Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
I haven’t thought of this step in a while, as I am in my first round of the steps. But I was at a meeting the other day and we read this. Now, normally I would skip the roundabout 1-2-3 step meetings, opting to go for the more “advanced” (ha ha) steps – ones that I am currently on, or just finished. I figure the 1-2-3 were for the newcomers, the old timers or those who were shy and didn’t want to share in the smaller groups. But there was no choice in this small group, so we dove in.
And I have to say that it really got me thinking about the step long after the meeting. I realized for the first time that there are three parts to this step:
1) Came to believe. We as alcoholics never believed in anything other than the bottle and the other crap that our minds pumped out (“you’re no good”, “no one likes you”, etc). Also note the past tense. When Bill W and the others wrote this, they already had come to believe. So they are telling us something that already happened to them. They, like us, had to realize that they needed to grip onto something deeper than a cocktail napkin, that the idea of living off faith of nil would only lead them down a darker path. Belief, as it is defined as something accepted as true, would only point us to the next part of the step.
2) a Power greater than ourselves. While we could go on and on about this (I can!), it’s a simple concept that only we alcoholics can complicate! A power greater than myself was something that came easily to me, as I always did believe in something, even in the midst of my alcoholism. To put is simply, I simply had to understand that I could no longer run my own life. It got me into serious trouble and left to continue doing so, I would probably be dead, in jail, or in an asylum. The Creator had to be in charge. I had to let God run my life. Lack of power was our dilemma, the Big Book states. So someone or something has to have the power. And that is our Higher Power. I know a lot of people who have trouble here, and there are many ways to approach this (another post!), but as long as we are willing and open minded, this part of God (or however you see your Higher Power) shouldn’t make us stumble. It only makes us humble.
3) restore us to sanity. Sanity is defined as” the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health”. So insanity is just the opposite of that. It doesn’t have to mean that we are babbling, drooling imbeciles (ok, well maybe sometimes I was!), but that we were bereft of the hallmarks of a sane and “normal” mind. I often acted and thought in odd ways – I was irrational, disturbed, unhinged, chaotic and best described as “off” or “gapping out”. I did and said things that just did not make any sense to anyone else, even myself at times. I was insane. I did things that looking back now weren’t sane. I am sure I am not the only one to reflect upon this. Drinking and then driving is not a sane act. There are hundreds of examples of insane actions and thoughts I can easily recall (painfully, but still recall). So while I first bristled at the wording of this part of the step, I have come to realize how true it is, and how we all were insane in one way or another. That also helps me in accepting others in their journey. Everyone’s still growing.
It’s funny how we see things differently once we open up some space, gain some experience and shift our perceptions.
It’s a never ending lesson!