The Care of God?

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The “care” of God? Are you kidding me??? For many years in recovery, I had extremely serious trouble with trusting a Higher Power. My life did NOT get better quickly. It took many, many years in recovery before my life began to take on even a semblance of “normalcy.” For many years in recovery, my life was filled with chaos, depression and extreme anxiety. It’s NOT because I wasn’t “working the steps”. No. It was because of the incredible depth and breadth of the damage and trauma I suffered growing up in a severely dysfunctional, shaming, violent family atmosphere. That created a LOT of damage, and it took many, many years of CONSTANT working of the steps, plus deep psychotherapy, plus many years of attendance at Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) and Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) meetings for my life to begin to turn around straighten out.

During those many years of profound pain, chaos, anxiety and shame in recovery, it felt like there was no Higher Power in my life. I could NOT see the evidence of it! My life remained very, very HARD, even terror-filled, and I could NOT see ANY evidence of the supposed “care” of God. In fact, I felt totally abandoned by God. It seemed to me that God was on vacation, maybe laying on the beach smoking cigars or something. Maybe He was answering YOUR prayers, but He certainly wasn’t answering MINE. I actually began to HATE God. I was filled with RAGE at God, for not being in my life; at least not in any way that I could discern.

It took me a VERY LONG TIME to begin to understand what was actually going on: How can I even begin to trust myself to the “care” of God when I’m wracked through and through with a thousand different self-sabotaging behaviors that ruin my life over and over and over and over and over! How can I even begin to perceive that God is a loving and caring God when I’m constantly on the balls of my ass because of all these self-sabotaging beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that destroy my life?? Where is there even room for God to show care and love when 99% of my actions are shot-through with self-sabotage?

My long-term unmanageability in recovery ensured that my OUTER life – the externals of my life – indeed remained in a state of more-or-less chaos, so it was extremely difficult to discern the love and care of any Higher Power, when I focused on those externals as evidence. What took me so long to realize was that this was NOT the fault of GOD. My life difficulties were because of ME – because of the incredibly vast repertoire of self-sabotaging behaviors I was saddled with, and because of the incredibly poor insight I had into who I really am. Not in terms of assigning fault or blame, but in terms of the fact that, wherever these behaviors stemmed from, I HAD them, and I was responsible for doing something about them. I simply could NOT have a “normal” life until I dealt with them, and dealt with them pretty thoroughly.

Then, a bit later, I began to realize that if I focused on my INTERNAL life, on my emotional, psychological, and spiritual life, there was PLENTY of evidence of a loving and caring Higher Power in my life. I came into recovery a totally broken and shattered man. I lived in a state of constant panic attack – my anxiety was constant and at psychotic levels. I lived in a state of constant suicidal depression, and had been that way for years. I was totally alone and isolated – I had no friends and had none for years. I had zero social skills. My level of emotional maturity was that of an eight year old. I loathed myself and hated my life. I lived in a state of constant terror and with a deep, deep, deep black dread. My stomach was in a constant knot, and had been that way for probably twenty years or more. I was an atheist and felt nothing but despair. The only reason I didn’t commit suicide was that I was too afraid to do it. But it was only a matter of time till the horrific pain became just too much to bear.

When I came into recovery, without my realizing it particularly, resources for positive growth and change began to come into my life. Sponsors, friends, meetings, Steps, books, counselors and therapists, all came to me when I really needed them the most. I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account of my recovery, because that would be a book in itself. 30 years is a long time.

At any rate, slowly, slowly, slowly I began to get better, and I continued to get better. My external life circumstances didn’t get better for quite a long time, but I got better. Gradually, my psychotic anxiety drifted away. My clinical depression gradually lifted. My isolation and loneliness ended. The knot in my stomach disappeared. After many years, my deep dread began to abate. My despair gradually gave way to hope and gratitude. I learned how to relate to people, how to make friends, and how to relate to the opposite sex. My atheism gave way to a spirituality that suits me.

Very gradually, I began to mature emotionally and spiritually. While I’ll never be so-called “normal”, I feel balanced, even, calm and content 99% of the time. I learned how to love unconditionally and eventually got married. Our relationship is not perfect, but it is 1,000% healthier than any male-female relationship I ever had prior to recovery. My deep shame is gone, which I thought would never happen. I discovered who I really am inside; I came to accept myself as I am and to care about myself; and my self-esteem improved immeasurably. I went back to school and got my PhD. I changed careers to suit my authentic self. I am a healthy, strong man instead of a shattered little boy.

I underwent an unbelievable degree of internal change. Who I am today bears no relation at all to who I was when I entered recovery. I can safely say it’s a miracle. THAT is my most powerful evidence for the love and care of my Higher Power.

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