17: Step Two – We Came To Believe That a Power Greater Than Ourselves Could Restore Us To Sanity (Sort Of)

2/9/20 We invite our first guest co host, Steve, on to talk about step 2. We break down the concepts of “power greater than” and “restoration to sanity” for the newer member, or someone who has no experience with 12 step programs. We speak about the process of coming to believe, what sanity might be, the principle of openmindedness and the principle of hope.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss the recovery and addiction topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the views expressed here are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

alright here we are welcome back to recovery suit up as always it’s Jason I’m a guy in long-term recovery and I’m here with co-host Billy hey people I’m also a person in long-term recovery and today we’re lucky to have a guest with us a Steve good morning oh all right so we’re gonna we’re going to talk about step two today and so if you’re unfamiliar with step two step two in the 12-step program is we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity and we started this step a month idea last month we did step one we got a little feedback the feedback from Earthlings was that maybe they could not relate so much to the idea of the steps and so this month I think we’re gonna spend a little time trying to explain maybe step two to someone who’s never been in a 12-step program and then maybe even explain why we use it in a 12-step program or how maybe Earthling could relate to the idea of it and I think Billy had a good explanation about some of that so I’ll let him take this away yeah so in the literature of the fellowship we attend there’s you know talks about the disease of addiction being a physical mental spiritual disease and one of the spiritual aspects of this addiction idea is that we are totally self-centered that we never outgrow the self-centeredness of a child and you know basically that that somewhere along the way through early adolescence you know we we get stuck and so as we grow and develop and get older we aren’t we don’t know how to allow people in to help us when we reach struggles we rely on our own

self-serving self-centered self seeking behaviors to get what we want so you know like if we want something we manipulate or lie or steal to get it you know we don’t we don’t turn to other people to meet our needs for love and support and growth you know we rely totally on ourselves as self sufficiency idea and you know from reading and things that I’ve done over the years like I think that’s actually backed up by some what I would call scientific evidence if you do any sort of research into the adverse childhood experiences studies and things that we’ve learned about you know addiction the addiction comes out of a lot of these adverse childhood experiences they actually say a lot of very similar things that you know these adverse childhood experiences will cause us to get damaged in our development and therefore we don’t you know develop the skills necessary to live a healthy meaningful life and so I think the you know the scientific data corresponds to what we talked about in the 12-step literature that we are self centered and self seeking people and we don’t know we don’t we don’t get the skills that we need to learn to look to other people to meet our needs for love and support to get through struggles and challenges we become this totally self-sufficient Island yeah I think one of the interesting things about the step breaking it down that maybe some people when they first come to recovery are a little curious about is you know the Power greater than ourselves right so it sounds instantly like oh you need me to believe in a god that’s the first thing out of everybody’s mouth when step2 comes up they don’t think of any of what you’re talking about the science behind how this might make sense and and I think one of the earliest explanations I got about step two not so much the program itself because I do think the twelve steps even though they don’t necessarily have to be leading you to a relationship with God very frequently that is the goal and and the accomplishment for a lot of people who work them but step two in particular really does not have that power yet right we’re talking about a Power greater than ourselves which we often can look at as simply the program of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous or gamblers anonymous like any 12-step fellowship the concept of okay I can’t seem to stop doing this behavior on my own but possibly coming here and being inspired by you guys that have gotten an extra day or two more than me and your stories of how you did it and your ways of coping this power has allowed me to get some freedom from from using whatever I use as well yeah and you know I remember specifically you know struggling with this idea when I first got into recovery and and one of the things you know my sponsor had me do was you know write down things that are powers greater than yourself that I remember you know those things being like the group you know the group of people there you know I can do way more with the support and love and encouragement of you know my home group then I can on my own it was also things like nature in the Sun you know things like that you stopped the Sun from coming up and you know so so it really sort of opened my mind to like not being stuck on like it’s gotta be God and it’s got to be some higher power you know it’s really can be any powers greater than ourselves as a good like starting point to like open our minds so I’d like to touch on this you know growing up as you alluded to experiences a lot of my experience with the Power greater than myself was I must be inferior to your power greater than yourself because I seem to not feel like you feel I seem to not see things as other people do and that’s you know that’s how I felt coming into a 12-step program getting into step two with like-minded individuals that have gone through the same struggles that I have they sort of showed me a you know a path that was this is your experience you know this is this is your experience if if you see a Power greater than you by breathing techniques or sitting on a river seems to calm you down then that’s your experience and and you’re free to explore that and it’s actually been a great benefit to me that that they they gave me the concept through step two that you know obviously step one I’m powerless and to seek a Power greater than myself to to get outside of my own head in healthy ways such as taking a walk in nature it’s talking with friends asking for advice taking getting out of my own selfish behaviors and ways that I’ve developed as a some sort of survival technique because I need to protect myself from these other people that seem to have this great idea of some god that is some far-off ethereal thing to me I can’t I can’t seem to attain their understanding and I just wanted I wanted that so bad for so long and so step to for me you know I worked it I’m a personal long-term recovery I uh you know have been around the step and learned a lot about it and it’s it’s been great for me it’s brought me it’s been a way for me to get back to the center as long as I keep looking at it so yeah I think that uh I guess if you’re an Earthling and or someone new to recovery and don’t have any experience and you’re thinking about just the the power greater than you you know we start to talk about God as an acronym good orderly Direction just somebody given you a suggestion or somebody given me a suggestion really that is better than the suggestion I already have we also talked about you know group of drug addicts or a group of drunks depending on which fellowship you’re in you know just people who have lived where we lived and found a way not to and take in those good orderly directions from them to get where they are which you know some amount of clean time or recovery I think just at its most basic you know understanding Power greater than ourselves if you have a second