Prayer. Faith. Trust. Turning it over. This is what I am struggling with these days. My life is a mix of ups and downs, highs and lows, and I feel like a lonely person out in the middle of the ocean without a life jacket on. Without faith and belief, I am sure to continue to feel alone, confused, depressed, and without grounding. I don’t know this for sure, hence the word trust but I see my fellow members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other people in my life rely on their Higher Power or God and their world seems to be right side up or at least their reaction to whatever going on in their world is workable. So, I look at these people and I see that faith works in other people’s lives, so I begin to trust in this concept of a Higher Power and faith.
I grew up in a big United Church of Christ in New Haven, CT. I grew up in a family where the previous generations of men were all Presbyterian ministers. My family went to church every Sunday. I went to the service, and I went to Sunday school. I was baptized, and I was confirmed. I came to understand what God was or so I thought at the time, and came to trust in God. My undiagnosed bipolar, learning disabilities, commencement of my addictions, and fighting with my parents and other adults began at the end of middle school and the beginning of high school. My world was crumbling. I threw myself into my faith and my search for what God was all about. I thought he was torturing me, but at the same time I prayed to him that if he protected and saved me through all of the chaos in my life I would live my life correctly. Fox hole prayers – if you do this God, I will do that. I was praying none the less. Something I should be doing today at age thirty-nine, but I fear and am resistant to. I do not pray.
So where did my faith go? Where did my trust go? Where did my ability to pray go? Where did my ability to turn my problems over to my God or Higher Power go?
I don’t know. I became skeptical. I think it was because I have experienced so much hurt and destruction in my life due to the bipolar and alcoholism. I didn’t believe I deserved to be helped by anyone. I picked up this resentment early on that I held onto for years that God was at fault for bringing me into this world with all these fractures and he was torturing me and teaching me a lesson I just could not understand. He was wanting me to jump through hoops that were never ending. He would not end the suffering. Was this immature thinking? Or was he trying to make me a better person by providing me the hurdles of bipolar and alcoholism? Giving me the power to heal, relate to others, feel other people’s pain, teach and help other people, care for others, tell my story, work to help those who cannot help themselves. Is this why I had to endure all that pain and suffering, and why I continue to have to fight the daily mood swings and negative thoughts, anxieties, and fears? I don’t know. It does make sense.
So why don’t I pray? Why don’t I believe?
I continue to have the suicidal obsessions and self-loathing thoughts along with fears that I will never get well, that I will never be able to stop spending my days in bed as I have done for the last year, never amount to anything, never be self-sufficient, etc. I continue to have the anxieties of walking alone in public or going into a store or coffee shop alone. There are more thought, fears, anxieties that I experience on a daily basis but it would take too much room to list them all and honestly it is too painful and makes me feel my life is fully out of control around me.
Prayer and belief in a Higher Power would help according to friends and my therapist. Those two things would help to make me not feel so alone. They would help to relieve some of the pain, frustration, fear, and anxiety that I have. Turning it over to my higher power and giving my fractures to someone else to deal with so that it clears my head so that I can live my daily life. Praying helps to keep my head clear, and to remain focused on the now and having turned over the issues. It is about control. When I try to control my life, my life goes haywire and my mind is out of control. But when I have faith and turn everything over and relinquish that power and control, then I am not in control and I have to let whatever happens happen and trust that my higher power has a plan for me and that he won’t let me suffer without a reason why.
In order for any of this to happen I must have some sort of connection. Prayer helps that connection grow. It begins with belief. After I have belief, I will better be able to pray and turn things over and let my higher power have control of the reigns. How do I reconnect with my Higher Power? I had a connection when I was a youth.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, I have done the steps a few times. Steps one through three are the key ones that I seem to have to do the most often as they relate to my daily life.
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
I admit that I am powerless over alcohol. I don’t have a problem with that. I admitted that at the beginning of my sobriety in 2010. The reason why I bring this step up, is because I have to admit to myself on a daily basis that I am powerless over the chaos in my head – the bipolar, the mental illness – and that my life had become unmanageable (at times).
Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
This is the first step in believing in a Higher Power. It speaks to how if I believe in my Higher Power, then my Higher Power will help to clear my head and help to keep me sane. It won’t take away the bipolar or mental illness, but it will help me to deal with it.
Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
As this step reveals it is all about believing and turning over the control and my life to our Higher Power so that I can begin to heal and have faith that God is on my side helping me.
These three steps that I complete when I choose to work on acceptance, believing, and turning it over are key to helping me to have a framework for letting me work on doing something that at times to me feels like it is so outside of the box that I just do not understand or get it so why should I bother.
So, I believe that prayer comes after these steps are done. Once I have that connection formed. I can pray for understanding and relief. I can pray for courage. Prayer is a source of support and help as we learn and begin to turn things over to our newly found Higher Power that we now believe in.