When I walked into my first Twelve-Step meeting I was broken. And absolutely terrified. The idea of a Higher Power or God was nearly revolting to me – why would I trust some power greater than myself? I wanted control. I had absolutely no intention of handing over the keys to the bus I was driving any time soon, despite the fact that I drove that bus like I stole it. I did not want to associate with a bunch of losers, and I had no desire to quit for good, I just wanted to get a handle on my drinking. See, I was having blackouts- really, really bad blackouts and as hard as I tried not to get drunk, I always ended up absolutely wasted. There were a few unfortunate incidents (including an assault) in quick succession so at the insistence of some people that cared about me, I went to a meeting.
The coffee was terrible and being in a church basement made me feel really uncomfortable, but I thought that I would at least hear what these people had to say, they definitely looked in better shape than I did, so I thought it was worth a listen…. Then I heard the word “God” and I shut down. I had never needed God and I was certainly not about to start relying on some guy in the sky to solve all my problems… so I checked out. I wrote those people off as religious zealots and assured myself I didn’t belong there, I would just have to rely on my own willpower. That night I left those ‘losers’ (who were actually happy, healthy people who loved their lives) and proceeded to drink myself into another blackout and continued the living hell for another five years.
The next time I entered the rooms of AA I was spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially bankrupt. I had what we call a ‘low bottom’; I lost everything before I had the willingness to at least try to accept what these so-called losers were saying. If, through sharing my experience, I can spare someone those last years of literal hell, then it will all be worth it…
Twelve-step groups are not a cult, they are not allied with any religious sect or denomination and there is no requirement for membership apart from the desire to stop drinking, and if you are anything like I was, waking up with the shakes so bad you can’t even hold a toothbrush, there is a glimmer of desire in you for it all to stop. And I’m here to tell you it is possible.
AA, (along with all other twelve step groups- I refer to AA because that is where I felt most at home) is a spiritual program, and it does say in our literature that a Power Greater than us is the solution. And, even for atheists – who make up a large number of our membership-that is 100% correct. The good news is, coming to believe is easier than you think.
An Old-timer once said “You don’t need to find God. God is not lost.” That statement has stayed with me, and has brought me so much comfort during the gradual unfolding of my personal spiritual experience over the last decade. This same old-timer explained the process in a way I could understand, he stated that getting in touch with your spirituality is not about finding anything. It’s about the seeking, it is about the journey.
What I have come to understand is that it is a sacred journey. You are your own spiritual authority and the spiritual experience is simply a way to describe the exploring of the unknown, the being open to possibilities, the suspension of judgement and disbelief, it is through these acts that we can truly occupy the space of awe and wonder and have authentic, conscious contact with a Higher Power. If we are willing to challenge what we know, and challenge what we think we know, if we are willing to- even for a moment- transcend the need for scientifically quantifiable answers and wonder….then we are already having a spiritual experience.
If we look for the proof, rather than the disproof, we will see that Goddess/Universe/God/Higher Power is everywhere…the moon waxes and wanes, the tide comes in and out, the seasons change without us humans doing anything… that seems like a power greater than us, doesn’t it?
And if you need more proof (I sure as hell did) consider this… How do we explain the so-called coincidences that happen so often, like when the exact right people cross our paths at exactly the right moment? Or the way that what can seem like the end of the world disasters turn out to be the most remarkable life changing gifts (think break ups, moves, getting fired from a job that sucks your soul etc.).
When we have the courage to get out of our own way and let our Higher Power take the wheel, we can do remarkable things.
So my point is, the seeking is where the answer is, it’s not in the finding anything- there’s no destination, there’s no finish line. Recovery is the sacred journey, savour your journey and stop trying to judge your progress based on how you think others are doing. Because this is your healing, your rebirth, and you’re doing just fine my love, you’re doing beautifully.