floor apartment that you’re moving into and you have a couch you probably cannot carry it up the steps by yourself and yet you and a buddy or two buddies could write simple us together is more powerful than I am by myself and that is like the most basic concept of it that I can think of and I think that might help people to understand that this isn’t some oh you need to go and find God and get brain wash programs just like hey together we can do something that I couldn’t do by myself and I think this is how that step could possibly help the everyday earthling in their life yeah and part of that I think like say that addiction living in that life of addiction is is that you don’t trust anything outside yourself you have no faith or hope or belief that anyone or anything else is there to help you and so the only skills that you have to rely on or whatever you bring to the table you know and you know there’s a there’s a real lack of trust and and some of it like say comes because we’ve had some abuse in our upbringing or whatever but then some of it comes with just living in that lifestyle of addiction you know because once you get caught up into that cycle of addiction you know all the people that you’re around are liars and cheats and thieves or most um I can’t say all and everyone so there’s always a spectrum of things you know I have a tendency to lump it all into one but there’s a spectrum of of using you know where some are more extreme than others but in general you know most of us are around people that lie cheat steal manipulate you know do what we got to do and we think that that’s how you live like that becomes a normal way of life you know my normal way of life when I was using was just to lie on a regular basis to take things from people if they weren’t looking you know and and we justify and rationalize those kind of behaviors because it gets us what we want I was definitely convinced that everybody was either getting high or they were dumb I didn’t realize that there was another way of life so to move on from the Power greater than cons for for you know of explaining this step I think the next portion that people question immediately is you know the need for a restoration to sanity so why would I need to be restored to sanity if I wasn’t insane right and so we could say okay well people in the program might understand their insanity that’s why we’re in this program we’ve had some insanity in our lives but the earthling might say well why do I need sad there’s nothing insane about me right I live my life I go to work every day things are good and so it helps I think to understand that we usually define insanity at least one of our first definitions of it is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results right like if I continue to say I’m gonna get clean and get a job tomorrow and yet every morning I don’t do anything different and I go get high first that never happened so I just continue to do the same mistake and expect something different to happen somehow and that’s a definite form of insanity if we look at it yeah and I think that was kind of my line of thinking was leading towards like that’s where that insanity comes from it’s like we we live in a sort of how can again we like a lot of addicts live in a place where like morals and values and all those things are chucked right out the window and you know insane behavior seemed the norm you know I can remember this was early on and like the sort of opioid rebirth of the late 90s early 2000s and I had a couple of different buddies growing up where you know we were going to the dentist and getting teeth pulled out to get pain medication and thinking what a great [ _ ] idea that was you know how smart we were that we had gained the system by you could go to the dentist and tell me your teeth hurt and all it cost you was a tooth to go get a whole scrip for you know 50 percocets you know and that kind of like that’s if you said that to most normal people they would think that that was an insane idea but to a couple of using addicts that are caught up in addiction like that was [ _ ] smart like we had figured out a loophole you know and and you know you have to sort of search for something outside that sphere of influence or that realm of influence to help navigate you back to rational thought and you know for me a lot of times you know I didn’t trust anyone outside of that realm of people that were used and I thought everyone else was full of [ _ ] I thought the court system and the cops and probation and all those people were just full of [ _ ] so I uh a lot of my development from from childhood going back to that into this insane behavior so to speak when I the the the furthest back I can date it I was approximately five and I wanted to ride my bike back into the woods and hit this jump and my parents were standing in the front yard and I rode my bike up and said you know can I ride my bike back there and hit that jump and they said no well my brother was over close to the woods and he didn’t hear any of this so I got on my bike went down the hill and I didn’t lie to my brother I said I’m going to hit the jump therefore he would assume it I’m five years old therefore he would assume that they said yes and we went back and we hit the jump in when we came back I had to deal with the consequences right so he didn’t get in trouble I got in trouble now that carried on for a long time it was about what did I want I wanted to hit to jump for my whole life I wanted the thrill I wanted to do all these things so so like you said I mean you know thinking about going to get your tooth pulled for 50 percocets I wish that was going on when in my time you know cuz you know and I’m sitting here long-term recovery thinking man I didn’t know about that

yeah and that’s that’s but those are the types you’re describing although we come from a different background as far as like I never did that but those are the types of behaviors I did and I the consequences didn’t really concern me so that was the insane patterns developed over that I’m now step two comes into play into my life I’m clean now body no more toxins guys are giving me solid suggestions they’re carrying me they’re calling me they’re saying you committed to this I started to realize that now in the same pattern of living the same mind the consequences of doing good things started to become good consequences and now I have to answer to the good consequences and that’s where the change a good change that happens for me because well not even you know back then early recovery I’d wake up I’d go sit down at the table and I never before this I never had a job for more than a year I would go sit down at a man I’ll start to eat the bowl cereal it’s like 4:30 5:00 in the morning and I’m ready to leave for work and I would think of five excuses why I could call out right now and I just wouldn’t do it there was other people you know that I just first people told me go everyday you know get up every day and go and then and honestly I didn’t want to show up to the to a you know meeting later and have to tell people I called out of work and then honestly I did call out of work one of those days and I didn’t feel right you know I felt like this is these are gonna be bad consequences this is what it was a feeling I had and just just paying attention to myself and taking a look at all this consciously taking a look at it instead of running around just like well I want to do this and I’ll deal with the consequences later now I’m consciously looking at things I’m saying wait a minute I’m not liking where this is headed maybe I want to talk to somebody or make a change so so as an earth person you know or as a person early in recovery it’s easy to see these you know repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results it was just a part of my life every day whether that’s the person who says okay I just got off work I’m gonna go one beer at happy hour and then ends up drunk every night when they go have one beer okay whether that’s me who goes in and says I’m gonna steal this crabmeat from giant and gets