Recently a reader asked my take on higher power and spirituality; specifically whether or not I believed that the acceptance of and submission to a Power greater than myself is what distinguishes between “sane” sobriety, and just a “dry drunk.”
I can’t say that my thoughts on higher power and spirituality are set in stone nor do I think I would ever want them to be, but do agree that these two terms are for the most part prerequisites for long term recovery. In fact, rarely do I see many that disagree except for those that are more concerned about religious (or anti) dogma or narrow semantics.
Maybe the best way to follow my thoughts on the subject is to understand that I do not necessarily equate higher power with religion. Not saying that I always donâ€™t, just that it is not necessary to for my recovery purposes. I have found that there are only parts of life that I can affect, the rest will gone spinning with the world regardless of my action or inaction. There was a time when I wanted the world to change, to facilitate my sobriety, well that obviously didnâ€™t happen. Before any deity be it ambivalent, benevolent, or down right evil- there are plenty of other â€œpowersâ€ greater than myself- gravity, time, and yes, even people/groups and organizations. I am low man on the totem pole and it is useless to deny this fact, so instead I concentrate on those things I do have control over (myself/free will).
Funny thing about totem poles thoughâ€¦
A little known fact about totem poles is that there is no ordained order or hierarchy used in the placement of significant figures. The most important may be at the top, bottom, or even in the middle for that matter. The totem pole makes for a great analogy in my recovery. Yes I realize there are many powers greater than myself in life and that some challenges I have to face will be beyond my ability to overcome alone. God, church, family, AA, civic group, or clinic- higher powers with resources greater than my own are not that hard to find. But without my actions and conscious effort to engage, absolutely nothing will change. I may be on the bottom of the totem pole, but I am by no means insignificant unless I choose to be.
So do I have to bow down at the altar and say I am powerless to avoid being a â€œdry drunkâ€? Not my style. I prefer to think that without me the totem pole is incompleteâ€¦ and powerless. With help I am more capable. When I am more capable, those that I have joined become stronger. When we are stronger- good things happen and we can help others even more.
However I do still feel the term â€œdry drunkâ€ is valid, but instead think of it in terms of spirituality. Those that beat the physical symptoms of alcohol addiction yet do not, cannot, or fail to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of the disease will forever search how to fill the hole we all have. A hole that alcohol doesnâ€™t fill either, but it can at least provide a temporary, yet still miserable respite. Our addiction affects every aspect of our lives and just mere sobriety is not enough to fix all that ails us, but this post is growing too long so I will leave that for topic for another day, another post.