This is part of an ongoing series explaining how I did the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This will anger some people in recovery, as it requires me to break my anonymity. However, with the opioid epidemic claiming so many lives, I believe it is important for those who love an addict to understand one of the oldest and most commonly used path to recovery. 

Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

I was 39-years old by the time I walked into my first AA meeting. By then I had done a spectacular job of proving that I could not stop drinking on my own. It was going to take a power greater than me to help me stop.

It was pointed out to me early on that not believing in a higher power meant that I believed I was the greatest power in the universe. I didn’t like the sound of that. Kind of made me sound like an arrogant, self-righteous jerk. So, I was going to have to figure out who and what is my higher power.

The God I had been brought up with was a white guy, with white hair and a white beard. He sat on a big gold throne and he knew and kept track of every little sin you committed. He could see everything – kind of like Santa – but he was usually pissed off.

If you were really bad, you went to hell for eternity. Break one of the 10 Commandments and you would automatically go straight to hell. You couldn’t Hail Mary your way out of it. (As a student at St. Stephen’s Catholic school this made me wonder, if you broke one of the 10 Commandments, why not break a few more. I mean, you were going to hell anyway, right?)

So, there I was, 39-years-old, stuck with an old white dude, with white hair and a white beard, who knew all my sins – which were probably far more than I knew about because I was a blackout drinker.

After a lot of discussion and debate with my sponsor I realized this guy was not my higher power. He was a figment of a scared Catholic schoolgirl’s imagination. So, who or what was my higher power? How would he/she/it help me stop drinking?

First things first: AA is NOT a religious program. It is a spiritual program. What’s the difference? Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there and want to get the hell and stay the hell out.

So, if you want a door nob to be your higher power, go for it. Some people in the rooms believe that God is Good Orderly Direction. You can believe that Jesus will save your soul. Or not. No one is going to tell you who or what is your higher power. It’s your relationship with a higher power of your understanding – not necessarily the higher power of some scary nuns or preacher.

And you had better figure this out before you go any further in the steps because you are going to have to turn your will and your life over to this higher power. Remember, AA is a we program.

This relationship with your higher power is going to be the most important relationship in your life. It will save your life. I have been blessed with sponsors who really challenged me to define my higher power, form a relationship and begin to have regular contact with him/her/it.

In other words, pray – as hard as you ever have. Your sanity and sobriety depends on it.

Read how I did the other steps:

Step 1: Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.