caught and locked up every time I like it doesn’t matter for us it’s pretty simple but then you know for an earth person or a person maybe that’s been cleaned just for a while and not really examined in their life or as self-aware as they used to be this still applies right there’s a meme that always makes me laugh and it’s the person who says sorry I’m late traffic is exactly how it’s been every day for the past five years and I was not expecting that right and maybe you’re not the person who’s perpetually late to everything that could easily solve that by getting up three minutes earlier right but there’s something in our lives probably that we just continually do whatever that is even if that’s the point where like I continually cause issues by expecting perfection out of my children and things like that like that’s just not working for me my children are not perfect neither am i I need to be aware of these things and trust in this process of coming to believe to restore me to the sanity that hey this isn’t working let’s at least try something else even if that doesn’t work – let’s not just continually but beat my head against the wall thinking I’m gonna get through the door right and I think if I am you know sort of the the opposite of having powers greater than myself to influence me if I’m not using powers outside of myself to help guide and direct my life I am what’s called ego centered or egocentric where is you know whatever my best thought is is the best thought I’m willing to entertain and no matter who you are you know we all are incapable of making perfect decisions for every situation in our entire life you know it’s like there’s always you know gonna be whatever you want to call it research or data or information out there or influence from other people that’s gonna help to make things better in some area or another but as an addict like I was so ego-centered that I was totally untrusting of anything other than myself for any you know resources in my life right I can’t tell you the the amount of people I’ve run into that say oh I really struggle at forgetting things in my life all the time and then I mentioned well do you ever put them on your calendar and they’re like no I’ve never thought of that I’m like really five years are forgetting everything in your life and you’ve never thought of the calendar but sometimes it takes talking about things and I think that’s another piece where we remember that this program is so useful we isolated ourselves like billy-o was mentioned and we don’t talk to anybody for good ideas and then when we express problem areas of our life we open ourselves to solutions from outside you know things we just may not have ever had the time to take to think about that it could work for us yeah my self-esteem I think was so low for so long that I felt like if I admitted to someone I didn’t have the answers to something or I didn’t know how to fix a problem or I didn’t know the best solution to something that that somehow made me like weak or inferior to that person because I went through my life based in my whole self-worth off of what I you know everyone was on a scale of like one to ten you know and every person that I met I had to rate on where they fell in that scale and then how I measured up to that person and then that was how every interaction with that person was handled you know that was how and all those judgments were made totally in my head totally based off of bad information misinformation judgments that were most of the time based in in nothing you know and you know if you were weaker than me you might be someone that I can manipulate or take advantage of or look to get what I wanted and if you were stronger than me that I knew I might have to kind of sit back and put up my defenses and be on guard because you might try to take my [ _ ] or get something you know from me and running my life off of all that misinformation and not just having a little bit of open mindedness to let people be who they really are that’s exactly what I was thinking open mindedness is sometimes the power greater than myself or other principles that are driven home especially in 12-step programs of all kinds but these are concepts that can be adopted by anyone open mindedness is listening as someone when and you know if I if I run up a flight of steps and I’m out of breath and someone says well you know quit smoking and you know what you know all right what are you talking about here so or someone says exercise will make you feel better and give you a you know more energy and and then I’m the closed-minded self says there’s no way this person is right and why do I do that I believe that the insanity you know part of me is saying that’s not gonna work for you or you’re not good enough and there’s no way that’ll work it’s just a closed mindedness that keeps me held down then I become open-minded and even if it doesn’t work at least I was open enough to try it and and I I then I then it becomes less and less than I feel the fear the failure aspect of a big fear of failure you know I don’t I don’t want to fail I want I want to know what I’m doing and I’m a perfectionist to the point where I won’t even if I don’t think I can do it perfectly I won’t even do it at all and then I just I do nothing mmm and that’s you know that’s a negative action it’s not even not even taking a step out and given something to try so it’s basically what I started thinking about was these principles are for me I’m starting to see that these principles of openness and willingness to try things are sometimes the Power greater than myself yeah I think just piggybacking off of both of you guys said man the open-mindedness something something we lack in the world today and I’m not just talking about everybody else me too right I listen to some of these political things by accident I don’t even really want to I’m trying to avoid the hell out because it just frustrates me but honestly a lot of what frustrates me is Wow allowed it’s just there’s so much misinformation and anger and venom towards other groups for no real good reason we’re just hating entire other groups of people but some of it is also my closed mindedness to the message I’m hearing which happens to not be the message I’m more agree with right and so just all the closed mindedness around it I think you’re right just being open-minded to some new ideas and not immediately disqualifying them because they’re not what I believe what I’ve learned in recovery and I don’t know if I learned it specifically from the second step or just further on or therapy or who the hell knows but a lot of what I believe I didn’t actually come up with or decide to believe and it’s just what’s been given to me and I’d believe it by default and I never [ _ ] questioned it whatsoever and the best thing I can do and open-mindedness is question everything that I have ever believed in and so that’s what I try to do today I’m not gonna say I do it well or perfectly by any means but I do think that open-mindedness just to hear other people and think maybe my way is not the only way maybe my way is not even the best way for me right maybe there’s some other ways that are good for me too and I need to be open to those experiences I think another spiritual principle that I’ve heard associated with this step frequently is the hope and and it’s just that voice of maybe just maybe I can be better right and so for for an addict or an alcoholic or a gambler or sex addict or whatever you want to call yourself like just the idea that maybe I’m not stuck in that terrible pattern I’ve been living with for years that’s led me to nothing but like insanity depravity death pain whatever and just for the average everyday person that’s struggled in an area in their life maybe for quite a few years maybe they struggle in relationships maybe they struggle with you know showing up for work every day just the idea that hey just maybe there is hope that this can one day change yeah and so you know when it gets into using lengthy and sort of circle back to like the adverse childhood experiences thing so what