The second step, in twelve-step programs, seems pretty simple. It just asks us to consider thinking about the possibility of maybe believing that it could be that someday something that we come up with to call a higher power might exist that might be able to make us not be insane, you know, MAYBE.
Two things about this step make it hard for many people. The first is the part that says "higher power" or "god." As any program will tell you, it doesn't mean any particular god of any particular religion. What you believe in is entirely up to you, and that kind of freedom confuses people sometimes. The point, as in the first step, is to let go of thinking that we can control everything around us, everything in our lives. In the second step, we begin to look at what the people around us have gained from practicing this, and what we believe in. Anything that is outside of ourselves and represents something positive and supportive in our lives can qualify, from our favorite meeting to nature itself.
The second thing that makes it difficult for some is the idea of being restored to "sanity." "I'm not insane," they huff. "How dare you!" But it is not an accusation, or a psychological diagnosis. I have heard people share in meetings that Merriam's defines "sane" as being "able to anticipate and appraise the effect of one's actions." That is exactly how I thought of it when I did this step; I accepted the program definition of "insane" as doing things that were harming me and not being able to make healthy choices about it, because I couldn't hook up cause and effect anymore.
I didn't realize this yet, but the abuse had made it so that I couldn't make healthy choices for myself - I was willing to accept really unhealthy and painful and harmful situations for myself because they matched what I had already grown up with. Everything from working through lunch to not being able to tell that I was constantly shaming myself. I could tell, from my 1st step work, that I was doing a lot of unhealthy things, I just didn't know how many until later. And I knew that it was insane to treat myself and others this way, and that I couldn't do anything about it without the wisdom and support of others that is one of the ways my higher power works in my life. I didn't yet know that that would limit me too and that later I would become able to work as a partner with my higher power to get even more really incredible wisdom and support and really transform my life.
This step wasn't hard for me because I was already willing to believe that this could happen. I'd seen a lot of recovery around me in meetings, and I knew that those people had once been where I was - totally confused and unsure about everything! Also, my roommate had already been in another 12-step program for a year, and I had seen amazing things happen for him. He had started dealing with his anger, taking responsibility and power back in difficult situations in his life, taking better care of himself, being willing to see when he was wrong and to change what he was doing that was harmful to himself or others. He didn't do any of those things perfectly - he didn't have to, it was enough that he was doing them. Progress, not perfection!
So I knew that it was possible. And I knew that I didn't have to understand what my higher power was to believe that it was possible to be restored to all this "sanity." I was also willing to think of it as being restored to sanity, because doing the first step made me willing to acknowledge that the way I was acting out my abuse was harmful and insane. I just needed to be where I was, which was becoming willing to accept that wonderful transformation was available to me and that I would be able to rediscover and rebuild my relationship with a loving and healthy and safe higher power in a way that made sense to me and worked for me. And that this was a process - like any of the steps, we aren't supposed to just snap our fingers and make it happen. We have to explore it for ourselves, and read about it in different programs' literature, and talk to people about it, and work with a sponsor around it, until we can understand what it means in our own lives.