So in continuance with my monthly theme, I’m going to leap (omg I am so clever) in here with Step 3, which, depending on your beliefs, could possibly be a tough one to navigate. Firstly though, let me emphasize that I am not advocating one type of recovery or program over another – right now in my sobriety I’m at a point where I have to believe that however you choose to get sober is your business. There are so many options and resources these days, that if it works, work it, I say. . . unless you have some sort of fucked up deal where you repeatedly flog yourself every time you think about a drink in which case you need more help than my little narcissistic blog can provide. But, if you’re a run of the mill drunk like myself, listen up.
Step THREE. I have been summarizing all the steps of a 12 Step Recovery programs with just one word. Step 3 in the Alcoholics Anonymous program reads “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” This is typically the NUMBER ONE complaint I hear when folks tell me they want to stick their big toe in the AA wading pool. They don’t believe in God or they don’t really like God, or they are sick and tired of God, or they don’t want God anywhere near their sobriety, and I can understand all of this. And I’ve found that the “as we understood him” caveat doesn’t help folks that, well, don’t understand Him. The perceived God of my childhood isn’t the same God of my adult life so I get that people get prickly when the Big Guy in the Sky is mentioned. I think it’s kinda like Obamacare. If they had just called it something else, maybe it would’ve gone over better, you know? The premise was a good one, it’s just the name didn’t do it any favors. Maybe it’s the preconceived notion of the word “GOD” that gives everyone the heebie jeebies?
I like to summarize Step 3 with one word: Faith. You don’t have to believe in God – in fact, if you do struggle with the God thing you can absolutely substitute the words “power greater than ourselves.” Alcoholics only have to acknowledge that they need and are going to willingly accept help. WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT HELP. That’s a big one so that’s why I went ALL CAPS on your ass there. You can also use “higher power” and that’s a little more ambiguous and enigmatic. If you experience gratitude, you indeed possess a whispery thread of a higher power, for if you are grateful, you acknowledge that there is something out of your control and larger than you in a universal sense in which to thank for your fortituitous circumstance, or blessing, or what have you. And no, I have not been smoking weed this morning no matter how you read or interpret that sentence. I’ve tried to edit it but I’m going to just leave it there and stand by it.
Let me also interject here that I have also come across some folks that do NOT want to accept that they were powerless against their addictions. They want to RECLAIM that power in their recovery – but I also think that in my case, declaring the powerlessness is WHAT GAVE ME POWER, if that makes things even more confusing for you. Alcoholism had to bring me to my knees, figuratively, AND somewhat literally, especially if you count the ONE AND ONLY time I’ve ever had an enema – but this is not the time or the place for that shit, literally. Someone in a meeting recently said that alcoholics are much like boxers. We stay in the ring and get the ever loving shit beaten out of us, repeatedly, yet as the referee starts to count us out, we continue to rise, bloody and beaten and ready to fight yet again because THIS TIME we’ll win, we’re sure. It’ll be different this time, right!?! This is The Drunkards equivalent of saying “it’ll be different when they are OUR kids”, as young would-be parents will speculate and ultimately lie to themselves. I laughed out loud when the guy that shared this ended his simile with “I’ve figured out the trick of this alcoholism thing . . . just STAY DOWN“.
Faith can be the quiet belief way down deep in yourself that understands that this isn’t who you are, and this is NOT who you are supposed to be. Often we drunks lose faith in ourselves and our worthiness of recovery. Faith can be the reticent hope that things will get better if you are willing to accept help. A belief deep in your soul that has been covered up with deceit, lies and shame. It takes a faith to “unbecome” something, trust me, but you can do it. Sometimes the path through alcoholism can lead you to discover your true self, and other times, it will remind you of who you once were. Whatever your story is, it matters. As do you.
Have faith. Remember, without the dark we’d never see the stars.