Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
Most addicts come to rehab or 12 step meetings in a broken, disheveled state. They have experienced financial ruin, the collapse of important relationships, and even hospitalizion in some cases. For much of the addict’s life, he or she feels alone and isolated because of the shame that comes from drug and alcohol abuse. In many cases, the addict has not spoken to a higher power in years, or perhaps, ever.
Addicts tend to view God, or a higher power, in either an angry, or dismissive way. Because of the self-pity and isolation that comes from extensive drug and alcohol abuse, many addicts either do not believe in a God, or they don’t understand how having God in their lives can help them at all. In the view of the addict, God has never been there for him or her, so there is no reason to trust in something that cannot be seen or proven.
A recovering alcoholic, Mary, explained how she viewed God prior to getting sober in a copy of the AA newsletter. She asserted, “I had no real connection with a Higher Power. I was too angry at God to have a relationship with Him! After all, I had been abused, I was a mess, and no one loved me except my children. For a long time that was enough. It wouldn’t last long.”
Like Mary, so many addicts have experienced such horror and trauma in their lives that even speaking to God is difficult. The addict feels unworthy, unloved, full of shame, and hopeless. The addict has spent so much time running the show on his or her own, that the thought of letting someone else take control of the situation is mind-boggling.
There are also addicts who come to the 12 steps or rehab who have no interest in figuring out who their higher power is. They are convinced that there is no God, so there is no reason to even bother asking a hypothetical Being to help. For these addicts, the program can be even more difficult, because they are so closed off to even the possibility of accepting a higher power at all.
Fortunately, there is no requirement for the addict to believe in a higher power overnight. As Jason Whaler, a blogger who covers the recovery process explains, “The second step doesn’t say “We came to believe in a power greater than ourselves. It says, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. That’s the beauty-we are invited to begin to think about what our higher power can be.”
For some people, primarily atheists and skeptics, the higher power can start out being the AA or rehab community. In other words, the power of the group, and the miracles that come from it, are more powerful and serve a greater purpose than the addict can alone. Many agnostics and atheists have gone on to find a higher power in the form of God after initially using the group of AA or rehab as their higher power. This can be a good beginning.
Others who are open to the idea of God are willing to find their own higher power, but don’t know where to look. These addicts often go to numerous churches, find spiritual retreats, and explore various religions to “find” God. Though some do find a higher power this way, many just become more confused. That’s ok. The best thing for the addict to do is not to panic about finding the “right” higher power. Often times, prayer and meditation can suffice for a while. The concept of a higher power can come when one stops looking for it.
Regardless of how the addict discovers his or her higher power, the basic concept to keep in mind is that there is something bigger out there than oneself. In other words, the addict is not running the show, nor can they control their addiction alone anymore. All one has to do is look at the ocean to understand how very small he or she is in the larger context of life. When the addict acknowledges that he or she is not God, regardless of whether or not they even believe in a God yet, then the addict is well on their way to understanding Step 2.
The beauty of Step 2 is that the addict now recognizes that they no longer have to do life on their own. Whaler again explains that, “The spiritual principles that are the foundation of this step are open mindedness, willingness, faith, trust, and humility. It really doesn’t matter whether we have any idea of how this power greater than ourselves is going to help, just that we come to believe it is possible.”
Finally, Step 2 helps the addict to soften his or her heart and let go of much of their anger. Giving the anger, sadness, depression, mistrust, fear, and concern to a higher power, rather than oneself, can provide a very deep sense of relief. It is in Step 2 that the addict can let go of so much of their control issues and truly understand that they no longer have to do life on their own. Through the power of AA and a higher power of some kind, the addict will be well on his or her way towards recovery after Step 2.
Are you are someone you know struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Contact Linda Rose at 949-558-4723 at Footprints Behavioral Health to learn more about our addiction treatment programs. Get started on your road map to recovery today!