The first post I wrote on this topic was all about getting down to the truth.
Just like I had to recognize the truth 5 years ago.
The truth is still much the same, that without a power greater than myself, without God (as I understand Him), I’m screwed.
I was screwed without Him then.
I’d be screwed without Him now.
The 12 Steps got me connected to God, and they keep “life” from pushing God away today.
In a nutshell, that’s why I continue working a 12 Step Program—even years separated from alcohol.
That’s what the second post of this thread is all about:
How to stay connected.
6. A Constant State of Readiness
When I learned, with the help of God and my sponsor, the nature of my troubles—that my repeated relapses were the outward manifestation of painful faults in my character—I was asked whether I was ready to let those go.
Why would I want to hold on to a live hand grenade that was destined to destroy me?
That Same Logic Applies in Sobriety
Why would I ever want to allow those things back into my life to corrode me from the inside?
Why would I ever want victim thinking, selfishness, anger, fear, dishonesty, or self-pity to reignite the raging dumpster fire of active alcoholism.
No, thank you.
To that end, I constantly challenge my state of readiness to let go of all the things I come to recognize as undesirable.
It isn’t always easy… Until I analyze the risks.
7. Turn It Loose
Throw that hand grenade far, far away.
I do that by asking God to remove those defects of character.
Here’s the catch… Not just the ones I select because they are inconveniencing me.
I ask God to decide which parts of my spirit, my soul, my character stay, and which ones are cast onto the scrap heap.
He knows best, right?
Why on earth would I try to dictate things to Him?
I acknowledge my faults, and I humbly ask Him to do with me as He sees fit.
Amazing how well that works out over time…
Better than I could have ever done on my own (See the Appendix on Spiritual Experience for more on that idea).
8. Staying Willing, Staying Desperate
After all of this talk of spiritual matters, am I actually still willing to make amends for the past, and set right any new wrongs?
I flatly declared I was willing to go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.
Am I still ready to take action with that same reckless abandon today?
An important question to ask myself regularly.
9. Action Reveals My Truth
I need to know beyond any shadow of doubt that I am ready to do whatever it takes, and the willingness to go to another person and admit fault is the greatest barometer for measuring my my desperation to stay sober and free that I know — bar none.
Willingness is manifested through action.
Am I shaping that willingness and desperation into concrete actions?
If not, where is my resolve?
My actions reveal what is truly in my heart.
Have I stopped cleaning up the past just because I feel better today and feel entitled to coast based on the work I’ve done in the past?
That’s plainly failure in progress.
The bottom line: I need this feedback on my spiritual condition.
10. Discipline Matters
Step 10 requires me to put everything I’ve learned up until now into practice on a daily basis.
If I do not continue to take out the garbage, I prime myself for yet another disaster.
I cannot afford to let things build to such dangerous proportions.
I discipline myself to get uncomfortable daily and ask questions like (but certainly not limited to) these:
- Am I being dishonest?
- Am I being selfish?
- Am I placing expectations on God?
- Am I placing expectations on others to behave the way I want them to?
- Am I unfairly making assumptions about others’ motives?
- Am I cutting myself too much slack with regards to my own motives?
- Am I feeling hurt because something isn’t going the way I want? Or going there fast enough?
- Am I feeling overly deserving of some recognition I’m not receiving?
- Am I getting bent out of shape over people not doing what I think is right?
And, the kicker… WHAT AM I AFRAID OF?
Notice I keep using the word daily? This is not something we just ponder every once in a while.
In addition to all that self-searching, I get bent out of shape sometimes, and my emotions begin to get the best of me.
I often need an outside perspective on things to help me stay grounded in reality.
I don’t always need advice, but by speaking those fears and resentment into existence with someone else, those crazy thoughts become objectified and and lose their grip on my soul.
This is our way of life now, our lifeline.
11. There’s No Roadmap for Life
Freedom from alcohol doesn’t give me free access to truth, just less noise that muddles the message.
I continue to work a 12-Step Program because it has taught me how to have an ongoing dialogue with God.
I have no idea what’s on God’s mind unless I ask, and I desperately need that direction.
My sponsor has told me over and over, “If you’re not getting the answers you need, it’s probably because you’re not asking the right questions.”
Communicating with God as best I can provides some clarity, some sense of protection, and some ease and comfort in a very confusing world that would otherwise be more discouraging than I could possibly stand.
Life is still mysterious and hard—still baffling at times.
I have to continue seeking His purpose or be swept away by the undertow.
Prayer and meditation give me some hope of reconciling the hurricane that goes on around me on a daily basis.
12. Because Helping Others Brings Me Joy
When I acknowledge the freedom I have been granted, and I keep my focus on the direction I think God would have me go, how could I not seek to help others who are suffering with active alcoholism and addiction?
How could I not be moved to take action?
Dr. Bob, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous put it this way:
I spend a great deal of my time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
- Sense of duty.
- It is a pleasure.
- Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
- Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.
All of those are true for me at this juncture, but #1 and #2 are my primary motivation today.
Plain and simple, helping others brings me a tremendous sense of satisfaction and joy—a pretty huge indicator that I’m fundamentally a different person today than I used to be.
I like the new version of me better.
I’d like to keep that guy around.
Others seem to agree.
That’s why I continue working a 12 Step Program today.
If You Think You Have a Problem…
You’re probably right.
People who don’t have a problem rarely sit and ponder the matter much.
If you or someone you care about are interested in the freedom we have found, we strongly encourage you to reach out to Solutions of North Texas or your local 12-Step group.
There is a better way.