12 Step program.. Step Work. It works if you work it… THE 12 steps of AA. The holy grail of working the program. Helps to think of this as a written exercise – paper and pen works best for me, but at times typing is faster to get my thoughts out. So many get frustrated and overwhelmed and even tears erupt at the mention of step work.
My goal here is to discuss how I worked and continue to work the steps. Yes critical reader: Furies HAS done the steps.. a few times! Through my various encounters with sobriety, my approach to the steps has changed dramatically. Like waves on a sandy beach, the tides of my emotions have dictated my progress, or lack thereof. I remember the fast and furious writing, sometimes slow and steady, at others merely a passing nod. Progress.. not perfection. So many get frustrated trying to get it right the first time! Think of a book, lots of editions!!!
There is a beauty to the original 6 steps that one alcoholic helped another work through.. I have done those a few times, very quick and satisfying. I wrote this little “Step Fable” for a friend struggling with AA and is really frustrated! ~ Got an issue with booze etc? Need outside help, willing? Do you believe in HP or god (Y/N); look at yourself – why do you think you use? Share secrets (optional btw); figure out who you hurt and say sorry; look for self improvement; and help others… DONE!
I have worked through variations based on the 12 steps with higher power of my understanding, agnostics, and even the humanistic approach posited by Dr Skinner. I am repeatedly drawn to the work of Dr. Andrea Travers for her comparison of the 12 steps applied in the Wisdom religions http://12wisdomsteps.com/index.html.
Dear fellow recovering traveler:…. these are my ponderings on how I view the steps… don’t judge the content. I wrote this because I could not find a similar article online .. and I REALLY looked! I know this is private, rigorous honesty stuff, but I view them as vital to MY recovery. I am still under the warm fuzzies of anonymity, but those that know me in real life see that I view my recovery tools as life tools.
Powerless / Honesty: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable. How many debates this concept has stirred over the years! Truly a vital step in recovery. I believe that I came to a point that I was powerless of alcohol and my life was REALLY unmanageable. I do not think I am powerless in all facets of my life, but I sure let booze run my life. Hard as I tried, my life was being run by my need to make sure there was plenty of booze and stuff around and after the first drink, buyer beware.
Belief / Hope: Came to believe Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity: ouch.. power..outside of me.. and sanity? What is up with THAT? Anyone else get to the point that drinking was a solitary act, and kept human interaction to an absolute minimum? This step really has been a deal breaker for me.. Accepting help, asking and interacting with others? This is when willingness to go to any lengths kicks in for ME. Bite my tongue, swallow my pride… dive into the deep end of the pool not knowing what lurks below the surface.
Surrender / Faith: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. This is the real deal breaker for a lot of folks wanting to make 12 steps work for them! Higher Power.. god, members of AA, your pet sock, none? For ME, I have always felt a strong connection with nature and it does make sense for ME. I have done much reading and pondering over this.. truly a question for the ages.
Moral Inventory / Courage: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Some folks spend years figuring this one out. The true beginning of self discovery and honesty. For ME, took a few times, but I am ready to this quickly.. Ego, check. For me, a great starting point are the seven vices found in many religions: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Good time to review the 10 commandments as reference.
Confession / Integrity: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Ouch! Another sticky point in the process.. share my deep secrets with another! In my humble opinion, this is where sponsor, mentor, professional adviser, or religious / spiritual person can be helpful. Some choose to write and burn. I was fortunate in my early days to turn to military chaplain, kind of like a favorite uncle or life coach. I have sponsored a few in my time, and really did not “listen” as these folks spilled their inner secrets. But remember, folks in recovery? You really need to be careful who you choose to share information with.. what you say can and will be used against you.. OUCH!!! (Same goes with social media kids! – my lawyer made me stop posting stuff, more on that in another article)
Willlingness / Humility: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Go back to step 3 and insert whatever higher power of your understanding. Or, simply, recognize you are human and resolve to work on these issues.
Fellowship: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. To be honest, for me 6 and 7 are cause and effect …. be willing and take action!
Forgiveness: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. This is really an exercise in honesty and how far do you really want to take it? Stole gum in second grade? Or, is this amends from the consequences of your substance abuse? I feel this is a work in progress, and where repeating moral inventory and amends makes a lot of sense.
Amends / Justice: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure then or others. I really think this is such a critical piece of my recovery. Say sorry, make restitution, prove I am truly repentant by my ACTIONS and words as needed. I am sorry is a complete sentence. I really do not think that hurting others or “ripping of a bandaid” to make an amends is the intent – no excuse for hurting others so I feel better in the process. Really seems not fair to the other person.
Daily Examination / Perserverance: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. For me, I have found taking time to write aka journal every night is really helpful. Jot down at least 3 things that I am grateful for, then the days highlights good and bad. Any thing I wish I had done differently? Folks I need to say sorry to? Even a list of tasks that need to get done. Really does help to clear the mind and sleep better.
Prayer & Meditation / Spirituality: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we under-stood Him. Both of these help me to reflect and connect with either my higher power, nature, or my inner self – in essence, mindfulness. They offer a safe haven from the many stresses and distractions of everyday life, and really calm my inner voices. Whether it is dealing with urges, thoughts of fear, doubt, and/or panic, these help to deal with what is bothering me. Mantras (ie urges cant hurt or make me use, will pass – I am In control), serenity prayer, and others really take on a calming effect for ME.
Service: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Help others – in doing so, we really help ourselves. This can take all forms, from welcoming new folks, taking the time to share your experience, strength and hope, or offering to help new folks understand steps and tools of recovery.
Wow… still reading!!! I’m impressed! I hope this has not scared you off.. take your time, be honest with yourself, and remember why you are doing this in the first place.
Recovery is self care, truly working on your self worth so be gentle.
Humanist Approach; article by Dr Skinner that has 12 steps and his humanist version: ~ http://silkworth.net/magazine_newspaper/humanist_jul_aug_1987.html
12 Wisdoms.com: 12 Steps based on Wisdom Religions:~ http://12wisdomsteps.com/index.html
Prayer and Mindfullness: this article does a great job of comparing Prayer and Meditation ~ https://totallymeditation.com/prayer-or-meditation-a-comparison/
1 thought on “12 Steps – Furies Fables”
I have been through the steps and did not have a clear picture or feeling of a higher power but did my best at the time as I wanted to stay sober. You have broken the steps down very well and explained what they are for, they are a very well constructed path when explained the way you have. We hit all these points in SMART Recovery too, just put differently. I have to change the way I think and things I do to stay sober no matter what program I am in.
Thanks Furies : )
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