Alcoholics Anonymous is the group I belong to. It’s the place I go to try and find peace and to try and find a way to stop drinking. It’s estimated that there are over 2,000,000 members of AA worldwide. That is a pretty big number and when you think about it, it’s kind of comforting. When I hear about how many people belong to AA, I realize that I’m not alone. There are a lot of people out there who struggle with alcohol. Alcoholism is an addiction and it can be beaten, but it takes a lot of work, a lot of commitment and for many people, a really strong belief in a higher power to find the strength to take it one day at a time.
I don’t consider myself a religious person. I’ve never really been to church, I’m not even sure if I’m baptized, I’ve never thought about it. When I joined AA, it was hard enough to remember the 12 steps and keep myself going so when I started to become aware of the religious connection, I almost used it as my crutch to leave the group. But AA is a lot more than a place to connect with a higher power, although that is part of it. Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization where the goal is clear: anyone can join; the only requirement to become a member is the expressed desire to quit drinking. There is no fee to join and any person no matter what their race, gender or belief system is welcome to be a member.
The higher power recognition hit me hard for a few reasons. Because I don’t follow any religious doctrine, as soon as I heard anyone refer to higher power, I assumed fundamental religion. Upon reflection, I realize I was being a bit hasty in my judgment. Many members of AA do believe in God as their higher power – they believe that a power stronger than them has brought them to the place of healing. For some people, that higher power is the AA group itself. For others still, the higher power comes in other forms and for others still, there is no higher power, only the strong will to get better and work through the disease of alcoholism.
Now that I understand more and have completely embraced the reality that I am an alcoholic and will always be an alcoholic I have found my higher power. The form of my power comes in a totem, my stuffed tiger, Mr. Chips from when I was a kid. He’s the physical incantation of my strong belief in me. I can hang on to him or look at him when I need to be reminded of my own strength. It may sound corny, but it’s working for me and for that I’m grateful. Thanks Mr. Chips, you’re giving me the strength I need to keep taking it one day at a time.