That which cannot be proven cannot be disproved. ~ Albert Einstein
One of the biggest mistakes any alcoholic can make that will derail and delay recovery is to think for one second that they know it all already. We must remain teachable. We must give up the notion that we know best how to do it all or any of it. Our best thinking got us in this mess. We need to let go of that notion. I know it is hard. Most of us were raised to believe we had to have all the answers, and we had to be right even when we were dead wrong. Somehow, being right 100% of the time is perceived as a badge of honor. Remember, pride comes before the fall. We just cannot afford to be prideful to a fault. It is okay to have a good solid sense of self and some good self-esteem, but thinking we are too smart to work these steps, do assignments, and change our minds about things such as faith and God is a direct ticket to more misery ahead.
Last night, I had the honor of seeing an older member get a 44 year medallion. He exemplifies a humble nature that AA teaches us. He has never forgotten where he came from and only does the day he has. He does not think he knows best. In fact, he very seldom takes the lead or runs the show, so to speak. He knows that he does not know best, and still is learning and growing by listening more and talking less. Have you noticed that newly recovering members talk a whole lot more than the old timers? That is what I am talking about. Sober alcoholics are there to learn and grow; not to get the last say. We all have a path to follow. Those paths will converge now and then. That is a good time to sit and listen to what the other person is learning on their path. You just never know what you will learn by listening. All the proof you need in HP is in other people’s recovery.
This willingness to act of faith then was the key to Step #2. ~ AA literature
Acting on faith is standing on my own feet without my defenses up to protect me, and assuming HP will do the right thing for me. Hp will give me what I need, if not what I want. Acting on faith means believing my HP will always listen to me and encourage me when I am in a situation where I need to take risks or is not usual for me. My HP will be there for me through any scary situations and will see me through to the end when trials are over. That is acting on faith. They say that if there is no struggle; there is no spiritual growth. When things are tough and I face them anyway, there is spiritual growth. Pain is inevitable; misery is an option. This step offers me the freedom from loneliness. With an HP that is there for me 24/7,365 year in and year out, there is no loneliness. I have a partner in recovery and in life. I have a go to for solutions that has never and will never fail me.
So, in Step #2, all we are asked to do is to be willing to believe that there is an god that will restore us to sanity. That is a simple task. Just to become willing to believe. We are exactly where we need to be today. Here are some exercises that may be helpful:
1)Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side list all you were taught, or all you believe what God is. If you have no idea, then write down the word “Nothing.” On the right side list what you want God to be for you, (best friend, loving. trustful, forgiving, non-judgmental, or whatever you like). When you are done, tear it down the middle, from top to bottom, and throw away the left side. You are now left with a God of your understanding; one you will feel comfortable praying to.
2) Read, We Agnostics pgs. 44 – 60.
3) Write, Any doubts, questions, or words that you don’t understand, and then discuss these with another alcoholic. Once completed, you are then ready to move on. Good job. We are moving along.
My entire Step #2 task was to believe that I too could be restored through my care tasks: reading, praying, going to meetings, etc. ~ Anon
“Could restore me to sanity” meant to be rehabilitated. To be set whole. And to be as one with my universe. They say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” So it is with us. I often tell folks who are impatient to get through the 12 Steps in quick order, that they didn’t get here yesterday! It took us years of misery and self-harm to get here. It is going to take a few years to be restored. The miracle is not that it can happen over night, it that it can happen at all. So, relax, trudge the road to happy destiny. Just focus on the here and now. If you wonder where you are on the road of recovery, look down at your shoes and realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are right on time.
Yesterday, I got the first of 3 doors shut on a fantasy of mine. I had thought perhaps I belonged on an acreage out in the country. But, my offer was promptly dismissed as too weak and cheap. It was what I can afford and what I thought I wanted. I no longer fight the winds of time. I stay in my life raft and keep rowing. No means no. I get that. So, this morning I woke up with the first thought, “what now God? Where do you want me?” That language was foreign to me in years past. Back in the day, I would have stomped on the floor and yelled, “thanks for nothing, God!” There is a loving and merciful God, and it isn’t me. In this morning’s meditation it was revealed that God has a plan for me, the owner, and for that acreage. I do not know what it is, but it will be revealed. Step #2 only asks that I believe that there is a God that will restore me to sanity.
So often in my disease, I have use magical thinking, hoping the situation would solve itself. Yet, other times, I have over rowed without benefit or direction from God as a compass. ~ 12 Step Literature.
Often, we had to learn that there are some situations where alcohol is served which we can’t handle at all, where there are other situations, we can handle sanely. We won’t know that of course until we are in the middle of things. So, I use the “live and learn” and “screw up, get up” phrases to reassure myself that even if I do not handle things perfectly, there will always be a chance to make amends to self and others, and there will always be a chance to choose differently the next time. Life is not a dress rehearsal. And, none of us has 20-20 vision going into unknown situations unless it is in reverse. So, how do we navigate life? How do we know it is HP’s will land not our own? Take a breath. Relax. Before you even consider going, pray on it. Are your motivations pure? Is there a logical reason that you must be there? Talk to your sponsor and lay out a plan: timing, parking, preparing, eating prior, bringing your own beverage, etc.
