Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Restored to What?

In my Wednesday meeting, on the first week of the month, we study the step for that month. So yesterday's meeting was on Step 2. It was a great meeting.

Step 2 says: "Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity."

Such a short, simple sentence. So packed with landmines.

First, there's the whole issue of "came to believe." This assumes you believe that there is a power greater than yourself, which I've written about in another post.

Secondly, it assumes that the Higher Power in question can restore you to sanity.

And third, it assumes that sanity is something you once had.

I was among the fortunate souls who came to Al-Anon with a relationship with a Higher Power. So I could stroll over the first hurdle without breaking a sweat.

Skipping the second for a moment, the whole sanity thing was more difficult for me.

I grew up "in this disease" as we say in the program. My mother and father were both alcoholics. There was abuse and neglect in our home from before I was even born. As a young child, I lived with my grandmother by court order.

I wasn't sure sanity was something I ever had. How could I be re-stored to something I never stored?

My sponsor helped me understand that being restored to sanity didn't have to mean returning to some previous condition. It could mean being restored to the way God intended me to be had it not been for the effects of alcoholism.

I could get behind that.

So the question became believing that the God I had a relationship with, who frankly wasn't very good at doing what I wanted him to do, could restore me to some condition I had never had and wasn't sure I would know when I got there.

No problem.

But I was willing to try something new. We "fake it till we make it," is the popular phrase. So I acted "as if" I believed. As a kind of experiment.

I prayed only for guidance as my sponsor had suggested.

I prayed on my knees. At first I had trouble with this. I had a million excuses: What difference did it make how I prayed? God would still hear me. I was getting older, kneeling hurt my knees. It hurt my back. It reminded me of masses I had endured as a child.

But I did it.

I got a pillow, and I kneeled on it. And I prayed. And I felt better.

Eventually I understood that by kneeling, I put myself in a position of humility. I couldn't be a know-it-all on my knees. And when I was humble, I was teachable. And when I was on my knees, I was praying. Period. I was not driving or in the shower or doing the dishes. I could still pray while I did those things. But for a few minutes each morning, I gave God my full attention.

And it worked.

And so I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

I'm still not sure what sanity looks like. God's not done with me yet. But today, driving to the meeting I thought about how we'd be studying step 2, and how I felt "happy, joyous and free." Just as God intended.


  1. You have expressed what I feel about praying and God perfectly. I came to AlAnon believing in God, and the program has actually strengthened my faith.

    The part about giving God your full attention, you are right on! It does work. I wish everyone could know that.

  2. I have had the exact thoughts about "sanity". I love the explanation as you put it. My therapist (who is also a member of CoDA) says there is an essential "You" - the you that is meant to be. That essence is inside you, waiting to be free.

    I don't pray on my knees. It isn't something I did as a child, God wasn't allowed in our house. I have a couple times, in the last few months... but mostly I have thought as you did - I just didn't think of them as excuses. I really thank you for sharing this with me. I see what you mean about giving God complete attention, about humility. It never made sense to me before, but now I'm going to try it.

  3. Sanity is one of those things, like who is to judge which of us is sane anyway. When I began recovery, I had closed the door on "religion" so I was under the belief I did not have a higher power, so what the heck was I going to do, did I have to drop out of the program? Hubby suggested I write down what I would want a higher power to be IF I were to get one. Even that I was stumped at first. If I put up the brick wall on God, what would I want anyway?
    You see where this is going. My list made, I was astonished to see with my own eyes that I did have a higher power already. Whew.

  4. Hi Kathy, to me 'restored to sanity' means that we are restored back to the way God intended us to be when He created us! It is not what we were before we got sick. We have never been fully whole.
    Step 2 means to me, that if step 1 means that I am powerless over the alcoholic, step 2 says that I am powerless over myself, and my life is in Gods hand.
    We did step 2 for the first time on thursday. To me it was no issue. I have been to a good Holy spirit church for over three years, and have an intimate relationship with God already. I couldn't help feeling the pain for the people who hasn't, who still is trying to make Him a God of their own understanding, in which there is so much failure. Kept my mouth shout. It was hard, haha : )

  5. Kathy, appreciate the post. Thank you!

  6. This post gives hope of change to anyone stuck in a destructive spiral. There is a way out. Seeing people heading out is inspirational. So, that would be you. Inspirational.