One of Robert's favourite jokes is a line from standup comedy, which he heard many years ago:
"I'm more the paranoid agnostic type - I don't believe in God per se, but I do believe there's some force out there in the universe, working against me."
I love that. I can relate to that. I was an unbeliever in anything positive, and a strong believer that the world was out to get me, when I was new to Al-Anon. It seemed as though no matter what ideas I came up with, or how hard I tried, I was unsuccessful.
I'm referring, of course, to trying to make the alcoholic stop drinking. I remember going for walks with my dog - I would stomp off, after an encounter with a sodden husband who was enraged and ranting, and I'd go to sit in the park near our house, while my dog ranged all over the park seeking out whatever it is that dogs look for, in the dark.
I'd sit on the swings and fume. I recall asking aloud, "What do you want from me?" I didn't know of whom I was asking that question, it would just burst out of me in moments of intense frustration, and there is no frustration quite so intense, or so doomed to failure for those of us who are control freaks, as trying to make an alcoholic quit drinking.
My first sponsor asked me, "Who are you talking to, when you ask that question?" I was taken aback, and had to sit and think for some time, before answering haltingly that I thought maybe I was talking to God.
She smiled at me, saying "But you call yourself an aetheist."
I replied, "Well, I've thought I am, but...."
She smiled again, that irritating sponsor smile that lets you know that she's been through all this once at least, and probably more times than she could count. I was very God-shy when new to Al-Anon, and all those mentions of God, or a Higher Power, were almost more than I could stomach.
Where was the handout with the list of ten ways to make the drinker stop drinking? That's what I'd been expecting; I was completely unprepared for a total change of life.
But I kept going to meetings, and working the program, even when I wasn't sure what I believed. I just knew that my sponsor and other old-timers for whom I felt respect believed, so I decided to coast on top of their belief for a while, and see what happened.
And I kept having conversations with my Higher Power, although nowadays I'd call them complaining sessions or rants more than conversation. I was too emotional to have many rational conversations, whether with people or my HP.
My belief in a Higher Power has grown and ebbed throughout the years. I feel conscious contact when I am grateful and seeking humility.
I lose that feeling of conscious contact when I'm full of fear and anxiety, as I was shortly after being told by the surgeon that I was terminal. It's been a real mind-shift to accept that he was mistaken, I'm not terminal, and who knows how long I've got on this earth; it could be years yet.
My oncologist is very positive, and so am I. This last chemo, the volunteer came to take us in and asked how I was feeling. I replied honestly that I'm good, I feel good, and I feel happy. He passed his hand over his eyes and said, "I must still be sleeping."
It didn't register at the time, but he was commenting upon my ability to feel joy even as I walked towards the chair for another chemo treatment.
I give all the credit for this to Al-Anon, and the support and love of my beloved Robert, my family and program friends, and my HP. Life is good. I'm so grateful to be able to know that.