In Step #2, sanity is about balance. We need a healthy spiritual, physical, and emotional life. That means we will be among other humans in human conditions where we will need our spiritual and emotional health to guide us. Going back to my life raft and weathering storms at sea. Sanity means we must have both oars in the water and paddling in the same direction. To do otherwise, we will find ourselves paddling in circles and creating quite a wave that will eventually upend the raft. Stay calm, breath, connect with HP. If you eat prior to going to the event and bring your own beverage, you will have fewer choices to make. Ask HP for direction and protection. And, when you get home safe, sober, and sane; call your sponsor and book end. That means review what went right, how you feel, and to thank them and HP for being there for you. Good job.
We had to admit that we had not acted sanely…~ 12 Step Literature
We had to admit that we had not acted sanely when:
- We met our children’s requests for their needs by yelling.
- We threw the phone across the room when it did not work.
- We smashed the TV set because we were angry.
- We quit our job without notice because we felt undervalued.
- We hit our loved one because they did do what we wanted.
- We yelled and screamed in order to win the argument.
- We didn’t pay the rent because the faucet dripped.
- We spent all of our paycheck on booze and fun; and left loved ones wanting.
- We drank even when we were still sick from the last binge.
- We drank even after the doctor told us we were killing ourselves.
We had to admit we were indeed insane when it came to our drinking and in how we lived our lives. We can make the change, but it will take some doing. The doing is the believing and investing time and energy in a Power greater than ourselves. No amount of physical or mental coercion on ourselves or others is going to right the wrongs. When we feel undervalued, we need to value others more. When we feel powerless over people, places and things, we need to go to our own HP and express our concerns via prayer. We need to remember that we are not god, and therefore we are not responsible for how to make others act, think or feel. This program is simple, but it is not easy. That is why HP gave us AA and sponsors: we get help in the form of others who have been there and done that. That is the gift that AA offers = freedom from isolation. In Step # 2 we find that hope.
It is an axiom of human society that where ever there is a power structure, there is a power struggle. ~ 12 Step Literature
The key word for Tradition #2 is trust. In order for us to be able to trust, we must be trustworthy. It goes both ways. We need to trust that our trusted servants will suit up and show up. The way we trust that is to suit up and show up ourselves. Imagine a circumstance where no one shows up to open the doors, put on the coffee, put out the literature, lead the meeting, or welcome the new person. If not me; who? If not now; when? I had to quit depending on others to make it all happen for me. I had to put on my big girl pants and stop thinking I was owed anything by anybody else. We trust each other with our sobriety and to keep their own sobriety as well. We trust a sponsor with our secrets and private thoughts, and in exchange, we are entrusted with theirs. So, if I am struggling with trust issues, I need only look at how I have been treating others.
In AA, we are taught to let down our guard, let others into our lives, and stop keeping secrets. Secrets keep us sick. One of the biggest surprises I found in AA was that there is nothing new under the sun. Someone in the group had done the same things I had done in the past. I was not so darn unique as I thought I was. I had not created alcoholism, nor had I come up with the cure. From that, I learned to trust that I too could fit into AA. And thus, I too could recover. What a gift I found in AA. I hope that you will let down your guard and learn to trust. First things first: suit up and show up. Get there early and help set up. Then stay late and help clean up. Trust me, it works when you work it. And, you are worth it.
Years of praying, begging, and crying for release from this overwhelming need for more booze have left me suspicious about the claims of Step #2. ~ Anon
If what we believe is not relieving us of addiction, then we have to stop and ask:
- Is my god working for me?
- Why has my addiction progressed and not been arrested even though I pray daily?
- Could my ideas about god actually be preventing my recovery?
- Where is the disconnect between me and my god?
I was told a long time ago that even though we may be religious, we really were not being spiritual. In fact, we really were not living at all. We had a hole in our collective soul that we tried desperately to fill with booze, love, money, work, drugs, happiness, etc. It was never enough. No matter how hard we prayed, our lives always fell short of what we thought we needed and wanted. We had a dis-ease of want. Our want was too big to ever have a coat large enough to cover. So, we were left feeling unfulfilled and lacking. We fell short of what we expected that life should offer. What we needed was a power greater than ourselves that we could depend on 24/7/365. We needed a relationship with an HP that filled that proverbial hole in our souls. Nothing man made will ever substitute for this fulfillment. Embrace the spiritual and let go of the material. Mend the hole in the soul. Today, write a want ad for an HP that you can trust and believe in.