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Old 05-25-2011, 06:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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how important is a higher power in recovery?

I am about to go to bed after a successful completion of day 10. This is a good place to be. I am taking it a day at a time, my mind has turned to previous times when I have gone back to drinking. I contemplate what I intend to do differently this time.

Is the fact that I refuse to use the term "alcoholic" part of my problem ( in truth I do not apply this term to others either) but I am happy to think of myself as addicted and being highly prone to addiction (and this will never change, ongoing drinking will lead to a further degradation and disintegration etc).

I also wonder if the fact that I do not want to say I am powerless over alcohol. I readily admit the only power I seem to have is the decision not to start drinking (and I have enough trouble with that, as my history attests). I have never beaten alcohol by trying to control it (rules, conditions, limits, alcohol free days etc etc)

I have no issue with the fact that my life has become unmanageable.

But how important is the higher power in recovery? It does feel different for me this time- and it seems underneath the usual emotional stuff, I do feel I have surrendered, the vulnerability is not denied- maybe I have a fuller acceptance this time of the gravity of my situation, and that there is only one way forward.

I woke up this morning and my first thought was 'Oh no' and I had a memory of the previous nights drinking, it was an instant of devastation, until I realised it wasn't true.............
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not an AAer so can't speak to that end. I do believe in God but don't rely on him in my recovery and I'm coming up on 18 months sober.
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting and well done on ten days sober. I think this whole question of the Higher Power is the one that generates the most debate on this forum and among AA members. It is, as you know, a concept which appears absolutely central in the AA Steps and the Big Book. There are those who reject this concept and you will find their discussion in the Secular Connections part of this forum.

Speaking personally, I have come to develop a very different conception of God to one I held previously. All I can say is that by attending AA meetings regularly (I'm going every day and have just come back from an uplifting lunchtime meeting) and hearing what other members say about it, I have put aside many of misgivings. When people explain how their Higher Power influences their lives and decisions, it makes much more sense than a complex, acadamic debate on the existance of God.

Not to say that's not a debate worth having. But if it's going to slow down my process of recovery, I am happy to leave it to other people for now. Perhaps when I've been sober for a loooooong time, I might want to join in that debate again. But for now, let's just say that handing my will and life over to the power of God as I understand Him sounds like a much more positive step than remaining in the misery of active alcoholism.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Congratulations on your tenth day!!

I am in AA but even if I wasn't I would still have a recongnition of my higher power, my higher strength, if you will. For me, completely surrendering to the fact that I AM an alcoholic, I am at a loss of complete control at the site of the first drink and my life was an unmanagable chaos -helps me to keep alcohol out of my life.
You don't have to believe in God or you can -it is just what you feel you are comfortable with.
My beliefs stem from an inner strength, an inner will, an inner power of control that connects the sequence of life, the energy of life and the my desires in life to promote my well being and have me realize, recognize and take control over my actions.
Personally, I can not man this journey alone and need an inspiration to keep my thoughts connected to my path so I don't mentally wander. I need to stay focused on the prize.
Addiction is a wide spread spectrum when it comes to recovery although we all suffer no matter what addiction we face I think that 'chosing' your addiction is easier to focus on recovery. You can be addicted to anything...work, pain pills, cleaning, eating laundry soap, drinking soda...I have chosen to name my addiction to better connect myself with the feelings and emotions I need in that particular recovery. I consider myself to have an addictive behavior but even still need to narrow it down for sucessfull recovery.

There is a big difference between being powerless over alcohol and having the power to stop. I had to fully admit that alcohol was above me...it was my saviour. I was powerless...I had to believe that MY power could over power the power of the beast. If you just stop drinking you are not changing anything but not drinking. You are not changing your thinking about alcohol. You aren't changing your mind, just your habits.
Wishing you peace and strength.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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In my opinion, what is important, is that you have to change. You have to change your soul.

I also believe there are many paths to sobriety. Search and find what you need. Its not just one quick easy fix. After awhile, I believe that changes, so you in turn will change as you grow into sobriety.

At three years sober, I work daily on my sobriety and on me.

Best wishes to you. You CAN do this!
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I associate with many people on both sides of the HP issue. Those in AA that are believers and others in AA and outside AA that are non-believers. All of these people have experienced all the symptoms of alcoholism "real" or otherwise. All of these people recovered from the illness of alcoholism that would have left them maimed or dead if went untreated.

I have concluded that one can recover with or with out a HP. I personally prefer recovery without a HP. Its just simpler for me to focus on applying a treatment plan without the seemly complex issue of HP's. An issue that stirs up intense confusing emotions in me.

I think the universal rule of: if it helps continue to do it, if it hurts stop it. Can be applied to life, HP's and addiction treatment. In addiction treatment I needed to find the most effective way for me to recover. When I was doing things in treatment that hindered my progress, I changed directions. This process helps me focus on the things that do work and eliminate the things that don't. Having a HP in my life was simply one of those things that didn't help.

