Reconnecting with my Higher Power is the most important part of my recovery. When I came to the meeting rooms it was to get rid of my addiction, not to be prostletized. In fact I stayed away from twelve step groups for more than two years because I wanted nothing to do with God, religion, or Christianity. I tried counseling, meditation, acupuncture and even my own willpower to get clean and sober but nothing worked. Not for long anyway. I knew I had to do something to make a change. I was desperate enough that even though I feared I might end up under the thumb of some bible thumping, born-again fundamentalist, I went to that first meeting. That’s how beaten down I was.
I found, very soon, was that my preconceptions were unfounded. I didn’t have to believe any set of rules or dogmas, bow to any statues or light candles while chanting. I was given suggestions. In the second step I “…came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.” It was a gradual thing, this opening up to something other than myself. I heard others in the room speak about their experiences with their higher power. It didn’t have to be the God I grew up with. It could be anything that had a power greater than me. And, at that point, there were a lot of things that had plenty of power over me including my addiction, alcohol and drugs. I learned that I could choose my own my higher power, a ‘God of my understanding’.
Gradually I changed my focus to some sort of a spiritually based power. Gradually I began to form a connection with something greater than me. I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I was told to do and I was beaten down enough by that irrepressible demoralization I have spoken of before, that I did what I was told. I was told to ‘act as if’. Act as if I were happy, act as if I were sober, act as if I liked who I was, act as if I was connected to my higher power. At first, I felt like a fraud. I felt I was pretending to be something or someone I wasn’t. But it was explained to me that we all do that when we start anything new. When we begin a new job, we act as if we know what we are doing. When we go to a new social situation we act as if we are cool, suave and in control even though we have no idea of the dynamics of the people around us. And, gradually we do learn and we can stop ‘acting as if’, because we finally know.
That is how it was with me and that new Higher Power I found through the program. Gradually I started to want serenity, courage and wisdom. Gradually I wanted to talk to that Higher Power, though it was more of a one sided chat at first, I continued. And gradually I began to see results; the main one being that I was sober for the first time in years. I wasn’t made to believe, I came to believe. Gradually that connection to my Higher Power was made. And finally, I came the realization that my Higher Power always has been connected to me, is with me now and will always be with me. It’s a knowing that I have in my head and feel in my chest.
Oh, I still have times of doubt. I sometimes wonder if I am talking to a wall. I still feel lonely at times. I bristle when people want to say the Our Father at the end of the meeting or I hear some say how Jesus is their higher power. But I have gradually come to realize that while we walk the same path, we can focus on different things along that path. Who am I to say that my way is the only way? As long as I don’t think of the guy who stares back at me in the mirror is my higher power, then I have a good chance of staying sober.
It is only in step one that alcohol and drugs are mentioned. Where as a higher power, God, a power greater than oneself is mentioned in six of the steps. So I find it ironic that people talk about the ‘spiritual part’ of the program. For those who forged the original twelve steps there was no doubt, this is a spiritual program period. This program is restoring my connection to my Higher Power. In fact, the twelfth step tells us that if we have worked the previous eleven steps, it will result in a ‘spiritual awakening’: a realization of the connection with something greater than myself that has helped to break that cycle of addiction. We will have exchanged bottled spirits for a spirit that cannot be contained. I am grateful.