Using the 12 Steps to Change Our Behavior Instead of Using Addictions to Run From Ourselves

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” ~Alice In Wonderland

1.  From hummingbird (al-anon journal): “Mission Statement”:

When I walked through the door into my first Al-Anon meeting, I remember thinking that it was all going to be about alcoholism: how to fix, understand, tolerate, and live with the alcoholic in my life.  I was listening, with both ears, when the leader of the meeting read the preamble, “We believe alcoholism is a family disease.”  Shocking, I thought!  I wasn’t the one hiding in the garage with a bottle of vodka, so I was woefully unprepared to see my participation in it.

It’s no mistake that the preamble we read at my home meeting includes the fifth tradition.  It’s like a mission statement that points us in the right direction every time we come together.  We have but one purpose: to help familiesof alcoholics and the word family includes everyone, including the alcoholic.

First: “We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves.”   Relationships and family always seem to go smoother when there are healthy people involved.  Even if everyone is not practicing the Twelve Steps, the ones who do can’t help but be a positive influence on the group. I saw it work in my own home.  Even though my husband was still drinking, when I began practicing the Twelve Steps, things improved immediately.  First for me (I stopped driving myself crazy), and then for him (I stopped driving him crazy).  When he started practicing the steps as well, we were suddenly on the same team.   The ripple effect of the steps on our relationship was strong and evident, regardless of its source.

2.  From Marc posting from The Rest of Our Life by Allen Reid McGuinnes. Post was found at Good Life and titled:

“Step 4 : As Long as You’re Green You’re Growing…”

As soon as you’re ripe, you rot. There’s a lot of ripe ones out there!

I was well into my rot when I was motivated enough by the stench and the pain of addiction, to seek help. I’ve still got some moldy spots, but unlike produce, I can choose to cut away the bad bits and keep on growing. That’s what the Steps have taught me.

I’ve been asked, “Why would anyone do the Steps, anyway? Why not just quit drinking (smoking, drugging, obsessing, enabling, fixing…) Well, why? I recently read the answer in a friend’s post* and fortunately for you, it’s short: people do the steps because they’re ready to change the kind of person they are. It’s really that simple.

Know how you can tell the ones that aren’t ready? They go back to their addiction or obsession or they just keep talking the talk and don’t ever get around to Step 4 and 5. That causes a fair amount of confusion for newbies. This isn’t a program of meetings, service and talk. That would be service clubs, civic organizations and church. This is a 12 Step program. Always was.

Even the newbies can tell the 12 Steps aren’t for wimps, for fakers, for those with masks. The Steps are for the rigorously honest, painfully humbled, seekers. I love the people who work the program as it was intended. I can’t get enough of what they have! They’re so transformed that old acquaintances hardly recognize them because they continue their self-searching as prescribed in Step 10. They also rely on the wisdom of regularly trimming back their rotted bits with a trusted friend.

3.  From Scott F. (Sober Nuggets): “Lent Begins”:

Today marks the beginning of my favorite season of our church year, Lent.  I love the extended period of reflection, self-evaluation, service, sacrifice and almsgiving that leads us closer to God, culminating in the Easter Miracle.  I think I am so fond of this liturgical season because it reminds me so much of our recovery program in Alcoholics Anonymous.  As Catholics we spend the next 40 days focusing on repentance and conversion to the Good News at Easter.  Today, we receive ashes (marked on our foreheads in the sign of the Cross) and hear the words “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” or “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return”.

To be marked with the ashes from the burning of last years palms given at Palm Sunday is an outward sign of our commitment to repentance and the conversion of our hearts to follow God more closely.  My faith is a choice, and this time of year affords me the opportunity to renew my faith, renew myself and “re-make” my choice to “take up my cross and follow Christ.”  Lent is a wonderful season but just like recovery, it only “works if you work it.”  So my plan is to increase time spent in prayer at home and at church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  My plan is to continue to be of service to others at meetings and through my various volunteer and service efforts.  I will also practice self-denial by practicing fasting and not allowing myself particular indulgences in an effort to improve my focus on my relationship with God and further reduce my self-centeredness.  I must repent: turn away from sin (separation from my HP), and turn directly to HP to better live His will.  I am using the 12 Steps as my guide to a renewing, spiritual Lent this year.

In terms of AA and recovery from alcoholism, Lent is a lot like a trip through the Steps.  In prayer, we practice Steps 1-3.  In repentance and self-evaluation we are living Steps 4-9, and in renewal, conversion and service we’re living Steps 10-12, and as a result we’re reborn in a sober, recovered state.  The idea would be then for us to go through this process each year, in an effort to continue growing “more well” and closer to our HP.  And during the rest of they year, while not in this intense process of discovery, purge and renewal, we fin ourselves focused more on the daily practice of Steps 1-3 and 10-12.

Photo credit.

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