So if it helps you Instant, carry on . There is no single correct way to recover from the devastating illness of alcoholism, in all of its unique manifestations. It is a matter of to each their own or to thy own self be true.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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There is nothing that I can say that won't be said, or has already been said, about this... Turns out I'm not real eloquent in this matter, and all I have to offer is my own experience...

I relied on substances for so long to make things go right, to fill up that emptiness, this smear across my psyche, or soul... I tried to play master of my own universe, ultimately I crashed...

So, it can be as simple as ceding one's own spot at the center of the universe, and trusting that life (certainly life itself is a power greater than I), will, in fact go on and that I might have a part in it... and that I might be happy..

I can go on from there... God, Christ, Holy Spirit, that all works for me too, The Holy Trinity... But you don't have to understand or believe that, not even one bit... but that's life (itself), isn't it?... LOL... It's all good!

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Old 05-25-2011, 07:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Instant-

Congrats on your 10 days! We've all been there and thanks for posting here on SR.

Quote:
I contemplate what I intend to do differently this time.
Bravo! I simply had to change who I was or the same me will drink again and again and again. Maybe this is true with you too?

Quote:
I also wonder if the fact that I do not want to say I am powerless over alcohol. I readily admit the only power I seem to have is the decision not to start drinking (and I have enough trouble with that, as my history attests). I have never beaten alcohol by trying to control it (rules, conditions, limits, alcohol free days etc etc)

I have no issue with the fact that my life has become unmanageable.
It sounds like you've got step 1, in AA, pretty much down. Maybe go back and re-read your post. I think you've actually got a great understanding of AA's step 1.

Quote:
But how important is the higher power in recovery?
In my opinion of myself and my friends in AA, there is no recovery without a higher power. I lived for my own will for how long? ...and what were the results? Living for a power greater than myself has made all the difference in my recovery.

GREAT post and you're really working through some very important aspects of recovery.

Keep up the good work!

Kjell~
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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When I came into these rooms, I was an athiest and the concept of HP sounded like a load of BS. But I came to realize that HP can be anything that is greater than me. My first HP was simply all people who are in recovery. That is, indeed, a power greater than myself. I quit thinking I knew everything and what was best for me. I didn't blindly embrace everything that I was told (and I still don't) but I did learn to listen objectively.
This describes me pretty well. In all the meetings I go this comes up in some way shape or form. It's probably the part of the 12 steps that stumps most people. At least that's what I'm finding for me and a lot of the members of AA I've witnessed. Just the fact that we are thinking about it now and dealing with this topic is progress to me. But then what the heck do I know at this point. I'm someone who at day 12 still hasn't picked a sponsor! LOL I know who I want to ask but of course it's taking me a while.

So for me, I have to be patient and right now as with others my higher power are the people that meet in AA that have been sober for years, heck months. I will take that for now. I have to go at my own speed and just because the person next to me in AA is quoting the Bible doesn't mean I have to do it too. I just listen with an open mind and know that I am a newbie who is just learning about herself and addiction. I'm okay with that for now.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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For me? A matter of life and death. I could not quit drinking on my own, despite the desire to do so. Today, i am a recovered alcoholic. It is through grace.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:41 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Instant: I readily admit the only power I seem to have is the decision not to start drinking (and I have enough trouble with that, as my history attests). I have never beaten alcohol by trying to control it (rules, conditions, limits, alcohol free days etc etc)

Let's see: You can't not start drinking (per your history) and you can't control your drinking when you start. You lack choice and you lack control, but you aren't powerless over alcohol? And you aren't willing to admit you are alcoholic, but you are willing to admit that you are addicted (to alcohol)? What is wrong with this picture?

If you are not powerless and are not alcoholic, what have you surrendered to?
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:07 AM   #12 (permalink)
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My higher power is simply staying sober. I am powerless as soon as I have that first drink... I don't think of it so much in spiritual terms

Do what you feel will give you the most success. Good luck!
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:26 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I have been sober for 9 months. I don't believe in a higher power as it relates to recovery. Nor do I believe in powerlessness (for me) . Once I 100% accepted that there was no moderation for me then not drinking the first drink was much easier to deal with. It became as simple as choosing sober life over drunk life. (simple =/= easy )

I also had to come to realize that sober life would be awesome. That was a HUGE hurdle for me. Giving up drinking seemed like surrendering to a dull, 'dry' (humorless) life. So it was lose lose. Continue to drink and be miserable. Or quit drinking and be miserable.

Gaining hope that sober life would be enjoyable was a game changer.

I've posted before that when I started reading here someone (Carol, I think) posted about how she had years of wonderful celebrations with her AA friends. Parties, holidays etc. I wanted to cry at how lame it sounded. I remember thinking "that is not the life I want. Dancing around sober drinking iced tea". I think I didn't come back here for months after that.

