Heroism and Our Values in Recovery

Welcome to our discussion based on Joe C.’s Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. We post choice quotes from the daily reading, as well as the discussion questions, and encourage you to think on it and respond in the comments. Please keep our community guidelines in mind while commenting.

“The hero is the one who comes to participate in life courageously and decently, in the way of nature, not in the way of personal rancor, disappointment or revenge.”

-Joseph Campbell

…Much of the fight to recover involves our own internal struggles–rewiring programmed messages about what was demanded and/or forbidden. Wrestling our demons doesn’t make us heroes. We have to fight decently, with no personal rancor or revenge.

Do we confuse having chips on our shoulders with being heroic? Are we clamoring for attention or control? Are we overcompensating for negative self-images? Are we playing the roles of martyrs, rescuers or saviors? In our addictions, we raped, plundered and pillaged, calling it taking our comfort. Are we now the keepers of our brothers and sisters? We must always be mindful of our intentions. Even if we want to be good in the world and make up for our parasitical pasts, we think about Campbell’s quote to ensure that what we might see as “heroic” is truly decent.

Discussion questions

  • What would I like to be remembered for?
  • What do I admire most in others?
  • Who are my heroes and why?

What Does Recovery Offer Alcoholics and Addicts?

Welcome to our discussion based on Joe C.’s Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. We post choice quotes from the daily reading, as well as the discussion questions, and encourage you to think on it and respond in the comments. Please keep our community guidelines in mind while commenting.

We move from the “evil” of addiction, clear the wreckage of the past and live in the light–nice! Who wouldn’t want to leave it at that? We put on sunglasses and bask in recovery’s peace and happiness, not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it–sweet!

Some of us don’t know much about that. Why? We are seekers, and when we find peace, we just can’t stop seeking; we seek truth, not pleasure, and as we peel away layers we discover it’s not all pretty underneath. Some of us will get shit on. Cornered and blindsided, our happy, joyous and free passes are snatched away without consent. We did not sign up for more abuse. But if we are faced with evil and find the courage to move forward, we may find (or create) meaning from suffering. Dignity and integrity constantly get tested. There may be no end in sight but we will make it through, gradually. At some point, we will be asked to show up for a loved one facing some kind of unthinkable evil. A problem shared is a problem halved. Good listeners can bear witness to great truths, too.

Discussion questions

  • Do I know that recovery promises a life–not a good one or an easy one–but one to make my own?

Wisdom and Truth: Looking Inside is Part of Sobriety

Welcome to our discussion based on Joe C.’s Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. We post choice quotes from the daily reading, as well as the discussion questions, and encourage you to think on it and respond in the comments. Please keep our community guidelines in mind while commenting.

“Prajñāpāramitā” translates as “the perfection of wisdom.” The problem with The Truth, if we are seeking it from an outside source, is that there are so many versions of it. Looking for guidance is wiser than going it alone, but to expect the answers of life to be granted from an outside source is folly. Like pursuing substances or processes to fill our void, the idea that the truth is “out there” is never more than partly true. Clues and direction can come from outside sources but our journey in life involves finding our own truths. The Truth may be a moving target because, like the world around us, we are changing.

….We hear in the fellowship that it’s a “we” program, not an “I” program–we don’t have to do this alone. But the reason the program works only for those who want it, not for all who need it, is that each person needs to do the work: write the lists, muster the courage and face the truth about him or herself. No one will check to see if we’ve done our Twelve Step homework. If we do the work, we find enlightenment. Suffering is met with perspective instead of avoidance. We gain wisdom–it isn’t granted. We accept the world as it is. We have power to help ourselves and others but not unlimited power.”

Discussion questions

  • Am I waiting for something or someone?
  • Do I take responsibility or do I delegate blame and wait for direction?

Secular Sobriety Discussion: Bravery and Regret

Welcome to our discussion based on Joe C.’s Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. We post choice quotes from the daily reading, as well as the discussion questions, and encourage you to think on it and respond in the comments. Please keep our community guidelines in mind while commenting.

…maybe there are many times in recovery when we “look death in the face.” Every ego-shedding stage of recovery is another small death of our narcissistic selves. Shame and guilt dissipate a little more with each Step. With each demon we face, we become a little more courages and authentic. Self-disgust is just the flip-side of grandiosity; both are distortions of a healthy self-image. We may struggle with our self-image for the rest of our lives. As we gain perspective, the two-headed dragon of self-loathing and overcompensation has less power over us.

Discussion questions

  • At the end of my life will I regret not doing something I should have given an honest try?
  • Is there something I could stand to apply some double-oh [a la James Bond] bravado to?