Only 2 Alternatives (Part 2)
If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 25)
There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 25)
We have been discussing the first three Steps of Twelve Step programs (please read part 1 before continuing to read this post which is part 2).
If you understand that you are in a desperate situation that has grown so desperate that you have placed yourself beyond human aid, than you are at the point of deciding if you can accept “spiritual help” or not. Can you or are you not willing to deal with spiritual tools and the topic of God or not?
We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the nonalcoholic. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 44)
Did you notice that the terminology of previous quotes (“spiritual tools” “spiritual help” etc.) has now changed to living “on a spiritual basis.” You may not have caught what just happened, but they just laid out what the desired end result of the program is: THAT YOU LEARN TO LIVE ON A SPIRITUAL BASIS! If you cannot deal with any spiritual topics or even discuss such things without tuning out or getting mad, how are you going to “live on a spiritual basis?”
Some people at this point try to say that I can talk of spiritual stuff on my terms, I just don’t like to talk about God. As long as I accept that something is greater than me (get some humility) I can do everything.
This is true of working Step 1 and for starting Step 2, but is not the case for working Steps 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 and in fact is not even true for being ready to go from working Step 2 to starting Step 3. I know some feel that God discussion is not necessary and some think it is somehow outlawed in all things 12 Step and that a person at most has to say blurbs about a “power greater than ourselves” of some sort.
I am proposing here that there must be discussion about “God” and that even the “power greater than ourselves” talk is really just a part of beginning the discussion about “God.”
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God. Here difficulty arises with agnostics. Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship. But his face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God, for we have re-opened a subject which our man thought he had neatly evaded or entirely ignored. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 45)
According to this passage, the Alcoholics Anonymous book and all it contains (including the Twelve Steps which are the source of all other Twelve Step programs) are based on the idea of helping a person find God and learn to live by the principles of God.
Did you notice that God is mentioned directly and bluntly? In this passage the authors mention that the struggle with the idea of or discussion of God is a problem for many in recovery at this point. If you are having trouble with what you are hearing right now, it’s okay. Many people do. It is something that you are going to have to work through.
You may have to start with terms like “higher power” or “power greater than myself” but you are going to have to understand that we are talking about God and you simply are not there yet.
Did you notice that the word “God” is part of Step 3. Before you can start on Step 3 you are supposed to have started turning that corner. In other words, if you cannot handle the topic of “God” or even the mention of the word “God” how can you work a Step the has “God” as part of its description?
The challenge of Step 2 is to not only believe, but to believe that he can and will free you of all of this alcoholism and addiction stuff.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 60)
Notice the words “Being convinced, we were now at Step Three. If you are not thoroughly convinced on these three ideas, you are not ready to start working on Step 3. That means you can only go as far as Step 2 and that is where you are stuck.
- Are you an addict or alcoholic who cannot manage his or her own life?
- Are you so advanced in your addiction or alcoholism that nothing that normal human power has to offer seems to be able to help you?
- Do you believe that “God” can and will help you if you seek Him?
Until you can answer yes to all three of these questions because you are absolutely convinced that they are all true about yourself, you are stuck at Steps 1 and 2.
These two questions are like a test on Steps 1 and 2 and if you are not convinced you have failed the test and have to redo the previous classes before you can go on.
I leave you with thought in summary from the chapter in the Alcoholics Anonymous book that is supposed to teach us how to work with a newcomer:
Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 98)