Step Two is an action statement.
When feelings do not exist: “We do not miss what we do not know is possible”, a member commented. Do “blanked out” states—lack of interest or desire—suggest that conditions diagnosed as depression or mood disorders may point to spiritual scar tissue, where adverse experiences too painful to risk happening again, develop? Do children who have gotten by without much tenderness or fun build calluses to blunt the pain of this neglect? Are “don’t feel” conditions fixable in a Twelve Step program of recovery? Or, am I just doomed to live out a life where, when I am triggered, I shut down emotionally and cease to care for people, often with devastating and lasting consequences?
I believe that recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is what is meant in Step Two’s “restored to sanity” (clarity) goal. Getting back to feeling—empathy, communion among friends, family, co-workers and other life-forms in the world—is the healing that I seek and cannot do without. Fighting to survive, defending against abuse, complaints, or criticism is heavy work for anyone, even if I win. I have had to blunt my feelings to some extent to do this work.
In recovery, I gradually explore the ways I have shut down to the world to protect myself. I redirect my actions to establish safe, supportive ties and, as I own these improved conditions, I gradually let healing in to soften scars, careful to recognize how these protective shields developed. I do not want to be reinjured so I re-parent myself with love; I teach myself to recognize and value what is helpful and I explore how I can respond. I grow new neurological connections to replace short-circuits of dysfunctional reactive patterns that once served survival in a different way of life. A Power Accessible to me is love, a feeling-guide I come to trust.