I’ve never really been a religious person, and that's despite being a baptized Catholic. Not that there’s anything wrong with it of course, it’s just never been something that resonated with me.
Once I met my partner and started hanging out with his family more I would occasionally go to church with them, and while I loved the atmosphere and casual vibe of it, I never really clicked with that either.
Eventually I was so lost in my partner’s addiction that our therapist suggested Nar-Anon. It was there that I first got exposure to the term and concept of a “higher power”, and started to get some clarity on the situation and figured out what worked for me in the spiritual sense.
I was met with a little confusion at the start, though. I thought that the program’s higher power was God in the religious sense, because that seemed like the obvious choice (also, we said actual prayers at the end of meetings), and I think that a lot of people make this connection. Unfortunately though, that comes as a downside because to some people, that can keep them away.
What I realized through time though was that it’s not that at all. Sure, to some it can be the God that most people are familiar with, but it can go far beyond that.
Going to the actual definition of the phrase, it states that a higher power is “a power greater than ourselves”. And with this broad definition, we can then apply it to a variety of ideas. For some, they experience their higher power through the program group itself (if you want it to still stay within the idea of program). To others, it can be the universe, nature, life itself, your inner knowing, or anything that allows you to feel connected to something bigger. And the freeing thing about this is that there are literally no wrong answers.
You know how everyone’s recovery path, whether as someone with addiction or as the partner/family member, is different and unique in it’s own way? Same thing with this, as your idea of a higher power is your own personal choice and individual experience. What works for one person may not resonate with another, so don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong if your higher power differs from theirs. As long as you find joy and comfort in your version, that’s what matters. The point is to find connection with whatever source is most applicable to you. And also, just like with the recovery process, it can change based on your own journey and experience and where that takes you.
If you have found yourself either not going to program, or stopping your attendance, due to having issues with the concept of a higher power, just know that for one it’s ok, and also that you have so much freedom with how you approach the situation. Just like with recovery, the primary goal and focus is that it works for you for your benefit and health.
Also, if you are at a point where you are unsure about attending program at all or wondering if it’s a requirement to recover or improve your life, just know that again, everyone’s journey is different. We all have so many options available to us when it comes to improving our lives as a whole, and there is no one way to do it with a guarantee of working. We should allow each person to find what works for them and again, focus on ourselves first and foremost.
For me, while I started in program over two years ago, I am lately being drawn to attend fewer meetings. Of course, the people I met there are still very helpful and who are what I would call close, and I still have my sponsor that I talk to weekly. But, while I am still learning and always will be, I have had my attention called elsewhere for this period of my life. And that’s ok. I used to guilt myself so bad into thinking I had to attend a certain number of meetings, or that if I started “slacking off” that it meant I would go back to the way I was, or that I wasn’t taking things seriously enough. But it’s the opposite, as I still find healing through so many other avenues. And also, which is tied to my healing as well, I’m making an effort to stop shaming myself into doing things, especially since if I was going to meetings just to meet an imaginary quota I made in my head, I would become resentful and negative and then wouldn’t get as much out of it as I could have.
At the end of the day, as long as I am still focused on bettering myself and still have the meetings available as an option, all is well.
Going outside of program, the concept of a higher power does a lot to influence our lives as as a whole as well.
For me, it helps to overcome my issues with control and stress. I now know that I cannot control anyone else or any outside situations, and can only be responsible for myself. When I am having issues with this idea and struggling on handling my attempts to control, I can release it to my higher power and have the faith that things will work out the way they are meant to. Other people, whether it be my partner, family, friends, or anyone I come into contact with, all have their own inner guidance that goes far beyond what I am capable of controlling and that will take care of things on their end. And once you find your higher power, you will then be able to relax in the knowing that this energy is what supports both you and your loved ones.
So, while there are many avenues on the journey or self work and individual growth, there are no strict rules and limits on your healing. Do your best to follow what feels right and healthy for you, and while others can definitely give their input and advice in an effort to help you, you are in control of what the final say is for yourself.
As always, listen to your inner knowing, and trust that your inner guidance and higher power will always lead you in the direction that is best for you.
You got this.