Came To Believe
I’ve heard it said that there are three phases to the phrase ‘Came To Believe’. The first is ‘Came’, the second is ‘Came to’ and the third ‘Came to believe’. On July 1, 2017 I ‘came’ to my first meeting. I was shy and awkward. I had no sense of self and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I chose an Open meeting because that way I wouldn’t have to say anything. I sat at the very back and as soon as the meeting ended with the Serenity Prayer I dashed out. No-one noticed me as I intentionally sped down the road back to my flat. I counted that as a success!
A few days later, after being drawn to return, I drove back to that same church basement for my first Closed AA meeting. The people were friendly, the coffee mediocre and the biscuits a bit stale but the smiles on people’s faces and the way they spoke about alcoholism as a thing of the past, drew me in. It just so happened that this particular meeting had a ‘beginner’s group’ where people new to the Programme were invited to a separate room to go over the first three Steps and I had happened to come on the week they were discussing Step Two ‘Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.’
I had no problem believing in a Power greater than myself. I grew up in the church and never had any issues with organised religion at all. In fact, I was able to draw a lot from my faith during some deep and dark days prior to AA. However, I did wrestle with the second part ‘...could restore us to sanity’ although I was not a sane person back then. I had caused irreversible damage to both my physical and mental health as a result of my drinking. In fact, when I was 26, a psychiatrist had told me that my brain would be forever changed due to alcohol. After the meeting, one young woman gave me her number. There was something different about this woman and I decided I wanted what she had.
The ‘Came to’ phase came after a few months. I put the bottle down and began to enjoy life. When I was drinking, I had withdrawn from life and now that I had stopped I was starting to take part in life again. Thankfully, within six months of being in the Fellowship I was able to reverse my negative health effects, started making friends in AA and came to a new understanding of myself. Everything about me changed - how I talked, how I reacted to things, how I viewed and thought of other people and even how I looked.
The last phase ‘Came to believe’ was by far the hardest and is still an ongoing process. In AA I have come to believe many things. First, I had to come to believe in my own alcoholism. Despite coming to the meeting in July, it took many more months and another few relapses before I finally conceded to my innermost being that I truly did have a problem with alcohol.
It took many months after that for me to come to believe that AA was a real gem rather than a life sentence. For the first year or so I constantly lamented being young and all the events I would have to forego by giving up alcohol. I didn’t understand why anyone would think it lucky that I had come in so young and I definitely did not agree with people who said “We are not a glum lot.”
Now though I have come to believe a number of things about AA. That there is a miracle which takes place in these rooms. That I am worthy of love and to be loved and that I am worth more than a bottle or a couple of pills. That I can get through life sober and actually enjoy it. That I have many talents which can help others. That no matter how bad my experiences were, they can benefit someone else. That I am not useless and that I do not need to fear alcohol anymore. Lastly that I can be reborn.
Coming to AA has given me a much healthier view of myself. Sometimes it is still really difficult not to engage the inner-critic or analyse myself to death and to genuinely see myself as loveable and a positive role model but I am getting there slowly with the help of my sponsor and the Fellowship. I know that these self-defeating character defects will be with me until the day I die but at least the self-hatred is gradually being replaced by love of self and others. I am one of those people who can honestly say that AA saved my physical life - but more than that - it saved me from myself.