Most people I hear in the rooms of recovery talk about what happened when they fail and the Abstinence/Recovery is broken. Common in all of these shares tends to be the words “I” or “me.” And that is the real issue isn’t it. We fail when “I” try to do something. I hear people share about being in the rooms for years before any type of real abstinence is obtained,. As a new comer myself (joined OA 6/17/2013 for the first time) I’ve been trying to understand why. Here are some of my theories (Note the opinions expressed here are just mine not “OA” as a whole):
- The First step is never actually taken.
"But I know I’m powerless” some may say. Then I could ask why do you think you could have prevented your failure? There is no reliance on a Higher Power. I was stressed, I was this or that. You ignore the insanity that you have. (Note I did not say “might have”) If you don’t know that you are insane around whatever your compulsion is, you are not done with step 1.
In the Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Pages 150 to 158 (a Vision for you) Bill W describes a moment when he identified the insanity. Bill Wilson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that going in to the bar was the worst possible option, and it was suggested by his insane brain and body. Bill reasoned the only viable option was to reach out to another drunk, that turned out to be Doctor Bob.
Do you ever look at the first compulsive bite, shot, drink or sex act and think, doing that will be insane and start me down a rabbit hole I may not escape? That is the conviction of your first step working. That knowledge of insanity, the recognition of it and the acceptance that you will never change under your own power. You can’t. If you don’t see that behavior in yourself, then you never took the first step.
- The second step is not real.
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” How do you take this step in our enlightened world? We “know” that we are the product of an accidental explosion that may, or may not have happened billions of times in order for the physics to be perfect that we ‘eventually” came into existence: Right? --- or do we? I’m not even talking about the origins of our universe now. I’am talking metaphysical physics (yes I just made that up). Even physicists keep looking for that one particle that will explain it all. They are looking for that “42” as Douglas Adams called it. “The answer to life the universe and everything.” More important then the “God Particle” is the “right question.”
In Step 2 we “Came to believe” but why didn’t we do that? Why can’t “I” believe there is some force that is influencing me? Because during our first step we never noticed the miracles in our lives. It may be as simple as the time we called a friend we’d not spoken to in years, only to find our voice was the one they needed to hear at that moment. Why that binge that sent us to the hospital didn’t kill us to the dismay of the medical staff, the “bad stuff” we shot up didn’t destroy our brains, that last bender ended only in a ticket and not in a fiery crash that would have killed us, or worse somebody else.
It is not relevant if there is a “Supreme Being” in charge of it all, but it is relevant that there is an unseen, misunderstood force that does influence our lives. If you can’t follow the second step because you didn’t “come to believe” than there is no reason to move forward. Without that belief, knowledge or acceptance of a “Power greater then ourselves” we can not be “recovered!” It is simple physics, if you didn’t have the power to quit before, what makes you think there is any chance of doing it alone, without the help of a Higher Power? There is no chance!
This decision “To turn our and our lives over to God as we understand him” ought not be an easy one. The harder it is to really make, the less likely we are to walk away. We are talking about doing things based on a Higher Power, something unseen, untouched or undisclosed. Something we know is there because we see the evidence that something is working in our lives, but we are not sure what. In some cases it may take a leap of blind faith. Some of us start this journey with the idea that they “believe as if” there is a Higher Power. The funny thing, these people do get results. The idea then is to have stronger faith based on your experience. Oddly, this “decision” is where the rubber meets the road.
The rest of the steps are based on the actions taken in these first three. Taking inventory can’t be done unless you can be completely honest, honesty under our self-will does not exist for most of us. Having the strength to admit our wrongs, something we’ve been hiding from all our lives, can only come if we can draw on the strength of our Higher Power. Even being willing to release those defects of character that we have grown accustomed to isn’t something that can be done with only our will alone. We’ve probably all tried that. And our compulsion was the outcome. The only way we can complete these other steps is with the help of our higher power. Even “a friend”, as the Big Book calls those who work with us, can only point us in the right direction. It is up to you AND your Higher Power to complete these tasks.
So what does it mean to make a decision? The Latin root word Latin dēcīsiōn- (stem of dēcīsiō ) literally, a cutting off, equivalent to dēcīs. To cut off. To remove from. So what we are asking ourselves to do is to cut ourselves off, and let our HP do with us as He/She wills. Where our issue generally lies is with the whole removal of self. Most relapse’s that I hear share, talk about having thought they “graduated” from the program. This decision we are making is not until we stop drinking (eating, snorting, shooting etc.)” it is for life, not only a time period for now but a method of continued existence. One we have never tried before. Our goal is to continually live seeking and doing the will of our Higher Power. This is how we come to receive the 10th step promises. Those Promises is where Serenity lives: “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol (food, drugs sex etc). For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor (ice cream, crack, gambling). If tempted we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see our new attitude toward liquor (cookies, Meth, Nicotine or pornography) has been given us without thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we have been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected.” (BBoAA Pages 84-85)
As we know there are three sides to our existence as described by the original Circle and Triangle of Alcoholics Anonymous:
1. Unity – Physical, Step 1, Step 4, Step 8 and Step 12
2. Fellowship – Spiritual, Step 2, Step 5, Step 6, Step 9, Step 11
3. Recovery (Shown by Abstinence from our compulsive behavior)- Step 3, Step 7 and Step 10
If we are casual or fail on any facet, we can’t maintain the proper balance. In that balance of life is where serenity is found. “Remember that we deal with is alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that one is God. May you find Him now.” (BBoAA pg 58 Paragraph 4)
A Worksheet for steps 1 and 2
In the new Window Click on the Print and it will generate a PDF for you to save.