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Step 2 AA | This Is Why It Can Be so Hard

step 2 in AA

Step 1 is the hardest step.

It’s a bitch.

But step 2 of AA can be just as difficult.

It’s a deceptive step. Many people think that they have it the moment they walk in the door because they believe in a higher power–some god from their religion. I think that’s why step 2 in AA is so hard.

But not everyone is able to have this experience of being certain of their higher power from day 1. Not everyone comes through the doors with a god in their heart and the ability to move forward to step 3.

It’s hard to make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of a power greater than yourself when you don’t even know what that power is.

I’ve seen more than a few men go back to drinking and getting high because they couldn’t get step 2. They couldn’t come to believe in something greater than themselves.

You’ll see a lot of opinions flying around the rooms about how step 2 works and what higher power means.

Let’s look at some examples.

Your Higher Power as Chair and Doorknob

I’ve always found this idea to be ridiculous. People say that, “well, I don’t believe in a higher power.”

So someone says, “Okay, well just make that chair over there your higher power. Or how about that doorknob.”

How we made our way from something greater than yourself to a dang chair is beyond me. I feel like it’s someone trying to help, but I’m 99% sure that telling someone who is basically atheist that a chair can be their higher power is just going to make them feel like this program is stupid as shit.

Your Higher Power as the AA Group (GOD=Group of Drunks)

This one is a lot better because it has some sense. It all comes down to how we define “a power greater than ourselves.”

Most people are going to immediately think of this as a god, and that god will probably be associated with a religion, but there are many things that are powers greater than ourselves.

For example, the sun is a power greater than ourselves. If something happened to the sun (for example, it disappeared suddenly), there would be shit all we could do about it.

We would all just freeze to death and starve to death—not sure which would happen first. The point is that there would be nothing that anyone could do about it.

But there are smaller powers that are still greater than us. The government is a power greater than ourselves. Death is a power greater than ourselves. Electricity is a power greater than ourselves.

Drugs and alcohol are powers greater than the alcoholic and drug addict.

It stands to reason that a group of drunks who are miraculously sober are a power greater than you.

It may not be perfect, but it’s damn sure better than a goddamn doorknob.

My Favorite—SAM=Sure Ain’t Me

This is where I’m at. I’ve been sober for years, and my definition of my higher power hasn’t changed.

I know that there is something. I know that when I work the 12 steps, that power keeps me sober for reasons that are unknown.

I know that it’s essential quality is mysteriousness.

I know that whatever this power is, it Sure Ain’t Me.

I wish I could take credit for that because it’s an awesome little saying, but I heard that in a meeting, and I’ve loved it from that moment on.

When I came into AA for the second time after a long, hard relapse, step 2 wasn’t a problem for me because I’d gotten my ass kicked so bad.

I was willing to believe in anything. Anything that made the pain stop.

What If None of These Work for You?

I’ve heard of people making their parent’s or people who have passed away their higher power. If that works, go for it.

Step 2 isn’t something you have to have down 100% before you can move on.

For me, I believed that there was something and that it would work if I did the 12 steps.

For step 3, all I was doing was devoting myself to the 12 steps. In the beginning, you could say that the 12 steps were my higher power. That was step 2 for me, and it worked exceedingly well.

Don’t overthink this one. Keep moving forward in the 12 steps and see what happens. See if you come to believe in some power that is greater than yourself.

The best argument for the effectiveness of the 12 steps is the millions of alcoholics and addicts who have been able to achieve sobriety by working them.

If that can’t convince you, then you might be fucked.

Or maybe not.

Remember, no one said this power had to be a god.

The sun isn’t a god.

A group of drunks isn’t a god.

You can be an atheist and work the 12 steps.

In AA, Step 2 Is an Ongoing Process

If you keep going and don’t give up, I promise that your conception of a higher power isn’t going to mean much.

My conception is practically nonexistent, but it works.

Give it a shot.

See what happens.

You have nothing to lose.

Then move on to step 3.

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9 months ago

I haven’t heard the doornob one in a while, I was told that almost 20 years ago when I entered AA after rehab. My father & other men (big eye roll) have also been it, but of course they failed my expectations. Today I just know there is something to praying & knowing there is a power greater than me.


Adam Fout

Adam Fout is an addiction/recovery blogger who writes nonfiction and speculative fiction. He is a graduate of the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop and has been published in or has upcoming work in december, Another Chicago Magazine, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, J Journal, Pulp Literature, and DreamForge. And he LOVES when readers reach out to him! Always feel free to send me an email at awfout at gmail dot com. I can't wait to hear from you!