Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Geographical Cures

When you move and are excited, believing that your new living space is going to be vastly superior to your last, and then discover that you feel pretty much exactly the same in the new one that you felt in the old, there's a chance you are trying what 12-Step calls a "geographical cure." (Moving, either houses, apartments, or to another city in another part of the country, in the hopes that the very act of moving will effect a long-lasting, overwhelming change in feelings, attitudes, actions, beliefs.)

This was one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp in Al-Anon - "Happiness is an inside job, we give it to ourselves." Our culture is always trying, through the medium of advertising, to suggest that happiness is to be found in a tropical vacation, a sea cruise, a new car, new furniture, new clothing, a new pen, a new breakfast cereal.

Those of us who have swallowed the cultural messages without question, can find ourselves at the point of having achieved the position for which we were striving, whether than be professionally, socially, or in the purchase of a house, only to find ourselves feeling the same again, once the momentary excitement wears off. What then?

Step Eleven. "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and the power to carry that out."

This step can be perplexing for those of us who come into program as I did, believing ourselves to be either agnostic or atheist; how could I seek that for which I couldn't find belief? My first sponsor had a phrase she'd quote, which never failed to set my teeth on edge: "It's not "believe that you may seek," it's "seek that you may believe." I wasn't sure what that meant, but was too proud to ask for details.

I had been raised with a punishing deity, and had decided while quite young, that I wasn't going to give another thought to someone who sounded so much like an avenging out-of-control parent - smiting, turning people into pillars of salt, threatening to cut children in half - I was receiving enough violence from the adults in my life, why did I need an imaginary comptroller to be issuing even more rules and regulations?

It wasn't until my first marriage, when I'd be out walking my dog, and talking angrily to my HP, asking, "What do you want from me?" while at home, my alcoholic husband slowly drank himself into insensibility, that it dawned on me one day to wonder just of whom was I asking that question?

That's when I realised that I believed in something, and what could be harmed by my doing some seeking to try and achieve clarification.

My belief is neither here nor there for you, as yours is not for me; what matters is that we grasp that we are not the ultimate authority on all things, and humble ourselves, to listen and learn from the wisdom of others who've gone before us on this path.

I was most dismissive of the idea that with all my moving I was trying to effect a geographical cure; I always had an excellent reason why my present abode was completely impossible. But in Al-Anon I learned that wherever I go, I take myself with me, and if I'm not willing to spend time and energy improving myself, I will be continually looking outside myself for answers, and finding none.

1 comment:

  1. I think that the boat is a kind of spiritually effective geographical cure for me. It soothes me with being on the water and surrounded by beauty. I also don't have to deal with a lot of people there. But I also love where I live. I realize that my calmness has to come from within and from the help of my HP.