Reflections of a Recovering Addict, #7

Recovery is truly a beautiful process. There is a lot involved in recovering from drugs and alcohol. It is not just the abstinence from the mind altering, body destructing, life ruining, family alienating, job losing, home wrecking demon we ingest in the form of pills, powders, liquids, and gasses. It is about change, growth, and being comfortable with who we are, as we are. In recovery, we say that in order to remain abstinent and continue to heal, we must change our playmates, play things, and play grounds. In other words, we find others in recovery and form new friendships, we find new activities to do with our time that are legal, healthy, and acceptable to ourselves and others, and we spend our time in meetings, having coffee with our new friends, attending pot lucks, and repairing our homes and families. Some of us go to church, mass, synagogues, sweat lodges, and the like.

We are told many things when we enter a room of recovery. These are called suggestions, as they are not requirements, but rather the things that have been tried and worked in aiding other addicts to a successful path of recovery. We are told that the lot of us are there to support and guide you, not make demands of you or threaten to through you out if you do not do it our way. As a matter of fact, we learn that each and every individual’s process, or program, is their own and it is not always the same as the next guy. It is not a race. There is no finish line and graduation comes only when we pass from this life to the next, still clean and sober. There is no cure for addiction, only the treatment of recovery and it is a life long journey. All the suggestions are essential and if followed, we will and do recover.

Some of the more common suggestions are to attend 90 meetings in 90 days, obtain phone numbers from other members and to practice calling, so when you struggle to stay clean and sober, you are able to call for help, get a sponsor who acts as a mentor, and start working on the 12 steps that the program has been built on. We are told that it is not an “I” program, but a “WE” program; you cannot do it alone, but together we can! When we come into the rooms, most of us are spiritually broken and emotionally bankrupt. We are bound by shame and guilt and self-loathing, so the suggestion of giving yourself a break is a wise one. We did not become addicted in one day, so we cannot expect to recover overnight. It takes time. It takes a desire. It takes an effort. And it takes learning and practicing the principles that are foreign to us.

Throughout this process, and usually in the second and third steps, we need to determine for ourselves and accept a Higher Power. This is one of my favorite things about the 12 step programs of recovery. We decide, individually, who our Higher Power is. “…a God of our understanding.” Now, God, in this statement, does not necessarily refer to the Christian God, unless, of course, you want it to. The beauty is, it can be religious or it could be non-religious. Your Higher Power could be God, Buddha, Dalai Lama, the Creator, or some undefined spirit. On the other hand, so many of us either flat-out do not believe in a God or the like or we are just so destroyed that we are unable to believe. For some of us, we need to think long and hard about what we do or do not, or could or could not believe before we know who or what our Higher Power is. Some believe that the Universe serves well as their Higher Power. Others look to Angels, or their own personal Guardian Angel, to guide and protect them. And it is not at all uncommon for others to view the group, other recovering addicts who comprise the meetings, to be their Higher Power. No matter who we acknowledge as our Higher Power, we do need to come to believe that someone or something is bigger, stronger, and more in control than we ourselves, by ourselves, are.

I will break it down even more. Let us take a look at the definitions of higher and power individually. Though they each have many meanings, the ones that are mathematical, statistical, political, and such are not what is meant by Higher Power as we are taught is recovery. What the words do mean in that regard are as follows:

Higher—having a great or considerable extent or reach upward or vertically; exceeding the common degree or measure; strong; intense; exalted in rank, station, eminence, etc.; of exalted character or quality

Power—ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something; the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy; a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence; to inspire; spur; sustain

Now, you can piece these definitions in any way you like that is conducive to your idea of what or who you want your Higher Power to be. One thing that is often suggested is to think of what you think a Higher Power should be, if there was one that you could accept and rely on. For example, my Higher Power is tolerant and forgiving, caring and nurturing, and never gives up on me. My Higher Power listens to me and loves me and accepts me as I am. My Higher Power is always with me and knows much more about me than I will ever know myself. My Higher Power supports me and protects me. What my Higher Power looks like or what I call my Higher Power are irrelevant. My Higher Power has my best interests and well-being as a top priority and I can truly depend on my Higher Power in all situations.

In meetings, you may hear others suggest using a door knob as a temporary Higher Power until you come to accept someone or something different. In one sense, it is an exaggeration to make a point that your choice of Higher Power can never be wrong. It is also metaphorical in that a door knob will open the door to a new life, a new beginning, new opportunities, to a meeting, etc. When you complete the first step, the admitting that you are powerless, you essentially, to some degree, acknowledge that something else has the control, and you are on your way to not allowing the drug or alcohol to have that control, but something else that will lead you to a better way of living.

The beauty of this concept is that, had this program been built up around God, or what is thought to be the Christian God, many would run at the mere mention of the word. If it is not because we do not believe in this particular God, it is because we do not want to be sucked into a religious cult or feel as if we are going to church rather than a support group. In a lot of cases, it is not uncommon for us to come into a room of recovery filled with anger towards God. Until we can take responsibility for our actions, we often blame others and “God” is not immune to being blamed. Some of us just cannot fathom that any God could forgive us or would want to help us and therefore end up feeling doomed right from the beginning. I personally believe that the teaching, tolerance, acceptance, and encouragement of any form of Higher Power is one of the most crucial in new comers’ sticking around and coming back. I love it!

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3 responses to “Reflections of a Recovering Addict, #7

  1. Pingback: Reflections of a Recovering Addict, #9 | One Mind Many Detours

  2. I love it too! I think this is one of the (or possibly THE) most important concepts in recovery. My Higher Power is the sine qua non, the “without which it is not” for me to get better. I had never heard the doorknob example — that’s interesting! Also, I like all the pictures you selected here!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Anita. Yes, exactly! Whatever works for each individual person and it works in the sense of keeping them clean and sober and being present and participating in their recovery and get better, the concept is clear… What difference does it make who a person calls God, or Goddess, or Creator, or Spirit. Really it doesn’t. I am so glad for that, not only for me, but for all addicts/alcoholics everywhere!

      -Cindy

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