Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Principle 2: Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.
I have to admit I didn’t have a hard time with this step. I came into the rooms of AA with a solid awareness of who my Higher Power was and is… but I was not so sure that He wanted to help me recover. I did have one of those crazy spiritual experiences, but I thought it was either sobriety or death and I wasn’t sure which was better. I entered the rooms of AA very reluctantly. On the one hand, I was desperate to learn how to be sober, but on the other hand I thought my life was over. I was an anxiety ridden introvert inept at pretty much everything life required of me unless I had alcohol in my system. I assumed that while God was giving me a chance to not die at that moment, He would not be doing anything further. I assumed I would live out my days in misery and solitude to make up for all the mistakes, failures, and downright refusals on my side of the street. Up until that moment, I had chosen alcohol over everything: over a career in the music industry, over family, over friends, over my health, over my faith, over my own self respect, over my finances, over relationships… I chose alcohol over everything and I assumed it was my turn to chose God over everything thereby having a horrible, but sober life from that moment forward. Luckily, I had some great sponsors in the beginning and they told me one very important thing: If your God stepped in to stop you in your tracks then He must care about you. Then they had me make a list of all of the things I was so lucky to have not had happen to me…. Like that night I couldn’t even sit up in my jeep, got pulled over and somehow managed to persuade the officer to let me drive home since I only lived a few blocks away. A DUI during college would have seriously hampered my otherwise stellar academic achievements. I continued to list all of the times I had blacked out and one of my friends got me home like that night I passed out at the Cheryl Crow concert (in the front row) because I drank a pint of JD in the restroom. I never woke up. The concert was at Mud Island Amphitheater meaning one of my guy friends had to carry me on foot back over to dry land, down a bunch of stairs and across a giant parking lot to our cars. I am very lucky nothing happened. There was also the night I had the grand idea to drink Captain Morgan and chase it with 99 Bananas before a George Clinton concert. I got left in a crack house with a friend of a friend to sleep it off and was picked up later and taken home. Again nothing happened to me. While I was not spared every time,I was spared most of the time. It turns out what my sponsors and accountability partners said was true: I must matter to God or He wouldn’t keep bothering with me.
I don’t think I ever really thought about being restored to sanity. I just knew I had to get sober and I was lucky to be desperate enough to get a sponsor, go through the steps and do everything that was asked of me. I think that is why I have stayed sober - I still have that gift of desperation six years later. Going off track here - But, the number one reason I have seen people relapse is because they push back while doing the steps. They want to do the steps their way and not the way their sponsor is insisting they do them. Again, I didn’t ask questions or argue. I did what I was told for the first time in my life and it worked. I am still sober today. That’s incredible considering I used to add vodka to pretty much every meal including breakfast.
If you are not one of those who came into the rooms with a sense of your Higher Power - don’t freak out. You don’t have to prescribe to any specific religion nor do you have to have an all knowing being in the sky. I once knew a lady whose story is terrific and horrible at the same time. She was so fried mentally (from drugs and alcohol) that she could not remember anything anyone told her. She got court ordered to attend rehab after rehab and would get kicked out of every single one until one lovely rehab center professional realized what was wrong. She was given a person to shadow while in rehab. In other words, whatever this other person did - she did the same. With her shadow leading the way she was able to make it to all of the group sessions and no longer got in trouble for not showing up. This same recovery center got very creative when it came time for her to have a Higher Power of her understanding… They got her a giant white bear and she took that bear with her everywhere and she talked to it like it was her Higher Power. At some point down the road she was able to identify a new and more logical Higher Power, but the bear worked. It was an outside entity that cared about her and wanted the best for her and she treated it as such and it worked. That lady is now a drug and alcohol abuse professional living and working in Los Angeles. She is an amazing person and her story is proof that your Higher Power can be anything you are comfortable with - just don’t let the “God” thing stop you. The steps work. Period. This story kind of leads into Step three so I will pick up the trail on the next post…