Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the secret

this post has been brewing in my head for weeks, and i'd like to brew for another one, but i have to get a few things out as i've had a lot of friends and people in recovery being exposed to this and left feeling confused and a bit lost.

for those of you living in a cave the secret has been touted by everyone from oprah to news anchors - it's the 'new thing' and people are all a twitter. the saddest part of this is that there is nothing new about it, other than the slick, multi-media, multi-million dollar sales pitch. john stackhouse has taken this on theologically, so i'm going to send you to his great post to explain that:

john stackhouse - oprah's secret: new? old? good? bad?

UPDATE: blair at preachy writings has some really good thoughts too: the secret vs the sphere: in pursuit of happyness and other urban fairy tales

i, on the other hand want to deal with this from the emotional, practical and recovery side.

first of all, i know it is so hard to be in a room with people who have just "found the secret" and to take issue with it. you look like you're too dumb to 'get it' - that's the point. they have found a way to pitch this like 'only the really smart people will understand this' - so ie, you stand against it, you're not smart... sigh. they're brilliant.

the other difficulty here is that you "can't" argue against it because then you are shown to be "negative", and negativity cannot dwell within "the secret". they're good, they're really good. it sets up this knowledge like a four star club that only the positive and smart people can get into - so if you challenge it you're not 'smart or positive' - brilliant. i mean, who wants to go against the queen? (oprah)

i took this position almost exactly 12 months ago when she was all gung ho on james frey and a million little lies, er i mean pieces... - remember that charade? she had found a new recovery, a new way of getting your life back together - remember? just decide and you can do it. what a hot mess that was. do you see the parallels here? oprah (and countless others) have always searched for the way you can have it all without admitting you are powerless.

this is the key. this is the 'easier, softer way' the big book speaks of. i'm sorry, but there is no 'easier, softer way.'

it is my opinion that this is the same lie from the garden, repackaged, slicked up and resold - "god doesn't have your best interests at heart, you can do it without god." it's what eve wanted to hear, it's what we all, deep in our heart of hearts wants to hear and believe.

i know that the people who are selling this will tell you that you can have god and the secret too, but the god they have packaged here is not the god of recovery. there is no easier, softer way. our lives have become unmanageable.

how many drunks, addicts and junkies want to believe that if they just stop being negative that they will be able to have everything they've ever dreamed of? every damn one of us. that's what gets us HERE in the first place, isn't it? the secret is like winning the lotto for the addict - you mean i can have my crack and eat it too? all i have to do is be positive and think good thoughts? yay! hurray! let's start today!

i just hope that oprah and her compatriots will be paying for the rehab of all of those addicts they are leading down this path. this 'easier, softer way'... because it will end in a lavish ball of decadence that leads the addict right back into the willing arms of their addiction.

come on people - how many lindsay lohans, britney spears and olsen twins does it take to tell you money and power and influence don't make people happy, whole and centered. you can't have it all. you just can't. oprah can, you can't. and even she can't fill that great big hole in her heart either, that's why she's got to take each and every one of you with her. because when the cameras stop rolling and nobody's there she's so lonely and desperate every little girl in africa can't make it better.

i love her, oh how i love her. i love her vision, her passion and her ability to see need and meet it - her heart is good, oh so good, but like mine, her heart is deceitful. i think that means that it will always trick her - just like mine. it will always lead her away from god, to the easier, softer way. and unfortunately, where she leads, many, so very many will follow.

"the secret" tells you you are powerful. step one tells us that we are powerless. it's humiliating. it's horrible to have to admit that food, alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling or any other fix has control over you - but in doing so something happens. god does for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. this is the rub. powerful vs. powerless - can you see why they're making millions selling the books and dvd's? who doesn't want to believe that if they think it and say it it will happen? powerful indeed.

what they don't tell you is that all of those people who "knew the secret" from ancient days were still just people. they were still lonely, tried to fill their lives with stuff, money and power and led empty, temporary lives. they still died. dead. done. all of their stuff went to someone else - and their power was gone. that's a secret nobody is talking about.

thomas jefferson is one of the poster children of "the secret". from what i can see he was not a happy person. we're still finding out about the mess he made of his life and the secret relationships he had. he is held out as one of those who understood "the secret". did he have power and influence, sure - but he wasn't whole, healthy and happy. he was still searching, grasping and fleeting until the day he died. do we remember his name, yes. would have we remembered it if he didn't believe in "the secret"? i don't know. but i do know that there were things he didn't understand. things he didn't grasp. things he didn't understand and no power of positive thinking could give him that.

so please, if you are pondering 'the secret' please sit with this:

How It Works

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

AA Big Book - Chapter 5

there is no 'easier, softer way', i'm sorry. i wish there was. i wish with all my heart there was. that i could just speak it, believe it and it would be true, but it didn't work for dorothy and it won't work for me.

this is the secret i want you to know. god loves you, god loves you, god loves you.


~m2~ said...

i am glad you finally took it from your head and put it into writing. thank you for this.

wilsonian said...

Your clarity of thought and ability to communicate clearly always blow me away.

Thank you for this, Bobbie!

Lori said...

AUGHHH! I JUST watched this 2 nights ago with my friend I've been doing the steps with for a year - and who JUST quit the steps to pursue THIS instead!.

I'm soo familiar with this kind of crap, having been into myself at one time for a couple years. You're right, the approach is tricky and the promises are appealing. My friend now refuses to hear anything about the steps or 'real' faith - since they're 'negative'.

It blows me away every time how easy it is for people to go sideways, and how important is it is to maintain balance. I think 'The Secret' is massively attractive to people prone to addictions since it is soooo unbalanced. All gain, no pain.

Thanks for laying this all out so clearly. I'm going to study this 'negative' info and try to reconvince her!

BarBarA said...

Wow. This was soooo good. So important. I wish you could get this published somewhere that more people could find it because you are right on about the Steps and The Secret. Its sad to know how many people will buy into the easier softer Lori's comment proves, its happening! Geez, thats just so sad. I do think Ophra means well and part of me thinks that her "followers" are the type thta would never think for themselves and therefore this Secret crap will be their ultimate answer as long as SHE says its good.

I guess no one remembers the James Frey ordeal....I sure do. I smelled a rat in the first chapter of his "novel".

onionboy said...

You're right, I've been living in a cave; a cave with no TV. I have not heard of the secret but now that I have I can only say amen to all you have said. Thanks to TV's secular evangelist for another generous dose of BS. It's the two Kennys again (Copeland and Haggin) minus super Jesus. Oooops, damn, that was negative of me.

Deb said...

Excellent bobbie!! You are so very, very right!

Alexander M said...

I nearly died seeking that "easier", "softer" way. My easier/softer was downright hard and lonely and desparate. Also, ego-centric and dishonest.

Now, with suicide attempts behind me, pills for depression, treatment for HepC to happen soon, other bodily ills cropping up, and God Knows what else, I'm in more pain and feeling less in control; yet, happier, more centered, and much more accepting of others...

blair said...

Thanks so much for this post. the secret has been on my mind lately too and so I had to blog on it too. I hope I didn't overlap yours too much. Your voice is so important and your words inspire truth. Much needs to be said about this new trend. So many corners of life that this "solution" falls short of. The seduction is pervasive. Good words Bobbie!

Sarah Louise said...

Sing it to me sister! bobbie, you are so in your element in this post--thank you for the truth you bring before us.

steph said...

"this is the secret i want you to know. god loves you, god loves you, god loves you."

you are so beautiful, bobbie. thank you.