To get rid of unhealthy habits many people turn to so-called 12-step programs, such as AA, CA, Al-Anon, to name just a few of the more than 50.
Regular meetings in which the participants suffering from the same habits share their personal stories and experience form the basis of these programs.
It is common practice to have a so-called “step 1 meeting” when there are newcomers in the group. I remember my first al-anon meeting vividly (note: al-anon is a 12 step program for people living or having lived with an alcoholic partner, family member, parent , child, friend, colleague, etc.) and it may be worth while to share this experience with you.
As I let these words sink in, the group took turns in reading out loud, each of the 12 steps. I heard the voices say:
“One. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ‑ that our lives had become unmanageable”.
“ Two. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
“Three. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
At this point I could no longer focus on what was being said. I literally thought I had landed in some kind of a sect or cult. Me powerless, my life unmanageable… God… as we understood him…. Ridiculous. I felt like getting up and walking out… I did not. It has been years since that first meeting and I have been to very many. Why?
I suppose al-anon has confronted me with my denial of reality. Somehow, deep inside of me, a grain of consciousness had remained. An awareness of the truth, of reality, in spite of the denial.
My life had been like a stage act by an artist holding up too many spinning plates on too many sticks. And I managed to keep them all up in the air: work, children, finances, housekeeping, parents, etc. etc. And this had become the unhealthy habit I had learned. It had become my perception. my belief of “normal”; my illusion of being in control of my life.
Although I thought I had been in control of the plates on sticks, I was not in control of my life. Let alone in control of the alcoholism of my alcoholic. It controlled me. It distracted me from myself. And I had been doing it for over a decade.
Was I powerless over alcohol? Yes, absolutely. And had my life become unmanageable? Oh, yes.
So, what about this higher power then? This “God as we understood him”. Well, I would suggest to read some of my posts on this blog. In short: as I stopped performing, as I let go of the sticks and as the plates stopped spinning and fell to pieces on the ground, all of a sudden the life I had considered normal for so long came to a halt. It was as if I had to re-invent my life. Rediscover myself in it.
I had been suffering from insanity (see this post). I had been repeating the same behavior over and over again, expecting a different outcome. This is precisely how Albert Einstein defined insanity.
When I stopped fighting reality, reality became clear to me. I became part of it and was no longer separating myself from it. And reality, my friends, is awesome. Creation is awesome and we are all connected with it and through it (more in this post). And this awareness is Higher Power as I understand him,her or it.
Attending al-anon meetings helped me in my recovery. I keep coming back. Thank God.