Co-NNections Recovery Stories

Chris S 5-17-16

Growing up in a religious house, I remember the panic attacks I had from the time I was 8 years old. I didn’t believe any of what I heard and that was scary. From what I could understand at the time, I was simply incapable of believing what my parents believed and what all the other adults in my life believed. It set me off on a road of thinking in many ways, that there must be something very deeply wrong with me. I carried that fear, pain, anxiety, shame and guilt with me well into my young adulthood. 

In my childhood imagination, my image of God was a vindictive, all powerful being ready to punish me for all kinds of things including and especially, not believing in him. In my isolated head, it was a vicious cycle of being punished by something I didn’t actually believe in, all for not believing. 

When I first walked into a CoDa meeting over 20 years ago, I began shedding this vicious cycle. I was less ashamed. I was less guilty. I was more accepting of myself. That was an important part of my recovery. That first journey into recovery was a great benefit to me. I had found my first community. I had finally found a place where it was OK to be honest in front of others. 

Yet, there in the twelve steps, from Step 3 & beyond, was the word God. Essentially, that was the deal breaker for me. I wasn’t ready to go back into that world I had just narrowly escaped. The steps themselves seemed out of reach for me. Looking at that second step, there was no way I could ever come to believe. I had tried all my life without success. This second step seemed counter to my truth, where I wanted to go and was just what I was trying to escape from. 

As I return back to CoDa after many years, my spirituality has grown clearer and deeper. I know there are many things around me that are more powerful than me. For me, some of these things are personally knowable, tangible. For me, others are unknowable, impossible to know. When it comes to my spirituality, I don’t know all the answers, I can’t know all the answers and that is OK. That is my acceptance of the things that I cannot change. My spirituality feels so much stronger with that acceptance. It is humble, honest, meaningful and deeply rooted. 

My breakthrough moment in CoDa came when I realized believing in a higher power doesn’t mean believing in the highest power. It doesn’t mean a requirement to believe in an all-consuming, all-knowing, all-powerful being. For some, God stands for group of dependents, great outdoors or good orderly direction. All of those work for me. All of these can help restore me to sanity. 

Whether it is a group of people sitting in a circle sharing their experience, strength and hope at a CoDa meeting, watching a dog chase a stick in a river, observing a child appreciate the simple joys around them, sensing the natural world I experience every day, contemplating our solar system or the universe, I can quickly recognize the many, many things around me that are greater than myself. 

With that foundation, I came to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I was ready for Step 2. 

Chris S 1/3/16

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