by Max N.
The first time I got drunk, I blacked out. If one were to gaze through a crystal ball that night, and the countless drunken evenings that followed it, they might see the beginnings of a crippling dependency. It was not how much I drank, or how often, but in the absolute faith that I placed in alcohol as a solution.
I have always been a deeply spiritual person. Even in my most spiritually unfit moments, at the height of my active addiction, I drank fundamentally because I found in alcohol relief from pain, from life.
When I was asked to leave school, which was during my addiction, I had a GPA much closer to ‘0’ than to ‘1’. When I returned to education, a gift of sobriety, I learned of the idea of a hierarchy of needs. Though there are many theories what this may look like, it is widely agreed that the top of this pyramid is self-actualization, the spiritual – enlightenment, in a sense.
Certainly I drank to achieve the spiritual without the effort, regardless of the cost. The cost, in my case, was profound. My social life vanished, my ability to work and to attend school was destroyed and my health took a turn for the worse.
Having made the necessary admission of powerlessness in Step 1, it seemed only logically to follow that if I was powerless, then there was a power greater than myself.
Let’s break Step 2 down. “Came to believe-” is a profoundly hopeful statement for any doubters, of which most of us were at some point, as it suggests a gradual evolution towards God. While a white light might work for some, most of us experience the spiritual as a tide coming in – waves of understanding hitting us stronger and faster each time. These three words suggest belief is a destination we are seeking.
“That a power greater than ourselves-” is the second part of this second step. As mentioned earlier, I had already placed faith in alcohol. Certainly alcohol was a power greater than myself. My reliance upon alcohol, however, had led to ruin in almost every aspect of my life. If I was going to surrender again, or change my higher power, it surely should treat me better than the disease of addiction did.
I remember sitting there and waiting for someone at the front of the room to tell me what AA’s “power greater than ourselves” was. When was the conversion going to happen? I needed to be on guard!
To my relief, these 12 Steppers told me that I could conceive my own conception of my higher power. More shockingly, none of them really seemed to care what it was, as long as it wasn’t drugs or alcohol.
“Could restore us to sanity” is the third and final piece of the Step 2 puzzle. Firstly, let’s examine “could”. It doesn’t say “will” or “must” or “is going to do so by Friday next week” (however much I may have wished that). “Could” means that it is in your higher power’s capabilities to restore you to sanity (more on that later) but he’s not your employee. God helps those who help themselves, as the old saying goes. Doing the steps certainly would aid this restoration.
What of a restoration to sanity? Well, could there be any doubt that I was insane? Sane drinkers do not have bars installed in their showers. Sane drinkers do not steal from people they love so they can continue drinking. Sane drinkers do not drink to blackout every night. Was there anything sane about my drinking at all? Hardly an inch, for the bulk of it was total madness.
Rome was not built in a day.
Step 2 empowers, not enslaves, and it is with great joy that one, following admitting powerlessness, can begin to walk this incredible road.