a lot of times are using we’re doing that to deal with some or trauma or pain like using you know helps alleviate my pain and whatever that is whether it’s emotional or physical or spiritual pain you know using helps to alleviate that pain and as long as I’m high as long as I’m you know having sex as long as I’m drunk I don’t feel that pain but as soon as I come down off that drug you know I feel the pain again and you know there’s there’s no tools or we don’t we aren’t taught or given the tools that we need to deal with that pain without our vice and so when people tell us oh just stop using and you’ll be fine it’s like no I won’t you know as soon as I stop I’m gonna feel all that pain of living and I don’t have any skills to deal with that pain and and without knowing that there’s a different way you know that’s where that hopelessness comes from you know and and coming around either you know 12-step fellowships our counselling or spiritual advisory you know places it can can help us gain these tools you know we come into a program like a 12-step program and we learn hey you know other people feel this way they’ve used these tools to get out of it and you might be able to get out of living in that pain without having to use or without having to use that voice over and over and over again so I think that it’s it’s leading me here to pain is a great motivator and to a person to a normal person or a person that thinks they might have an issue going on if there’s pain associated if there’s some pain going on and there’s a there’s a you’re seeking right the sex or the gambling or shopping or buying something brand new whatever it’s to alleviate that pain the you know if there’s pain there it’s something that has to be looked at and the truth can be painful as well and to me sometimes and and that the truth is one of those things that falls under the power greater than me the truth sometimes is that pain I need when I was you know just to give a personal experience I was in jail um my I wrote a letter my dad saying you know I want to get a house and you know a wife and kids and a dog you know and I just you know it’s one good work swinging hammer and just do my thing you know and you know Here I am in jail you know I know nothing about doing that you know yeah here and here he is you know the 35 years in you know to the job and he says well you just never have been willing to do those things and and that was you know that was painful you know I’m not wasn’t willing to do the necessary steps involved right right no that’s a that’s a powerful statement sometimes the the truth can be the painful motivator to move into the next stage of our lives right now we’re going to take a break and play our voices ed and we’ll be back after that this episode has been brought to you by voices of Hope Inc a non-profit grassroots recovery organization located in Maryland voices a hope is a community-based organization that fights to protect the rights of people who struggle with substance use please support them by attending their fifth annual gratitude banquet on February the 15th tickets are $60 a person and sponsorships are available please visit them on the web at

www.libertarianism.org rater than myself that is the the actual thing that restores sanity in my life and I think that’s kind of incredible because the step says that we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity and yet later on in the reading for the step it’s saying that actually the process of coming to believe is the thing that’s restoring us to sanity not that we came to believe that something could but almost that be the evidence is in when we come to believe that we don’t have to trol everything that’s what allows us to sit back and relax and and have some sanity and peace in our lives yeah I think what that does is opens us up to you know to simplify it opens us up to like take suggestions and not be so totally self reliant on ourselves you know so many times in life I get in a situation and I don’t have an answer I don’t know how to deal with it I don’t have you know the right tools to get the job done and you know it’s like if I have a screw and a board and all I have is a hammer well you know a lot of times I’ll take that hammer and beat the [ _ ] out of that board until I can pry that screw out of there and that’s kind of my approach to life’s like I don’t have the tools to deal with that situation but I’ll take whatever tools I got and beat the [ _ ] out of life with them until you know I end up with a bad result and I might get the screw out of the board but what’s either of those things gonna look like at the end and that’s kind of what my life is like and my you know getting into this process I don’t just take my hammer and start beating on [ _ ] I start looking around like hey maybe there’s something else that would be a better tool to get this job done and if I use it correctly it might be going and asking somebody else hey do you got a screwdriver that I could use yeah I love this you know the process is the solution someone once said to me that nothing grows on the top of the mountain everything grows in the valley and that’s in that context is that we all we all seem to be aiming towards something we want to we want to go to school and get this degree we want to climb at work or go through life and these are all things that me I’ve always wanted to seek my whole life and and even even clean still wanting to see these things but the process is the solution the the growth comes through the process I need to learn to enjoy the process it goes right back to the last thing I was saying about the letter from my dad you know he’s saying what he’s saying is it’s a okay you can want whatever you want but wanting isn’t the result the result is the process the process is in order to have these things you have to you have to be able to endure the journey and that you know it’s a journey not a destination I mean a lot of these things that many people have heard in different different parts of their life or whatever you know that’s but it’s it’s all point to the same to the same sort of thing that we’re on here and that is the process of step to the coming to believe I can definitely I can definitely grab over this concept for myself the coming to believe is the very thing that restores me to sanity I’m restored to sanity just just with that seed of willingness to to you know embark on this journey and say you know I will look for a Power greater than myself or read a spiritual text or read program literature listen to a podcast I don’t know uh you know anything if I’m if I’m seeking actively that that sort of does restore me to sanity so I love that like there’s these steps and most of our program principles and ideas are just written in a way where somebody who’s like living this spiritual in touch with the universe a concept of life can take them to have this really deep you know incredibly spiritual meaning for their life and then somebody else can look at the same exact words and phrases and and look at it as a very down-to-earth basic pragmatic answer to this whole problem right and it’s like you can go either way in both ways work and they both make sense I love the idea that that you know we can just stop using our hammer on the screw right and just consider that maybe else maybe somebody else around us has another idea for how to get this screw out or a different tool that we’re familiar with I also love the idea of like that we can project out into the universe that you know hey I’m coming to believe that I can be better and that in itself is the solution for me getting better right and almost stuck in the fact that I can’t get better as long as that’s all I believe and I it’s funny cuz you know here we go again where it’s like I heard something different there I kept something different away like what I sort of take away from that you know the process is a solution thing is what I hear what I hear that is the process involves the actual work you know what I mean it’s not just thinking about [ _ ] that gets it done it’s the actual work that