Higher Power Experience
I can’t believe in a Higher Power? Can I? – An Ex- Clients View
One of my clearest recollections of the first few days in Twin Rivers occurred whilst having breakfast on my very first morning. I was sat with my peer group, taking in my surroundings, when my eye was drawn to the ‘The AA 12 Steps Program’ that loomed large on the wall by the breakfast counter. I knew that the Centre used this program as one of the main focuses of rehabilitation, and as I read through the steps my heart sank. I didn’t see nor understand most of what was written there and at that stage, what I didn’t understand I didn’t like. The whole system seemed completely reliant on my having belief in a God, a Higher Power and a power greater than myself, which went against everything I stood for in my old, distorted belief system. The word ‘cult’ even crossed my mind; the notion of which then ran away with me. Was I was going to spend the next few weeks being brainwashed on the virtues of the Lord, and then going out onto the streets of the world to spread the gospel!
The Atheist in me
I don’t come from a religious family, and during my school years I was forced to attend and worship in a Cathedral every morning, which the rebel in me resented. That time was always spent messing around, seeing how far we could push the prefects on duty and mock singing the hymns and psalms. It developed me into a self- proclaimed atheist who would argue that the facts outweigh the unknown, and the facts are that Darwin’s Theories proved that man evolved and wasn’t created. And how could there be a God that created natural disasters, famines, terminal illnesses, wars in his name and, from my own selfish standpoint, depression and alcoholism – if there was I really didn’t want to get to know him. I would deride and look down on others who even attempted to impart their own religious beliefs within hearing distance of my vicinity – usually in a pub.
So this concerned me greatly. I was so desperate to find a ‘cure’ for my condition but felt very unsure about whether this could possibly work for me.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Deflated, I went into for my first counselling session and immediately aired my views, thinking that maybe there would be a different program that would work for me instead. There were a number of reassuring facts supplied at this point that helped me get started on my journey:
• Most, if not all, addicts that enter into the 12 Step Program have the same concerns that I did, or had had God in their lives at some stage but lost their faith along away.
• The program is spiritual not religious. The difference being illustrated by a great saying ‘Religious people spend their lives being good so that they don’t go to hell; Spiritual people have already been to hell’.
• All I needed to adopt at this point to get started with the program was honesty, open-mindedness and willingness (HOW). Not as simple as you may think for an alcoholic who has spent his life judging, manipulating and lying!
• Look at the word ‘GOD’, not as a being that sits on a throne with a big fluffy white beard, but as an acronym such as ‘Good Orderly Direction’.
I didn’t need to see the light straight away; many recovering addicts report not connecting with a spiritual power for years into their recovery but yet still managed to stay clean and sober by practicing and following the guidelines that the ‘Twelve Steps’ suggests. Millions around the world have successfully done so.
Your Higher Power can be anything!
So my initial anxiety on this matter was relieved, but my inquisitive mind was ignited. I wanted to find out more about other alcoholics experiences with their ‘Higher Power’ and so, through the fellowships of AA and NA (Narcotics Anonymous), I asked around. The plethora of stories and techniques were vast – some used their conscious, some used energy, some used trees! Even a plumber is a power greater as the plumber knows more about plumbing than me- wow, can it really be that simple? The best bit of advice I was given was to use the fellowships as a power greater than myself in the early stages – a room full of likeminded individuals who had collectively managed to beat their own cravings and desire to use alcohol and drugs.
After a few weeks in treatment I started having conversations in my head asking for guidance – I named Him ‘Big Trev’ and visualized a James Earl Jones kind of character, who is only assigned to me. I now speak to him every day – sometimes I feel insane and uncomfortable doing so, and other times I find a comfort offloading my worries and handing them over to him.
The miracle is that I haven’t had the requirement nor craving to pick up a pint, a joint, or rack up a line for over 4 months (so far); something which has never happened in my life before now. That’s not to say that it has been easy – getting in touch with my feelings is an emotional rollercoaster without the help of chemicals to divert the pain. I do realise that it’s not my self- will though; countless, fruitless attempts to cut back, control or quit has proven that to me. So maybe there is something in finding healthy external positive forces!
– Written by Andrew Sullivan
Related to Andrew Sullivan
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process