From Al-Anon to Unity
The first time I attended Unity was at my mother’s invitation. I had been curious about the church she had mentioned to me ever since she started attending the year before, especially after I’d watched her vacillate among Catholicism, atheism, and agnosticism my entire life. I was recently divorced at the time and was visiting her in Kansas City, Missouri, while my preteen children spent the weekend with their father.
I remember it was a full house that day at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Everyone I met was warm and friendly and seemed to radiate a kind of joy. The service proceeded the way I had grown to expect a church service to proceed, as I’d been a member of the Methodist churches in Topeka and Mayetta, Kansas. Some standing, some singing, some greeting, then settling in to hear what the minister has to say.
I cannot tell you what Rev. Duke Tufty’s words that day were, but I can tell you that I felt an overwhelming sense of acceptance as he spoke. Hearing him speak was like a wave of relief washing over me. It wasn’t just his words but the spirit with which he delivered them that pierced through the veil of guilt that had shrouded my days not only since the divorce but also from the day I realized that I could not force my husband to stop drinking or to value the things that I valued, and that I could not repair our dysfunctional marriage all by myself.
Indeed, I had come to understand that my very presence in our house had been contributing to our dysfunction because by keeping the house in order, the bills paid, and the children clean and attending school, and by working extra jobs to help make ends meet (while blaming my husband for all that was wrong), I had actually been enabling both our diseases.
I had come to realize that whether my husband sought recovery or not, I no longer loved him. I felt I was giving up on a sacred vow, but I also believed the only way I could grow, heal, and demonstrate the importance of self-care to our children was to end the marriage and find another way. It was at a crucial time in my children’s developmental stages, however, and the divorce imploded our family in ways I could not have predicted.
I’d been attending Al-Anon (a recovery program for friends and families of alcoholics) for a couple of years by this time and had learned that living with an alcoholic leads to distorted thinking. I learned that by changing my attitude, I could step away from the roles of victim and martyr and make different choices, gradually moving from survival to recovery.
When I read the third Unity principle that “we are cocreators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in Mind,” I realized that in Unity, I’d found a spiritual practice that would expand my understanding of Al-Anon philosophies and help me to “practice these principles in all my affairs,” as suggested by the Al-Anon program.
Back in Topeka, I sought out and attended the Unity church there, eventually becoming a member and even taking a few classes. I brought the children when they were willing and took part in fellowship when I could. When I officially became a member, the minister, Michael Jamison, gave me a copy of Charles Fillmore’s classic Talks on Truth (Unity Books, 1926).
I continue to find reinforcement of 12-step philosophies in Unity principles as well as the other way around, and I have begun to see the great potentiality of cocreating with God. Today I’m in a successful marriage with my soulmate, have earned both a master of arts degree and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing and poetry, and have published numerous poems and articles as well as my first collection of poetry.
While I still sometimes find myself seduced by thoughts of inadequacy and am tempted to reprise the victim role, these moments are fleeting as I turn my attention to more positive thoughts, thanks to the teachings I’ve learned in Unity.
This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.