goes into it that gets the solution you know we sit around pontificating about some [ _ ] while I’m on the toilet doesn’t really get it done that’s funny and I’m over here like maybe in my my you know pumpkin spice latte Starbucks and I’m like man it’s just this self-actualization that like as soon as I believe I can be better that becomes a possibility for my life and if I project that out then maybe I am manifesting that around you know just by believing it because it talks in our literature somewhere it says as long as we believe we have the ability to control our using we’re almost forced to continue trying to write and it’s once we believe that we truly can’t control it anymore that we kind of lay it down we’re like alright I can’t let me listen to something else and so I kind of look at that for this you know saying right here that like as long as I believe I can’t get better which is was my belief I’m resigned to the fact that I was stuck out there this means not really in my life right yeah used till I’m 60 in a rocking chair on the front porch right and that’s like the very best the front porch but I really think that the you know just the belief that hey this can change I think that changed the course of my life yeah and you know it’s it’s funny how like you say simplicity so many times of how I actually utilize these tools because I personally think you know my my experience their understanding of the steps is that there are a process of giving me tools on how to deal with life and it’s just like when we had talked about meditation like I need a meditation that is practical in my life that’s something that I can use I can’t have a meditate just me personally I can’t have a meditation practice that requires me to be in the perfect room in the perfect conditions with the right incense and the [ _ ] music plan and no interruption from the kids and all those things because if that’s my expectation I’m just probably not going to get that most days I need something that fits into my life and how to take these tools and apply them on a daily basis and a lot of times it is just you know as simple as you know the first step being I can’t and the second step being weekend you know that I don’t do the best job of running my own life on a regular basis you know without some influences of some some good people that I can look to for guidance and direction and and what you know my purpose is and what the best way to deal with you know my kids issues is if if I’m not looking to things outside of myself you know chances are I’m going to end up making a bigger mess of it than when I started and here’s where you tell your believers from your agnostics believers will say I can’t he can and agnostics will say I can’t weekend yeah exactly and and that’s just it you know that’s for me is the point of why I still go to meetings and actively participate in recovery and still have a sponsor and still you know participate in recovery events it’s like you know just because I’ve been abstinent from drugs from a long time for a long time doesn’t mean that I all the sudden gained all these skills you know I still have new situations new challenges new new struggles coming up in my life and I feel like there are things outside of me that can help me deal with them and a regular you know on a daily basis right so so I sort of came to believes that I could live clean right I came to believe I could live clean and I started to do some things that I enjoy doing and before when in an attempt to be clean and be separated from that those things that kept dragging me and take me in a rabbit hole I would be clean separated from them but I didn’t enjoy doing the things like fishing or fill-in-the-blank taking a walk in the woods after consciously taking a look at this and coming to believe that I could live clean so to speak I started to enjoy those things and and and to you know I tend to get deep but it’s I like to you know explore the how deep my mind can go with things a lot but the simplicity of it is really what brought me to this place where I can challenge my mind now and and I I I found out through following those simple you know you know put down the hammer you know pick up a screwdriver you know instead of beating that trying to beat that screw in you know just use this tool instead Steve and then I started using that tool and I was like wow this is this is great yeah and I mean this is so much easier I’ve been wearing a ten and a half I’m on eleven you know and and and then you start to feel a little better and I had about I had about nine months clean in there was this guy that I’d known I took his sister to prom you know we like we went a little ways back and he was younger than me and he was he was one too you know he was clean and he was one to really do this thing and he was going through a struggle and he shot me a text message in the morning and I was at work and he’s like you know I just don’t know who I am you know he was actually on set up two at the time and and I wasn’t I wasn’t a sponsor just trying to help the guy you know um so he’s like you know I don’t know who I am I mean you know I don’t know how to live you know he basically he’s saying to me looking back now in hindsight you know he’s saying to me I don’t I need to come to he’s wanting to come to believe that he can live clean you know he’s saying I don’t know what so and I said all I said to him was hey listen and I was just trying to give him enough to get him through and talk and get off work and just go see him and make sure he didn’t you know screw up I just said hey listen me you know you know I know your dad raised you you know and you guys used to work on cars and stuff you know like that’s you man that’s you you didn’t you know look no further you know you you know you like to work on cars on the side but you know that’s what you do or whatever you know it’s like something I said just like that and it you know and he just meant I was a sage man for the longest time because I knew that him and his dad you know could wrench on you know always were wrenching on a car you know it’s like the simple the simple things he was he was open enough to seek um you know I guess he was seeking a Power greater themself or seeking he wanted to come to believe that you know he could do this thing and and we together him and I you know through you know some sort of consent you know because he would have been closed-minded – yeah if it was his dad that told him that maybe you know so just because him and I came together and said you know we’re I’m gonna help you get through this thing whatever he was able to see through a simple text message that he could and he came to believe there at least for that day or whatever you know that he could live clean right moving on from that concept just to another piece of the literature I think we kind of today by having anything else to add for that part okay another part of this literature that has always just really blew my mind I shouldn’t say always because I completely missed this early on but it hit me later and and really seemed powerful for my recovery at least there’s a paragraph in step two that says in this program the first thing we do is stop using drugs and you could intersperse drugs with whatever it is that you happen to act out using and it says at this point we begin to feel the pain of living without drugs or anything to replace them the pain forces us to seek a Power greater than ourselves that can relieve our obsession to use and I’ve always been captivated by this because my first attempt at recovery I came in I gave up drugs and I quickly found women right and they were my replacement right and it says right here in the literature I need to feel it says we begin to feel the pain of living without drugs or anything to replace them and that that pain is somehow vital to the fact that we seek a Power greater than like basically if I’m not in pain what the [ _ ] do I need God for or what do I need you program people for things are great right I don’t need your help anymore if I’m not hurting and so it was I was so