, but they just don't fit with your schedule, and so it's AA and so for losing one's religion. individuals would say to me Stop saying God stop saying the God word or referring to that God as He
So for individuals and there are thousands of Atheists and Agnostics from what I understand that attend AA that have worked the 12 steps that have Lee that have lived a sober (and whatever that means to that person) a sober life. They did say without relying the prayer answering God or maybe they did so without relying on anything supernatural, and that's okay. And so the comments that I received really just centered around, no matter what a person's belief system, it's really irrelevant sponsors sponsors that are good at being sponsors from what I'm told. Don't focus on what their belief system is. They focus on what it is you need and what it is their experience was going through the steps and the thoughts and the feelings associated with that. Which I thought was pretty cool. Really. A for the fellowship is amazing. I mean, you know, I've said it before is it again, it's all about community and finding your people and so, you know, it's less about heaven and hell and it's more about recovery and sobriety, and sobriety being whatever that means for you. Okay, so that was number two. Number three, language this came up a lot. And I touched on it and losing one's religion. You know, stop saying God. But I do believe that language is so important. I feel like we're seeing a shift in the addiction field where, you know, we're trying to encourage people to not call themselves addicts and to not refer to their urine is clean or dirty, which is great. This is what we need. Because in the therapy space, for sure. We talked about, you know, self identifying in so many different ways and how it can be harmful. You know, we don't, we don't want young people or old people to think that all they are is an addict. You know, that shouldn't be how you define yourself. It should be more about how you showed up that day. You know, were you kind. Did you go out of your way for someone other than yourself? Were you honest? Did you get out of bed sometimes that's like, just like a big accomplishment right there. So defining yourself is more than just your addiction. So, that's so important. And so that came up in a lot of the comments. Let's just talk about the language of addiction for one minute. Xiaomi. So, this brings me to a story that I want to briefly tell about a mother and a son, a mother and her son were being visited by an intern at a rehab facility, and they're doing the assessment. And the intern said to the mom, in front of the son, he is an addict, you know, and he needs to come to terms with that. And so the mom became a defensive, good for mom and the sun, found a bathroom and claimed through the window, never to be seen from the program, again, and so. So I just wanted to help Highlight the point that language matters. You know, it's, it's far more than political correctness, right i mean labels that are applied individuals like addict, dirty urine and clean urine and all those things. They affect how they're being perceived by others and how they perceive themselves. stigma and discrimination in are couched in a language that reinforces stereotypes and elicits fear. Language matters, okay. Now also note that, you know a lot of these comments were from people that were quite happy with a zoo. So it wasn't just people that were feeling ostracized by by any means. So number four is coming out of the atheist agnostic closet. When is it the right time? This is something that the comments didn't touch on. But I wanted to add because I feel like,
again, it goes back to, you know, talking about what's on your heart and being able to share who you are, and not keeping that a secret. You know, you want to connect with other people and you can't do that under the under the guise of somebody else trying to be somebody else and trying to fit in. And so, when is the right time to come out of the atheist closet? I would say the answer is it depends. You know, it has to be right for you and you have to feel comfortable. But a couple of reasons why you should come out. And I already mentioned one but another one is to let newcomers into the space and others. Know that they can take what they want and leave the rest this is something that came up pretty often to in the comments sections in social media when when I've heard this with my clients as well and I like this I like this a lot you know not let's not get so caught up in the prayer answering God and and you know just just go through the steps and fill in, you know the parts that you need to fill in change the pronouns to do whatever you need to do to to make it work for you to make that incredibly old Bible, a Bible work for you. And I'm just being funny. I don't I don't think of it as a Bible. Because this is an atheist show. So, okay. The other reason would be to provide an opposing view that just keeps the room from being term totally dominated by, by religion. So that that would also be important. All right, so before we move on to number five, which is going to be our resources, and just want to recap what we've talked about so far, so we talked about how to have these difficult conversations when you're in a non traditional recovery. And so, and hopefully, all of you are in a non traditional recovery, I mean, I think that recovery needs to be individualized. So what works for you might not work for everyone else, and that's and that's okay, that that's important to, to kind of navigate through those, those Muddy Waters. Okay. recap. Number one was tolerance, and how important it is to just be tolerant and respectful of other people's views. Even if they don't correspond with yours just because you decide to pray doesn't mean that you are a would insert your insert your religion or higher power here doesn't mean that you're any less of a spiritual person because you decide to pray. Okay? And can even as even as I'm reading this I think getting caught up because you know it's some it's difficult it's difficult to talk about the higher power you know I do it every day my work and and I still find people struggle and I struggle was trying to encourage them to say whatever they feel you know there's there's no wrong answer and you're not going to go to hell because you you can identify your higher power sometimes it's a process and you need to just be accepted. of that. Okay, sorry. Well, moving on to losing one's religion. We talked about how a is the biggest act in town and she, you know, we have to, we have to find our community that's so important. And so if that means that you have to join a group that is heavy into God, well, then you need to make sure you're going to feel comfortable and sharing who you are. And that space, I think, is really important. Number three, the language you use. We don't want to identify ourselves as an addict. We don't want to also be told that we're going to go to hell if we don't believe in God. That was one of the comments I think that I'd read in my social media so. So yeah. So being very careful about the language you use about yourself.
And making sure that, that you're leading with things that you did really well, you know, things that weren't focused on the addiction. And if you're in recovery, there's a lot of things that you're doing really well. And if you're not in recovery, you're going to get there. I know you will. In for we talked about coming out of the atheist closet, and when is the right time? The answer is it just depends. Okay. resources, what are the resources available for secular recovery? Well, I have a few and some of them were past. Guests of mine one was Amy read of recover, recover. Dharma you can check them out they have tons of meetings online. You have Joe sees book beyond belief agnostic musings for the 12 step life He was also a former guest and his book is really well as really good I've read it and you have online secular a meetings all over and then this one you know I think if you do not mind to the F word if you're not easily offended by the F word then and you don't mind Russell Brand, then you will really like the 12 steps according to Russell Brand. It is uniquely Russell and yeah, so So give it give it a listen, give it a read. And if all else fails, maybe you walk into a meeting and say Hello, my name is so and so and I will be your token atheist tonight or I'm sure you'll call this something that will help will help you on your road to recovery. Okay guys, I hope this was helpful. Thanks. bye.
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