Step Two: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
BELIEF: William James taught: “pragmatic rationality.” That is to say that under certain conditions, it is both right and reasonable for us to choose beliefs that promote our interests. In other words, if it is beneficial to you: go for it!
As soon as few marbles began twirling the same direction in my noggin, my choice became quite obvious, I could choose to believe and have a good chance for sobriety, or choose to disbelieve and doubtless end up with the DTs (delirium tremens) one more time. What a seemingly easy choice! My heart said yes, let’s go for it! So, I did all those things AA said to do, but yet my stubborn head continued to come up new bright ideas. Dangerous ideas!
I could faintly hear that song from Porgy and Bess: “It Ain’t necessarily so.” Now that voice is the very same voice that I followed into the barroom time after time. Later on in AA I learned that Bill Wilson tagged it: Mental Obsession. In retrospect I can now see that my debating mind would get me drunk, but my willing-to-believe heart would allow me to remain sober. Thank God I allowed my heart to lead me; in finality, my willingness to believe overcame my doubting mind.
I like the story about Fitz Mayo on pages 56 & 57 where he “. . . seemingly could not drink even if he would.” And this was simply because he was “willing to believe.” So it doesn’t matter what my mind thinks so long as my actions spring from my believing and trusting heart. Someone said, “When I gave up on a conclusion of the mind, and made a decision of the heart, the static stopped.
Well, my ‘static’ stopped many years ago; God has protected me from that first drink since my very first AA meeting, and my heart still sings: I believe! I believe!
INSANITY: I came into AA after a long nonstop toot with the usual accompanying delirium tremens. During my first meeting I was still hearing non-existent “music” and for several weeks my emotions were a roller coaster. For a normal person that might warrant a diagnosis of a schizophrenia with a bipolar disorder, e.g., INSANE. However, I have come to believe that the Big Book use of that word is in the context of something quite different.
I finally realized the Big Book was trying to get across to me only after studying the Big Book for some time. Two examples:
- In Jim’s story on pages 35-37, Jim came to the erroneous conclusion that he could safely drink whiskey so long as he mixed it would milk. As foolish as this may sound, no medical professional would clinically declare him insane. Alcoholic, yes. Insane no.
- Then later on page 37 I found: “Whatever the precise definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity.”
- We fellow alcoholics might simply consider this as “Alco-logical” thinking.
I believe this is what Bill meant to get across to us:
- Sane: When an alcoholic can see and act on the truth in drink.
- Insane: When an alcoholic cannot see and act on the truth in drink.