quick to replace the pain of living without drugs with you know the euphoria of a new relationship or female validation or sex you know I some people who maybe turned to food right and they say oh I I put down the fork and or put down the spoon and picked up the fork right and I always say like I stop smoking crack and started eating it or whatever right like there’s always some generalization to make it funny but the truth was I I avoided the pain of not having drugs I avoided the the feeling of loneliness and isolation that I was using drugs to cover up to begin with and in avoiding that I never needed to seek the power greater than so for my recovery what that meant was I got almost 18 months my first time in and I worked steps and I was hit in six meetings a week and I had a sponsor and a service commitment and all these aspects and yet I still used right even in the midst of doing all these suggestions that recovery suggested of me because I had missed the god piece and as soon as I felt pain I had nowhere else to turn except to go back to covering it up because that’s what I was still doing in recovery was covering up the pain instead of dealing with it yeah and I think one of those lessons that is important for most addicts anyway is that you know life is has painful moments you know life isn’t all about good happy fun all the time and even you know the people with the best lives still have instants of pain and you know that it’s part of life you know that we can’t get through every day being totally happy totally you know in euphoria all the time and you know with drugs as long as I was high that’s kind of how I stay it was an instant escape from all my problems an instant relief to all my pain and the only time there was pain is when I came down out of that cloud of euphoria and that I had to deal with life it was like how do I get back there you know the quickest fastest way and again learning some some tools or some skills on how to deal with the shitty aspects of life and realizing like hey you know after a while like I’ll take the shitty with the good compared to the results of using yes or the things to replace it in roads so the the the the great thing here is that came you know came to believe and then I personally and a lot of people experienced this the pain does go away as the result of the process doing the work taking the action it seems so as long as instead of I have a choice I can replace the drug with a woman or you know gambling I can I can I can do I can substitute the moment I choose to not substitute to feel that pain at some juncture and I don’t know and just as a reference point I don’t want to get into this but some some religions you know or whatever say you know the pain was taken from you some some would would venture to say that it was my actions and the pain was on its way to leave anyway I just had to hold on and follow through and show up either way the experience of having the pain leave is a is a great experience and for me when the pain was no longer there whether it was taken or my actions removed that pain or the process you know remove that pain it to me necessarily I don’t need to define it very you know too much I just I know that I remember you know it worked in the pain started to alleviate sometimes suddenly sometimes gradually but so long as I stayed on course even with deviations you know of coffee you know extra cup of coffee because I didn’t you know I needed a pick-me-up or something right so even little deviations like that I mean I’m not a I’m not a monk on the mountain side here you know I’m live in the world with I have kids you know and I have to deal with things so that was a great experience just I just wanted to put that and plug that in there cuz we were it was hitting me so awesome yeah I uh I think one of the aspects of this this part of the literature the whole the pain forces us to seek a Power greater than ourselves this ties in with a belief that I’ve had and I know everybody does a Chariton I’m curious where you guys stand on it I’ve frequently heard God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and I know not all of us are exactly believers in the you know big guy in the sky kind of God but just in general I have never been a believer in this this statement of God doesn’t give me more than I can handle or doesn’t put more on my plate than I can handle or any of that those type of things I personally believe I am always given more than I can handle and that’s the only [ _ ] reason I ever need to turn to God like if I could just handle everything I was given I don’t have any purpose to turn to a god I got it right and so that’s kind of where I’ve read into this the pain forces us to seek a Power greater than ourselves like I need to seek things to help me whether that’s new coping skills on how to sit with pain or how to alleviate pain or how to constructively use pain or you know some other thing of reaching out to a spiritual being that makes me not feel so alone and can be with me so I’m not alone I need these things and I need something to force me to seek it because if not I got it right and so what’s your ideas of that so well of course I’ll start by saying I don’t believe God gives us anything right that’s my first belief in that I don’t believe God gives us anything and two if you believe that God gives you things then how do you make sense of all the people to kill themselves I mean it seems like they obviously got more than they could handle cuz they checked the [ __ ] out you know and we’ll well I’m just saying I can’t I mean life is hard you know there are challenges it’s difficult and not everybody can handle it you know some people choose to just keep using until they die or overdose and that’s there what I mean is you know are they handling what God gave them I guess you know I guess it’s you know but they’re not handling in a really good way so I you know I chopped that statement right out the window but you know it so good we agreed we don’t like the poopoo on the God doesn’t give us no handle no I I prefer the term universe over God personally it just seems to fit better in from my experience the way I see how things are this is you know this is kind of if you want to get into that kind of thing

the universe oh I would have to say to myself the universe doesn’t give me more than I can handle right I don’t know that’s it that’s a that’s a I don’t I don’t that just sounds like an elementary statement to me I don’t I don’t really it doesn’t it doesn’t fit where I am right now in my life it may have applied to me at some other point before and it may apply later but right now I can say I can only speak for right now and right now I don’t see the relevance of that statement it’s giving me more than I can handle I don’t think it’s that I see things differently and so I can really I can’t go too far into that one so since I seem to be the only one that cares about this statement in the sense of a God at all I will say I saw from my stance some a sense that when I’ve heard people say it I’m assuming that instead of looking at it technically they must be trying to say that God doesn’t give me more than I can do as long as I’m you know seeking the help of God to help me do here right that’s kind of how I try to assume what their meaning about it but I just don’t personally like the statement it sounds like one of those you know some of our cliches are so rooted in truth that I’m like oh yeah nothing could be more obvious than some were like who the [ _ ] came up with this dumb [ _ ] right here it’s just a motivational statement to say you can do it I said Joe Montaigne humor yeah it’s you know I just think life is my approach to a lot of that is his life is life and we don’t you know I used to think I believed in karma I don’t even really believe in that anymore I think karma more has to do with if I’m focused on positive you know loving caring aspects of the world I tend to see them a lot more I can recognize them a lot more I tend to be more in tune with those in the world and if I’m negative and condescending and rude then