And now that all just seems so stupid. It's a real testament to my alcoholic thinking that I thought that the presence/absence of alcohol was SUCH a game changer. My sober reality now is totally different. I don't drink anymore (obviously) but most people just don't drink that much. At 99% of my social events... 99% of people are mostly sober (1, maybe 2 drinks. Maybe none). The other 1%... well they are just depressing. I can't believe I ever craved being that out of control. I can't believe my children saw me like that. Breaks my heart, still.

Good luck on your journey
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:49 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I also wonder if the fact that I do not want to say I am powerless over alcohol. I readily admit the only power I seem to have is the decision not to start drinking (and I have enough trouble with that, as my history attests). I have never beaten alcohol by trying to control it (rules, conditions, limits, alcohol free days etc etc)

But how important is the higher power in recovery? It does feel different for me this time- and it seems underneath the usual emotional stuff, I do feel I have surrendered, the vulnerability is not denied- maybe I have a fuller acceptance this time of the gravity of my situation, and that there is only one way forward.


I, too, have had a difficult time with the thought of being powerless. I'm an "A" type personality and it sounds somewhat like a cop-out to me at times. However, I have no problem admitting that when I consume alcohol I am powerless. I have no idea what will happen because at some point, most times, I have no conscious recollection of what I do. I like to think that I have a choice regarding whether I will drink or not today. That choice is my free-will, which is given by my understanding of a higher power. As long as I am spiritually fit, trying to live life doing the next right thing, I have the ability to make the decision not to drink. Some people say that it's not then my choice, but is the decision of a higher power? That may be, but the semantics confuse the hell out of me, so I just ask that I be given the strength and guidance to abstain from alcohol. I can understand that much.

For this reason, it is very important for me to have an understanding of a higher power. Before, while drinking, I acted on the belief that I could control anything that I encountered - my behavior, my environment, situations, other people.... and when I failed I often drank. Today, I try to accept what comes and make the best of it. I don't accept everything as is, meaning that I still have a responsibility to attempt to better my life by doing the work that is required, but I am able to accept situations without drinking.

I do not have any concrete idea of what the higher power of the universe is. I often find myself having severe issues with blind faith. I can, however, reason that there has to be some supreme being or force that has put things into motion and continues to "guide the ship". As I play no more important role in life than anyone else, I do not believe that my higher power is actively interested in my every desire. I do, though, believe that s/he/it wants what is best for me and will grant me that much if I just stay out of the way.
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Old 05-25-2011, 10:10 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Hi all-

One can be powerless over alcohol and take full responsability for their alcoholism.

It doesn't have to be one or the other.

I know this to be fact b/c I'm living proof and I go to an AA group full of people who have taken full responsability for their alcoholism (by working all 12 steps) and that started with accepting and admiting our powerlessness.

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Old 05-25-2011, 11:01 AM   #16 (permalink)
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In my experience what matters is extreme honesty, especially regarding things that are uncomfortable. In another ten days time, who can say how you will feel about calling yourself an alcoholic? Sobriety is a process, not an event. Keep at it, with honesty, openess to all the possibilities (esp those to which you might have an initial aversion), and willingness. I have 17 months sobriety with the help of friends, most of whom are in AA, but not all. I don't beleive that any one path will work for everyone.

Which brings me to AA's step 2. I had probably five months sobriety when I began to accept and understand where and how a higher power fit into this for me. The second step says "came to believe..." - which to me says that many, if not all, did not start with an understanding and belief of their HP and how that impacts continued sobriety. So just stay open and willing to what will come to pass and the things you will learn along the way. And surround yourself with others on this journey on whom you can rely and trust when things get hairy. They always do eventually, but its never cause to drink if you have support.

Congrats on ten days, and best wishes for many more.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:01 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thank you everyone. Day 11 has arrived for me. I face it with a new optimism..........and vigor.

The possibility of my stomach exploding seems more remote than it has for some time.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:59 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Once I understood the what my problem was I was able to learn more about it and solve it without an HP. I was never powerless over alcohol, it is just a liquid chemical. Saying I am powerless over alcohol is like saying I am powerless over a hammer as I hit myself in the head with it. I was powerless over how I thought about alcohol and I was powerless over my consumption when I put it in my body, then I did stupid stuff and couldn't control my actions.

All the problems and all the answers can be found in your subconscious mind. That's where the true power lies in my opinion.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:53 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by instant View Post

But how important is the higher power in recovery? It does feel different for me this time- and it seems underneath the usual emotional stuff, I do feel I have surrendered, the vulnerability is not denied- maybe I have a fuller acceptance this time of the gravity of my situation, and that there is only one way forward.
First of all, it depends whether you drank to the point that you are beyond "Human Aid"? That includes self-help, modern medicine and therapy.

If you are beyond Human Aid, you will need some help from a power greater than yourself. You don't have to call it God, religion or even a "Higher Power".
You can at least start off by thinking of it as a path, process, program or even some "Group Of Drunks" who found a solution.

The one thing you can not think of it as is "self-will".
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:05 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I don't believe in God or a "higher power". I believe that I am the only one that can help me. Not prayer and not relying on anything else. Has worked for 4 1/2 months now
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