Step 2 of a 12-Step Series
I’ve been attending AA meetings for three months now and I’m noticing that what I like most about the program is that I feel like no one is telling me what to do.
There is no right or wrong way, only suggestions. I can steer my own ship through the recovery waters and plot my own course. Accepting this way of thinking has allowed me, a recovering perfectionist, to want to move through the 12 Steps.
As I sat down with my Sponsor to work on Step 2, we read aloud from Chapter 4 - We Agnostics from The Big Book of AA and Tradition 2 from the 12x12 book. There was room for discussion and questions about the text. My Sponsor then assigned me a little homework to do before our next meeting:
- Write a daily gratitude list of 30 items, take photo, text to it to her every single day
- Text my Sponsor daily
- Look up and write out definitions for the following words:
Lists and definitions? She was speaking my Love Language. I was eager to knock this Step out of the park, but first I had to get over the concept and physical language of the Step.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 2, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book, page 47
When it came to believing in a Power greater than myself (I assumed this meant God), well, that's where I had the problem with this Step. I didn't want to accept that I didn't control the universe. I also didn't want to accept that my drinking had made me insane. So, there was a lot of work to do in this regard.
Navigating the God hurdle turned out to be pretty straightforward once I got out of my own way (a recurring theme that keeps showing up in my recovery). I simply had to choose to suspend my disbelief as it related to my prior thinking about God or the idea of God. Over the past decade, I slowly gravitated towards being a full-on skeptic, but didn’t want to call myself an atheist either.
I ended up having to over-simplify what I had over-complicated my entire life as it related to the word God. I had to let go of the G-word as I understood it. Shelving my previous half-hearted convictions in the God Department actually ended up feeling like a huge relief. If I was being truly honest with myself, I knew my ideas and preconceived notions about God had always been a little fuzzy. I wasn’t raised with any firmly rooted ideas about God, only that going to church and tithing were things to be avoided. My personal experience had always been one steeped in confusion and a desire to belong to something bigger than myself, so why not believe in a Power greater than myself? Wasn’t that what I’d been doing my entire life? Reaching for this spiritual blank slate in recovery was a welcome sobriety tool, so I grabbed onto it and pushed off from there.
When I initially read the words restore us to sanity, I immediately thought this Step is saying I’m insane, which, of course, it wasn’t but that was how I was reading it. I had to pick it apart and unpack the phrase restore us to sanity a few dozen times. I turned to the well-worn, highlighted pages of my 25-year old desk dictionary and searched for clarity in its definition of the word that was troubling me.
sanity noun: the condition of having a healthy mind: the condition of being sane: the condition of being based on reason or good judgment
Tammi’s 25-year old desk dictionary
Did I want to be restored to the condition of having a healthy mind? Absolutely. Did I want to be restored to a condition where I made choices based on reason? Sure, sign me up. Did I want to have good judgment when it came to life? Yes. Yes, please.
Instead of focusing on the word insane (which, by the way, which Step 2 never mentions), I just needed to hone in on the positive side effects of accepting Step 2. I wanted to be restored to a condition that was better than my current state of mind. I wanted peace and the ability to make good decisions. I wanted to intuitively know right from wrong. I wanted to be a nicer person. I craved balance and moderation in my life. I desperately wanted to be restored to sanity. I was ready.
For most of my life, I’d been living as a deeply unsatisfied seeker. The blank slate of spirituality concept, coupled with my newfound understanding of the word sanity, hit an invisible reset button inside of me. When I merged the ideas that there was a Power greater than myself and that maybe it could restore me to sanity, the bells and whistles went off. I wanted a fresh start now that I’d given up alcohol. Accepting that there was a Power greater than myself seemed like a cakewalk compared to the uncomfortable feelings I’d be stuffing down all of these years and masking with alcohol. Finally, I acknowledged to my Sponsor that, sure, I believe in a Power greater than myself. I just didn’t know what that was for me yet. And if that Power could restore me to sanity, well, then I was more than ready to suspend my disbelief and get this show on the road.
Tammi hasn’t had a drink since February 3, 2015. She is a former wine bar owner, lifelong seeker and recovering perfectionist. She makes art every day and credits this practice as the path to her spiritual overhaul. She documents her creative forays and monthly sobriety milestones at TammiSalas.com Her writing here will share her story as she navigates the 12 Steps of AA.
A NOTE FROM TAMMI:
Anonymity is the foundation of AA and I respect that. However, I choose to recover out loud in order to be of service to other people still suffering.