I see more of that in the world that’s what I perceive that’s what I focus on that’s what more my attention is and that you know those things all exist simultaneously you know good things are happening in the world bad things are happening in the world a lot of things that we place good and bad judgments on are totally just judgements you know this is one person yes oh my wife hates that I say that oh that’s one of my favorite guarantees of the true it is what it is you know whatever judgment you want to place on a good bad a different right you know it’s sort of the old you know why was that this job for ten years and I got fired and it was so terrible but then I got this new job and it ended up being the greatest thing in my whole life and you know I mean or any of those good bad it’s it’s like all the spective you choose to take on it you know it’s these judgments that we put on on life I think life just shows up and whatever the tools that we have to deal with it are what’s gonna help us not what judgments we place on how good or bad or how much God loves us or doesn’t love us or you know to me like that’s just not a helpful way of looking at life you know it’s more helpful to look at it as you know some shitty stuff is gonna go down in the next couple of years and what am I in a position where I am spiritually physically and emotionally in a place where I can deal with those things the best when they show up you know and I don’t go looking for them it’s not like I walk around paranoid around every corner but people are gonna die things are gonna happen money’s gonna be a issue you know Hey politics are gonna suck you know it’s like and you know what what I choose to do with that is what helps the quality of my life acceptance I think it summed up and you know it is what it is it’s it’s not it is what it is is not you know I see you coming from a place of it’s not a careless statement it’s not like who cares right it’s it’s more of I accept this situation for what it is that that that practice that takes practice it takes takes a little foresight to to accept it takes uh it takes faith of you know if some kind to believe that okay money’s not always going to be tight I’m not always going to feel this pain these things more will be revealed these things will go away you know and and whether that’s you know God given me more than I can handle you know I don’t know it’s just that the action of a you know seeking acceptance it is what it is you know more will be revealed and everything is everything I think there it is there it is that’s it yeah I do I will say I am a fan of the it is what it is concept just to kind of remind me to stop labeling things because it’s it’s next to impossible to stop putting judgments of how I believe things fit into my world as good or bad right when my true deep belief if I was just sit and meditate on it and you know be on top of a mountain somewhere it would be it’s just events and how do I give them meaning right and I understand that I do want to say and not to get too advanced though that I also have at times used it is what it is as a bypass right to bypass having to feel the emotion of whatever it is it’s going to one in my life and that does not work that comes back to bite me in the ass because I need to go through the experience of feeling whatever it is for the particular situation before I can come to the understanding of it is what it is and if I’m trying to skip by that by intellectualizing it or you know being so super zen with it I can actually stuff that down and it can help me later and so moving on to just one more concept that I come to my mind I’m not sure if you guys had some more or not after that but one of the things that always strikes me about the second step and you’ll hear it if you hear me share most of the time it’s kind of one of the more entertaining stories that I have in my share is that I really believed when I first heard the idea of being restored to sanity my only understanding of that coming into the program of sanity and insanity I thought of like mental institutions and people in padded rooms and they were obviously crazy and crazy meant that your thinking was all over the place and so when I heard I was gonna be restored to sanity I kept waiting for really sane thoughts to come my way right I was like man I you know my wife is gonna not fill up the Keurig one morning and I’m just gonna come out and think oh she must have been busy let me fill it up for her right and that’s not what the [ _ ] I ever experienced and so I just felt like I was I felt like I was disappointed constantly waiting for this change of thinking that was going to come to me the sanity that as in the way I looked for it and what I’ve learned over time is that that’s not what happens right I have this this group of people that speak in my head that are all me in some way shape or form but they’re different parts of me and they’re they’re almost like a you know Board of Directors at a business meeting and like the first guy that talks when that courage thing is empty is like [ _ ] it right [ _ ] her leave her she’s a [ _ ] you didn’t want to marry her anyway fill up the fing of water and dump it on her side of the bed and teach her a lesson right and then the second guy that speaks is like smoking a cigar with his feet on the board table and he’s like yeah you know he’s got a point right yeah she does this every other day [ _ ] and it always takes till that like third or fourth or fifth guy to be like hey if you break this Keurig and leave your wife you’re a gonna be poor and B you’re not gonna get the coffee you came out here wasn’t in the first place right and so the sanity that I have found for me through the second step isn’t the sanity of same thinking right it’s the sanity of not acting on a lot of that crazy [ _ ] right having the time to pause before the reaction it’s not perfect right sometimes I still react before I can wait and appropriately respond but a lot of times I guess it I might have seen this sanity sooner if I wasn’t looking for it in my thinking and I think that’s what I one of the things I try to express to people is that my sanity came in my actions not am I thinking yeah and I luckily enough you know picked up the concept early on maybe because I realized my thinking was so messed up was you know early on I picked up the concept that like my own thinking is my biggest enemy you know my own that committee we talked about in our head is is what gets me into trouble all the time I think something I just do it I just react and just you know whatever and of course being a person that likes analogies you know my first sponsor had told me something about you know whenever you think you got an answer to a problem he’s like when you start thinking too much you know picture in your head like one of those road construction signs that says caution under construction you know kind of thing so that you don’t really go any further with that no on and maybe try to talk to some people about it talk to your sponsor talk to some other people in your support network and get some input get some get some help with that stuff to help you come up with you know some decisions and that was really helpful you know that was good advice because early on I thought well I think this so I must have to do it you know this is what I think so this is what I do right and I thought I wasn’t being true to myself if I didn’t do that you know selling myself short not doing what I wanted to do that’s what I want to do and realizing that that’s the insanity you know is just reacting to those thoughts without playing them out and the skills that I’ve learned through recovery are just what you had talked about it’s like learning to kind of sit back no ok wait a minute you know let’s not react to this feeling let’s not react to this first thought and let’s kind of um look for some other solutions to the problem look for some other answers to this situation or sometimes let’s just do nothing at all and and we don’t have to react to this thing we can just let it go you know ruin that being a novel concept so the first place I was was I wasn’t on an uptick in my life when I came you know looking looking for for help my and then we’ve all heard my best thinking you know got me to where I’m at so now I was convinced that my thinking there was some sort of error in trying to run things myself

