Sometimes we try too hard. It’s possible to try so hard to “work a good program” that we forget to relax and be us. We forget that the world has many things to offer in the way of both material and spiritual sustenance, but when we take the time to look around we see not only opportunities for improvement, but also ways to enjoy ourselves that support our recovery rather than our addictions.
When we first came to recovery we already had a Higher Power. We worshiped it, followed its every command, and spent many hours a day in its service. It was the first thing we thought of in the morning, and the last at night. We were faithful to a fault — and usually beyond a fault. We obsessed on our Higher Power to the exclusion of family, faith, common sense and self-preservation. Finally, after it failed us one time too many, we ended up at the end of the line: treatment, the rooms of the recovery fellowships or whatever refuge we were able to find from our devotion to our addiction.
So why do so many of us have this problem with “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and the other references to a higher power “as we understood” it in our twelve step fellowships?
The principle behind the Second Step is hope, not religion. It says “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” [Emphasis mine] If I believe that the only power greater than me is God, then I’m really a sick puppy. If we wish, the “God” in the program can be considered metaphor for the people in the rooms, our support system, and the program itself — surely all higher powers than we, for purposes of recovery and learning a new way to live (and how other people choose to think of it is none of our business).
Our business is recovering from a chronic, deadly disease, and we’d better use all the tools available! Our best efforts got us where we are today. No one is saying that we have to believe in a God or gods, but we’d darned well better be able to admit that we aren’t him, we can’t recover from our addictions alone, and that we need the guidance of a “higher power” that knows more about recovery than we do.
There’s a word for addicts who try to recover on their own — who use the word “God” as an excuse to avoid the work needed to change our lives and stay sober.
If I’m the only one who benefits, it’s probably not God’s will.
Sometimes you don’t get to pick the starting place, you just get to pick which way you step. ~ Debora Geary
“…If we focus on the outcome we miss the process, and that’s where the good stuff actually happens. Doing the work and absorbing it is where the benefits lie: in the subtle improvements in the way we think, the mended relationships, the ability to better deal with stressors and much more. These are the result of experiencing and understanding the meaning of the steps, rather than just ticking them off a list….”
The Second Step reads “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” It gets a lot of attention because of that “power greater than ourselves” part, but not so much about the “believe” part.
A Very Large Flower
Just what does it mean to believe? We throw the term around a lot, and it means different things at different times. Take “I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows,” for example. Hundreds of billions of raindrops fall from one big thunderstorm. If the statement were true we’d be inundated with flowers, even if they were tiny ones, and no one who’s given the idea much thought really believes that. (Nice poetry, though.)
Then there’s the fact that I believe that the Earth is a globe, similar in shape to the one in my office. I don’t know that, but I’ve seen enough information leading to that conclusion that I believe it anyway. Many others do, as well. They, and I, have faith in all that information. We believe the people who tell us that the Earth is not flat.
Now, let’s say that I show you my fist and tell you there’s a jewel in my hand.
Addiction is all about secrets. By the same token, recovery is about letting sunshine and fresh air into the hidden corners of our souls. In addiction we build ourselves a little fantasy world, a totally imaginary place where we go to hide when we act out.
It doesn’t matter if we are alcoholics who seek solace and solitude in a bottle, food addicts who attempt to control our little world by controlling our bodies, shopping addicts who imagine that if we only have that one special thing we’ll be happy, or sex addicts who search for love and solace in porn, online chat rooms or massage parlors. However we set up these magical places in our lives, we do so in secrecy. Even if we brag about how much we can (insert behavior here), we don’t want others to know how important acting out is to us, or exactly what we do. We don’t want to admit that we are trapped.
Life’s a journey, not an event. If we can’t seem to find time to slow down and smell the roses, might it actually be because we don’t want to look too closely at where we are?