While drowning in my alcoholism and drug addiction, I didn’t have much physical consciousness, let alone spiritual consciousness. The harder I tried to find something, anything to hold onto within or without myself, the more elusive it became. In the process of physically and mentally numbing myself, I spiritually numbed myself as well.
The second step—becoming willing to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity—was a first step towards conscious contact. Making the decision necessary to take the third step brought me closer still. I do believe that I had moments in those early months that could be called conscious contact with something greater than me, but it was a raw and vague sensation. It was, however, enough to get started on the “course of vigorous action” necessary to clear all those channels that kept me blocked from any direct contact with a higher power.
By the time I had worked steps four through nine, by the time I had begun to receive the promises, by the time I had learned to pray with a mind and heart free from selfish motives (not always free, mind you…but I was learning) and examine my words and deeds to keep from backsliding in my changing ways, I was living and functioning in some sort of god-consciousness. I knew when my character defects were at work. I knew when I needed to make the tough choices because they were right, not avoid them because they weren’t on the path of least resistance. These reactions were very strange indeed, considering the life I’d led before, but they were right. I instinctually knew that I was changing. The fact that alcohol and drugs were not a part, desired or otherwise, of my daily life was relegated almost to a minor miracle.
I had begun by step eleven to undergo a psychic change—a spiritual awakening. Step eleven instructs me to improve that conscious contact which should have been developing through the first ten steps. When I call my sponsor to express some difficulty in my life, the first question she asks me is, “Have you prayed on it?”
By having steps that remind me that I must not bask too long in the glow of the newfound freedom achieved through the personal housecleaning, but that I must continue to examine my thoughts and deeds (step 10) and take action to keep those thoughts and deeds inline with a divine will, rather than my own (step 11), I can keep moving in my recovery.
Now, did I have it all along? The Big Book tells me that we all have this “fundamental idea of God,” but is an idea a connection? I can only speak for myself and those times when I felt something outside of myself, some connection to the universe and rather than reach out to it, become one with it, I chose, instead, to run from it.
When the anesthesia was removed from my soul, those god-receptors were dull. I felt little, if anything. I had only to put one foot in front of the other, believe until I could know, and in the process, I did not improve my conscious contact with my higher power. My higher power reached into me and gave me the gift of knowing.
Beyond believing, as the second step instructs me, and the housecleaning, during which I was given the gift, it is my responsibility to work step eleven to renew, each day, my commitment to rely on my higher power for guidance.
I’m an alcoholic. I need reminders. I need guidance.