and I also heard his like there’s a lot of simple things that accumulated into into this for me I heard somebody say one time that if you think of it past 10:00 p.m. it’s probably not a good idea I agree with though so I so I’m very mindful if I start thinking of ideas in it’s night time I still today ought to have it flip out the phone and say you know what time is it you know is it past 10 so I heard someone say and I was I really needed this when I when I heard it I was I was you know that I thought that it came to mind well hey you know I don’t feel too great with the this whole being clean thing and you know I’ve been doing this for about nine months now you know no I don’t feel like I had that edge you know that that these other guys who seem to have like that edge you know where you know I don’t know girls like Oh more or whatever I didn’t feel really good about myself so I thought this is the thoughts right I thought hey you know I’m gonna sell weed you know that’s gonna really give me that edge and I’m gonna stay clean and do it and I’m gonna do it different this time and I realize first thing when that thought popped in my mind this is not right and I felt insane I felt what what is going on with me why am I doing this and I heard this guy say he said it doesn’t matter what your head does it matters what your feet do and it’s the same thing you guys were just saying with it’s the actions it’s the actions I act my way I act my way into better thinking you know right or that one and and the committee in my head you know it’s like it’s like you know you can’t you know I wash all my dishes you know you can’t wash yours and um you know why can’t these you know my kids need to listen to me because I’m their dad and you know and I just labels you know and it’s my thinking and the way for me is step back step back up out of there get up out of that committee and just watch them talk for a minute and think what’s any of this gonna solve any of these answers that I’m coming up with you know and then with my feet take good steps in the right direction take good action and and uh you know that seems to lead my it actually helps my thinking honestly those those habitual good actions seem to guide my thinking get it back to center and it’s not all at once I mean this is like one thing I’m a man so I need to focus on one thing is I if it’s the Cure eggman I’m on that cure egg for months trying to figure out not smash that thing you know so that’s okay and I personally think when we talk about being restored to sanity like to me that’s what that statement actually means is I become a person that my actions and the way that I live falls in line with my values like for the longest time in my addiction I had these morals and values that I said that I believed but my actions and the things that I did in my life didn’t fall in line with those values so I felt like a piece of [ _ ] you know I knew I wanted to be you know a responsible productive hard-working person I knew I didn’t want to be someone that lied and stole and cheated their family and and manipulated people and did all those things but I just kept doing them anyway you know and that’s you know kept me trapped in that insanity you know kept me stuck in that insanity I wanted to do something but I did something else you know and and that process of recovery taught me how to put my actions in line with my morals and values and so that you know my spirit could could be restored to you know healthy happy and whole it’s so interesting you guys just brought up a couple of really good things like one of the things I’ve heard a billion times you can’t think your way into better living you got to live your way into better thinking and I’ve never specifically looked at that as like a second step saying but I think it is I think it’s all about being restored to sanity is ignoring or at least not trusting as 100 percent accurate the thoughts in my head right and then the second half of that statement even has roots in like biological things that we understand about the brain now which is that you know neurons that fire together wire together and so when we do these new habits through living them day in and day out like you were talking about Steve like they truly are forming new brain patterns inside of us and that’s incredible that that’s a second step saying right and one of the other things you mentioned Billy it was just the sanity of being able to play the tape to the end right being able to play the tape all the way through I heard that early on and I didn’t realize so we we started this podcast talking about the insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results right because all we were thinking of was oh I used drugs and there’s a relief from that there’s a relief of pain when I use drugs right we don’t think about the part that comes after that with what you were just mentioned a second ago like the consequences of that oh I feel like a piece of [ _ ] because now I’ve gotten high now I need to you know maybe go cheat somebody out of some money to get more drugs to continue to feel this way and so it’s the process the sanity is being able to think all the way through that repeated mistake to the final consequence of it that felt like crap right the thing that that made it the mistake right we have to be able to think all the way through to the end of that and I think that kind of is the culmination of the second step being able to sit still long enough to see what happens after the initial thought yeah and any oh and I don’t know I thought this earlier and forgot to add it in but for some reason I feel like it’s a little bit important so some of these concepts that we do some of these coping mechanisms that we use as as addicts aren’t necessarily bad they only become bad because as addicts we take them to extremes and buy that out you know what I mean is you know I can be having a tough day at work you know I’ve somebody yells at me or somebody gets mad or make a mistake and falses upset at me and whatever and I have a bad day and I go you know what [ __ ] it man I’m gonna just still have a double cheeseburger and a you know shake for lunch and that’s not the end of the world you know what I mean it’s it’s it makes me feel better you know maybe it is just given into some compulsion or whatever but it’s not a terrible thing it’s a good way to get through a difficult situation and that’s the end of it and then I go on with the rest of my day and I feel better and whatever the insanity comes in as addicts is that becomes just the go-to for everything all the time oh I stubbed my toe so I must have to eat cheeseburgers and ice cream you know oh my wife looked at me funny oh I must have to eat cheeseburgers and ice creams on and it’s like we take these normal what most people would look at is like normal sort of coping everyday things or I had a bad day so I want to buy myself something well then I’m $3,000 in debt because somebody looked at me funny on the highway you know it’s like that’s where his addict said insanity takes us all right so does Emma have anything else to wrap up the second step excellent actually I think we covered it pretty well here today as always you know feel free to share this with anybody you think might benefit from it or join the conversation yourself we’d love to hear your opinions on the second step especially if it’s something we didn’t mention here we can you know recap this next week and talk about it and hope everybody has a great week that wraps up this episode please subscribe rate and review this podcast on your preferred platform if you have ideas for topics you’d like us to talk about or just want to add an opinion contact us through Anker email us at recovery sort of at gmail.com or find us on Twitter at recovery sort of