Step Two of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says:
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
As I go through the steps again with my sponsor, I am currently working on step two. This step asks us to consider two things: 1) trusting that there is something bigger and stronger out there than we are, and 2) that greater thing is able to do what we couldn’t – restore us to sanity.
I think that in reworking this step, I have really been able to see how far I have come. When I first heard step two, my focus wasn’t on either of the points I listed above; it was on the fact that accepting this step meant that I was admitting that I was, in fact, insane. Believe me, there was a time during my active drinking, when I preferred friends and family just think I was crazy as opposed to thinking that I was an alcoholic. That explains why my first “stay” at any kind of treatment facility was at a psychiatric hospital. It was easier to let everyone believe that I was having some sort of breakdown, than admit I was throwing back bottles and bottles of wine and vodka. It was easier with the doctors too, as I didn’t tell them the truth about my drinking either. Somehow, at the time, it seemed like insanity was the lesser of the two evils.
By the time I got to rehab, less than a month later, and had to consider step two, I really didn’t want to be considered crazy anymore. I wanted, with everything in me, to get well. I wanted to be sober and sane. I knew that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable. But now, the program was telling me that I was crazy and that I had to trust something greater than myself if I wanted that to change. That was a really hard concept for me to swallow. First of all, I wasn’t in the state of mind to be able to trust anyone. My family was bailing on me during my time of need (not that they were always there anyway, but if there was ever a time that I needed them, it was then); my boyfriend had dumped me while I was in the psych hospital; my friends weren’t really friends, they were either people I drank with or people who I never let see the real me. I felt like I had no one, and they were telling me that I had to trust something, or someone, that I couldn’t even see. Fat chance of that happening! Or so I thought.
My first step two, although it was kind of a half-assed attempt at believing put me on the right path. I knew, without a doubt, that I couldn’t get sober on my own. If I had been able to do that, I would have stopped drinking a long time before ending up in treatment. And I knew that people just like me had been able to get and stay sober; almost all of the employees at my rehab were in recovery themselves. So what was the difference between them and me? They had a Higher Power, and I was trying to do it all by myself.
What I found, when I was willing to walk the right path, was that heading in the right direction can lead to real faith. I know that I didn’t “come to believe” all at once. It was gradual and slow. It took time. I think my first real inclinations toward faith came when I thought about all of the past chaos and wreckage in my life. Somehow, I had made it through all of that, no thanks to me. Why, when I done all of the dangerous, self-harming things I had, was I even still alive? How had I survived? Clearly, it wasn’t my doing. There had to be something out there that was doing it for me.
Over time, working the rest of the steps, listening to other alcoholics, and confronting my past and putting it to rest, I realized that I had “come to believe.” I did have a Higher Power: God, and He was taking care of me and giving me grace even when I didn’t want to see it. The grace I had been given was evidence to me that God was working in my life, and all I had to do was trust in that.
So, this time as I worked my second step, I found it much different. I no longer focus on the insanity part of the step. As it says in the 12 and 12:
“Sanity is defined as “soundness of mind.” Yet no alcoholic, soberly analyzing his destructive behavior, whether the destruction fell on the dining-room furniture or his own moral fiber, can claim “soundness of mind” for himself.”
I did not have soundness of mind when I was actively drinking. In sobriety, I think I do. Well, most of the time anyway.
I also have faith this time around. I know that it is God that deserves the glory for my 16+ months of sobriety. I’ve done some hard, really hard, work, but without Him, I wouldn’t be where I am. So as I take step two now, I am confident in saying that I have come to believe in a power greater than myself, and He has restored me to sanity.