To my dear, dear friend:

I know that you get a great deal of comfort, wisdom, and knowledge out of the 12-Step programs that you attend.
I am aware of the money problems and tendency to get involved with substance abusers in your past, and I am truly, truly glad that you have taken steps to turn your life around with the help of these programs. I am glad that you have made such warm and lasting friendships through your involvement in these programs. I am glad that you have found a church (Unity) that makes you feel welcome and holds events that are helping you improve your life.

I recognize that I am at a spiritual and material low point right now, in terms of employment and love life.

However, the solution for me is NOT to join a 12-step program or a church, and I really wish you would stop suggesting these as solutions to my problems.

To clarify:

  1. I do not believe in a higher power. Not “The Goddess Within.” Not Jesus. Not the Invisible Pink Unicorn (May her name be praised!). I do have complex and somewhat unresolved feelings about life after death and where the universe came from. But I profoundly do NOT believe that any power other than myself will help me through the shit that life throws at me. I don’t think admitting I am powerless to change the things that need to be changed is a particularly bright idea, either.

  2. I went to your church once at your request, and I could not wait to leave. I don’t like hugging or being touched by strangers, closing my eyes and dancing to tinkly new age music, or summer camp trust and bonding exercises involving blindfolds and ropes.

  3. There are some areas of my life that could be improved by paying someone to listen to me talk through some things. However, the idea of spending several hours in a room while a group of people yap on and on about their problems promises to a) be very unhelpful to my current situation (I need a JOB!) and b) bore the living shit out of me. Even my own problems bore me, which is why I am reluctant to “share” them with you.

  4. The current failure to find steady employment in a bad economy in a city where I have few connections can hardly be characterized as an “addiction” or necessitate a lifetime in “recovery.” I am supporting myself, paying my bills, doing freelance work, and learning new skills.

  5. I broke up with someone. It happens. It sucks right now, but it’s been what, a week? Being sad and missing the person hardly qualifies me for “Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.” Or any other kind of Anonymous.

Again, I recognize that these programs are very helpful to some people, and that they have been a comfort to you in your constant search for self-improvement and enlightenment. I must, however, beg you to stop bringing me pamphlets and pointing out the nonexistent “addictions” in my life or encourage me to enter “recovery.” Nor do I wish to email your church so that it’s members can pray for me for 30 days, while doubtless performing Sufi dances, holding hands, and reading Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth.

Thank you, New Age Friend.

Your Practical Skeptic

So you believe you’re the most powerful creature in the universe, yet you can’t think of anything fun to do with blindolds and rope?

To the 12-stepper, everything looks like an addiction, end therefore everyone else is also an addict or in denial.

I dunno, exercises involving blindfolds and ropes sound like a fun evening at home to me. :smiley:

One day at a time, magdalene. One day at a time.

hauls ass out of the room, ducking

Well, when your only tools are blindfolds and ropes, all your problems look like 12-step addictions.

Oh, if it had been THAT kind of bonding with ropes and blindfolds, I’d be that church’s biggest supporter. They’d probably elevate me to clergy, maybe even prophet.

And of course I’m not the highest power in the universe. Godzilla is certainly bigger and stronger than me, and Mothra would probably win in a fair fight. Lynn Bodoni and TubaDiva have more temporal power and authority. Julia Roberts can probably get any picture greenlighted in Hollywood. Even my mom can elicit an occasional “Yes’m.”

I just don’t think that turning my job search and heartbreak over to these “higher powers” is the most effective solution for me right now, wouldn’t you agree?

I think you should invite your friend over to the house to watch a movie which I felt was woefully unappreciated, and was freakin’ hilarious: * Stuart Saves His Family *.

If you are unfamiliar, it stars Al Franken as the character Stuart Smalley, (SNL) “who is a member of several 12 step programs”.

I think you would enjoy it. And perhaps your friend would get the message. It’s funny, but not cruel.


A second vote for Stuart Saves His Family. It’s that rare bird: a truly humorous (and humorously true) movie based on an SNL character. I have watched this with all my friends who came from dysfunctional families, and they all agreed it was great.

I think she needs
“12 step programs anonymous”

Anyhoo, another interesting 12 step related movie is Fight Club, which I strongly recommend.

If you want your friend to stay out of your hair, e-mail her this link:

She’ll be busy for years.


They are giving out miniature plush pink unicorns in McDonald’s Happy Meals this week (I am not kidding). The end times are therefore at hand. I think that with some support from your friends, some quiet meditation and some chicken nuggets you may still be able to turn your life around in time. If you really believe.

