Monday, November 29, 2010

Exactly How DO I Come To Believe, Though?

So you've admitted to your powerlessness, and now you're high-centred on the speedbump of Step Two: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

There have been aspects of my character which have given me pause, depressed me, caused me to feel as though I were not a very nice person. (This is not the same as the self-loathing I felt when I was new to Al-Anon. This is after an objective  - as far as that's possible when you both inhabit the same skull, yourself, and you looking at yourself - inventory of my character defects.)
Without a doubt, the character defect most disturbing to my serenity, destructive to my peace of mind, and damaging to my relationships, is: being judgemental.

When I'm indulging myself in judgements about what another person says, thinks, wears, does, or believes, I am blocking my ability to hear something useful in their words. I'm making it impossible for me to respect them, and I'm choosing to maintain my solitary misery, rather than reach out to the comfort sitting there, oh so close at hand, but unattainable, unless I'm willing to put down the judgements I'm clutching in both hands, and reach out with an empty hand to ask for it.

For me, Step Two has been both a slowly evolving process, and at the same time, an active choice. (When I was new to program, if I heard a line like that, within 15 seconds, I'd be so far gone down the road of appraisal, evaluation and assessment, I'd be gnashing my teeth in an arrogant superiority.)

I was what I've since heard described as a "closed system" - a mindset which does not accept input from outside the self.

I wavered so much, at first - I wanted what program offered/ no, they were all a bunch of wierdly cheerful nutcases warbling on about "how grateful they were to their alcoholics." (Want to upset a closed-system-type person? Speak fervently of your gratitude for the alcoholics in your life.)
I could see that they were different in their ability to be happy, although many lived in the same sort of chaotic home life I did/no, I wasn't about to get down on my knees to any Higher Power, thank you very much, I'd had that crap forced down my throat in childhood, and escaped it, so I wasn't fool enough to willingly start swallowing it again, what were they, crazy?

It makes me laugh nowadays, recalling how I flung about that label of "crazy" when in truth, I would have been a serious contender for the gold medal for insane thinking, had there been a contest.

"There are none so blind, as those who will not see." An excellent definition of denial.

The only way I could "come to believe" was by deciding that I wanted recovery more than I wanted the satisfaction of arrogance and judgement. I'd been doing the latter all my life, and hadn't managed to find serenity, what did I have to lose by giving open-mindedness a try?

12-Step stresses that we keep an open mind; that's how miracles happen. Whether or not we believe in them, they will still take place. We don't have to believe in them, a Higher Power, anything at all -  the only action we're asked to do, is open the door to our mind the tiniest amount, and prop it open, so it stays that way. Fresh air will slowly filter in, and find us, even when we're hiding in the closet, with the light off, and a blanket over our heads. Our Higher Power knows where to find us, but first, we must ask. Just ask. Not believe at first, only ask. We will come to believe, if we ask. What we will come to believe is immaterial to the person in the chair beside us, or the ones across the table in a meeting; it's individual to each of us, and can be the opposite to beliefs held by those we dearly love -  that matters not a jot.

It's the opening of that door, which is so vital.


  1. My oldest son, 23, is just now starting out in the professional world and encountering all sorts of new, sometimes tough, challenges. He calls me to vent and for suggestions. I, invariably, will share with him a slogan, phrase, wisdom or quote that is pure Al-anon. He says my groups are where I go for free hugs..hehe He tells me how tired he is of my "cliches". Funny thing, yesterday he ends up saying them back to me as he shared how he handled a tough situation. He didn't realize it. I just smiled. I believe....

  2. I thought that I was open minded before program but now realize that another dimension has been added. Acceptance is the key.