Matt's Experience of Step 2
My name is Mathew and I am an alcoholic. My experience of Step Two – ‘Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity’ – is that I was the world’s biggest sceptic at the start. I didn’t think AA was going to work, and I didn’t believe in God. But everything has turned around. AA really does work and, though I didn’t ever think it would happen, I have found a God of my own understanding.
I got to AA nearly a year and a half ago, at the age of 41. I drank from school-age and always drank to get drunk, usually out of fear and loneliness. Over the years it progressed. I walked out on my family, walked out of my job and drank alone round the clock for the last two to three years. Life was miserable and my head was full of sick and twisted thoughts, including killing myself. I hadn’t lost everything but I wanted it to be over. I had no fight left.
Listening to the shares I heard at those meetings the first few weeks, I easily identified and Step One was quite literally a no-brainer.
Even so, I would look at The Twelve Steps and see the word ‘God’. In the Big Book, there it was again, over and over it seemed. It made me feel very uneasy. I just wanted to stop drinking – well, more than that – I also wanted to be happy. But why did it have to involve God?! My problem was I didn’t believe in God. I never liked churches or any organised religions. I thought religious people weren’t living in the real world, full of hypocrisy and generally a bit weird. If you asked me, I was an atheist, full stop.
Thing is, I was beaten. I knew I was in trouble and really needed help. In meetings, everyone shared that I needed to get a sponsor if I wanted to go through with this program, so that’s what I did, even though I didn’t really have any idea what was going to happen next.
My sponsor gave me a list of daily actions. These included praying each morning for a sober day and again, in the evening, to give thanks for a sober day. This wasn’t normal for me, but I just did it anyway. It was weird at first and I worried I wasn’t doing it right or even taking it seriously deep down, but once I started praying and doing the rest of the actions every day I soon stopped thinking about alcohol. I couldn’t believe it – this stuff was actually working!
When my sponsor thought I was ready to take the first three Steps, I remember him coming over to my flat and asking me whether I was willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. He reassured me that I only had to be willing to believe to make a start. That was a relief, because even up to that point, I was worried that I would have to join a church or something before I could do the Steps.
We talked a little more, and then I remembered the last few days of my drinking – I recalled being curled up in a ball on the floor of my flat, crying like a baby, praying to ‘God’ – that I didn’t believe in at that point – to get me out of that hell! So there it was. When things got bad enough, I had prayed, so I was ready and willing to believe in something. I don’t think my sponsor even asked me what ‘it’ was, but I remember telling him that if the universe was this really, really big place then it must mean that I was merely a very tiny spec on a very tiny planet somewhere in all of that. This was enough to make a start. I have been happily sober for over a year.
Looking back, I drew a lot of strength from people in meetings who had been sober for a long time. In fact, like a lot of other people, I used the Power of AA, or the Power of my home group in those early days, and still do. AA was the first thing I’d ever found that I felt I could really believe in. People who had been down further than me were sober and happy, and it started working for me too.
In the meantime, my own idea of God started to take shape. It was all a bit vague at the start, but it started to grow out of what I’d told my sponsor that day. I love reading and watching TV programmes about maths, nature, science, space and the stars. More and more we learn that lots of things in the natural world and in the universe have the same basic building blocks of life. I enjoy the beauty of music and play an instrument, which I see today as a marvellous gift. Like it says in the Big Book, I am completely convinced that there is a ‘creative intelligence underlying the totality of things.’
The point is, despite my fears, it was ok that I didn’t have a fixed idea of God to begin with. What I have come to believe in has happened over time as I worked through the rest of the Steps. It works for me, so I don’t try to analyse it and every so often it grows a little more. Some days I do get the most amazing sensations that I can’t fully explain, but I know that this is God somehow at work in my life. At the start, I suppose it was quite literally that circumstances made me willing to believe. But now, I do believe and I am aware and conscious of God as I go about my day. This gives me a growing stability and I am looking at ways to tap into this Power more – Step 11. Above all, I am no longer embarrassed to talk about God. ‘He’ is a fact of life for me today and I know everything is going to be ok so long as I carry on doing this AA stuff.
Matt, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth