2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
After admitting to powerlessness, to the insanity in our lives, this obviously leaves us face to face with our own weakness and with a natural desire to find some source of strength to lean on and provide us with guidance for continuing in our struggle to find health and happiness. We know that we cannot heal ourselves on our own. Our sense of isolation is great at this point. I, like many addicts, put my life in danger in order to continue a self destroying pattern that began to emerge sometime in childhood. After surviving each attack, usually with my house trashed by my boyfriend and myself in a state of shock, it felt like I was outside the circle of humanity. All I wanted to do was pull deeper into myself. I was out of touch with the fact that so many other people were experiencing their own version of just what I had endured and survived.
I don’t remember how I found my way to an Al-Anon meeting, but I knew after just one meeting that there were other people going through some of what I had been going through. That in itself was a comforting revelation. I quickly bought a daily reader for the group and reading it each day gave me another revelation: not only was I not alone, but there was this program that seemed full of health and guidance and comfort. Much of the guidance consisted of practical ways to apply common sense to the challenges of daily life as a codependent addict affected by other addicts. This wealth of healing common sense rested on a core belief, that there was some benevolent, unconditionally loving Higher Power.
In some ways I was fortunate because I had no formal religious training. I could reach for my own concept of God from an open, fresh place. I had not encountered what many had encountered: the human frailty of saying one thing and doing another, of hypocrisy within religious communities. Children who are taught to believe in God start from an open, fresh place too, but we are too sick a species not to lead those children straight into a shocking disillusionment as they grow and begin to suffer from the effects of seeing for themselves the sickness in those adults who tried to “teach” them and failed to live by their own lessons. Disillusionment with the people around us can all too often lead to a loss of faith in a benevolent God. The question comes up: “If God is so benevolent and powerful, how could God let these hurtful people into my life?”
To my mind, that is one of the dangers of anthropomorphizing our concept of the Higher Power. It’s not that we are made in God’s image, but that we make God in our own image. In doing so we can’t help but paint a picture of an imperfect God. My conception of God was and is more abstract than many others’ conception. I believed from childhood in the value and power of human kindness. Whenever anyone acted with kindness towards me or anyone and I in turn towards them, I knew it was precious. That knowledge and response was my link to my spiritual center. No matter how bad life got, the kindness that came out of people never failed me and my essentially kind nature did not fail me either, except mainly with me to myself. And so it was not hard for me to believe that God in its essence is Love. I did believe that love, was restorative, was in fact the core of sanity. But I had to learn to disentangle my sick belief in “romantic love” as a means to salvation from a deeper belief in a love that allowed no room for self-hatred and abuse.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.