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G.O.D. Became my higher power

I came into the Rooms defeated and desperate.

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I came into the Rooms defeated and desperate. AA was my last hope. My only options on the outside, as I saw it, were death, breakdown and the destruction and loss of everything I still cared about. Upon entering the Rooms, although overwhelmed and terrified, I was struck by the word ‘God’, repeated on the banner. I briefly felt let down. What had I walked into? What kind of institution was this? God was not for me, and those who ‘did’ God were not for me either. Thank goodness I was defeated and desperate. Thank goodness the people that filled that room with pre-meeting chatter radiated joy and gave me a glimmer of hope. I had the ‘Gift of desperation’ - my first ‘God’ – and the obvious cheerfulness of that ‘Group of drunks’, on that night and for many nights to follow, became my second ‘God’.

I continued to struggle with the concept of God but I believed in the people who attended meetings and soaked up their advice while listening to their personal experiences. I came to realise that I was not alone in my complete disregard for, and, if I’m honest, my utter disrespect for, religion and its followers. It turned out that I was not alone regarding many things. My new friends had similar stories to mine and they were the only ones in my world who could relate to how it felt being an active alcoholic – the guilt, the shame, the loneliness, the compulsion – and the need for something to believe in.

In my early days of recovery, as part of ‘Good Orderly Direction’, I started to become more physically active. I was suddenly keen to make up for all those days spent indoors, scared of the doorbell, the phone, cars pulling up outside – terrified of being caught. I was suddenly able to see with clarity and to appreciate the little details of the world outside: the bracing, invigorating and life-affirmingly visible air on fresh mornings, which filled my lungs and raised bumps on my skin; the colours and smells of winter itself; the frost-enhanced intricacies of spiderwebs; the ferocity of the river’s current and the layer of fog blanketing it. This was an environment I had absolutely no control over. I had discovered the ‘Great Out Doors’.

To ‘Grow or die’ - over time, I was advised to work the Steps in order to grow, in order to cope in a world I very often found difficult to deal with, in order to avoid a premature, alcohol-fuelled death. This entailed confronting my reservations about God and my complete unwillingness to consider religion. However, I discovered that God, spirituality and religion are not the same thing. All I needed to do was come to believe in a Power greater than myself. To my surprise, I had achieved this multiple times already during my AA journey. I was part of the way there, despite my resistant thinking. I listened to others’ views on God and a Higher Power, I read books and I soaked up ideas. I held on to aspects I liked and discarded those I didn’t. Slowly, I started to develop a spiritual concept that was comfortable to me.

My Higher Power has altered over time and continues to evolve. Sometimes my belief is stronger than at other times. It is like any relationship - I have to work to keep it. I remember where I started, what I have now and what I want to achieve in future. I remember there are things I cannot control. I remember there are things I can and must be brave enough to change. Most importantly, I remember that I am not alone.