The third step of ACOA says that we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
Growing up in an environment of anger, rage, alcohol, and most of all fear, it is hard to understand this step. I grew up realizing that I was the only one in charge of my life. No matter how dysfunctional that life may have been... it was still a life I could control. By that I mean I could protect myself.
The first time I ran away I was maybe five years old. I crossed a main road that I was told never to cross. I walked past the A&P Grocery store and kept walking. I crossed a second road and began my journey to a new life. Where was I going? Up to the Palisades Park. To me, that was a place of peace and beauty. Right next to the Hudson River, I could spend my time looking over the water and into New York City. How I would get across an Interstate Highway and then go down a narrow road to the park wasn't a concern of mine.
At that time, I didn't care about any of that. I just had to get away from the insanity. I had my little red wagon, a couple of sandwiches in it and some snacks and I was on my way. Later, I would learn that my father kept saying, “he'll turn around.” But I didn't. Finally, from behind a tree stepped a brother and my hour or so of freedom was over. They followed me shortly after I left. I never knew they were there. At that time, my total focus was on getting to the park.
I think of that time and the time I tried suicide when I was nine or ten. I hated my childhood... I hated my life. And as much as I hated it, I still had some control over it.
The idea, as a child, to give my will up to a god crossed my mind numerous times and more then once I tried it. And every time I was slapped in the face. I learned that god didn't care about truth, the god I grew up with only cared keeping the family secrets.
So as I grew, I fell further and further away from that god. The fear of hell didn't scare me, I already grew up in it, could it really be much worse?
Though this attitude worked OK as a child and even as a teenager... it started to become a ball and chain around my neck as I entered adulthood.
It wasn't until I fell hard from alcoholism that my life started to change. Yet, the more it changed, the more I felt that something was still missing. When I started looking at the 12 Steps of ACOA, things started to come together.
By turning my will and my life over to God, it relieved me of the power my parents still had on me. I carried the anger of my childhood for way to many years. And by holding on to the past, I kept my parents in my life. It gave me a reason to be a victim. I didn't have to be responsible for my actions because I survived a violent childhood.
By turning my will and my life over to God, I learned to accept my past. The anger left. Forgiveness? That didn't come right away, in fact it took years for that to come. Yet, at the beginning of this journey just getting to the point of acceptance was good enough for me.
With acceptance I was able to start living life on life's terms, which meant taking responsibility for my actions and to quit being the victim of this world.