Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
When i came to alcoholics Anonymous, all I wanted was to drink a little less. I did not want to find God, get spiritual, become a better person, or stop drinking. I did not have the power to change anything about my drinking, however. That’s why I decided to try AA. That is also the summary of my twenty-five year experience with Step One.
Step Two baffled me. I understood all of the words in the Step but could not comprehend how or why any benevolent force would ever have any connection with me. I had no real religious background, and what I did know made me skeptical. I was taught by my parents, teachers, and popular thought that I could control my destiny and achieve whatever I wanted–if I was willing to work hard enough. If I wanted something done, I should do it myself, they told me. There was no room for the divine in the picture I developed of the world. In fact, there wasn’t room for anything or anyone but me.
My alcoholism helped me fail at everything important to me. I failed to achieve the status and recognition I thought was due me in my profession. I withdrew from my family. I had no close relationships–drinking buddies were the best I could do. Worst of all, I felt the emptiness that many of us know. Life had no meaning for me. I had nothing to connect with, nothing to engage me, nothing to make my life worth living. This is the state I found myself in when I joined AA, a condition that turned out to be fortunate because it made me willing to consider ideas that I otherwise would have rejected immediately.
In the beginning, all I could do was not drink and not run away. When I listened to people talk about God at meetings, I didn’t drink and I didn’t run away. When I heard discussions at meetings about how God–or a higher power, or something–had come into the lives of members and done for them what they could not do for themselves, I didn’t drink and didn’t run away. I thought it was all nonsense but was afraid to dismiss it entirely. I had been beaten up enough to know that I would die if I drank again.
Because I did not drink and did not run away, I heard a lot of ideas about a power greater than myself that I considered–in spite of myself. I also saw that other alcoholics, who had been as desperate as I was, had stopped drinking and, as a result, their lives had changed. Even if I did not identify with whatever power they said worked for them, I saw that something had happened to them. This gave me just enough hope to keep coming back to one more meeting, to listen to one more story, and to talk to one more alcoholic.
Because this program did not dictate the name, size, shape, or color of the power that works here, I was forced to find my own. My experience has been a gradual one. It was not anything specific that happened, because nothing really happened. It was not something special that someone said, because I don’t remember much of what anyone says. I cannot point to a day or meeting or person or book that changed my thinking. That’s not how I experienced it.
But little by little, over months and years, my thinking about other people changed. I started seeing them less in relation to myself–more than or less than me, useful or useless to me, or doing something to me–and more as people struggling just like I was to find a way to live. I lost many fears and some insecurities, and that has made it possible for me to do things, say things, and go places I never would have considered. I can now think about something other than myself, and I don’t complain that life is not interesting or engaging.
In those instances when I give up my idea of how something should work, my life changes in a profound and wonderful way. The most powerful example, is my marriage. It is nothing like I thought it should be, and yet it works quite well. When something really difficult has happened in sobriety–despite my feelings of grief or loss or hurt–I have behaved in a way that made me feel good about myself and at peace with the outcome.
God is the name I call this power I have found, because that is the easiest way to express it to other people. If pressed to describe it, I say that I have found a power greater than myself that enables me to get out of myself and experience that rare and wonderful miracle of change.
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