Here’s what I’ve learned as this first year of recovery has unfolded for me: Everyone’s recovery process looks VERY different.
For myself, I have explored and researched and collected from all sorts of places and have culled the pieces that work for me into a “program” of my own curation.
The “Program” of My Own Curation.
I don’t think any program or guru or book has it completely right, but I think really great things can be gleaned from a variety of people places and things. Religion, and my own personal confusion about my relationship to it, was a stumbling place that I have been working with a lot recently. I was raised in a liberal Unitarian household where we weren’t coerced into believing anything specific, but I picked up my own mythology of what was acceptable and comfortable vs what was scary and weird from my family system, the local congregation we were a part of, and my peers in the UU youth community. I have always thought the idea of “God” was something naïve people believe in. That judgmental white guy on a cloud in some childish concept called heaven. Praying was something sheep did, not me.
Finding Your Niche
This presented me with a strong resistance to AA. I was completely opposed to it for a long time. I reluctantly went to meetings while in rehab because it gave us a chance to go for a walk outside and interact with other people. What I found was that I really liked the community aspect of AA. When I got sober for real in January, I was afraid to go to AA meetings, but I wanted a community of some sort. We don’t have Lifering or SMART Recovery meetings close enough to me and I wasn’t aware of the local Refuge Recovery group (which I still have yet to make it to, but it’s on my radar). Finally, in February, a friend in recovery invited me to meet her at a meeting that she thought I would like. It’s an LGBTQIA ally meeting, and I have been going every week since. I carry a small pouch of pretty colored chips with me that represent the milestones I have celebrated with this lovely group of folks.
I dragged my feet on doing anything more than attending a weekly meeting until this past September, when I finally got a sponsor. I was starting to feel more comfortable with the AA concepts and reading Tommy Rosen’s description of the steps and what each one accomplished really helped me understand how useful it might be. When I went to his conference he urged me to get a sponsor ASAP and start the work, and he was right (thanks, Tommy!).
Coming to Believe
So I’m on Step Two: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” My perspective about praying and who this “God” character is has been changing and expanding already, but now I am concretely looking at it and naming it. No, I didn’t convert to any sort of religion, I still think the Bible is just a collection of neat stories and most of my experience of that will probably always come from Jesus Christ Superstar. I am still a vaguely spiritual bohemian hippy finding my way through. But what I have gained is that “God” isn’t a dirty word, it is whatever you want it to mean. For me, I stopped referring to “God” with gender specific pronouns and that helped a lot. Also, praying is something I have already been doing sort of, without knowing it. I have been believing in the Universe and all it’s magic for a long time and when I ask for something or put out an idea to manifest something, THAT is praying! Each morning now, after I do my 10 minute Kundalini spinal series and meditate for 5-10 minutes, I say a little prayer to the ether, to my “God/Higher Power/Chief Squirrel,” asking for guidance or mystical signs for things I need help with, listing a few adjectives describing how I want to be that day, and giving thanks for strength to persevere through another day sober.
(this is excerpted from Issue 3 of “Best Intentions”)