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

There are, by the way, fairly effective programs designed to aid people in combatting dysfunctional habits through mutual support and self-image-building which do not require “belief in a higher power.” I can find out more about them if anyone needs to locate one.

um, grateful recovering drug addict and alcoholic checking in here. two things.

one, ‘higher power’ means whatever you want it to mean. if there is a generic definition, its ‘anything but me.’ to go one step further, it means ‘life on life’s terms, not yours.’ or, more succinctly, ‘stop beating your head against the wall.’

for many of us in the programs, our best thinking, our incredible need to control things as things spun out of control, is what got us into the programs in the first place. it can be a blessed relief to ‘let go absolutely.’

the programs are filled with wonderful paradoxes and dichotomies, and ‘there is power in powerlessness’ is just one of them. if letting go and living life on life’s terms leads you to a relationship with god as you understand him or her, fantastic. lucky you. but its not a requirement. its just an entry point into another way of living your life, of looking at yourself and others. funnily enough, the programs, for all their talk of ‘god as you understand him [or her]’, are non-religious. really.

two, magdalene, your friend, no matter how well-meaning she is, has got a basic precept of the programs wrong. ‘attraction, not promotion’ is part of the traditions. inviting you to attend a meeting with her is ok. shoving 12-step pamphlets and the programs down your throat most emphatically is not.

lifering is an secular self-help group, if anybody is interested. they operate much differently than the 12-step programs, no sponsors, nothing like that.

if anyone has questions, feel free to email the address in my profile.

I agree. Those are false idols because they are not invisible. She will be angry.

Bah! it’s clear to me that you are in denial.

essvee, glad the programs worked for you, and that the higher power, letting go, all the philosophy, etc. helped you through your time of need. I certainly don’t mean to mischaracterize the programs or claim that they do not work.

Looking through Zette’s links:

I do not use drugs.
I do not drink beyond the occasional cocktail or two with friends.
I do not smoke.
I have had money troubles in the past due to unemployment, but I do not overspend credit cards or otherwise abuse debt.
I have (mostly) healthy relationships.
I have never been involved with people who drug or drink.
My parents, siblings, friends, and lovers are not addicts.
I am not codependent.
I am not a trauma or incest survivor.
I do not engage in risky or addictive sexual behavior.
I do not have an eating disorder.

I do not have the problems that led my friend, or many people, to seek 12-step programs.

The point being, “higher power”, etc. could mean whatever I want it to mean and I STILL wouldn’t care because I don’t need a 12-step program. My friend finds 12-step programs to be a very comforting presence in her life. She is an avid self-help book reader and recommends them to me all the time. I am happy for her as I am for essvee an any other Dopers who are working the steps. But they are not for everyone, and they are certainly not for me.

mag, here is what I think, take it or leave it, it’s up to you.

If your friend is on a different plain than you, then cut back on the relationship. I have done that with friends and keep up only a few times a year with them. It makes both of your lives easier. Then she doesn’t feel the need to tell you how to run your life and you don’t feel like you want to strangle her for harping on the same shit over and over and over.

You always remain friends but you are more free by letting that friendship be less than what it was. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are but I know the feeling of wanting to choke-hold a friend or even a family member that keeps telling me “all this (insert their religious beliefs or philosophy here) will only make your life better and happier.”

Friends are those you invite in your life that compliment who you are. A friend that is in constant need to “make you a better person” is not much of a friend really and IMO should be pushed down the list until friend learns to lighten up on the improvement phase of her life.

It’s one thing to offer advice on how to improve your house during a renovation, it’s another thing entirely when a friend feels it’s okay (without asking) to improve your personal life through what they know. If I ask, then cool tell me all about your wonderful insights, otherwise it’s off limits or I might give you another hole to breathe though in that pretty little neck of yours.

I have to take issue with this. I am a 12-stepper, and I don’t believe that everyone needs a 12-step program. Some people do “get religion” about AA or whichever program they are in, but it’s not all or even most who do this. mags’ friend is one of those who miss the point.

I grudgingly agree that it might not be the most effective solution, but I think you could show a little team spirit and satisify the TM’s burning curiosity as to exactly what kind of job Mothra would hook you up with.

Of course, it just dawned on me that I gave you advice where you didn’t ask for it. For that I am sorry, but it’s just a perspective I lent from my own experience.

< will shut up now >

I must say, mags, I am in awe of your patience with your friend. (That, and your reference to Mothra). I know that she’s sincere in her efforts to help, but I don’t think I could exhibit the kind of tolerance you clearly have shown. Props to you.